Do Direct Mail Postcards Still Work for Marketing?

direct mail postcards print mailer advertising

It used to be that everyone loved getting a postcard. These were cards from distant friends and families that showed beautiful images of unfamiliar places. But what about direct mail postcards? How do they make us feel?

Yes, direct mail advertising has been around for quite a while, including postcards reminding us of everything from dental appointments to homes for sale to public auctions.

We believe direct mail postcards are alive and well in the 21st century. Now, if only more of them could show the attention to design given other 21st-century marketing materials, all would be good.


Direct Mail Postcards

There is something about the physicality of paper mail that makes it special and anticipated. The tradition of "waiting for the mail" is still a daily ritual for many, even when we quickly throw away the majority of it that is junk mail.

However, direct mail marketing would make quite a splash with consumers if it were done using postcards. It would be great to combine the authenticity of old-style postcards with the design genius now seen on the web. 


Design

The design of the vast majority of direct mail postcards these days leaves a lot to be desired. There are exceptions, though--some extraordinary ones. And it is these extraordinary exceptions that inspire us.

Imagine a dental appointment reminder featuring a giraffe's mouth close up. It has a caption stating, "If you think your teeth are hard to have cleaned, try these." Much better than eight lines of black and white text, we think.


Strategy

The strategy here is simple: get people's attention in ways that make them laugh--and probably remember whatever the message was meant to make them remember.


Alternatives to Direct Mail Postcards

Of course, there are alternatives to postcard distribution specifically in direct mail marketing, including leaflet distribution and direct mailers. These are also convenient, and currently, quite a few are better designed than postcards.

We'll discuss these forms of direct mail advertising in a future post.


Direct Mailing Through USPS

It is not expensive to send direct mail postcards. Although the United States Postal Service (USPS) discontinued its special postage rate for postcards--which now require First Class postage--there are bulk rated available to businesses.

To qualify for bulk rates, there must be at least 200 pieces or 50 pounds in total. There are many options available in this postage category, so be sure to check it out if you’re mailing postcards for a business.


Does Direct Mailing Work?

We believe direct mailing currently works in some ways but not others. It works if it's something that was either expected and needed (e.g., appointment reminders) or unexpected and personally relevant (e.g., news of electronics recycling events).

However, as discussed above, it is our strong belief that direct mail postcards are nowhere near meeting the advertising potential they have today. Among other things, they are excellent for local marketing.

Postcards resonate with people who are not digital natives. These people like to stick interesting postcards into books, both to remind them of something and to hold their place in the book.

If you have a local business or organization to promote, go have some original-looking postcards made and let people know what you have going on.

And while you're at it, learn about other inexpensive and innovative business services besides just the USPS bulk mail discount used to mail lots of postcards at a time.

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