When I travel, I usually send a postcard or two to friends and family, reminding them of where I am. I often opt for the cheesier ones. You know the ones I’m talking about.
Maybe they have a badly outdated picture, or a city’s name emblazoned across the front.
And sometimes, I’ll scrawl a cliched: “Having a wonderful time … Wish you were here” on the back.
Anyway, while buying some new ones the other day, I thought about other ways postcards can be an effective element in many direct mail efforts. Here are a few.
1. Go Somewhere New
This postcard was the perfed front panel of a self-mailer that American Express mailed last year. It uses a tropical scene to draw in a prospect for the company’s Gold Delta Airlines SkyMiles credit card. One of the inside panels lists the many travel benefits of getting and using the card. For example, new members can earn miles bases on their purchases. And their first checked bag is free when traveling on the airline
2. Talk With Your Network
Call it a friends and family discount, or member-get-a-member. Asking your customers to reach out to people they know to help sell your product or service can be a powerful tool.
Overseas Adventure Travel, a tour operator often reaches out to its past customers for referrals for its many trips. A recent envelope mailing included a sheet of 5 perfed jumbo postcards, each showcasing one of its destinations. The reverse side offers “3 Reasons to Travel” to that location, like Peru. For letting their loved ones know in a colorful way where they’ve been, the traveler earns rewards, plus savings for their friend.
This postcard features an iconic photograph of President Kennedy that originally ran in the New York Times back in 1961. It was mailed in a subscription package for the newspaper a few years ago. According to that effort’s letter, it was intended “to provide a vivid snapshot of what you will find in the Times.”
Another good example: the National Museum for Women in the Arts mailed postcards for years as part of its membership acquisition package. Each one featured a work from a woman artist that came from its collection.
4. Work for Change
As a component of a fundraising appeal, the postcard can be an effective involvement device to advocate for change. Examples abound in Who’s Mailing What! but many of them generally build brand and not much else.
This exception to the rule was mailed by International Fund for Animal Welfare. It’s part of a campaign to stop the declining numbers of rhinos in South Africa. The front includes a stark caption to accompany a cute image. The reverse side contains a message to the country’s Minister for the Environment, asking for an end to poaching and slaughter.
The common element in all of these cases is that the postcard’s job is to inspire an action.
It is not enough to be eye-catching, or look pretty; the postcard has to make a connection — maybe several of them— to be relevant to the customer or donor.