Direct Marketing

Postcard Design Webinar for Ripon Printers.

Don’t dismiss postcards as low-end, low-value promotions for companies that can’t afford anything else. Postcards can certainly be used to attract high-value buyers, promote sales and offer coupons, even change the narrative surrounding your brand.

In this one-hour webinar, you’ll learn about:

Design postcards with an edge.

  • Understanding postcard design building blocks
  • Incorporating content elements (including photo-personalization) into your design
  • Designing postcards to support your business goals
  • Exploring creative substrates
  • And using metrics to improve your design solutions

Drumming Up Leads with Dimensional Mailers.

The best thing about a small target of high-potential customers is that you can afford to spend more money on them. In fact, you better, because everyone else is trying to reach them too. If you don’t have something different to say, and a different way of presenting yourself, you’ll get quickly tossed aside.

That’s why elusive, premium prospects are perfect candidates for three-dimensional packages. So put on your creative hat for a few minutes, and let’s look at how you can make dimensional packages pay off for you.

Why Dimensional Packages Work.

One of the big challenges in moving up the prospect food chain is getting your marketing materials past the admin-assistant gatekeepers. The odds of a postcard or self-mailer making the cut are pretty slim. And electronic alternatives such as email are almost unthinkable unless you’ve established a personal relationship.

What you need is a package that looks personal and stands out from everything else that hits an executive’s desk—or tries to. A box, a tube or other dimensional package that comes personally addressed to the executive, along with a really good headline, is very likely going to get opened. Human curiosity gets the best of all of us, no matter what position we hold. And everyone likes something that seems like a present.

So How Can You Miss?

Easily. Dimensional packages might seem like no brainers (How can you fail with a cushy budget, right?) but just the opposite is true. They need lots of thought and solid creativity to work effectively. To avoid a disaster, let’s look at the two main ways that marketers bring dimensional doom upon themselves:

  • Getting caught up in clever. Your dimensional campaign can go down the tubes (no pun intended) just like the entertaining TV commercials that people like but then don’t buy the product. Remember that there’s a business point to be made, and it can’t get totally lost in the fun.

    None the less, a dimensional mailer is a big opportunity to be creative. Just remember that you still need to make a case for people wanting to do business with you.

  • Coming across as a bribe. This can be a really fine and dangerous line, but error on the side of caution. My personal guideline is $25. As soon as someone perceives the contents to be inappropriately expensive for a promotion, you’re in trouble. Sometimes it’s best to stick with things that relate directly to your business.

    For example, I did a dimensional package for a major printer that wanted to reach marketing executives in different sectors. The campaign was multi-stage and went out during the summer with a “grilling” theme. Sales reps got to pick a certain number of prospects that were high potential but contact resistant. Here’s how the program worked:

    • Prospects received three envelope mailings over a short period of time with each consisting of a personalized letter and a one-page case history appropriate to the market and service being promoted. The mailings also included a favorite grill recipe from an executive at the printing company, including a picture of the person and a little personal history behind the recipe.
    • The final mailing came in a box set and included the popular How to Grill cookbook by Steven Raichlen, a product the printer also happened to print and distribute for its publisher client. So the campaign offered a little fun, came across as executive-to-executive and included a useful tie-in premium that demonstrated the printer’s capability. It also was dynamite at getting the attention of difficult-to-reach executives without overstepping the gift-value component.

Are Dimensional Mailers Strictly for Business-to-Business?

Most are, but that’s primarily a function of being able to more easily whittle down your target in the business sector. But again, dimensional mailers are all about creativity, so don’t necessarily think they’re out of the question if you’re in the consumer space.

A quick simple example is the Republic of Tea catalog, which always includes (or at least mine does) a sample tea packet attached to the cover. It gives the catalog a third dimension, puts it at the top of the pile and gets people to try teas they might never have bought otherwise.

Companies with high-ticket products are also obvious candidates. Manufacturers of luxury automobiles and other premium products can afford to spend more on customer acquisition and have smaller target audiences.

The Time for Dimensional Packages Has Never Been Better?

