An all-too-common scenario: A business wants to promote a new product, service or special offer, so it hastily puts together a direct-mail postcard campaign and waits for an onslaught of sales that never come. It decides postcards don’t work and moves on to the next big idea, unwittingly ignoring one of the most profitable marketing strategies at its disposal — direct-mail marketing.
The problem is in the planning
Direct-mail marketing has the best response rate of all marketing channels with (5.1 percent compared to 0.6 percent for email as well as paid search, 0.4 percent for social media and 0.2 percent for online display advertising). So, postcard printing is one of the best ways to market your business, but you need to properly plan to achieve success. There’s no better time to plan your postcard marketing campaigns than January, when you can set your annual budget and plan to print seasonal postcards for year-round sales.
The benefits of planning seasonal postcards in January
There are multiple benefits of taking time in January to map out an entire year of postcard marketing, starting with the ability to set an ample budget. You won’t need to try to adjust your budget last-minute if you account for postcard marketing from the beginning of the year.
Planning early grants you a bird’s eye view of your year-round marketing efforts, too. This allows you to space out your postcard campaigns for increased awareness and maximum return.
You’ll be able to decide which audiences to send your postcards to, and when to send them, so that you can begin preparing strong mailing lists. You can match the products and services you promote to your audiences and create offers that will resonate with them.
Early planning affords you the funds you need as well as the time you need to make your postcards successful.
How to plan year-round postcard marketing
Follow these steps to plan for postcard marketing success:
1. Set your budget
Start by determining how much of your marketing budget you’ll devote to postcards this year.
Example: A home improvement store determines it can devote $25,000 to postcard marketing this year.
2. Determine mailer frequency
How often do you want to reach your audience? Awareness sells (in fact, customers are 46 percent more likely to respond to offers from companies they’ve heard of), so you want to send postcards frequently enough to realize the benefits of repetition without annoying customers or wrecking your budget.
Example: A home improvement store wants to send postcards every eight weeks, for a total of six campaigns this year.
3. Map out your promotions
Look ahead to see what promotions you want to push each season. You likely have certain products or services that perform better at different times of the year, based on the weather, holidays or life events such as going to college and tax season.
Example: A home improvement store maps out six seasonal postcard campaigns:
- April: Large appliances for tax return season
- May: Spring cleaning and landscaping
- June: Summer air conditioning and patio supplies
- September: Fall rakes, leaf blowers and cleanup
- October: Winter snowblowers and heating systems
- November: Christmas/Black Friday sales
4. Identify your audience
You might have the same audience for all your postcard marketing campaigns, or you might have a different audience for each campaign. Identify your audience, then decide whether you’ll be mailing to your in-house mailing list, renting a mailing list based on demographics or sending postcards via Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM). Of course, you can also utilize a combination of each.
You also need to determine how many postcards you can send per mailing to ensure your campaigns fit within your annual budget.
Example: A home improvement store decides it will send all postcards to every residence in its local zip code. It will print EDDM postcards and will not need to use an in-house list or create a new mailing list.
With a $25,000 budget and six campaigns, the home improvement store can invest $4,166 per campaign. That means they can send around 10,000 postcards each campaign, broken down by:
- Printing 10,000 postcards: $1,400
- EDDM mailing for 10,000 postcards: $1,780 ($0.178 per postcard standard USPS pricing; business discounts are available)
- Postcard design and copy: $500 (estimated cost to hire a designer and copywriter)
- Total investment per campaign: $3,680 (below budget, yet leaves room for adjustments)
5. Create your offers
Now that you know what you want to promote, when you want to promote it and who you want to promote it to, you can create special offers your audience is likely to respond to. Do this for each campaign.
Example: A home improvement store decides to offer deep discounts on large appliances during tax return season when customers are likely to buy big ticket items.
6. Make projections
Now is a good time to make projections for your postcard marketing campaigns. Based on a 2 percent response rate, will your offers yield profits? What’s the worst-case scenario? Best case? Is each postcard marketing campaign likely to meet your goals? If so, you can move forward; if not, you should tweak your campaigns until you’re confident they’ll be successful.
Example: Our trusty home improvement store makes an average of $150 for every large appliance it sells. If it sends 10,000 postcards at a total investment of $3,680 and achieves a two percent response rate, it will sell 200 appliances for a gross of $30,000. Subtract the initial investment, and the campaign will net $26,320. At a half-percent response rate, it will sell 50 appliances for a gross of $7,500. Subtract the initial investment, and the campaign will gross $3,820. The home improvement store projects this will be a successful campaign.
7. Produce and print your postcards
Now that you’re confident your postcards will be successful, you can create the copy and design. If you’re not particularly savvy in this area, it’s a good idea to hire a professional designer and copywriter. Or, use these free postcard templates and the online design tool to make your own custom postcards online. Here are some sample templates:
You don’t need to produce all of your campaigns upfront; instead, schedule production periods on your annual calendar so you have plenty of time to plan each one. In fact, you should produce each campaign after the previous postcard was sent so you can apply any adjustments based on response rates.
Once your design is complete, choose your printing options. Be sure to print postcards on premium paper stocks, which lend pleasant tactile sensations that recipients will equate with quality. You can also consider printing ultra postcards, which are triple-thick and feature an attractive band of edge color.
Example: A home improvement store uses free postcard templates and the online design tool to save money, then prints full-color postcards on 15-point velvet cover stock.
8. Mail your postcards
Choose a mailing date and send your postcards. If you’re sending postcards to a mailing list, your printing company can address and mail them for you with its Indicia. If you’re sending postcards EDDM, you’ll drop them off at the post office before your mailing date.
Example: A store drops its EDDM postcards off at the post office a week before its mailing date. USPS takes care of the rest.
9. Measure response
With your postcards out the door, all that’s left to do is wait for sales, right? Well, yes and no, because your postcards should include a tracking mechanism you can use to determine your success. Coupons and coupon codes are excellent ways to measure success, though you can also measure how much sales increase for your promoted products and services once your postcards arrive.
Example: A home improvement company includes a coupon code and counts the number of coupons that are redeemed, so it knows how successful its mailer was. It uses this information to improve future postcard marketing campaigns.
With proper planning, you can develop seasonal postcard marketing campaigns destined for success. Get started today with discount postcard printing services.