Ray worked with B-2-B and Consumer clients throughout the world ... including USA, Canada, Mexico, Asia, the South Pacific, Europe, the Middle-East, Central & South America, Africa.

This website is a compilation of Ray's 10 years on the Web.

Baker's Dozen INDEX

13 Platinum Ideas
About Post Cards & Self Mailers

Post cards and self-mailers are "hot". Recently I returned from a 20 day business trip. My mail box had 27 post cards and self-mailers waiting ... more than 1 per day.

Why is this style in? Well, based on the myth that "nobody reads anymore", the thought is you 'grab' your audience quickly, pull them in, get a decision. And besides, they're much less expensive to create, produce, mail.

Problem is a good portion of this theory is wrong - not based on fact. People, both you and me at home as well as on the job, are reading. Yes, we are more selective. And most are reading a different way ... speed reading. Scanning vs .total absorption seems to be how it is.

Yet, the key word is still interesting. If your message is interesting your audience will read it. If it's not, they move on. No matter the method of delivering the word.

So, here are 13 Platinum Ideas About Post Cards & Self Mailers. To get yours to work better. The opening 8 share ideas on when to use a post card or self-mailer. The balance talk about the creative process to get these tools ready for the marketplace. And thus to get them to perform for you.

#1). Use to "talk" to your customers

Your customers know you. They know who you are. They know what you offer. They recognize your name, your logo.

You're most likely "talking" with them already, maybe even seeing them every so often. And mailing to them already. Because they are your customers, they are going to at least look at, and probably read, almost anything you send.

Self-mailers and post cards, maybe as part of a series, can work well in communicating with your customers.

#2). Timing matters - use as part of a continuity program

Most campaigns work best with both multi-media and multi-efforts. It is rare a single shot sells much of anything to anyone. In this environment, when you've scheduled a series of contacts, self-mailers and post cards can work well.

Your audience - prospects and customers - have heard from you before, they will hear from you again. And they know it. The example we're most familiar with are the "Clubs". They reach their audience every 3 to 6 weeks, every 30 days ... some cycle. "Anything of the Month"... such as the book, music, gift people ... have made continuity a way of life. When this is your approach, including a card or self-mailer in the mix, maybe both, makes good sense.

The format also works as part of a series for lead generation. If you're reaching for new business with, say, 8 contacts to your marketplace, 2-3-4 of these might be a post card of self-mailer. As part of the total mix of contacts.

#3). When your message is very, very short

Sometimes you don't have a lot to say. Something. Not much.

Could be a quick announcement. A retailer having a week-end sale. A restaurant offering a mid-week seasonal special. A trade show exhibitor inviting you to stop by for a visit. A travel agent with a cruise close-out opportunity. A company picnic. An anniversary event. A seminar featuring a new product demonstration.

It might be important - yet, simple. Details are not necessary. A fast message will do it ... and thus a post card or self-mailer will work for you.

#4). When you expect a low response

You have a product or service that is truly a "commodity".

Or - on the opposite end - something so new, different, unusual that very few people will need it. Either way ... if you're competition is fierce, or if it is non-existent - you may expect a low return.

In each example a self-mailer or post card might work. i.e., you're a popular fast food restaurant or a brand name automotive service station - the entire marketplace knows what you offer. You can be quick about it.

On the other end, you know you are way, way ahead of the pack. Yet, you also recognize a fact; before anyone is going to buy your new widget, you need to demo it. So, you're looking for those chosen few to raise their hand and say "yes", talk to me. You're into lead generation.

Self-mailers and post cards work at each of the scale.

#5). When it's tough to find the right audience

Although this should not happen, let's be real; sometimes both identifying the right audience, and then reaching them, is not easy.

Marketing is successful when your message reaches those who can buy what you sell. And it is not when you talk to people who are not interested in your offering. Yet, sometimes a mini-shot gun is the way to go. Particularly when you launch a new product or service.

Sure, "guts" gives you a direction as to who to talk to. Still, that may not be enough. I recall looking for the best way to get to taxi cab drivers in the western USA. Never was able to effectively and efficiently reach that group.

All of this leads to the idea that a simple post card or self-mailer may be an efficient (translate, less expensive) way to get to a tough to get to group.

#6). If you have a huge volume

If your audience is huge - maybe wide spread, too - the economies of scale may dictate a post card or self-mailer. As any other format may be too costly to bottom-line justify.

In marketing it is not how many contacts you make. It is response - what happens at the back-end. Fast track; do you make money is the only question to ask and answer.

Sooo, you may be penny wise / pound foolish in looking at costs first. Sure, costs are important. Yet, just reducing expenses is not the best way to be profitable ... sales is what earns rewards.

