If you have an interest in the greeting card industry--as a sales rep, designer, artist, writer or marketer--having a great portfolio from which to conduct your presentations can mean the difference between landing jobs, clients or sales and walking away empty-handed. Greeting cards are still today’s best impulse choice in terms of targeted message, appeal and price. To put your own greeting card portfolio together, start with samples and a terrific-looking carry case, and you’ll be confident about meeting with any audience right now, or in the future.
Prepare early. Waiting until the day before a presentation isn’t always the best way to get yourself into the right frame of mind for an important meeting. Find out a bit about the company or person you’ll be pitching, then choose representative samples from your inventory of greeting cards. Some should be your best work. Others should be included to appeal to the client.
Select the right portfolio type. Once upon a time, a black portfolio was as important to a professional presentation as a business suit. These days, your originality should stand out from cover to cover. Strike a balance between dignified and original to showcase portfolio contents, and you will impress your audience.
Choose between the old and the new. An up-to-date collection of greeting card samples shows you are on top of trends and fads. Old samples reflect your growth, maturity and consistency. If a greeting card in your portfolio won an award, place it in a prominent place. Arrange the cards on portfolio pages in ways that show off covers, messages and, if applicable, unique envelopes designed just for that card.
Add meat to the dish. Page after page of greeting cards may reflect your diversity, style and talent, but you could lose your audience's attention if there’s no break in the action. Brochures, press releases, newspaper clips and testimonials related to your enterprise break the monotony and offer you an opportunity to promote yourself and your cards in a variety of ways. Photos of displays (in-store and out) give your audience an opportunity to see your work in a larger setting.
Place cards and other artifacts into the portfolio in logical order--newest first. You might wish to make the front facing first page a biographical insert that describes your background and includes a head shot. Your objective is to put together what’s known as a “scannable portfolio”--one that gives the viewer a comprehensive tour of your best work--preferably in 10 minutes or less.
Troubleshoot your portfolio. Compile all of your material and let the portfolio “percolate” overnight. Open it the next day and start from the front, perusing the contents to see if anything jumps out as being inappropriate, dog-eared, redundant or not targeted to your audience. Trusted friends can give you extra reassurance if you leave them alone with the portfolio for a while, then listen to their critique.
The first compilation will be the most time-consuming, but your ongoing job will be to keep your materials fresh and up-to-date. When new greeting card samples come your way, slide one into your presentation portfolio to remind yourself to include it next time you revamp your portfolio.
Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.