8 ways to use postcards effectively

Postcards can be one of the most versatile options in direct mail. They offer a quick, affordable way to create smart, condensed marketing campaigns. They work just as well either in place of or in conjunction with your traditional direct-mail packages. And most important, with a little innovation, they can break through the clutter and deliver direct-marketing messages to your audience instantaneously.

Small and portable postcards make a quick impact, so they should feature brief and to-the-point messages. Here are some ideas for using postcards:

  1. Drive brand awareness. Create a series of postcard mailings for campaigns geared toward establishing or strengthening your relationship with customers and potential customers. For this effort, information is key. Make sure your postcards briefly convey all the ways your organization can make your customers' lives easier. And be sure to include all the information they need to contact you.
  2. Drive traffic to your Web site. Announce new features on your Web site, as well as new products or services. Postcards can also drive recipients to your site to sign up for offers (white papers, e-newsletters, etc.) or register for upcoming events. The Graphic Arts Show Co., in promoting its Print 09 annual expo, used personalized postcards with variable images to drive recipients to register online. To do so, the organizers divided a 218,000-person mailing list into seven industry-related segments. Each group received a targeted and attention-grabbing postcard featuring a personalized Web landing page (PURL) where each recipient could log on to get more information, register for the show and complete a survey to enter a drawing for a $1,000 grand prize. The result? Nearly 3,000 recipients visited their PURLs, more than 2,400 completed the survey, and about 5% of survey-takers clicked through to register for the show.
  3. Advertise promotions. Inform your customers of your latest offer or monthly specials. Postcards can be sent quarterly, for example, to let customers know what you can do for them at various times of the year. With a little creativity, mailers can use postcards to bring in more business during slow times, such as seasonal specials.
  4. Show appreciation. Thank customers and donors for their purchases, and encourage a second purchase. Colourful, creative postcards—especially if they mention customers by name—can be an effective way to let people know you don't take them for granted. Such an effort creates good will and can prompt customers to shop with you again or sing your praises to colleagues. Consider adding a promotion code to spur an upcoming purchase. And remember that creativity is key: Try something humorous, unusual or particularly eye-catching.
  5. Follow up after an event. Use postcards to follow up with trade show leads. One insurance industry company personalize postcards using both variable images and text, based on, first, whether the recipient is a current or potential customer; second, the product the recipient may be interested in; and third, the location of the trade show.
  6. Develop loyalty. Build stronger relationships with your existing customers with variable data-printed postcards. This can work particularly well for purchases that need to be reordered periodically. Send your customers a personalized postcard to let them know they're due to reorder or return for another service. If you include an offer of some kind, they're more likely to reward your company with their continued business.
  7. Generate more business. Advertise to prospects or existing customers, especially in down times. Consider sending out personalized postcards that feature products similar to those previously purchased, and add an offer.
  8. Become social. Send your Twitter followers, LinkedIn colleagues and Facebook fans a nondigital surprise. LinkedIn contacts are perfect for this type of outreach, but don't forget to try to mine your Twitter followers or even those who have “friended” your organization on Facebook. If your company is just getting into social media, send a postcard to customers or supporters to let them know how they can find you in the social media universe.
Crystal Uppercue is marketing manager for direct marketing production company EU Services (, in Rockville, Md. She can be reached at [email protected]
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