5. Limit the postcard's scope.
We've already mentioned the limited space of a direct mail postcard. Because of this, it's wise to limit the scope of your message to one major product or idea. Make it your direct mail copywriting mantra: "One idea per postcard!"
By limiting each direct mail postcard to one product (or service, or idea, or topic), you can develop it in a way that is more likely to generate a response. You could explain the primary benefits, offer a testimonial or two, include some product photos, and make a strong offer. But you can't do all that while covering several topics, not on a direct mail postcard anyway. Save the multi-topic sales pitch for your brochures and website.
6. Clarify your message.
I've read a lot of marketing pitches over the years that I simply did not understand. This comes from a writer who makes assumptions about his or her audience. Don't ever assume that people will understand your product or service as well as you -- they don't. So on your direct mail postcards, your message has to be crystal clear and easy to understand, with only one read-through. If people don't get it the first time around, they won't give you another chance.
7. Sell the next step.
Alternately, this tip could be labeled "Support the overall process." I can think of few occasions where the direct mail postcard is the only vehicle in a sales process. Usually, it's just a link in the chain between introduction and conversion. The reasons are simple. It's hard to sell a product with only a direct mail postcard -- except maybe for products under $50.
As for services, that depends on the type of service you're selling. But the direct mail postcard should still offer a next step in addition to "call me." Define your sales process before mailing your direct mail postcards, and make sure you're not putting too much burden on the postcard.
8. Use a strong but realistic call to action.
The call to action is the culmination of the direct mail postcard's message. It's what the entire postcard leads up to. It tells the reader what he or she should do next in order to learn more or take action.
With everything a call to action must do, it's critical that it be clear, simple and realistic. Strip away all the complexity and give people an easy way to respond. Give them toll-free 800 number to call, or a simple web address to type. Be realistic -- people will not jump through hoops to reach the next step.
9. Balance the desired response with the right incentive.
The more you ask of people, the more you must be willing to give them in return. Think of it as a seesaw. If you ask for too much with your direct mail postcards but offer too little, the seesaw will drop to the ground. If you have a relevant offer and your next step is relatively simple, you can get by with a smaller incentive. But if you're asking people to go online and fill out a lengthy form, you'll need to offer a stronger incentive. You have to be realistic to strike a balance.
10. Track and measure your postcard success ... constantly.
Eugene Schwartz, the author of Breakthrough Advertising, stated that "[t]here are no answers in direct mail except test answers." What he means is this. You can take a direct mail postcard strategy that well for another marketer, apply it to your own audience, and have it flop. On the other hand, it could be a huge success. You won't know until you try it and measure the results.
Think of it this way. Using the best practices of direct mail postcard marketing will put you ahead of 75% of your competition. Testing can help you surpass the other 25%.
Here's the good news. Testing direct mail postcards is relatively easy. If you send 5,000 direct mail postcards out and get 250 phone calls about that postcard, you've just measured a 5% return on your investment.
Direct mail postcards have proven successful for a wide variety of company's selling an even wider array of products and services. The versatility of postcards allows them to be adjusted for almost any marketing purpose. But as with any other form of marketing, Direct mail postcards have their own set of best practices. I hope this article has opened your eyes to some of those practices, and I wish you the best in your direct mail marketing.
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