Last Sunday, I was in Brooklyn to photograph the Brooklyn Bridge with a few other Photofocus authors after PhotoPlus Expo. As we sat down to enjoy an amazing ice cream cone from Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory (seriously…best ever!) we stumbled upon this flyer taped to the side of one of the freezers next to where we were sitting.

It got me thinking — how can leave-behinds be effective?

Understand your audience

Now, obviously this flyer wasn’t meant for us; it was meant for locals in the Brooklyn area. Because the mini session was literally within walking distance of the ice cream shop, the photographer intentionally made sure to spread the word in the area.

In this case, the flyer does two things very effectively. First, it’s geared towards an audience that visits the area. Because of this, it’s likely to get more eyes seeing it than if it was placed elsewhere in New York.

Second, this ice cream shop is pretty high-end. Six bucks for one scoop is nothing to laugh about. The photographer clearly chose photographs and a design that could relate to the audience visiting the ice cream shop.

Make it specific, but clear

You might be tempted to put a ton of information on your leave-behind. In reality, you just need to put the bare bones information on your flyer. In this example, there are three sections. One, information about the mini shoot — location, date, time and booking information. Two, the price and what that includes. Three, contact information.

These three sections should be clearly laid out and easy to understand. By separating them with different background colors, this photographer made it easy to follow and understand for the audience.

Ask for an action

You can’t just say “contact me for more information.” Instead, put together a booking link that’s short and easy to remember. Using a service like is a great idea here, as it lets you customize your website link so it’s short enough that people can book straight from their phones.

What doesn’t work

When I was starting out with photography, I had the idea to scatter out a few of my business cards in local coffee shops. Guess what? I never once got a call or e-mail from someone saying they picked up my business card when they were having coffee.

As I mentioned above, it’s important to be specific. Give your potential clients a call to action that they can easily take care of when they’re looking at the leave-behind (don’t count on them to take a picture of it and remember to take action at home).

In the case of this Brooklyn photographer, the leave-behind is effective and works. It’s clear, specific and asks for people to take action. The photographer treats the leave-behind like an event poster, instead of just an advertisement. While leave-behinds won’t work for every type of photographer, it’s a cheap and simple solution to getting the word out.

For more on Photography Marketing, see my weekly column.