Although it might sound contradictory, slow economies are ideal for dimensional packages. They force you to do the all-important database work and follow up, help you stand out even more as companies cut back on marketing expenditures and tend to have much higher ROI than conventional direct mail and other marketing efforts.

So start working on that creative brief today.

By Larry Bauer

Want Expert Advice?

MondoVox Creative Group can help you develop dimensional packages that result in sales more ROI. For more information, email Julia Moran Martz.

You can connect with Julia Moran Martz on LinkedIn. Or follow her on Twitter.

Do’s and Don’ts of Dimensional Packages.

You can create a buzz with dimensional packages, to say nothing of generating valuable leads. Here’s how to ensure that recipients will not only open your dimensional package, but will open it first.

Do

  • Put something inside that is valuable, fun—or preferably both.
  • Make the sales message simple, to the point and easy to find.
  • Use a parcel delivery service rather than the USPS, if possible.
  • Tie the contents into what you are selling, though you don’t always need to be literal—copy can make a strong tie-in.
  • Use a standard size box if you want to minimize costs.
  • Think beyond paperboard if you have the budget and really want to stand out—try wood or fabric, for instance.
  • Incorporate other channels—a pURL or a QR Code on an enclosure can add more involvement and personalization.
  • Demand accountability from the sales force—involve them as much as possible.

Don’t

  • Use a dimensional package with the intention of closing a sale—it’s a lead generator.
  • Make the contents so expensive they look like a bribe, though you can get by with a bit more if your target is owners of independent businesses.
  • Think that boxes are your only alternative—tubes as well as lumpy mailings or sturdy, gusseted envelopes can also work.
  • Get lost in cleverness at the expense of an action-generating message.
  • Do anything that would make your package look potentially dangerous or prankish.
  • Forget to use a stringent pre-qualification process—dimensional mailers are too expensive to waste.
  • Send more mailers than your team can follow-up with promptly.

By Larry Bauer

mb-2010-do-dont-v22bMissed Getting Your Copy of The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts? Not to worry. We’ve made digital versions available via SlideShare. The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts is a collection of the most viewed “Do’s & Don’ts” published by our MondoBeat newsletter including:

  • Taglines
  • Print Advertising
  • Referrals
  • Trade Shows
  • Corporate Brochures
  • Direct Mail
  • Thought Leadership
  • White Papers

Simply visit our SlideShare page to download your complimentary copy.

Creating Clutter Busting Dimensional Direct Mail.

I know it sometimes seems that you have to do something REALLY BIG to break through the mailroom clutter. But honestly, size doesn’t matter. You don’t need to build a Taj Mahal for your prospects. Even those C-level folks.

What you MUST do is make sure your mailing’s message supports your goals and is relevant to your target market. And above all, match the quality of your 3D object to your brand.

For example, if your key marketing message is about protecting your clients, don’t mail something like the cheapest umbrella that’s going to break after the third or fifth use. That will reflect poorly on your key brand message. Likewise, don’t overshoot your brand. Sending out gold-plated key fobs could be perceived as bribery if your brand is all about affordable office supplies, for instance.

The best way to start is with your creative brief: define your goals and targets, and THEN your message will naturally follow. Assuming you’ve written your creative brief, here are some examples of 3D mailing types to get your creative juices flowing.

3D Campaign Types.

I categorize 3D mailings into three types:

1. The fun gadget:

Stromberg Allen direct mail series: Even though Stromberg Allen gained approved vendor status with several new clients, they still needed to snag the attention of the clients’ internal buyers. As a printer of K-12 learning tools, they have the capability to produce very complex dimensional products using many components, and they wanted to demonstrate this expertise. We created a campaign of four boxed items that displayed their ability to produce fun, yet educational tools by marrying a gadget with a marketing message and booklets inside the boxes. The sales team then received instructions to send these to their specific targets one week apart until they snagged a meeting. Without sales’ cooperation and follow through, an expensive campaign like this would be wasted. Be sure to train your entire team before implementation of any campaign.

Benefit Downside
Fun to receive; if done right, can be memorable AND get your message across. May end up with kid at home if it’s TOO fun, which defeats your purpose of having it stick around as a reminder on the recipient’s desk.

