4 Postcard Design Tips

March 22, 2011

Image via Flickr user sanderovski & linda.

Postcards are a great marketing vehicle to use for this spring. There are many benefits to using postcards for your marketing needs:

  • People's email inboxes may be cluttered with spam, but by comparison, the physical mailbox is not as cluttered.
  • Each piece of printed mail gets more attention and requires more effort to dispose of than just the click of a mouse.
  • Postcards are less expensive to print than a two-piece or more letter and envelope, and less costly to mail than a first-class letter.
  • Finally, unlike an email message or even a envelope-based mailing, you can't ignore a postcard's message because the copy and creative is right there in front of you. The format does not need to be opened to be seen.

So that's a good summary of the benefits of postcard marketing. Now let's talk about successful postcard design. Here are four tips for creating effective postcard promotions: 1. Make it pop If you want recipients to hang on to the postcard and even stick on the fridge or on a bulletin board, you'll need some serious creative. You want the typography and imagery on the front of the card to be bold, attention getting and memorable. Look for interesting illustration or photography relative to your marketing message. For example, if you are designing a postcard for a spring sale, an artful close-up photograph of a budding flower might work. It's a good rule of thumb to keep the front of the card either text-based or image-based. If you mix too much copy and imagery on the front of the card it will look confusing and fall flat. 2. Focus on one offer Postcards are not good vehicles to promote more than one offer, so keep the copy short, sweet and laser-focused. Before designing a postcard, figure out the gist of your offer and focus on that offer with all the copy and design elements. Leave off any extraneous design elements that do not promote the offer. Postcard recipients will want to look at your card and figure out why it matters to them. What do they get from the postcard? A discount, coupon, free trial, invitation? Be sure the "What's in it for me" component is obvious right away. 3. Drive traffic online It's tough to convince someone to look at your postcard and then jump on the computer. If you want the postcard recipient to visit a website, you need to incentivize them. Clearly explain the benefits or rewards for recipients who go online. Maybe they will be entered into a drawing for a prize or receive a free item or discount code? If you think your postcard audience uses smartphones, then include a Quick Reply (QR) bar code on the postcard so they can scan the code and go right to the related site. Finally, make sure the copy and creative on your landing page or home page relates to the postcard itself, so that people know that they've arrived at the right place and can continue seamlessly down the sales funnel. 4. Run a test In the world of marketing it's a best practice to test creative, copywriting, offers and formats whenever you send an email, mailing or other piece of direct marketing. To conduct a postcard test, try splitting your mailing list into two segments A and B. For each segment vary one thing about the postcard such as the offer copy, image, postcard size or any other major element. Code your list so that you know which recipients received postcard A and which received postcard B. Then track response or sales on the back end to figure out which variation was more successful. If you test every time you send out a marketing promotion, you can build up an arsenal of best practices to help you craft future messages and creative that will resonate with your audience.

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The PsPrint Blog is a resource for graphic designers, freelancers, small business owners and fans of print marketing. You'll find helpful techniques on printing everything there is to print, including business cards, postcards, brochures, stickers, invitations, greeting cards, door hangers, magnets and more. The PsPrint Blog shares creative ways to improve your design and layout skills, and useful tips for marketing your business in any medium. We also like to have a little fun, sharing design inspiration and spotlighting some our favorite customers' printed pieces in our "Hot Off the Press" series.