Postcard Roundup: The Good, the Bad, and the So-So
Postcards have an important place in the mailbox, and marketers on a tight budget love the 2-sided mailpiece. But not all postcards are created equal.
I recently spent 30 minutes scanning some postcards into Who's Mailing What! — our massive library of direct mail and email campaigns — and was able to take a close look at some recent mailings.
Although the postcards crossed different markets, seeing them all together gave me an interesting perspective that's resulted in some picks and pans. Here's my take: (check out the postcards mentioned in the slideshow below)
Three of the postcards were retail traffic-builders that all sported a barcode to save on your next in-store purchase.
• The loser here — Banana Republic. The front of this 5"x8" postcard features a red burst with "50% Off Entire Store." Turn it over and there is a 30% off offer plus a dense, reverse mouse-type disclaimer that is truly unreadable. Huh? So what happened to the additional 20%? Turns out (in tiny type) the 50% offer is for Aug. 30 - Sept. 2 and the 30% offer is for Sept. 3 - Sept. 9. I found the whole thing eye-bending and confusing. Could you tell?
• In the middle was Sherwin-Williams. This offer couldn't have been clearer. The small 4"x6" postcard had a straightforward message and call to action. There does, however, seem to be a design disconnect between the front and back.
• For me, the winner goes to BJ's Wholesale Club. Both sides of this 5.5" x 8.5" card worked together. The message was strong, the design was bold, and even though the savings was only $10 Off ... it was the card I would most likely put aside and take action on.
Now let's compare a couple of larger format postcards that took me all the way from the best to the worst!
• The winner here goes to Patient First — a walk-in medical care facility offering school physical checkups at a discounted price. The front of the card features a smiling child having his heart listened to by a stethoscope-wielding, attractive physician. Turn the card over and you find a great use of personalization: The message states that the recipient is only "8 minutes away" from the care center ... a map shows "You are here," as well as the route to get to the facility. The messaging is clear, telling you exactly what you need to bring, no appointment is necessary, staffed by physicians, etc. This hardworking postcard takes what could be a real chore for a busy mom or dad and makes it easy to get accomplished.
• Compare that to AT&T Next — a 5.5" x 10.5" card introducing the notion that you should get a new device every year. It doesn't tell you what device ... it doesn't tell you how ... it doesn't tell you where ... just visit a store near you. The light grey type and small images don't help either. What a waste of money.
So, what are my takeaways?
1. Make a clear offer. With a postcard you don't have to worry about getting the envelope opened, but you still only have a second or two to get your message across.
2. The front and back of the postcard should work together. You don't know which side someone is going to look at first — so make it cohesive and make it count.
3. Take advantage of sophisticated personalization. Imagine the AT&T postcard with a map to the nearest store with a big image of a new phone or tablet saying, "Peggy, pick up your new ..."
4. Consider your prospect's eyesight. Use a font and color that's easy to read!
To learn more about direct mail design (including a chapter on postcard design) check out Direct Marketing IQ's "Design & Formats for Boosting Direct Mail Response."