Still, when you have big numbers it may be a good idea to look at the small post card or self-mailer format.

#7). When you have a very easy & simple offer

If you know your marketplace"gets it" ... they understand what you offer ... a post card of self-mailer may work well for you.

This is often the case with supplies. Paper products for a restaurant. Office supplies for a company. Medical supplies for a health care facility. None of us need a lesson in paper clips, band-aids or napkins. We know what these simple, easy to understand day-to-day tools are. So, make the offer and move on.

#8). When your product "fits"

Some products and services fit a small, simple, easy format. Plus, they "look" just fine on a self-mailer or post card. Rolls Royce is not one of them.

No matter your product, you need to look like what you are. If you're a tabloid newspaper, you need to look busy. If you're Jack-in-the-Box fast food hamburger joint, you need to look "faaast". If you're The Dollar Store you need to look crowded. In each case a self-mailer or post card can work for you.

Ditto most conferences and seminars, sports events, music festivals and the like. A self-mailer can and does work well here.

Yet on the opposite side, if you're Rolex , you need to look like what you are ... "rich". If you produce high-quality personalized annual reports for the top 100 companies, you are expensive. Or if you sell a luxury automobile you need to come across to your audience as "luxury". And these are each a tough sell on a post card or in a self-mailer.

Your marketing message must fit your product and service message.

#9). Size matters

Some like "big" ... some like "small". The thought being "different" gets attention.

Well, size does matter. And most of the time large overwhelms regular or small in response and results. No matter what you may like.

Plus, today, automation has a lot to say about the size of everything. Machinery to print and mail on one hand ... and the post office on the other. With nearly 600 million pieces each business day flowing through the United States Post, automation is a must. And bar codes are a fact. This means your size, design, shape must work with production. More often than not that dictates larger.

Translation; a bold presentation in a jumbo post card or self-mailer format is most likely to not only give you the best results - it will work within the system.

#10). Format matters

Most people - right handed or left - unfold a piece from right to left. And then bottom to top.

Just as most people spin from back to front when they first pick-up a magazine or book. Right to left. Know this as you think about format for your self-mailer. When you decide how many folds, if there are any windows, perforations, peel-off labels ... i.e., how your audience will look at your mailer.

Double and triple post cards have been popular for several decades. Introduced originally by the publishing industry, today they are used by many to generate leads and build traffic. Are they glue-spotted? Or are tabs used? Is there a common edge?

Make your self-mailer and post card easy to "open" and read.

#11). Layout & Design matter

The idea behind using a post card or self-mailer is to get quick attention. And action.

Thus, the layout and design is very important. One could say an envelope is an envelope is an envelope. We know, more or less, what to expect. And, more or less, what to find once we open it. No matter the size or shape - our expectations have been pre-set from eons of experience with envelopes.

Not so with self-mailers. Not because they haven't been around for a while ... they have. Instead, because the message that comes in pieces in an envelope package is "stuffed" into a single piece with a self-mailer. And even more "stuffing" if it's a post card. This takes real design work to overcome.

What is the offer? What are the benefits? What do you want the reader to do? Questions for every program. They must be considered with your post card and self-mailer layout, too.

#12). Color matters

Life has blessed me with a pair of granddaughters. One 20 something. The other a teen-ager. They do not know black & white ever existed.

The message is, ladies and gentlemen, we live in a color world. And that is not going to change anytime soon. My guess is not in your grandchildren's grandchildren's lifetime.

Next "fact": when you don't use color you look cheap. Not frugal, cheap. What is almost as bad is full color on one side of your piece, with black & white on the reverse. Why do people do this?

Oh, and this is not me speaking ... this is what the marketplace says. They expect color. That's the way it has been for a while, that's the way it is today, that's the way it is going to be.

Color truly matters. On post cards and with self-mailers, too.

#13). Copy matters

Copy is still king. Has been. Will be.

Not long ago I heard an effort to reverse the thinking about copy and art. Making the graphic portion of our business more important than copy. It is not going to happen. Period.

For advertising, sales promotion, merchandising ... yes. In fact, absolutely, graphics and design will continue to rule. Outdoor posters, much television, floor displays in everything from convenience stores to up-scale boutiques - they all need the graphic to get your attention. To S T O P the prospect.

Before you send hate mail, know I want copy and art to work "Two-Gether". To play off each other. To become a team.

Still, in marketing it's copy that sells. Has been. Will be. This means you must have strong copy for your post cards and self-mailers, too.

That's it. The 13 Platinum Ideas About Post Cards & Self Mailers. Use these tools creatively, and enjoy much marketing success.

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