2. The helpful tool:

Ripon Printers printing tools series: Ripon Printers’ capabilities include practically anything you’d want in a printer: digital/offset/web, cold and heatset, fulfillment, custom ink jetting, list hygiene and maintenance, catalog/education/direct marketing expertise, and web-storefront capabilities. To spread the word of their wide range of expertise, MondoVox concepted and designed a series of handy Tips Books (one per service area) and a video that would serve multiple marketing tasks. Not only do sales representatives distribute these tools to their existing customers, MondoVox also created a multipart direct mail campaign targeting new prospects. We created a handy book box for the tips books and a disc mailer for the video DVD. Ripon uses these 3D mailings along with a personalized introductory brochure to complete a three-part campaign for all new prospect lists.

This is a great example of how you can be 3D even if using relatively flat objects like books or DVDs. No need to throw in a pen just to get a bump on your envelope. It’s also a good example of a series within a series; the tips books can be mailed individually with the first one going out with the book box and the others arriving one week apart until the recipient fills the box.

Benefit Downside
If it’s truly a great tool, it will have a high sticky factor. In fact, don’t be surprised if prospects take your tools from job to job if they find them particularly valuable. Can come off as matter-of-fact and serious rather than providing any sort of clever gotcha moment. BUT if concepted carefully, a tool series can accomplish both.

3. Custom product samples:

Gourmetceuticals Taste Test Kit: Being new to the market, Gourmetceuticals needed to quickly convince food ingredient buyers that their nutritional ingredients did not impart negative flavors in final products but did offer all the benefits of nutritional supplements. We created a Taste-Test Kit using a granola product developed by a partnership between Nuts Are Good and Gourmetceuticals. The granola packs were designed to resemble grocery-ready food items while containing technical information directed to the buyer. Accompanying the samples was a cover letter and instructional booklet that walked the buyer through tasting the product, ultimately convincing them that Gourmetceuticals’ ingredients provide added nutrition while not imparting negative flavors or aftertastes. Careful pre-qualification of a limited number of targets allowed us to mail the kits via a parcel delivery service.

These kits were so successful that we expanded to include a print ad + landing page kit request to attract additional buyers.

Benefit Downside
By carefully controlling the message with a custom product sample, you have the opportunity to demonstrate your product AND get the meeting. Seemingly the most boring of all options, BUT could actually be quite effective if matched with a catchy message and the right target market. Also more labor intensive than just ordering a box of pens, but the potential payoff is much greater.

Don’t Be a Joke-in-a-Box.

While everyone wants to do the fun, gadget-type of campaign, that’s not always the most appropriate or most effective 3D object to incorporate. Consider carefully your brand reputation and key marketing messages to determine what type is best for you.

By Julia Moran Martz

Envelopes—Your “Get Opened” Tool.

You have a lot of direct mail formats available—postcards, self-mailers, dimensional mailers and, of course, the good old envelope. Many factors from budget and objective to the nature of your offer and audience enter into your format decision. So let’s begin our discussion with when you should use an envelope package.

Four Reasons to Choose Envelope Packages.

The first and most obvious is that envelopes provide an ideal solution when your offer requires more space for multiple components such as a cover letter, brochure, buckslip and reply envelope. After all, something has to keep the components from falling on the ground.

Second, envelopes better accommodate the fact that people buy in different ways. The letter-brochure combo provides alternate ways of presenting information—one more verbal and fact oriented, the other more visual.

Third, real people send things to real people in envelopes. Recipients feel more catered to when they receive an envelope package—especially a personalized one—and that’s essential in today’s marketplace.

Fourth, envelopes tend to look less promotional than postcards and self-mailers, so they have the ability to lift you above the marketing fray with a classier presentation.

Then There’s the Offer Thing.

Some types of offers just beg for an envelope. After analyzing lots of tests and studies, most direct marketing authorities consider envelopes more effective for these types of offers:

  • Financial products—loans, credit cards, securities, insurance
  • Magazine and newspaper subscriptions
  • Continuity/membership clubs
  • Charitable solicitations
  • Professional services
  • High-ticket consumer goods
  • Technology products
  • Telephone services

But perhaps the most important and often overlooked reason to use an envelope is that it can contain a letter. A real, honest-to-goodness personal letter. Oh, I know we don’t write so many of them anymore, but that’s not because they don’t work.

