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Marketing Your Home Business With Postcards

by Yank Elliott


Postcards can be an excellent, cost-effective way to conduct a marketing campaign. They are much less expensive than newspapers, magazines, TV, or radio, and—though a form of direct mail—they also eliminate a lot of extra cost associated with catalogs, brochures, and letters. What's more, in the United States at least, postage is much lower for postcards than for letters and other mail.


Postcards are considered best when mailing to a new list or new prospects who have never heard of you, while mailing letters in an envelope can be more effective when targeted to repeat customers who will recognize and read your letter. Because the former type of recipient will have a high throw-away rate, you can reduce your marketing costs by using postcards.


Other than postage, a few major costs for postcard marketing include printing the cards and buying leads. (The subject of leads is outside the scope of this report, but you can find out more by going to a search engine, such as AltaVista (http://www.altavista.com/), and typing in keywords TARGETED LEADS. You are sure to find many sources you can check out.)


Even with these costs, though, a case can be made that postcard marketing is actually less expensive than e-mail marketing. Upon hearing this, you're likely to say, “Why? E-mail costs nothing!”


Just do the math. If you pay $300 for 100 leads and only 2% read your message, your cost is $150 per reading. Postcards tend to get more response than e-mail because most people will just delete an e-mail they didn’t request without reading it. People will read postcards more often--it's harder to avoid.


You might have at least 50 people read your postcard. If so, you've just lowered your cost per reading to only $6. That’s a lot more cost-effective, isn’t it?


Why do most postcards get read? Here are some reasons:


People see the message immediately. They don’t have to open anything.
The person opening the mail will usually pass a postcard on to the intended recipient.
They may throw away an envelope or brochure that looks like JUNK MAIL.

Postcards are small. They frequently end up on top of the mail.

Two other postcard advantages:


People, as a rule, act at once. You get results quickly.
Your marketing plans remain unknown to your competitors (as compared to a newspaper, radio, or TV ad)

Large-size cards are also available. You can put more text on them, but printing and mailing costs increase. Let your budget and your goal for the mailing determine whether to use standard or large postcards.


Postcards are versatile marketing tools. Here are some uses:


Introduce new products.

Discuss new uses or existing products.

Show how to use products.

Advertise new information on your Website.

Test different marketing ideas in small batches. See which one pulls better.

Announce the relocation of your office.

Remind people of appointments (Dentists use this for recalls)

Stay in touch with customers:

Show appreciation with cards for birthdays, weddings, etc.

Build relationships with communication.

Say “Thank you.”

Solicit new customers.

Announce special events like seminars or trade shows.

Contact new residents in your community about products or business opportunities.

Use postcards as free coupons or gift certificates.

Use postcards, especially on the larger sizes, to send very short newsletters.

When you begin to design your postcard, you can do it yourself or seek professional help. Production is discussed later, and many of the same services will do everything, if you want to pay for it.


These are some design considerations, whether done by you or professionally:

Do you want color and how much?

Make your card look personal. You may not want to use slick paper.

Grab attention. Have a killer headline and only a little text.

State one or two main benefits.

Quickly give the rest of your message.

Do what you can to gain trust. This could be a testimonial, contact information or a small picture.
Offer a free bonus.

Call for action.

How do you actually produce your postcards? Check out one of the options listed below:


Color K Graphics (www.colorkgraphics.com/digital_postcards.asp)
VistaPrint (www.vistaprint.com)
MLM Postcards.com (www.mlmpostcards.com/)
USPS NetPost Services (http://www.usps.com/netpost/)

These are just some of the professional sources available. You can find many more using the search engines.


You can also print your own postcards, but this is not cost effective for more than 200 cards. The convenience, however, may be worth it to you. Many people use MS Publisher software for this kind of task. Go to office.microsoft.com/assistance/2002/articles/pubPrintPostcards.aspx to learn how. You will need paper; Avery (www.avery.com/) and most office supply stores have cardstock weight paper in a variety of colors.


Now you have your cards--to whom do you mail them? Here are ideas:

Read the article at www.internetwriters.com/article20.htm to target your market.

Build a list of leads:

Buy a list (check the Web for many sources).

Use your in-house list of existing customers and prospects.

Obtain leads from your Website or newsletter.

New resident lists.

Make a deal to include your card with mailings from other businesses.
Use them like business cards; leave them in offices, stores, and other high-traffic areas.

Here are more excellent sources of information about postcard marketing:


www.theglassceiling.com/wib2/ww3_32.ht
www3.sk.sympatico.ca/billhall/Ideas%20You%20Can%20Use.htm—scroll down until you get to the article on using postcards.
www.homebusinesscenter.com/mar2000.html 




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