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Postcard Marketing Checklist: 5 Things to Consider Before You Mail

by Brandon Cornett

Your postcard-marketing program can benefit from a good checklist. Checklists keep us focused on the task at hand and help us remember all of the finer points. Doctors use them. Mechanics use them. And yes, postcard marketers use them -- at least those who take postcard marketing seriously.

The checklist that follows is not all-inclusive, but is meant to provide a solid enough list to get your postcard marketing campaign underway.

The List

Your mailing list (a.k.a. database) should be the result of asking tough questions and doing some hard research. To build a good mailing list, you need to find out who wants and needs the products / services you sell.

If you're mailing to your customer base, your list requirements are simple -- just mail to your best customers. But if you're mailing to "strangers" in the hopes of making them customers, you'll have more homework to do.

Questions to ask:

* Have you obtained your list from a reputable list vendor?

* If using your in-house list, have you checked it for accuracy, duplication, etc?

* Does your list match your message? Is your message relevant to your list?

The Headline

Direct mail postcards have a major advantage over their enveloped counterparts -- immediate impact, right out of the mailbox. This is where your headline comes into play. The reader will give your postcard a "golden glimpse" during which you have a chance to pull them in. Whether you do so or not will depend largely on your headline.

Questions to ask:

* Does you headline identify your target audience?

* Does your headline promise a benefit?

* Is your headline clear and to the point?

* Did you test your headline to make sure people understand at first glance?

The Offer

In postcard marketing, it's the offer that generates the response. It answers the reader's fundamental questions: "What's in it for me? Why should I bother? How is this worth my time?"

The offer is usually related to the product or service being sold, but it doesn't actually have to be that product or service. A company selling software might offer a discount on the software, a free trial, a free 28-page software buyer's guide, or a number of other things related to what they are selling.

When using direct mail by itself (not in conjunction with TV or radio), it's best to keep your offer related to your product. You're not after "freebie hunters" with no real interest in what you're selling. You're after qualified prospects -- the kind of people who might actually buy your product or service.

Questions to ask:

* Is the offer related to your product or service?

* Does it have enough of a perceived value to generate a response?

* Have you described the value of your offer (dollar amount, time savings, etc.)?

* Is the offer specific and relevant to the reader?

The Call-to-Action

Think of the call-to-action as a road sign. It points readers to the offer and tells them how to capitalize on it. It is part of the offer, but it also needs to be considered on its own.

If the offer is a 30-day free trial, the call-to-action might be the bold sentence that says: "Sign up for your free trial at"

Questions to ask:

* Is your call-to-action simple and easy to understand?

* Does it stand out from the copy around it?

* Does it make responding easy?

* Does it offer multiple ways to respond (web address, 800#, etc.)?

The Tracking

One of the great things about postcard marketing is that it's fairly simple to track. Compare the number of postcards you sent out to the number of responses you get back, and you've measured your response rate. You can then compare the results of two mailings to see which postcard performs better.

For instance, you might send the same postcard to the same audience but with different offers. The offer that pulls the biggest response wins. The other one goes away.

Question to ask:

* First off, do you have a tracking program?

* Have you considered the technical details of tracking responses?

* Do you know what elements you want to test (headline, offer, etc.)?

* How will you modify your postcard if it doesn’t get the response you want?


As your postcard marketing program evolves, so too will your checklist. Before long, you'll have a list of things that have worked well for you (as well as those that haven't). And that's a valuable checklist to have!

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