If fact, letters are incredibly powerful either as a standalone component or as part of a package. Many direct mail authorities still believe that a letter is the most important single element in a direct mail package. And many tests show that letters can hold their own or even exceed the performance of postcards and self-mailers.

Consider including a letter when your message needs to:

  • Come from one person by name.
  • Be addressed to an individual by name.
  • Requires added credibility or confidentiality.

And the more personalized you can make the content, the higher the letter’s impact will be.

Sealing It Up.

Well, I suppose I digressed a bit from envelopes. But perhaps it highlights the most important point of all. Nothing really stands alone in marketing. We talk about integrated media while sometimes forgetting the integrated relationship of components within a single element like a direct mail package.

Now about that envelope….

By Larry Bauer

Want Expert Advice?

MondoVox Creative Group can help you develop direct mail packages that result in sales. For more information, email Julia Moran Martz.

You can connect with Julia Moran Martz on LinkedIn. Or follow her on Twitter.

Do’s and Don’ts of Envelopes.

Creating effective envelopes doesn’t necessarily mean spending a lot of money. To the contrary, it means understanding your audience and offer and then creating an appropriate fit. Here’s how to ensure that recipients welcome your next envelope package.

Do

  • Ensure your envelope is at least ¼” larger than the inserts.
  • Put your company name on the envelope if you’re confident it will cause a positive reaction from recipients—otherwise leave it off.
  • Match images, graphics and copy appropriately to your audience.
  • Use postage stamps if possible, especially for small mailings or anything that requires a personal touch.
  • Use metered mail as a second choice, but avoid the dreaded indicia—studies show that Fortune 500 companies route 30% of Standard Mail to the wastebasket immediately.
  • Personalize—that can mean anything from variable-data messaging to using a legible script font or actual handwriting—non-profits read this again.
  • Include teaser copy that is compelling, intriguing and invites curiosity.
  • Test envelope color, size, style and paper—differences might attract people who pitched a mailing before.
  • Consider an enclosure that creates an envelope lump—people can’t resist them, but be aware that it will add to postage costs.
  • Play the angles—an angled teaser line or even a slightly angled stamp can make your envelope get noticed.

Don’t

  • Use form letter or bill formats—they typically either get tossed or put with the bills.
  • Use a window envelope—possible exceptions are if it’s the only way to get killer personalization inside or if it’s a full view that shows a compelling graphic.
  • Put your offer on the envelope—especially to a cold list.
  • Underestimate the power of envelope tone—official, fun, etc.
  • Neglect to plan well in advance if you want to use a specialty envelope—custom envelopes take longer to produce.
  • Address your B2B mail to generic titles if at all possible—nothing screams mass mail louder than generics.
  • Skimp on any element of address accuracy—Cathy with a “C” might tune you out in a heartbeat if you spell her name with a “K.”
  • Dupe recipients into thinking your envelope contains something it doesn’t—tone needs to fit the actual contents.
  • Use statements like “Open Immediately”—see above.
  • Forget to order 5–10% more envelopes than you need—you’ll likely lose some in setup.
  • Time your mail to arrive on Monday, the heaviest mail day of the week—aim for Tuesday, the lightest day, or Wednesday, the second lightest.

By Larry Bauer

mb-2010-do-dont-v22bMissed Getting Your Copy of The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts? Not to worry. We’ve made digital versions available via SlideShare. The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts is a collection of the most viewed “Do’s & Don’ts” published by our MondoBeat newsletter including:

  • Taglines
  • Print Advertising
  • Referrals
  • Trade Shows
  • Corporate Brochures
  • Direct Mail
  • Thought Leadership
  • White Papers

Simply visit our SlideShare page to download your complimentary copy.

The Art of the Envelope Tease.

One of the biggest mistakes designers can make is ignoring the envelope that contains their client’s direct mail components. Envelopes are the key tool that determines whether your direct mail gets opened or gets ditched.

