In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist
attacks and the subsequent anthrax postal scares, postcards became
a popular alternative to traditional direct mail. And they are still
a powerful and cost-effective marketing tool today.
By virtue of the fact that they must be handled, postcards facilitate
the delivery of a message, and break through the clutter of conventional
print advertising and direct mail.
Postcards are exceptionally versatile, allowing companies to make
offers to prospects and customers, solicit repeat business, drive
traffic to their websites, promote a grand opening, increase trade
show traffic, or reinforce a print advertising campaign, to list
just a few uses.
A trucking company that I worked with was faced with the challenge
of having more business than it had drivers. Unfortunately, many
other firms were also faced with driver shortages.
Almost all of the companies recruited driver using print ads in
trucking publications. That made it difficult to have an ad stand
out, short of incurring huge costs to buy oversize ads.
Our solution was to run billboards on prime trucking routes, showing
people pursuing leisure activities with loved ones. The headlines
read, "Wouldn't you rather be home weekends?"
These billboards were reinforced with postcards that were left
in truck stops. The postcards' image and message matched those on
The back of the postcard allowed the company to provide more information
about the nature of its business, compensation rates, and a 1-800
number to call to set up an interview.
The campaign got attention and received a good response rate.
Postcards enjoy many other uses and advantages. Here are a few:
Postcards are an exercise in simplicity - they are small and require
no envelopes, folding or collating. While you can use four-colour
printing, two-colour can work just as effectively.
Remember that a postcard is like a billboard; space is limited
so headlines must be kept short and copy must be well thought out.
Avoid the temptation to write a book. Don't use postcards to try
to close sales.
Because people receive so many emails and direct mails in a day,
it's easy to ignore them. Postcards stand out. And they enjoy high
readership. Almost everyone looks at postcards, even people who
throw out conventional direct mail pieces.
As people pick up a postcard, they are already reading and absorbing
your message. And since postcards are printed on both sides, your
message is more likely to be seen.
Bear in mind, postcards have to work harder than the design of
other media because there's no teaser copy on an outside envelope.
Nor can you use any gimmicks.
But done right, they may be posted or shared, allowing your message
to stay top of mind.
Canada Post allows a range of postcard sizes, from a minimum of
9 cm by 14 cm (which allows you do print four on a standard 8 ˝
by 11 inch sheet) to a maximum of 12 cm by 23.5 cm.
In addition to some of the uses mentioned earlier, postcards can
also be used to test offers with small groups of prospects and customers.
Once you determine that the response rate is positive, you can proceed
with a full-fledged mailing to your entire customer base.
If you have a mailing list you regularly send more expensive items
to - an annual catalogue, for example - a postcard can offer an
ideal way to verify the list's accuracy. Postcards that are undeliverable
can be returned, so you can update or delete names and addresses.
Affordable Even the smallest business can justify the cost of
sending postcards. Printed 4-up (four identical images on each printed
sheet) and in two colour, they become even more affordable. With
only a single sheet of paper, there's no cost for envelopes, collation,
folding or insertion.
If you are mailing more than 1,000, you can get reduced postal
rates, depending on how your list is sorted, to as low as 30 cents
per postcard. Call Canada Post at 1-800 260-7678 for details.
New companies can take advantage of Canada Post's Unaddressed
Admail service that allows companies without mailing lists to send
geographically targeted postcards, helping them to generate interest
and build a customer base.
Postcards can be designed as coupons, gift certificates or a tickets
to an event. By measuring redemptions, you can easily track response
and evaluate what worked and what didn't. Or you can include a special
code so that it can be captured when recipients call your office
or visit your website.
Better yet, when you use postcards as part of your marketing campaign,
your competitors won't know about it, unlike your print ads.
If you are looking for a new way to deliver your message, postcards
offer a low-cost, high-impact, small business marketing weapon.