Postcard Marketing: Recession Rescue Case Study
by: Marcia Yudkin
Someone asked me if postcards are a good marketing tool for a recession. Yes, they are! Indeed, postcards pulled me out of the 1990-91 recession.
With a business partner, I'd started a training company in writing skills and rented an office at the prestigious Statler Office Building, adjacent to the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston. As the recession deepened, companies froze their training budgets, and all of our hot training leads evaporated.
However, I had two significant assets to exploit. First, our office rent included access to a classy conference room we could reserve as much as we wanted, and second, I had a list of 3,000 people who'd been in one of my adult education classes on writing in the previous two years.
I wrote up three classes we could give in the conference room, reserved the dates and mailed postcards to my list. People called to sign up! For the next few years, until the economy recovered, postcards reliably filled our classes.
Several lessons I learned about postcard marketing during those years remain true today.
1) Responses from a "warm" list of people who know you will always be greater than responses from strangers. Our classes were $99 each, and I'm not sure the postcards would have yielded such a nice profit had they been sent to "cold" prospects.
2) For seminars, you need sizable mailings to get enough participants to fill the room. The response rate would have been the same had I sent just 1,000 postcards, but that might not have generated enough people for each class.
3) Consistency and repetition help. I mailed postcards every two months for a new round of classes, always using magenta card stock from the Kinko's copy center. From what people said when they signed up, it was clear they had come to recognize the hot pink postcards as coming from me. People paid more attention to the postcards as time went on, not less.
4) Color attracts, but images are optional. I used boldface strategically on the postcards to create a readable layout, but the cards contained no images – only words. If you look at galleries of sample postcards online, you'll see no pure-text samples, but for certain purposes they can work extremely well.
One thing that's changed since postcards pulled me out of that recession is that you no longer have to mess with address labels and stamps or postal permits to send postcards. Choose the right postcard vendor, and you can design your postcard online, upload your database and order the cards sent on a specific date. It's so much easier now!