Design Tips for Creating Intriguing Envelopes for Your Direct Mail Campaign.

  • Vary the size: think outside of the standard #10 envelope. Look at oversized envelopes or even undersized. Anything to break out of the normal in-box clutter.
  • Use color: consider envelopes that reflect your brand’s primary color or consider anything that isn’t white, yet fits your offer. White envelopes tend to blend in with everything else in the recipient’s mailbox. Consult your designer or printer for interesting textures and colors.
  • Print a teaser message on the envelope: the operative word here is ‘teaser.’ There’s no rule that says you need to give it all away up front. Leave a little something to reward them for opening. Keep the message enticing.
  • Consider using a translucent or clear envelope: if your budget allows, there are a myriad of clear and translucent options. Choices include vellum, glassine and polybag-type envelopes. But be cautious when sourcing vellum as not all are crack resistant. Consult with your printer for vellum options that minimize cracking. And also don’t assume that polybag-type envelopes are only available in crystal clear. There are many exciting color choices that ignite the imagination. ClearBags has a great online resource to get your creative juices flowing, but do work you’re your printer for larger quantities.
  • Consider the design of the interior components up front. Don’t’ just toss them in a clear envelope without thought to what will show through. Again, you may need to redesign the outward facing messages on the interior components if you’re using a clear envelope.
  • You may also consider window envelopes as an alternative to solid paper or clear poly envelopes. There are several sizes including booklet envelopes with nearly full-view windows that deliver a similar effect.

Production Considerations.

  • If going with a translucent or clear envelope, you’ll have to reconsider how you handle addressing the envelope. Depending on the color and translucency of the material, you may have to use an address label. Or you could design the backside of the inserts to contain the address info.
  • Remember what I said about vellum. While insanely cool, you must work with a good printer to spec a stock that is crack resistant.
  • Some envelopes don’t come with a sticky seal. Some glassine envelopes, for instance, may require you to use a label to close the flap. This is another opportunity for messaging.
  • While an envelope mailer will cost more to produce than a postcard, a well-designed envelope can outperform a postcard if the message is right for a closed-envelope package. The challenges are the budget, of course, and ensuring the envelope is the right vehicle for your direct mail’s desired outcome.
  • Spec converted envelopes to save money. The only drawback is that you won’t be able to print across folds or bleed off a cut edge. But a good designer can certainly work within these restrictions to save you money.

Ignore at your own peril the envelope’s ability to tease, entice, intrigue and seduce the recipient. But also remember what mom advised in your youth: don’t give it all away up front and do leave something to the imagination. Envelopes are no different. Enticing someone to open is often a matter of making a promise but only enough to generate excitement. Like wearing just the right dress on your first date. Not too much, not too little.

By Julia Moran Martz

Are You Still Mailing Your Father’s Postcards?

Postcards are more popular than ever, though many writers and designers run for cover when they hear the word. Some don’t like condensing the message into such a small space. Others dismiss them as low-end, low-value promotions for companies that can’t afford anything else.

But savvy marketers know better.

Postcards can be performance powerhouses when done right. In fact, they sometimes do remarkably well even when done poorly. One of the reasons they continue to work is that postcards come “pre-opened.” There’s no decision to make. The offer is right in front of you. Postcards draw immediate attention and give you more than a fighting chance to entice the prospect even when you’re unknown.

Perfect for today’s over-messaged marketplace.

Understanding Postcard Basics.

Although our intent is to take the form to its highest level, there are four postcard basics that you need to get right no matter what technology you integrate into your campaigns:

  1. Attention-demanding Headline. You only get a few seconds to gain attention, so make your headline big and benefit oriented.
  2. Involving Visual. Draw in the recipient by making the visual and headline work as a team. Visuals should be as large and involving as possible. Showing a product or service in action is always effective.
  3. Persuasive Copy. Maintain interest with strong, feature- and benefit-oriented copy. Since you are likely using a multi-step approach, write your copy to entice and qualify.
  4. Call to Action. Be sure to tell the recipient exactly what action to take and don’t assume anything. Direct the person to “Call toll free today for a free sample and information kit,” or whatever is the appropriate action for your program. Multiple, user-friendly options tend to work best.

