How to write a postcard for maximum response
Postcards are cheap, versatile, effective, and easy to produce. Plus, you can get them in the mail fast and get results in just days.
The postcard shown here is an example. Click it to see both front and back as a pdf. This is a postcard I created for one of my clients a couple years ago to generate leads for a product. And it’s a prime example of how to make a postcard work.
Some copywriters have trouble with postcards because they don’t understand the format. Is it an ad you mail? Is it a small self-mailer? Is it like a billboard? Or is it merely support for other campaigns?
Here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Use a postcard to drive “traffic.” With few exceptions, postcards are not a good format for direct sales. Their true power is in getting attention quickly and driving people to take a second step immediately.
For example, you can drive people to a website, drive them to a retail store, or drive them to request information. In marketing lingo, we’re talking about the “two-step” sales process.
2. Focus on one big idea per card. Just one. Not two or three. ONE. If you have more than one idea, create more than one card.
For example, a client of mine wanted to cheaply generate leads from a targeted audience. However, we didn’t know which of several benefits would be the most compelling. So instead of cramming a laundry list into one card, we created a series of cards with one benefit each. This helped maintain focus in each card, from the headline to the call to action.
3. Get attention with a bold headline. Sure, you should have a picture on the front too. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that a picture is worth a thousand words. It’s not. Only words drive action.
And since a postcard must communicate a powerful message quickly, you must have a powerful headline to do the job. All the usual headline rules apply, including selecting your audience and conveying a benefit.
4. Make a simple, compelling offer. Again, your goal is to drive people to take the next step. So your offer should be related to that. In other words, if you’re selling the world’s greatest widget, don’t present an offer for the widget on your postcard. Rather, your offer could simply be for more information about the widget.
This can take the form of a demonstration, sample, brochure, or some other free item. That and that alone is your offer on the postcard. Don’t get ahead of yourself and try to close the sale right away.
5. Provide a clear call to action. If you’ve gotten attention with a headline and made a “next step” offer, you must issue a call to action that is direct and unambiguous. “Go to www.PensRUs.com and ask for your customized sample pack today!” Notice that the call to action tells your prospect what to do and how to do it.
6. Load up on information. Yes, a postcard should be quick and direct. Yes, you should focus on one main point. But that doesn’t mean you have to be spartan with your copy.
Don’t believe people when they say a postcard can’t use long copy. Long or “longish” copy works great even on a small postcard. However, given the next-step nature of the offer, all the information should be about what the prospect will get when he or she takes the next step, not necessarily about the product or service itself.
If you’re offering an information kit, list all the things in the kit and talk about what the prospect will discover, but without revealing too much. Tease, don’t tell.
7. Think direct mail “package” not “postcard.” That’s right, package. When I create a postcard, I’m really creating a mini-direct mail package, complete with letter, brochure, and reply. Why? Because what makes a direct mail package work is the same thing that makes a postcard work. At least it’s what makes my postcards work.
The “letter” is a short, personalized message on the address side of the card, complete with salutation and signature. The “brochure” is the information on the front of the card. And the “reply” is simply the call to action for a phone call, website visit, or trip to a local store.
8. Use a “jumbo” postcard when possible. The typical postcard is about 4″x6″. However, jumbo cards can be up to 6″x9″ or larger. You don’t get low postcard rates, but response is generally higher for two reasons. 1) The card is bigger and stands out in the mail. 2) You have more room for information.
Remember, a postcard (at least the sort of direct response postcard I’m talking about here) is not a billboard or a print ad. And it’s not a piece of slick corporate advertising. It’s a kick in the seat of the pants or a sharp punch between the shoulder blades to get people to take just one, teeny little step forward.
The real sales pitch will happen at that next step: a detailed Web landing page, a salesperson in the retail store, or followup information.
Note: You CAN use a postcard to make direct sales IF you are mailing to current customers or if you are offering something that is cheap and familiar.
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