When it comes to direct mail advertising you can make an enormous impact with the simplest of formats: Postcards.
Think of a postcard as a billboard in the mail. Like billboards you have only a fraction of time to capture and hold the attention of the reader. You also need to be selective with the words you use, and use as few as possible.
Postcard positives include cost effective production, printing, personalization and postage. The negative is size restriction, which will limit the text you can use and limit the uses of postcards.
The positives far outweigh the negatives, and if your postcard is designed creatively you can receive a higher response rate then other forms of direct mail at a much lower cost.
Here are some tips to lower your postcard advertising costs and increase response rates:
1. RENT THE RIGHT LIST. If possible, rent a list where every record is from the same zip code. Your direct mail service bureau will be able to either rent this list for you or take your list and sort it in best postal order. This will save you a SUBSTANTIAL amount of money per postcard. First class unsorted postcards mail for $.27 each – this can be as low as $.18 each in the right postal order! Your direct mail service bureau will be able to help you with this process.
2. RENT FOR THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF TIME. If you are testing a postcard, rent a list for single use only. Once you have a design that works you can rent a list for multiple uses. Don’t try to cheat and send more than once to a list you rented for one time use. There are dummy records that are returned to the list broker, so you WILL BE CAUGHT!
3. CLEAN THE LIST. Even if you rented your list from a respectable vendor you should review it before personalizing your postcards. Expand truncated words (“St.” becomes “Street”), use both caps, lower case and the correct punctuation (“MR JOE SMITH” becomes “Mr. Joe Smith”).
There are programs you can have your service bureau run your list through that will solve these problems and dedupe (eliminate duplicates) prior to mailing. If it’s a short list and you have the time you can do it yourself.
4. CHOOSE WORDS CAREFULLY. Treat your postcard like a billboard. Imagine going past a billboard on the highway. If it’s loaded with copy would you bother to stop and look? Now put yourself in the place of your prospects. If they are going through their stack of mail, will they bother to stop and look? Try to use a maximum of seven words for a headline. Reply more on an overall design to capture and hold attention.
5. CREATE A UNIQUE DESIGN which captures and holds attention. You can get ideas on the internet or from postcards YOU receive, but don’t be bland. The same-old-same-old will end up in the trash. Do something different and your postcard will jump out from the mail:
…Personalized puzzles where the name of the receiver is in the puzzle.
…Custom maps with a coupon on the reverse side. When redeemed it gives you the added advantage of capturing the name from the postcard for future promotions.
…Online links for more information, promotions, coupons, etc.
Whatever you do it has to be creative and simple.
6. USE THE RIGHT SIZE. If you are using an oversized postcard you should just be using an envelope with a letter – the postage is comparable. One of the advantages of postcards is the ability to receive greater postal savings, and that means you need to create a postcard which is 6”x4” or less.
The other aspect to this approach is paper costs for your service bureau. Whatever size postcard you are planning on using, see if you can redesign that postcard to be a 4-1/4”x5-1/2” size. Your service bureau can then print your postcards on 8-1/2”x11” stock and NOT WASTE ANY PAPER. That keeps your costs down. They will print it four on a page (four-up), cut it twice and have four completed postcards. If you are using a 6”x4” postcard they will print two per 8-1/2”x11” sheet, STILL cut it twice and only have two finished postcards.
When they save money the savings is passed onto you.
7. TIE IT INTO YOUR WEBSITE. There is not much space on a postcard, so get your prospects interested and send them to your website. Creating a response form on an existing website is much less expensive then being forced to use a #10 outer envelope with an 8-1/2”x11” personalized letter, response form, business reply envelope and business postage.
Again, be creative and you can avoid the need to move to a more intricate form of direct mail by utilizing your existing website.
8. CONSIDER A CAMPAIGN. Once you have tested a design that works DON’T STOP. Create an entire campaign. People like to see creative ads, postcards are no exception. Think of some of the most creative ads you’ve ever seen. Chances are you can actually recall the other ads in the campaign. Do the same with your postcards.
9. GET A SPONSOR OR PARTNER. If the cost is prohibitive consider approaching another organization that has the same target market but does not compete. If you are a lawn mower repair shop partner with a landscaper. If you are a landscaper partner with a painter. Whatever works! This partnership can be used to rent a list for multiple uses for one year where you both use the list and split the cost, or you can design a creative card together that showcases both of your services and split the cost. Either way, partnerships work!