Ultimate Marketing Championship, Round I: Postcards vs. Facebook

With so many print and digital marketing options available, it can be difficult for small businesses to know where their marketing budgets are best spent. To help clear it up, we’re running a series called Ultimate Marketing Championship, in which we pit a form of print marketing against a form of digital marketing to determine which offers the best return on investment.

Our first installment features postcard direct mail marketing against Facebook marketing. Let’s see how the two stack up and then declare a winner!

Customer targeting

Postcard marketing and Facebook marketing both offer good targeting tools. The difference is that postcard marketing allows you to define your own demographic parameters when developing your mailing list. Facebook targeting is based on its predefined parameters, though you can use keywords to get some level of customization. Advantage: Postcard marketing

Initial investment

Postcard printing is cheap, mailing lists are inexpensive; however, postcard mailing can require a large initial investment, depending on how many postcards you are sending. Facebook marketing can be considerably cheaper because it has less overhead and you can define how much you are willing to spend. That being said, most profitable Facebook campaigns require a significant investment to get the number of impressions and clicks required to turn a profit. Advantage: Facebook

Return on investment

Of course, your ROI for either type of campaign depends on many factors. But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you’re at least average at marketing, and you sell a product that has a profit of $100. A postcard marketing campaign to 10,000 homes would require an initial investment of around $4,200 for printing, mailing list rental and postage. A Facebook campaign for 10,000 fans, with an average cost of 50 cents per click, would require an investment of $5,000.

If we estimate that you receive a 2 percent response/conversion rate from both fans and postcard recipients, we can say that in both cases you will get 200 sales. Multiply 200 by $100 and you get $20,000 gross. Subtract the investment for each campaign and you get an ROI of $15,800 for postcard marketing and $15,000 for Facebook marketing. Please note I cannot predict what your profit, response rate, click prices, mailing list or printing prices will be – do your own research before you launch your own campaign. Advantage: Postcard marketing

Campaign control

You can put whatever you’d like on postcards, save for where you need to have postage information. Facebook limits the number of characters you can use and the size of your photo – and you only get one. In the end, your Facebook ads look very similar to everyone else’s. With postcards, the sky’s the limit. Advantage: Postcard marketing

Competition level

It’s impossible to predict when a competitor will deliver his or her postcards on the same day as you, but in the grand scheme of things for most types of small businesses it is likely you will face direct competition in the mailbox. I believe Facebook also makes an effort to ensure your ad isn’t being displayed against direct competitors. So, in both cases you will face competition in the form of distractions. The biggest difference is that Facebook is the distraction; none of your friends are putting status updates on your mailbox, so it’s fair to say that you’ll at least notice the postcards that arrive. Advantage: Postcard marketing

Winner

Both postcard marketing and Facebook marketing are viable tools for today’s small business. Facebook can require a smaller investment, but postcard marketing offers better targeting, more control over your campaign, less competition, and the possibility of a better return on investment. For this reason, I crown postcard marketing the winner in this round of Ultimate Marketing Champion!

Stay tuned for our next installment: Catalogs vs. Ecommerce

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