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Postcards: A Flexible Marketing Tool for Your Business

Postcards are a simple, inexpensive, and flexible direct mail marketing tool. They can be used to close sales, generate leads, cultivate return business, or introduce new products. In fact, the use of marketing postcards is really limited by nothing but your imagination. Some creative ideas include:

What is Postcard Marketing?

Place a screen capture of your website on a card with the URL prominently displayed to generate more traffic.
Remind customers its time to buy again. Some products become less effective with time like support stockings or sports wraps and should be replaced regularly.
Announce an impending price increase to encourage more sales at the current, lower rate.
Invite your top customers to a private sale or offer them a discount over their usual purchase limit. (If a customer routinely buys $500 in products, offer a discount on sales of more than $750.)
Offer holiday promotions. These can be "two-fers," buy two items for the regular price of one, or discounts applicable to a given day. (Come in on Christmas Eve and you get 15 % off.)
Introduce new members of your staff and invite customers to come in and meet them.
Advertise clearance sales and other special events throughout the year.

Benefits of Postcards

The major benefit that attracts users to postcard mailings is the low cost. (The current U.S. postal rate for a stamped postcard is 23 cents.) Although money is generally the "bottom line," the attractive price point is not the only benefit of postcard use.

Cards can be used in test-marketing because they can be produced and sent in small quantities before committing to a full-blown marketing campaign.
Postcards are an excellent way to hit your target market only, achieving maximum "bang" for your marketing "buck."
Production and processing of postcards is fast. It only takes a matter of a few days to get important information to your clients.
The cards are less offensive in your clients' mailboxes. Most people throw out mass mail offerings with only a passing glance, but postcards due to their size and ease of access generally get more attention.
Postcards don't require extra equipment or special services. While you can order cards in mass quantity online, you can also easily churn out 50 or 100 with almost any computer / printer set up.
Since a postcard's message should be simple and direct, professional design services are not a necessity.

Tips on Postcard Layout

Although arguably the most simple of all marketing materials to generate, there are still some things to consider in order to create a highly effective postcard.

Don't waste space, but by the same token don't cram information together. Your card should be easy to read and easy on the eyes with a well-balanced and attractive appearance.
Headlines are extremely important. They should immediately catch the eye and make the reader stop and examine the card more closely.
Use graphics only if they have a purpose and contribute to the card's message. Otherwise, they image just wastes space that could go toward communicating your message.
If you plan on generating a series of cards throughout the year use a consistent element. By the second or third card, people will instantly recognize the fact that it's from your business.

Writing Postcard Copy

As with any kind of advertising copy, it isn't so much a matter of what you are saying as how you are siting it. The key words to remember are:


It just takes a flick of the wrist for your card to wind up in the trash. Consider the following:

Attract attention with a funny image or statement, the use of bright colors or bold print, or a prominently displayed piece of useful or money-saving information.

Talk directly to the reader. This is one place where using the word "you" is a definite plus.

Offer some incentive to take action. This can be a limited-time offer, a request for information, a means to order a product or request a service instantly, or some other call for the reader to do something that is to their benefit.

Standard Postcard Sizes

An important aspect of postcard marketing is to ensure that your production falls within the specifications set by the United States Postal Service. If the cards are inappropriately sized they will either not be processed for mailing or will incur a higher postal rate.

minimum size allowed - 3.5 x 5 inches
maximum size allowed - 4.25 x 6 inches; if the dimension of the card is larger, letter rates apply
minimum thickness - .007 inches
maximum thickness - .25 inches; if the thickness of the card is greater, parcel rates apply
intermediate sizes within the above minimum and maximum dimensions are allowed

Good Things Come in Small Packages

For small businesses on a tight budget or companies with a need to communicate multiple times a year with a select target audience, postcards are the flexible marketing tool of choice. Additionally, the open form factor allows your message to be read by anyone who happens to glance at the card as it travels through the postal system or is left lying on your client's desk or counter top. The power of the casual glance plays a significant role in branding. Someone may remember your business name or service and contact you while having no idea where they acquired the information. Postcards are an important aspect of marketing campaigns because they carry the primary benefits of:

low cost
flexibility of use
fast turn around
tight audience targeting

Postcards no longer cost a penny, but they're worth every marketing penny you invest in their production and mailing.

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