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So you're a small business and you read into the hype that postcards remain some of the most cost-effective and successful marketing tools available to small businesses today. You designed some postcards and send them out, then waited for the phone to ring. And you waited. And the phone never rang. You're feeling disappointed and down, like everyone else – the designer, the printer – got paid but you. “What return on investment,” you ask. This is understandable. But before you write postcard marketing off for good, let's examine the six likely reasons why your postcard mailing didn't work.
1. You didn't identify goals Did you set out with a specific goal in mind before you sent out your postcards? If not, then how can you measure success or failure? If your goal was to increase awareness for your company, you might have well succeeded. If your goal was to land 50 sales, then, of course, you failed. It's important to define your goal before you set out to create your postcard marketing campaign. That way your postcard can be created with that singular end goal in mind.
2. You didn't send your postcards to a targeted mailing list If you don't know your customers' issues and problems, and you don't know how to solve them, or you don't know their key buying triggers, then it's very difficult to earn a solid return on investment. If you do know your customers well, then you should have a very specific demographic for your best customer. Your mailing list should be comprised of people or companies that fit that demographic. It's said that 40 percent of your success depends on the quality of your mailing list; thus, if you have a poor mailing list, you will have a poor return on investment.
3. You didn't include a great offer Your postcards, and all of your direct marketing materials, should include a special offer so customers have an incentive to act now. Your offer should be time-limited, valuable and made clear to customers right away. It should also leave room for profit for you, either now or over the life of the customer-business relationship. Consider your offer from your customers' perspective. A free consultation isn't going to get them to drop what they're doing and call you (they already expect that). Think of something good and relevant you can offer, such as a discount, add-on or freebie, to make them want to take advantage of it immediately. Incidentally, the perceived value of your offer accounts for another 40 percent of your success. The remaining 20 percent? Everything else.
4. You didn't write compelling copy or design a powerful piece Design should command attention at the mailbox, set the mood, and reinforce the copy to stir emotion and desire with images, graphics, layout and color. Your copy must include a powerful headline (which can be your offer), create desire, list benefits to the customer, deliver your offer and motivate with a clear call to action.
5. Your postcards were poorly printed Trashy, flimsy and dirty postcards lend customers' similar feelings about your company. If you didn't opt for premium printing with a reputable postcard printer, you risk wasting your investment. The good news is that premium postcard printing, on thick 16-point gloss or 13 point eco-friendly recycled matte cover stocks, is surprisingly cheap.
6. It was the first postcard you sent Repetition is key in all aspects of marketing, including postcard mailings. This doesn't mean you shouldn't expect results from a single mailing; but it does mean you should expect better results the more you mail. Hit the same list several times with different offers, copy and designs. Test, track, and tweak your campaigns so you can measure results, predict your return on investment, and make every postcard mailing better than the last. If your last postcard mailing campaign failed, re-evaluate it to see if you made any of the aforementioned mistakes. Correct them, then try again. Chances are, you'll see vastly improved results and your opinion of postcard marketing will be forever changed.