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Effective Business Postcards - Get your Direct Mail Postcards Noticed!

October 2, 2013

Get Your Postcards Noticed

My marketing team is not perfect, but we sure try hard. Over the years we have sent countless direct mail business postcards to both prospects and customers. For the ones that have worked well I have noticed a pattern (or set of principles) for what works well and what does not.

I have outlined seven of the basic principles that we work to follow when we are designing our own direct mail postcard campaigns. If we do these well, we tend to get our desired response levels. None of this is rocket science, but just a pre-campaign mental checklist to help us ensure our business postcards stand out and get noticed. Our seven principles for effective business postcards are as follows:

  1. Think billboard. For me the lights turned on when I started thinking of our corporate postcards as “mini-billboards.” Meaning, we only have a couple of seconds to grab the reader’s attention. Too much info, too many graphics, or multiple offers is a turn-off and has not worked for us.
  2. Bigger is better. For all prospect mailers we no longer send out the standard (4.25X5.5) postcard. We use either the jumbo (5.5X8.5) or panoramic (5.75X11) postcard. The standard size is fine for connecting with existing business customers, but we us the canvas size to get noticed by our prospects. Bigger sizes also offer us more address side space for copy so that we can clearly make the case as to why the reader should try our service. The offer, graphics and the size of the card have to work together for your card to stand out.
  3. Keep all copy simple and short. We now write in plain English (at a grade 6 level) and we always keep our copy short. Over the years we have also left more whitespace on the cards to help keep the reader’s eyes focused. We typically only have one call to action (one offer). As an example, our prospecting postcards are designed with one simple goal in mind. We want you to try our service today. Action is what we want. And that needs to be very clear to the reader.
  4. Think front/back (address side) strategy. We use the front to tell our very simple story and to house the call to action. We tend to use strong color to visually convey the message. It is all designed to help give our reader a reason to turn the card over. We use the back (address side) to provide supporting details and to build our credibility.
  5. Curiosity and intrigue is good. If we have done things right we have created enough curiosity and intrigue on the front of the card that our reader will turn it over and want more info. We tend to just say enough so that the reader has to go online to a landing page, or webpage, video, etc. to get more information. That also gives us data as to who read our mail and how long it took the recipient to take action after it was delivered. We have found that postcards are a great way to redirect our readers online to get the full story and offer details.
  6. Make it personal. A good personalized business postcard can make a one-of-a-kind connection and help start a personal conversation in a relevant and authentic way. Using personal naming conventions, personalized maps, relevant offers and body copy helps us talk directly to each postcard recipient. Our variable data print technology is the secret sauce that allows us to tailor and create individual postcard messages that speak directly to that reader, giving us the personality of a real person who cares and listens.
  7. A solo business postcard rarely does the job. We like to think of things as a campaign. Every campaign has a theme, offer, and a start and end date. From experience we know it takes multiple rounds of our same prospect audience seeing our postcard direct mailers before we see an increase in new user orders. For some campaigns it takes 3 rounds. For others it could take 8 or more rounds of mail to the same audience before we get the results we want. The key for us is to have a targeted, systematic and consistent contact strategy that is relevant for both our prospect and customer segments.

When I first joined QuantumDigital back in 2006, I never thought there would be so much to learn about what makes direct mail actually work. I am still learning. And as a team we are not there yet, but we are much better than we were 6 months ago.

We have had our successes and failures along the way. We have also done our share of testing. We have tested headlines, color, graphics, free offers, postcard size, paper weight, copy, guarantees, etc. The good news is that direct mail business postcards are a medium that easily lends itself to testing. This testing has given me the confidence that if we stick with these 7 principles (there are many more out there) we will be on the right track.

For more tips, check out this post: 5 Tips for Effective Direct Mail Postcard Campaigns.