Prediction: More postcards

Now that banks are less willing to lend money and corporations are laying off workers, chances are fewer new products and services will be "going to market." As companies become more conservative and less inclined to launch new initiatives, direct marketers will be more focused on retention and cross-sell opportunities. And I predict we will be seeing more postcards in our mailboxes! 

After all, when money is tight, it behooves marketers to use the most cost effective ways to "drum up sales" - and the once deemed lowly postcard can now be viewed as an affordable way of getting in the mail and driving sales leads - without the higher paper, lettershop and postage costs of a standard No. 10 package.

If you plan to use a postcard for your direct marketing efforts, here are a few tips:

1) Have a single-minded focus for your marketing message.
Room is tight on a postcard. That means you've got to broadcast your main message and it needs to be an enticing one - either a great savings offer or a much-needed benefit that's going to meet one of your targeted audiences' needs.

2) Put the call to action on the front and the back of the postcard, if you can.
Unless the call to action needs to be personalized and you are not duplex lasering the piece, it's a good idea to put the call to action (the response language - "call now or visit www...") on the front AND the back of the piece. After all, that's the action you want your recipient to take. Make it easy to keep that phone number or web site in clear view and top of mind.

3) Stand out from the clutter but be careful that you don't look so promotional you get lost in the clutter.
Direct mail should always have an air of personal correspondence to it. So don't forgo the "Dear Sample A. Sample" that could go on the personalized side of the postcard in lieu of photos and fancy graphics, or you'll miss a chance to connect and speak directly to your targeted audience members. (I read somewhere that self-mailers got a better response when they had a letter that started with a "Dear ..." and had a signature at the end. A postcard is a kind of self-mailer. So why not give your postcard a personal edge? It can help it stand out in the clutter.) Use the other non-personalized side for your attention grabbing headline and graphics. When a postcard is too "design-y" with "bang-them-over-the-head" visuals on both sides, it tends to feel too much like a general advertising piece that's trying very hard to sell something and less like personal correspondence with something very important to tell me, about something that's especially for me - to meet my needs. And I'd much rather receive the latter. Wouldn't you?
Below is a sample postcard that follows many of the tips mentioned here. As you'll see, there is a little letter on this side of the postcard that begins, "Dear Advertiser:"

This is side 1 of a postcard that was mailed as a reminder to advertisers of products and services relative to the Chemical Engineering profession, alerting them of the close date for inserting their ads in AIChE's CEP (Chemical Engineering Progress) magazine. It's always smart to mail to your current client/member or user database to remind them about added ways you can serve their needs. As that old saying goes, your best customers are the ones you already have!

This is the reverse (side 2) of the postcard pictured above:

Notice it's more colorful and contains more details about the magazine contents, so advertisers can tailor their message to editorial content. 

Postcards such as the one shown here were mailed throughout the year, with the same format, different copy and color schemes to match the season or time of year. This card mailed in the early fall.

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