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​Top 8 Postcard Marketing Tips for Small Businesses in 2016

May 4, 2016

More businesses will witness the value of postcard marketing as part of their conversion funnels in 2016. In a world where technology is ever-present in our lives and we are bombarded with countless emails and advertisements every single day, it often takes something tangible to stand out from the crowd.

Postcard marketing, or direct mail, remains one of the most consistently effective means of marketing to customers. One of the greatest features of this form of marketing is the fact that, done right, it resonates across a wide variety of demographics.

If you're a small business just starting out and you're not sure where to begin with your marketing strategy, direct mail and postcard marketing is undoubtedly one of the most cost-effective marketing channels. However, it is imperative to ensure it's done correctly, as outlined in the tips below, so your company's efforts and marketing budget sees a positive return-on-investment. Here's a look at our top 8 postcard marketing tips for small businesses:

1. Design, Design, and… Design!

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Via: Behance

With a visual medium like postcard marketing, design should be a core focus when creating the collateral that will be sent out to your current and potential customers.

As a small business, you may not feel you have the budget necessary to spend on a quality designers to work on your postcard marketing campaign. However, design should not be short-changed because it can make a dramatic difference in the effectiveness and response rate of any given campaign. Plus, you can always re-use good design work as a template for future campaigns by switching out images and copy as necessary.

Designs for postcard marketing should be simple in order to be effective. Too much text and too many images create an overwhelming "busyness" factor that will likely be a turnoff to most recipients. Instead, focus on one message you're trying to get across so as to create a single focal point. This may require thinking outside the box to present something intriguing enough draw the reader's eye and engage them. Or else contemplate the effective use of white space on the card. In response to his business-counterpart's belief that all postcard space should be used because you're paying the same price per card whether you use it or not, a CMO of a large company replied, "I'm paying for that white space so that the prospect's eyes are drawn to the message that matters most." This brings to mind the famous Leonardo da Vinci quote, "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." It takes a lot of work to be simple and standout, it is mundane to create complexity.

Think about your use of color - tie it in with your brand identity, logos and other key design features of your small business. The overriding objective should be to have a marketing campaign message that is unified across each of your different marketing channels. Message and design repetition serves to reinforce your brand's message and to therefore stand out in the mind of your customers at the moment when they require the use of the products or services that you have to offer.

Design is a crucial component of any marketing effort but it is especially important with postcard and direct mail marketing. It is probably best left to professional designers, but there are other tools that can help small business generate decent-quality designs on a budget. Canva is intuitive and you only pay $1 for each premium design element you chose to use.

2. Make Your Call-to-Action Genuinely Compelling

The call to action that a small business uses in its postcard marketing campaigns will, of course, be highly dependent on the type of service that they offer. However, it will need to be compelling. No matter what it is you're offering, this is a crucial element of the content creation process.

Whether you're intention is to sell a product or get more information about a customer, the call to action on your direct mail postcard will be the catalyst. It's important to stand out from competitors in your industry with a unique, creative, or irresistible call to action.

If you're unable to source the expertise of a skilled copywriter for your call to action - a problem that a lot of businesses are likely to encounter - there are plenty of other means of trying to get great copy and call to actions for your postcard marketing campaigns. For example, recent college graduates are a great resource and are often looking for an opportunity to expand their portfolios and will be considerably less expensive than established copywriters and, in some cases, no less talented.

As a small businesses, it is important to keep expenses in check and not to overspend in places where it isn't necessary. While the call to action on your direct mail campaigns can make or break the successfulness of the campaign itself, it doesn't mean to say that you have to break the bank in order to achieve the desired results.

3. Let Imagery Do the Talking

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While Mercedes isn't exactly an example of a small business, they are a great example of letting imagery do the talking. Use of imagery might not be something that will come easily to all types of business but, if you're creative enough, you can make even the most mundane of objects compelling and engaging.

It's true that a picture is worth a thousand words, so you had better make sure you pick the right picture to portray your business. Only use images that help paint the picture of your business and the message it is that you're trying to convey. Space is limited when it comes to postcard marketing, so it's easy to add too much. Think carefully about the images that you use and pick only the ones that help explain your marketing message or entice the reader to take further action.

As a small business, you might not have access to lots of imagery to choose from for their campaigns but with some clever thinking and a bit of creative license, you can produce some compelling direct mail designs without the need for expensive product shots or photographers. It's all about conveying your message. Images can and should be just engaging and helpful enough to tell the story of your business and brand. There are multiple online photo repositories that sell high-quality images for a modest fee.

4. Dare to Innovate

Just because you're a small business, don't be afraid to take some risks and come up with innovative campaigns with your postcard marketing endeavors. Some of the most successful campaigns of the last few years have resulted from engaging the mind of the recipient instead of relying solely on promotions and offers which don't always have the desired effect. Often this is accomplished in advertising by purposefully omitting an element of the message, which requires the prospect to fill in the blanks. However, be warned - this is extremely difficult to master and requires extremely disciplined attention to the message and campaign objectives.

