POSTCARDS: The basics

Let’s start with the basics: What is a postcard? According to dictionary.com, a “Postcard — n Also called (US): postal card is a card, often bearing a photograph, picture, etc, on one side, (picture postcard), for sending a message by post without an envelope.”

I’d plus this laymen’s definition with the simple thought of, “A postcard is a flat sheet of paper mailed or directly delivered to a party, imprinted with words and photographs intended to evoke an emotional response from its recipient in order to get them to take the action indicated on the postcard, whether it be to make a phone call, visit a website, or, visit a store.” We’ve mailed every size and color – from the USPS’s minimum size to 11”x17” sheets of paper!

BEFORE YOU MAIL ANY POSTCARD:

What’s the purpose of your postcard? Sounds like an easy question, right? By ‘purpose,’ I mean, what do you expect or want the postcard to achieve? Do you want it to alert? Annoy? Generate a phone call? Drive to a website? If you need to increase sales and drive phone calls, the purpose of your postcard should be pretty clear. If you are interested in driving traffic to a website to increase your list, the point of the postcard should be clear, too.

Whatever the overall purpose is, keep it in mind and don’t wander when you start to write copy and create the layout. Stay on track. It sounds simple. But, if your intention is to drive a phone call to your office, why would you include your website to distract the potential caller? And, if you were intending to drive to a website, why put your phone number? Analyze every piece of copy.

It has to be intentional. Powerful. If it’s not moving the prospect in the direction you want (down the “greased chute”), then whack it. Take the copy off. It all has to sell. Your available real estate, even on my favorite, the 6” x 22” postcard (folded down to 6” x 11” finished size), is limited. In many cases for my own use to promote different businesses I have had, I have been able to get 4-pages of sales letter ON a 6” x 22” postcard.

Years ago, as the web started to become “the place” to drive people to sell ‘em something, I made an important discovery for my clients, that I believe, to this day, holds true: if you are driving phone calls to a live person, do not include your website on your postcard. It’s a mistake I see time and again.

You see, we’d find that instead of phone calls coming into the office where they could be converted to appointments, the client’s website would have a staggering amount of hits; the public was curious to know what was on their site. Sure, a few called, but not nearly enough, and, we began to see our results begin to drop.

And, what’s worse, it took our clients from selling in a vacuum in direct mail, to selling in an environment where prospects can start surfing for not only other like clients but other things. Not cool. Not good for response.

Here’s why so many still make this mistake today: We’ve been taught that the rule is you give your prospects as many ways to respond to you as possible. Phone, fax, email, website, Fed Ex, return envelope, whatever. However, when it comes to postcards, this rule can and should be clearly examined with a clean slate – without past biases of attempting to generate response.

ClearPath Society Members have access to literally dozens of proven postcard concepts and designs that have been mailed in my own dental office and hundreds of others all over the U.S. To learn more, visit ClearPathSociety.com

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