Adding Some Technology Juice.

Separate your postcards from the competition by taking advantage of today’s technology.

  • Do Your Database Work. From variable data digital printing to inkjet imaging, print technology provides a lot of opportunities to personalize and customize your postcard mailings. There’s a strong likelihood that you have plenty of existing data to elevate the performance of your postcards. Start simply if you must and work your way up, but do use your data. Every personalization step you take will deliver better results. Keep in mind that there’s also worthwhile demographic information you can append from outside sources while you’re building your internal database. Seek help if you need it.
  • Personalize. Get past the “name thing” quickly. It’s not that using someone’s name isn’t worthwhile—it is—but today’s variable technologies allow you to do so much more with photos, graphics and copy if you know anything at all about your target. You can create postcards that are variable in every respect with digital presses or do something as simple as offline- inkjet imaging a store location map when you’re doing the addressing. You can also create postcards with personalized URLs (pURLs) that connect recipients to a personal landing page where they typically receive an incentive for their effort. Many times there are additional offers beyond the original promise, such as an opt-in newsletter or club membership, available at the personal landing page. Besides the personalization effect, the big benefit of pURLs is that they provide a reliable method for tracking postcard recipients who went online as a result of the promotion, whether or not they took advantage of the offer.
  • Involve. Postcards can now be more involving than ever. QR Codes, which are hotter than hot, are two-dimensional barcodes that enable smartphone users equipped with the correct reader software to scan the code. This causes the phone’s browser to launch and redirect to the programmed URL. A real estate company, for example, could offer a property on the postcard and the QR code might take the recipient to a video tour of the home. But don’t dismiss other involvement devices such as scratch-offs, repositionable notes and other proven techniques.

The bottom line is that postcards not only work, but also are evolving tools that can achieve virtually any level of marketing sophistication your program requires.

By Larry Bauer

Want Expert Advice?

MondoVox Creative Group can help you develop postcard campaigns that take advantage of today’s technology. For more information, email Julia Moran Martz.

You can connect with Julia Moran Martz on LinkedIn. Or follow her on Twitter.

Do’s and Don’ts of Postcards.

We once knew a youth soccer coach who was 10–0 in her first season and knew it was the coaching. Then she went 0–10 in her second season and knew it was the players. Consistent success depends upon bringing all the elements together. Here’s how to trounce the competition with your next postcard campaign.

Do

  • Grab attention with a bold headline—postcards have to work fast.
  • Focus on one big idea and one main point per card.
  • Emphasize what the recipient will get by taking the next step.
  • Include all the elements of a direct mail package in short form—letter, brochure and reply.
  • Use tracking identifiers to know what’s generating inquiries.
  • Include a strong, crystal clear call to action.
  • Make the card interactive with QR codes and other devices.
  • Use a personal message style over a display ad approach.
  • Increase the card size to 6” x 9” if possible—higher response rates and more marketing space usually justify the costs.
  • Approach your database work as carefully as you would any other mailing.

Don’t

  • Get spooked into ultra-short copy—the billboard notion is a myth.
  • Use technical words or jargon—this isn’t the place, if there ever is one.
  • Forget to include incentives for taking the next step.
  • Think that color and graphics will outperform personalized content—put them together for maximum results.
  • Try to make the sale on the postcard—they are multi-step marketing vehicles.
  • Use smaller than 8 pt. type anywhere on the postcard.
  • Neglect direct mail basics—get your lists, offer and creative right in that order of priority.
  • Accept any old paper—your stock selection is a visual element too.
  • Think that postcards are just for small companies—check your mailbox.
  • Settle for your office printer—ditto for “gang runs” unless elements like your logo color aren’t that critical.

By Larry Bauer

mb-2010-do-dont-v22bMissed Getting Your Copy of The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts? Not to worry. We’ve made digital versions available via SlideShare. The Little Book of Marketing Do’s & Don’ts is a collection of the most viewed “Do’s & Don’ts” published by our MondoBeat newsletter including:

  • Taglines
  • Print Advertising
  • Referrals
  • Trade Shows
  • Corporate Brochures
  • Direct Mail
  • Thought Leadership
  • White Papers

Simply visit our SlideShare page to download your complimentary copy.

