Business Challenge: Start a Postcard Marketing Campaign

February 12, 2013

Postcard printing remains one of the most powerful marketing strategies available to small businesses, yet many companies have yet to engage in postcard marketing.  If you’ve been hesitant to try postcards marketing, perhaps for the postage investment, or if postcard marketing hasn’t worked for you in the past, I issue the following challenge:  launch a highly-targeted postcard marketing campaign this month.  The following will walk you through a small-scale campaign so you can not only learn how to market effectively with postcards, but how to turn your investment into predictable and measurable profits.

Step 1:  Identify your best customers

First, make sure you know who your best customers are.  I’m talking about your top one to three customers, those who buy more from you than anyone else.  Now, determine their shared demographics: age, gender, income, employment status, geographic location, established purchasing habits, what they buy from you, how much they spend per purchase and anything else  you know about them.  Write your best customer demographics down. DSC02473.JPG - Google Chrome_2013-01-31_11-33-00

Step 2:  Develop your offer

Consider what type of deal your best customers are likely to respond to.  Let’s say, for example, you’re a retail fashion shop, and your best customers are typically employed women in their mid-40s who make $50,000 per year and live in middle class suburbs.  Your best customers almost always buy sweaters, your specialty, and they typically spend $120 per total purchase (and you profit $60 per sale).  Thus, you might develop a “buy one, get one 50% off” offer on your sweaters, knowing your best customers are likely to respond.

Step 3:  Write your postcard copy

Your copy should incorporate a headline that highlights your special offer, the features and benefits of your sweaters, a time limit and a compelling call to action.  Make sure your customers know what to do to redeem your offer.  I suggest having them bring your postcard in as a coupon, thus making it easy to track your response rate.  If you’re not a good writer, you can easily hire a professional copywriter to craft compelling postcard copy for under $500. griet7.JPG - Google Chrome_2013-01-31_11-33-14

Step 4:  Design your postcard

Your postcard design should make your copy even more compelling with large headlines, bulleted benefits and natural flow toward your call to action.  A professional designer will make your postcard more attention-getting, which will lead to better response; and you can hire a postcard designer for under $500.

Step 5:  Rent a mailing list

Your mailing list should be comprised only of individuals who meet your best customer demographics.  It can be tempting to blanket the entire marketplace, but successful postcard marketing campaigns hinge on the quality of your mailing list.  The more targeted your list, the more likely your recipients will respond to your offer – which you developed exclusively for them.  Get your list from a reputable company that offers email and phone support if  you have questions. DSCN0755.JPG - Google Chrome_2013-01-31_11-34-02

Step 6:  Print and mail your postcards

Have your postcards printed on premium paper stock.  This lends an impression of quality, which is how you want your products to be considered.  You can address, stamp, and mail your postcards yourself; but you’ll save a lot of time and energy by having your printing company handle it for you.  In fact, some online printing companies are full-service: you can have your postcards written, designed, printed, addressed and mailed under one roof.  You can also rent your mailing list from full-service providers.  Typically, keeping it under one roof will save time and money, and make your entire effort more cohesive.

Step 7:  Measure your results

Make sure you track the number of customers who redeem your postcard for your special offer.  Also measure the difference in sweater sales during the promotion; customers will tell their friends, who will also come in to buy.  By measuring your results, you’ll not only know your return on investment, you’ll have a base to test against for future campaigns. DSCF2200.JPG - Google Chrome_2013-01-31_11-34-20 So, what type of return could you expect form our sample postcard marketing campaign?  Well, let’s say you sell sweaters for $60 each, and your cost is $30 each; so your profit per sweater is $30.  Each customer who takes advantage of your offer will spend, at minimum, $90 for two sweaters; and you will profit $30 per sale.  Remember this is a minimum; retailers know that sales motivate extra purchases, so in fact you will probably enjoy an average spend higher than your current average of $120 per sale. Let’s say you start out with a relatively small postcard campaign at 2,000 postcards.  You write your own copy and hire a designer for $250.  You mail your postcards to a mailing list that meets your demographics, based around San Francisco.  I ran this scenario through PsPrint’s cart to determine the total campaign investment.  It breaks down like this:

  • $250: Design
  • $77:  Mailing List Rental
  • $175:  Printing and Finishing (60 percent discount promotion)
  • $817:  Mailing Services (including postage)
  • $965: Total Investment

So, you have $965 invested in your postcard campaign.  You send 2,000 postcards, which achieve the average 3.99 percent response rate, which brings in 80 customers.  At $30 profit per sale, your gross profit is $2,400.  Your net profit, after subtracting your total investment, is $1,435.  If you profit $60 per sale, which is more likely, your net profit would be $3,835.  And the best part is you will make profit with one week of mailing your postcards, assuming your sale is only for a few days.

What if your campaign fails?

If your postcard marketing campaign fails, evaluate the process and identify where you went wrong.  Talk to your best customers and ask if they received the promotion, and why they didn’t buy.  You could have misjudged their perceived value of your offer.  Or, your copy might have been lackluster.  Perhaps you didn’t refine your mailing list demographics enough.  Whatever it is, identify what went wrong and correct it, then try again.  After a few postcard marketing campaigns, you’ll master what works and you’ll have a profit-producing marketing strategy that will serve you well for decades to come.

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About Brian Morris

Brian Morris serves in various capacities as a freelance writer, content developer and public relations specialist for growing small businesses. When he’s not writing, he can be found on the racquetball court - usually getting his tail kicked by guys 20 years older.

Anonymous's picture
January 07, 2016 03:22 am #

Here is the thing about postcard marketing: the greatest costs when it comes to setting up your mailing list. Whereas with other kinds of marketing the greatest time and costs come with the actual design phase

Anonymous's picture
January 07, 2016 03:22 am #

Post card wealth, thank you for your comment! Highly-targeted mailing lists can be rented at rather low prices. They can also be used multiple times to facilitate marketing repetition. In-house mailing lists take longer and require greater investment to set up, but the long-term rewards of a good mailing list negate the initial costs.

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