3 Ways to Design Successful Postcards

The following is an excerpt from the recent Direct Marketing IQ report, “Design & Formats for Boosting Direct Mail Response.”

In the world of direct mail, sometimes it feels as if the postcard format is on trial, defending its basic two sides against the prosecution’s long letter, freemium, brochure, buckslip and reply.

The letter package promises a whole entourage of elements buffering an offer, while the bare-bones approach of a postcard arguably loses the touchy-feely, hold-your-hand sell of a letter package.

“I was against postcard use except for very retail-oriented transactions like notifying somebody of a dollars-off or percentage-off sale, or trying to drive traffic to a retail location like a coffee shop, but that really kind of changed when the postal costs hit us really hard and the costs went up,” comments Steve Penn, CEO and executive creative director with Penn Garritano Direct Response Marketing, based in Minneapolis.

Penn and many other marketers are now considering using the postcard in their arsenals to fight against rising production and postage costs — and help bottom lines hit hard by tough economic times. While testing a postcard format, marketers may be surprised by its many benefits.

1. Start With Clean, Measurable Data
“Start with a good database that you can measure; you can’t measure ROI without a clean database that not only tracks the demographics, but tracks purchasing activity as well,” says Brent Foreman, president of Group 3 Marketing, a Wayzata, Minn.-based relationship marketing company. He urges companies to eliminate silos between multiple products and channels as well.

Penn agrees that to get the most ROI from a postcard mailing, you need to employ metrics across the board. “You have to have pretty tight metrics in place to be able to attribute traffic and lead generation to a single postcard. It depends on what’s happening in other channels, and it’s difficult to sometimes attribute a spike in sales specifically to a postcard if you’re also doing television, for example, or if you’re doing radio,” he says.

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  • Jon Smith

    Great article for those looking to promote and have a data base.

  • Paul McQuillan

    I am not sure I agree with some of the advice here, it is also sorta generic. One point that I totally disagree with is the 30/70 copy/graphics tip. That would depend on what is being promoted. A coffee shop, sure. A financial service, no. Pictures tell, words sell. I would emphasize the importance of the chosen graphics. If they do not correlate with the copy, it can lead to disaster. Also, size of the postcard matters. Flat mailers now are 33% bigger than it was just 10 years ago. This is good as we get more prime real estate to pull the reader in. 4×6 postcards these days are not much better than a business card at selling.