Direct mail is dead. No postcards are dead. Wrong, wrong, wrong postcards are no good, use a letter in an envelope.
Some form of direct marketing or another seems to be declared “extinct” nearly every week.
Postcards rock! No, postcards stink, use the tried-and-true letter in an envelope.
Well, which is it?
Before you pick a format, decide what it is you want to accomplish. Are you trying to sell something complicated (like building a web site)? Or, just get people to attend a free Mac user group meeting?
Can you get your message across quickly? If you can say what you need to say in just a few words, then postcards will work. They’re great for “save the date” notices, reminders, and coupon offers to existing customers. Since there’s no envelope, your message is more likely to be seen.
Is it easy to visualize? We’ve all heard the one about pictures and thousands of words, but if you’re selling something with a clear result (a fit body, a car, or clothing), then a postcard can work well. The picture will do a lot of the talking for you. Something less tangible like accounting services or inventory management software is harder to describe in pictures.
Is there a simple call to action? If the purpose is to encourage prospects to stop by your booth at the comics show, then a postcard will do nicely. Or, if you want them to call for a free sample of your organic cat food.
Is the product complicated? If you’re selling something complex, or with lots of variables, such as auto insurance or web development, then a letter is probably a better choice. You’ve got more space to spell out the benefits of your services, explain your offer, and ask for a response.
Can you tease the product? Adding a teaser to the outside of the envelope (lower your heating bills by 45%, details inside) can help improve envelope open rates. Or, make your envelope “lumpy” (put a pen or a pad of post-it notes inside). Lumpy mail gets opened at higher rates than flat mail (because people are curious to see what’s inside).
What’s your budget? Postcards are cheaper, but letters give you more room to make your case. If you’re on a tight budget, keep it simple and cheaper and use a postcard.
If you need more room to explain your products and your offer, try sending a letter to a smaller group of people. Test it. Does your audience respond better to pictures and few words? Or many words and fewer pictures?