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The Anatomy of a Great Postcard

July 28, 2014

Anatomy of a Postcard

Over the last century, advertising has evolved from formulaic newspaper ads into all sorts of shapes, styles and designs. Yet despite the great amount of freedom today’s marketers and designer have, most advertisements follow a simple six-part design:

  • Heading
  • Subheading
  • Copy
  • Image
  • Caption
  • Call to action

In this blog post, we’ll look at the anatomy of an effective direct mail postcard and discuss what makes each element – from the heading to the call to action – such an essential part of a profitable direct marketing campaign.

Element 1: The Heading

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” – David Ogilvy

How much mail do you receive every day? Most people only have a few seconds to scan each direct mail postcard they receive, making a large, eye-catching headline the most important part of your postcard.

Your headline should immediately explain your offer to your target audience. Keep it short, simple and to the point, and use everyday language that your audience can easily understand.

Element 2: The Subheading

Your heading tells prospects what your offer is; your subheading explains why it’s a good offer. Think of your postcard’s subheading as a bridge linking your heading to your copy – an opportunity to expand on your heading and explain your offer.

Imagine the word “because” separates your heading and subheading. If your heading is “A Cleaner Bathroom in 5 Minutes or Less,” for example, your subheading should be something like “Our brand new cleaner kills bacteria twice as fast as the competition!

Make sense? Use your heading to tell prospects what your product or service can do for them, and your subheading to explain why or how it can do this. This way, you’ll gain both the interest and the trust of your readers before they reach your copy.

Element 3: The Copy

What does your product or service do? Why is it worth buying? How has it improved people’s lives? How is it better than what your competitors offer? What are the main benefits that consumers can expect?

Your copy needs to answer all of these questions, and more. Your heading draws in prospects, your subheading explains your product or service and your copy acts as your salesperson, technical expert and spokesperson, all in print form.

Writing great copy is an art, and like all great art it takes time. As you send out more direct mail postcards, you’ll understand which styles of copy are the most effective at motivating your audience and reinforcing the value of your offer.

Element 4: The Image

To marketers, a picture is worth far more than a thousand words. A great image can help your postcard stand out from the crowd and inspire prospects to take action on your offer.

Great images do two things: they familiarize prospects with your product or service, and they show the benefits. From a freshly painted house to a spotless bathroom, use an image that doesn’t just show your product, but one that shows its biggest benefit.

Element 5: The Caption

Most people will read your caption before looking at the image. Using a descriptive, persuasive caption will help convince prospects that your product or service offers good value for money and excellent quality.

Use your caption to expand on the message you’re sending with your image or back up claims you make in your copy. Statistics, interesting facts and testimonials are all great ideas for an effective caption.

Element 6: The Call to Action

As prospects make their way down your postcard, they’re faced with a choice: put your postcard down and return the rest of their mail or take action and respond to your offer.

Your call to action is an instruction to your audience to respond to your offer. From a phone number to a printable discount coupon, using a call to action that’s relevant to both your offer and your audience will help you maximize your response rate.

Make Sure Your Postcards Include All Six Elements

From your heading to your call to action, each of these six elements is essential for a successful postcard marketing campaign. Memorize these six must-have elements and keep them in mind as you design your next set of direct mail postcards.