DT&G Design Department
Current Location: Graphic-Design.com / DT&G Magazine / Business Department  

Using Postcards

to Promote Your Design Studio

by Martha Retallick, "The Passionate Postcarder"

Have you priced display advertising or Yellow Pages listings? They can add up to big money in a hurry. What's worse: if you decide to spend your hard-earned cash on them, there's no guarantee that you'll get any response.

I've found a way around this dilemma by using color postcards. They've been an essential part of my marketing toolkit for eight years, and they've brought thousands of dollars worth of business to my Web and graphic design studio here in Tucson, Arizona.

The Top 10 Advantages of Using Postcards

2 Keys to Postcard Marketing Success

I've found that there are two keys to postcard marketing success:

Being persistent. I send 10-12 postcards to my mailing list each year. I'm also pretty diligent when it comes to staying in touch with key clients and prospects between postcard mailings. Over the long run, this effort does pay off.

Planning the mailing before doing it. This topic merits some in-depth discussion, so let's get started...

Planning Your Postcard Marketing Mailing

Before you fire up your favorite design software, do a little planning. Ask yourself:
1. Why are you doing this card mailing? Do you want to get new clients? Or do you want to stay in touch with existing clients?
2. To whom are you going to be mailing these cards? Which begs another question: who's on your mailing list?

Now, you may be saying, "Martha, how can you ask such a thing? I don't even have a mailing list!"
      Okay, you don't have a proper list quite yet, but do you know anyone? I mean, do you have any friends, family, colleagues, former classmates, former coworkers, military buddies, or neighbors? I'll bet you do.
      Now, all you need to do is get their names, addresses and other pertinent info into a database program like Act!, Excel or Goldmine. There. Now you have yourself a mailing list.
      And, furthermore, you have the best kind of mailing list there is, because it's made up of people you know. They're going to be much more interested in what you have to offer than a list that's made up of a bunch of strangers.
      Your list of people who know you may well do a lot of business with you. Or your list folks may send you business. Mine sure do!

What's your budget?

If you've never done a postcard mailing, you're probably wondering, "What should I budget for?" Here are three items to account for:

1. Getting your digital files to the postcard printing company. If you have a high-speed Internet connection, you're in luck. You can just upload your files to the printer's website.
      Dialup people, you'd be better off sending your files to the printer via an overnight courier. It's easy to experience dropped connections when you're on dialup, which means that your digital file can get corrupted, and the printer won't be able to print from it.

2. Printing and delivery of the cards to your studio or to your mailing house.
      If you're on a tight budget, you can use your desktop printer to print your postcards. However, please be aware that this can be quite time-consuming, especially if you're doing hundreds of cards. That's why I prefer to outsource this job to a postcard printing company.

3. Postage. This could mean that you're buying some stamps for your cards. Or you may be outsourcing the card mailing to a mailing house, which will charge you for bulk mail postage, and assess a handling fee.

Designing Your Postcard

If you want to design effective postcards, then aim for "Refrigerator Door Mindshare."

By this, I mean that you should create a card that someone would be proud to display on his or her refrigerator door.
      The image on the front of your postcard should be simple, but attractive. I've found that brightly colored cards pull a better response than dark, moody cards. Save your artistic angst for some other medium.
      You should also create an image that's easily comprehended. Why? Because your recipients will only give your cards a one- or two-second glance before deciding to keep them or throw them away.
      Think billboard. A billboard must get its point across quickly´┐Żbecause people are driving by at high rates of speed. It also must be memorable.

3 Copywriting Tips

1. Focus on benefits, not features. Do your e-commerce website designs help clients increase sales by 20%? Do your logo redesign services help nonprofit organizations raise more money? Work the benefits into your card design and your copy.

2. Tell people what to do next. Should they pick up the phone and call for an appointment? Come to your open house on the 15th of this month? Getting the postcard into their hands is only the first step in your postcard marketing. You must get your recipients to take the next step, and you need to tell them what that step is.

3. Give them several ways to contact you. Put your address, phone number, e-mail, and Web address on your postcard.

Persistence Pays Off

These three words reveal a lot of truth. Like other marketing efforts, postcard mailings must be done over and over again to have a positive effect on your bottom line.
      I've heard a lot of people lament the fact that they just sent out a big postcard mailing, and, alas, no one called. Hey, it's happened to me. I've sent cards that I thought were so good that I was sure my phone would start ringing off the hook.
      But... Silence.
      That means that it's time for me to start making some other phones ring. Time to start smiling and dialing those hot prospects, clients, and anyone else who might send some business my way. The phone conversations tend to sound like this:

When you follow up after a card mailing, you're not making cold calls to a bunch of strangers. And, let's face it, we're more likely to do business with someone we know. By developing your own list, you can stack the odds of success in your favor.

Martha Retallick

Martha Retallick, "The Passionate Postcarder," hails from Tucson, Arizona. She is the author of Postcard Marketing Secrets, a downloadable PDF manual that will show you how to put postcards to work for your studio. Learn more about it at: www.postcardmarketingsecrets.com

Professional Post Card Templates... Chuck Green's Idea Books

Now get the templates for success using XPress, InDesign or PageMaker! The Design Idea Books by Chuck Green are the ultimate tools for marketing your products your services, and your organization.
      You'll get great marketing insights plus over 300 meticulously formatted templates -- everything from post cards, unique folding post cards, planning aids, product sheets, and packaging. Each book represents literally thousands of hours of layout, design, and information planning that you need not repeat.

Idea Books for InDesign, Quark XPress and PageMaker
... great publishing templates for your message, illustrations, and color choices -- from design publishing expert Chuck Green -- available directly from DTG and the Design Bookshelf!

Return to the Design Department, or back to the Front Page

Do you like DTG? If you have found benefit from the content found here, why not help by becoming a Friend of the Design Center? You'll be helping us continue our ten-year tradition of quality content on the web.

Participate in your Design Center

Lots of fun and information for all... don't forget, any community is only as good as the participation of its members. We invite your tips, tricks, comments, suggestions and camaraderie.