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Postcard Marketing: Two Case Studies

by Marcia Yudkin

Postcard Marketing by a Local Printer

Here's an incredibly simple system a smart local printing company uses month after month after month to get new customers into its shop to place an order.

Like all successful postcard marketing campaigns, it started with strategic thinking: What category of people could serve as a reliable source of new customers? The owner's answer: new business incorporation's within a 10-mile radius of his print shop.

A list company provides him once a month with a data file of prospects that meet that description.

Note that not all new incorporation's are brand-new businesses, but because of the incorporation, they now have a new business designation, "Inc.," to add after their name. So whether or not they're a new business, they're a perfect prospect for printing services since they have a new business name they want to get out into the world.

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Next, what offer would entice them into the shop? The owner's answer: a bundled offering of printed stationery, envelopes and business cards at 40% off.

Using the online interface at PostcardBuilder.com or another online print-and-mail company, he designs a postcard containing that offer. To get the discount, the recipient needs to bring the postcard into the shop with them.

Once a month, his assistant uploads the new list of newly incorporated businesses to the print-and-mail company, presses a few buttons, and that's it. Two business days later, that month's postcards go out in the mail, and a few days later, owners of the nearby newly incorporated businesses begin showing up at his shop to use the discount.

After it's all set up, the process takes less than 20 minutes a month to manage.

Results are predictable.

To adjust the results, the print shop owner can change the geographical radius, reduce or raise the number of postcards he sends - or schedule his mailings once a week or every other week instead of monthly.

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"Marcia Yudkin's Top Ten Strategies for Using Postcards to Market Your Business outlines a fresh, can't-miss case for using good old-fashioned direct mail to attract new clients. Besides telling the 'why' of postcard marketing, she provides plenty of 'how-to' as well. After reading her report, I'm using Strategy #9 for my own business and Strategy #6 for one of my clients." - Jan O'Daniel, Award-Winning Copywriter, GetGreatCopy.com.  Postcard marketing models report.

Postcard Marketing to Speaker's Bureaus

Here's a postcard campaign that was profitable for me some years back.

To get more speaking engagements, I wanted to be represented by more speakers bureaus. However, bureaus were inundated with information kits and phone calls from wannabes.

Therefore, I decided to offer to help bureaus market themselves better. This would cut through the clutter, and I'd come to their attention as a marketing expert and a speaker on marketing, in a back-handed way.

I obtained a mailing list of directors of speakers bureaus and created a postcard containing one of my Marketing Minute newsletters. Besides the complete text of my 180-word Marketing Minute, the card invited them to subscribe to get tips on growing their business from my no-cost weekly email newsletter.

Six times in one year, I mailed a card like this to the speakers bureau directors. The card was the same each time except that it contained the text of a different Marketing Minute.

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When I did this campaign, it was before the advent of online postcard marketing companies. I changed the master file in my computer, took a printout of the card contents to my local Kinko's, they printed up the cards on card stock that they cut into quarters, I stuck on the bureau mailing labels and stamps, and finally dropped them at the post office.

Today, the process is much simpler. You can design a postcard template online, cut and paste new content into it for each new mailing, upload the data file for the postcard recipients just once, and have PostcardBuilder.com or another online postcard print-and-mail company print and send the cards for you. There's no need to touch or mess with mailing labels, stamps or even the postcards. Just place the order and it's done.

And my results? One bureau owner hired me for copywriting from the first mailing and lined up a speaking engagement for me a year later. Three other bureau owners I mailed to added me to their roster, with two additional bookings coming out of that. Several other bureau owners joined my Marketing Minute list and purchased products or services from me years later, or referred others who did so.

Financially, the campaign brought me at least fifteen times as much in revenues as I spent, with results trickling in for more than seven years.

And I didn't make a single cold call to a bureau owner, which for me was an unspeakably big plus!

Postcard Marketing Recession Rescue

Someone asked me if postcards are a good marketing tool for a recession. Yes, they are! Indeed, postcards pulled me out of the 1990-91 recession.

With a business partner, I'd started a training company in writing skills and rented an office at the prestigious Statler Office Building, adjacent to the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston. As the recession deepened, companies froze their training budgets, and all of our hot training leads evaporated.

However, I had two significant assets to exploit. First, our office rent included access to a classy conference room we could reserve as much as we wanted, and second, I had a list of 3,000 people who'd been in one of my adult education classes on writing in the previous two years.

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I wrote up three classes we could give in the conference room, reserved the dates and mailed postcards to my list. People called to sign up! For the next few years, until the economy recovered, postcards reliably filled our classes.

Several lessons I learned about postcard marketing during those years remain true today.

1) Responses from a "warm" list of people who know you will always be greater than responses from strangers. Our classes were $99 each, and I'm not sure the postcards would have yielded such a nice profit had they been sent to "cold" prospects.

2) For seminars, you need sizable mailings to get enough participants to fill the room. The response rate would have been the same had I sent just 1,000 postcards, but that might not have generated enough people for each class.

3) Consistency and repetition help. I mailed postcards every two months for a new round of classes, always using magenta card stock from the Kinko's copy center. From what people said when they signed up, it was clear they had come to recognize the hot pink postcards as coming from me. People paid more attention to the postcards as time went on, not less.

4) Color attracts, but images are optional. I used boldface strategically on the postcards to create a readable layout, but the cards contained no images - only words. If you look at galleries of sample postcards online, you'll see no pure-text samples, but for certain purposes they can work extremely well.

One thing that's changed since postcards pulled me out of that recession is that you no longer have to mess with address labels and stamps or postal permits to send postcards. Choose the right postcard vendor, and you can design your postcard online, upload your database and order the cards sent on a specific date. It's so much easier now.

Copyright 2013 Marcia Yudkin.  All rights reserved.

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