Greg Betza of Studio 1482 sent a question my way a little bit ago and I thought it'd be great to address here, especially since we don't get to chat too much about illustration.
"any advice on how to approach art buyers who are typically approached by 'style-centric' illustrators?"
Here's the thing, Greg has a portfolio full of work that spans from advertising and editorial to book jackets and storyboards. However in taking a look through Greg's work, I thought that while there were different mediums and applications of his artwork, there was a flow that tied them all together.
I always recommend doing your homework before you embark on marketing. Knowing your audience and pitching yourself and your talent correctly is key to landing a potential job. Check out the company's website and find out who the clients are. Do these clients use illustration in their ad campaigns and if so how are they used? If not, what would the added value of illustration be?
Approach the art buyers with your best work, send an email promo with a great example and brief paragraph of your recent project and direct them to your website. Send a snail mail promo with a beautiful printed piece and if you're ambitious write a note on it. Or call up an art buyer who you would love to work with or who has clients that you are passionate about working with and schedule a portfolio review. (I always say face to face meetings are the best... get a feel for the agency, the art buyer, and potential work).
If you have different bodies of work like Greg does and not a particular set in stone genre that represents your creative use it to your advantage. Approach the art buyer with your work and express the fact that you are versatile... as long as you have great examples of these different pieces. If you go in representing that you can do so many different genres but are mediocre in some areas and clearly strong in others, it will work against you.
With illustration, art buyers do tend to search out specific styles for the project at hand, especially since there are so many genres. Best advice I can give is to stay on the radar, send a new promo piece every three months, follow up with maybe 2-3 check in calls a year (say hello and set up a meeting once a year with new work if you can). The key is to not border on annoying and stay on the fine line of promotion and staying in good graces. Over-promotion can cause aggravation so find what works best for you and your target audience.
Best of luck!