If your piece of direct mail marketing makes the recipient think and, ideally, take action as a result, it will immediately make your brand stand out from the crowd a little more than would otherwise be the case.

The world of business is full of great examples of brands getting innovative with the direct mail that they send out. It can be a daunting task to know where to begin with a direct mail campaign, so it is worth brainstorming with other members of your team to discuss marketing objectives for how to stand out and be innovative in your designs.

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Via: FPO

The above example of a advent calendar postcard shows that you don't have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to innovation. It provides a compelling piece of marketing for the recipient which will both engage them and compel them to take action.

5. Do Your Research

As a startup business, you really cannot afford not to research your customers and target demographics prior to embarking upon a postcard marketing campaign. There can be few things worse for a small business than throwing away money on a marketing campaign because they have not properly looked into the target audiences to make sure the marketing collateral they deliver will effectively "hit the mark" from a design and content perspective.

This can be one of the biggest challenges for a small business in sending out a postcard marketing campaign. Knowing exactly where to send their direct mail campaign. This hurdle can invariably be solved through doing research on your business's best customers (either most profitable or the ones you prefer to work with) and modeling a customer profile to match. Of course, a little trial and error along the way can be the ticket as well, as long as you track the performance to optimize future campaigns.

Postcard marketing can be expensive to master, but more often than not, it should focus on the quality of recipients rather than quantity. What we mean by this is to make sure that you don't just go for a blanket approach of sending vast quantities of your postcard marketing to recipients that it might not resonate with. Focus more intently on doing your research, picking the right demographics and customer profiles who you can send your marketing to and who are more likely to become brand ambassadors of your business by promoting you organically.

6. Incentivize Your Offer

It's clear to see that today's consumer is confronted with advertising and marketing from almost every conceivable angle and this is something which you need to take into consideration when delivering direct marketing campaigns. It often isn't enough nowadays to deliver fantastic design and compelling content within your campaign, you will likely need to offer them an incentive to act upon your campaign.

This can take many different forms and shouldn't need to be anything too grandiose - particularly important for start up businesses with tight budgets - something like a 10% off coupon for signing up to an email newsletter or providing additional information about themselves is a good place to start.

While this type of incentive is only applicable for product companies, not all incentives are monetary-based. You can incentivize almost any type of business - it's merely a question of offering the recipient of your postcard marketing some form of reward for having carried out the card's proposed action. You could gift them an e-book of value in exchange for their email, offer event tickets in exchange for their phone number and sharing with their friends. Of course, these types of incentives presuppose that you have a digital "storefront" or landing page to capture their information that you can redirect the postcard recipients to.

It can be tricky to find the right middle ground for finding an incentive that you're comfortable with that is still compelling for the consumer but if you do your research and only target those recipients who are likely to be engaged, it should prove cost effective.

7. Be Clear and Concise

Not to beat a dead horse here, but it bears reiterating that being too wordy with your direct mail postcard marketing can be its kiss of death. Your postcard needs to be impactful in the first couple of seconds a person sees it. If it fails to grab the reader's attention in the first few seconds, it is unlikely to have your desired end-result. The clearer the message, the more likely it will be read and understood by the recipient. Ambiguous language can make it difficult for the recipient to comprehend and should be avoided at all costs.

Similarly, being concise is also extremely important. Don't add superfluous words that won't add to the narrative. Many small businesses will be tempted to list all the benefits and features of their company within their direct mail but in order to be more successful. It is better to focus on the core benefit to highlight rather than trying to cram every bit of information into a small mailer that you're sending out. The core benefit of your business and your offer should be compelling enough for them to want to find out more using the web, phone, or an in store visit.

8. Don't be a Salesman, be a Savior

The common approach is to be overly salesy in the postcard design/copy by having large, in-your-face logos, incentives or phone numbers to call your business. Instead, when sending out postcard marketing, try to maintain the perspective that your business and the postcard itself is about them (your prospect) and you just happen to be the right person to help solve their problem. This approach often strikes a good balance between getting your sales message across and providing a marketing piece that will make the recipient think and ideally compel them to make an action such as making a purchase or signing up for an email list.

Consumers today are bombarded with advertising messages from every conceivable angle about how this product is better than that product, etc. So taking a step back and sending out postcard marketing that is more thoughtful about the pain they experience as it relates to your business is likely to yield better results with your consumers in the long run.

Conclusion

Postcard marketing is going to be a significant part of successful company's marketing strategies over the next few months but it is important to approach direct mail in the right way, considering the fact that consumers today are bombarded with advertising on a daily basis.

When done right, few forms of marketing are as effective of postcard marketing. By following some of the tips outlined above, hopefully your business will be able to tap into this marketing channel and promote your business cost effectively with good results.

Recap:

  1. Design, design and…. design!
  2. Make your call-to-action genuinely compelling
  3. Let imagery do the talking
  4. Dare to innovate
  5. Do your research
  6. Incentivize your offer
  7. Be clear and concise
  8. Don't be a salesman, be a savior

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