Grandiose Generalizations About Postcard Design.

Think of a postcard almost like a combination of a billboard on the highway, key messages from a brochure and a call to action from your sell sheet. You’ve got barely seconds to capture your recipient and THEN, you have to give them enough of the details to beguile them. Grab their attention like a billboard but provide follow through like a brochure—that’s the trick.

Design Generalizations for Postcards.

Remember, a generalization is just that and there will always be exceptions. Here’s my list of design tips for smart postcard designers:

  • All caps, bold, condensed and italic is likely not the most readable treatment for your hard-working headline. You must find a balance between a visually strong headline and one that’s easily read. Select a typeface that works, and don’t over embellish it. Do all this while staying true to your brand image.
  • Images should be unique and compelling IF you have them. Keep in mind that it’s not 100% necessary to have an image with your headline; a headline could be the main visual in and of itself. But if you include an image, choose one that’s not likely to be overly used in your market, or have an image shot custom for you.
  • Don’t put a strong message on a wimpy card stock. The post office’s guidelines are the minimum and are not what we recommend. The sturdier the better and not so shiny it squeaks or reflects light rather than your message. Think of this postcard as your handshake with prospects when you’re not available. Keep it firm and not too squeaky.
  • Consider a straight perforation across one end for any coupon detachment if you can’t afford a fancy die to cut the shape you want. Often, a single straight perf will be a tad cheaper. You just need to design it into your card creatively.
  • Skip the paragraphs of prose on your card and go for short-and-sweet messages. And keep the quantity of those to the bare minimum. Filling your card with FREE FREE FREE and loads of platitudinous drivel will make your key message and call to action hard to find quickly. All you do is end up in the trash sooner.
  • Respect the reader. Despite what some advertisers in the 70’s would have us believe, customers are smart and getting smarter. They learn from each other and share information online and off. So make your message/point/deal intelligent and easy to pass on in other media.
  • Don’t even think about clichés. They don’t position you as better or unique.
  • I know Larry said in his Do’s and Don’ts list to not use type smaller than 8 point. I’m going to go one better and advise you to keep it 10 points or larger. Remember, folks are reading often at arms length in their entryway when they get home from a long day at work. Lighting in entryways is often insufficient for small text.

Postcard Anatomy 101 and Gallery.

Ripon Postcard FrontFront: Capture with a compelling headline and/or visual. Don’t over do it, just get them to stop and read or take the card to their desk.

Back: Follow through with the details (But not too many. This is not the place for your legal counsel to practice writing warranties.)

Prioritize your copy by what gets read first. In roughly this order, humans see visual, read headline, captions, offer and then details. So no skimping on captions and offer copy. Get it right and make it work hard for its space.

Ripon Postcard Back

Use white space to direct the reader to what you want them to read first and second. Don’t worry about third. They may not get that far.

 

One Hit Wonders.

The cards below were designed as single-hit mailers, just weeks prior to a key trade show. They included pURLs (personalized URLs) on the back to provide landing pages specific to each recipient.

Ripon Printers Postcard Singles

Cost-saving tip: pURLs were inkjet printed on the cards after they were run on a conventional offset press. You could also use variable data printing directly on a digital press and accomplish both printing and customization simultaneously. Determining which is most cost effective for your job is a balance between quality and number of inks printed.

Stromberg Allen tri-fold postcard

The above tri-fold card was designed as a single-hit, pre-show mailer, just weeks prior to a key trade show. It included a teaser image to get them to open, and then followed through with booth number and incentive to visit during the show.

Three Times or More is a Charm.

Recchia Postcard Campaign

You can also create a series of more than the standard three cards and schedule it to run for several months. Also don’t feel pressured into doing what everyone else does: try a different colored paper stock, try illustrations instead of photography, mix it up and be different to stand out from the crowd.

And one last thing: DO schedule overlapping smaller quantity mailings of your cards so you have time to follow up between each. You are planning on following up via phone after mailing aren’t you?

By Julia Moran Martz