I’m a huge fan of the postcard. It is the direct mail equivalent of a single, perfect dessert cookie – not too dense or overloaded, and not overwhelming like a big slab of cheesecake or a banana split. It’s just the right amount of sweets to digest and appreciate.
But if you abuse your poor postcard by taxing it with too many ingredients, like a biscotti loaded with 6 kinds of nuts and 4 kinds of dried fruit, it will fail miserably. The flavors will fight one another and the poor thing will fall apart under its own weight.
So how do you go about preparing the perfect postcard campaign for your B2B business? I came up with these 10 tips that should help designers and marketers create a balanced and effective postcard campaign.
- Go big for maximum impact. Although your postcard can be as small as 3 ½” x 5”, it can also be larger. According to the USPS Business Mail 101 page, the maximum size is 4 1/4” x 6” if you want the postcard to qualify for the First Class Mail postcard rate. It can go even bigger if you want to mail it Standard rate – as large as 6 1/8” x 11 ½”.
- Make sure the card stock can make it through the mail. There’s a minimum thickness requirement so that the postcards are automatable. At the small size, it must be 0.007 inches thick. You have a little leeway if you go larger. All of these thicknesses are spelled out on the USPS site. The main concern is choosing paper that’s not too flimsy, causing it to get stuck in the mail processing equipment.
- Keep your message short. I’ve received too many postcards that tried too hard. The sender couldn’t make up his mind what he was promoting – or didn’t want to leave off any product or feature. The little card was loaded like a pizza topped with every conceivable meat, veg, and cheese. The result? The main message was lost in the sauce. My eyes didn’t know where to focus. Massive fail!
- Be as clever as you dare. A postcard should grab you immediately (since there’s no envelope or other packaging). Spend time coming up with great copy, maybe an intriguing statement or question, or a clever theme you develop over a series of postcards. Make it memorable. Make it smart enough for me to want to share it.
- Check with your mailing expert on addressing do’s and don’ts. The post office has strict rules about placement of things like the address block, return address, indicia, and so on. Your designer MUST know these rules. And I learned the hard way to be mindful about placing copy along the bottom edge (lengthwise) of a postcard. We were promoting a conference, and the postcard included a critical “PS” that had a URL for a registration discount. When the postcards were run through the mail equipment, the barcode that was imprinted totally obscured the “PS.” Oops.
- Don’t be a numbskull and forget to include your return address. Yes, I’ve seen this. I couldn’t tell where the postcard came from.
- Never ever leave off your CTA. What action do you want the recipient to take, after receiving your postcard? Always include a Call to Action, even if it’s to dial a number, send an email, or click on a URL.
- Use all 4 colors if it suits you. These days, the price is right for all 4 process colors if you want to use photos. Color grabs our attention. It won’t break the bank (as it did many years ago).
- Personalize your postcard. If you personalize your campaign, you increase the response rate. In a report published by PODI (Print on Demand Initiative), variable consistently outperforms static direct mail. Use your data well to target your message – not just by a person’s name, but also by varying the message. There’s a ton of other impressive info about the power of direct mail in this white paper by Marketing Impact.
- Add eye magnet words. One of my marketing heroes is Nancy Harhut, the Chief Creative Officer at The Wilde Agency here in greater Boston. She talks about “eye magnet words” that we marketers should pay attention to, for obvious reasons. When we read, we skim and scan, so these words are effective in grabbing our attention. Some examples: a person’s name (see #9), Easy, Free, Introducing, and Secret. (Here are two words that get my immediate attention – Jacob and Anthony. Any guesses why?)
Bottom line? When you’re sending a postcard as opposed to a letter, a flat package or some other parcel, respect its petiteness. You have less real estate on which to display your message. Don’t be tempted to pile on the content and images.
A postcard is a bite-size direct marketing piece with incredible power in its little size. If you do it right, folks will be hungry for another.
©2014 Margie Dana. All rights reserved.