3 Ways to Make Your Postcards Stand Out

Back in the day (yes, I was a creative back then), prior to cheap 4-Color process printing, you had to find creative, inexpensive ways to get your postcards noticed in the mail. I was the king of using two PMS colors in combination to look as if you had full color, and an expert in paper stocks. Most importantly I learned all I could about printing. Why? Because printing techniques were and are one of the best tools in my creative toolbox.

Back in the day (yes, I was a creative back then), prior to cheap 4-Color process printing, you had to find clever, inexpensive ways to get your postcards noticed in the mail. I was the king of using combinations of two PMS colors to portray full color, and an expert in paper stocks. Most importantly, I learned all I could about printing. Why? Because printing techniques have always been one of the best tools in my creative toolbox.

Today I will discuss three of my favorite printing techniques — when applied to your concept, they can help your postcards stand out.

1. Paper

This is the easiest and one of the most effective ways to make your mail stand out. There are so many paper stocks that will make recipients stop and take a second look at your mail. But in today’s 4-Color world, creatives are not considering paper as much as they should.

Consider an ultra-heavy stock, or even sandwiching two sheets together. Most mail is floppy. If your postcard is the most rigid in a stack of mail, it will receive attention. That few extra seconds your consumers spend investigating will increase your response rate.

moothickpaper
Moo doubled up stock with edge color

You should choose stocks heavier than 16pt — double it up and make it 32pt. Print one side of the sheet, sandwich two sheets together and then trim to size. Printing companies like Moo Cards offer this as a standard option.

Your stock could be particle board on which you can use production techniques like embossing, silk screening or letterpress.

Companies like Ward/Kraft are sandwiching your postcard in plastic. I know, I know: Plastic will increase your postage costs. But not with this product — they’re getting standard postage rates. This card is extremely rigid and has options for punch-out cards and tags.

Ward/Kraft plastic pop-out card
Ward/Kraft plastic covered postcard with pop-out cards

2. Texture

Texture is a wonderful way to make materials stand out. Our fingers are amazingly aware and notice anything that is abnormal. Bumpy, sticky, rubbery surfaces — anything that is not the regular feel of paper.

Use a gloss or matte varnish as a texture for sections of your postcard. Varnishes across the entire piece, like matte or glossy, will not create the unique texture you want. You want gaps for your fingers to distinguish the differences. This will also work for spot UV as well, which can create an even more dramatic effect.

Spot Gloss Varnish
Spot Gloss Varnish from tasteofinkstudios.com

9 Ways to Make Direct Mail ‘Irresistible’

Creating direct mail can be a challenge, as many marketers struggle to create direct mail that is irresistible to recipients. Many times, taking a look at what others are doing to either grab good ideas or avoid bad ones is a great place to start.

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 11.16.01 AMCreating direct mail can be a challenge, as many marketers struggle to create direct mail that is irresistible to recipients. Many times, taking a look at what others are doing to either grab good ideas or avoid bad ones is a great place to start.

Another idea is to check the USPS’s irresistible mail website to help you generate direct mail ideas. Once there, you will find all kinds of information.

Here are a few USPS ideas to make your direct mail irresistible:

1. QR Codes provide access to many forms of online content from the direct mail piece. They can go to websites for more info, pages for purchasing, videos and so much more.

2. Social media adds to the reach of direct mail. Tell people how to connect with you on your social media channels and make sure to allow people to make purchases from the channels.

3. Near-field communication gives users an experience on their mobile devices that does not require an app download. This can send them the content you want them to see — there are so many great ideas on using this newer technology.

4. Textures create a way for people to feel your message. This can’t be done with digital channels, so how can you take advantage of this?

5. Embed video in your direct mail with a paper-thin screen, a URL to live stream content or visuals that come alive right on the page with video-enhanced print.

6. Augmented reality can spark your creativity and the recipients’ curiosity. Take your printed direct mail into a whole new dimension with this powerful combination.

7. Formats that are unique and grab attention have a high response rate. Think of folding options, sizes and other ideas. What can you do to make your design new?

8.Variable data is a great way to make each piece relevant to each recipient. Remember, correctly targeted messaging gets the best results.

9. Analytics are the key to successful direct mail. You need to know what’s working and what needs improvement.

Whenever you add extra elements to your direct mail, like the ones listed above, you are adding to its value. The more value recipients feel they are getting, the better engaged they will be with your mail pieces. This gives you better response rates. Keep in mind that you can incorporate more than one of the elements without the worry of causing confusion. The idea is to get creative and provide a fun, engaging experience for your recipients.

Direct mail has the highest response rate when you do it correctly. Make sure you have your design approved for postal regulations and you get feedback from people outside of your organization about your design and message. People like to get direct mail, so make sure you are giving them something good — not something that is going to go immediately into the trash can. When you haven’t targeted your list and offer properly, you’re not sending direct mail — you are sending junk mail and no one likes that.

Stand Out With Texture

How can you get your direct mail to stand out in the mailbox? Have you considered using texture? Coatings do more than just protect the print from scratching damage in the mail. They can capture interest for your direct mail piece. With all the different types of coating available, you can now choose one that really emphasizes touch. By creating a unique textured feel, your response rate will increase. Think of all the different ways you can add texture to your piece to grab attention to it.

How can you get your direct mail to stand out in the mailbox? Have you considered using texture? Coatings do more than just protect the print from scratching damage in the mail. They can capture interest for your direct mail piece. With all the different types of coating available, you can now choose one that really emphasizes touch. By creating a unique textured feel, your response rate will increase. Think of all the different ways you can add texture to your piece to grab attention to it.

Some fun coatings for you to consider:

  • MiraFoil: Create metallic effects in a precise fashion.
  • Raised: Gives the embossed look without actual embossing.
  • Pearlescent: Gives an elegant shimmer look.
  • Sandpaper: Gives a rough sand paper like feel.
  • Soft touch: Creates a velvet texture for a nice soft feel.
  • Glitter: A large glitter flake that is available in a variety of colors.
  • Metal Flake: Fine metal flakes similar to car paint.
  • Thermochronic: Temperature activated, changes color when heated.
  • Photochromic: This coating is activated by sunlight to change color.
  • Glow in the dark: This is a high gloss coating that will glow in the dark.
  • Scratch off: Available in gold or silver provides a non-see thru coat

Now that you have selected your coating, imagine how creative you can get with your design. You want to have the feel of bricks? No problem. 3D raised steps? No problem. It’s like the old “Pat the Bunny” books: You can have so many textures at your fingertips to choose from. It is not advised to go crazy and put several on one mailer, but you can mix a couple to really get a pop. Show your recipients how your product or service feels; grab that sensory emotion to increase response.

The standard coatings are:

  • Varnish: This is basically like a colorless ink and can be applied in gloss, dull or satin forms as the piece is printed. This is not environmentally friendly.
  • Aqueous: A water based coating applied as the piece is printed. It protects better than varnish and is more environmentally friendly.
  • UV: This provides superior protection and comes in glossy or dull.
  • Laminates: This is best for protection from water as it seals in the paper. This is not usually needed for direct mail pieces.

With any of the above coatings, it is a good idea to check with your mail service provider to make sure they can inkjet over the coating. You do have a couple of choices if the coating is not inkjet compatible. You can knockout the mail panel when coating to leave it unfinished for inkjet. Or you can use and envelope/poly bag as a cover. Just one more thing to consider is that a paper envelope can be inkjeted, but a poly bag will require labels. Make sure to consider all your options and costs before proceeding.

Direct mail is about engagement, pulling the recipient into your marketing by creating interest in your mailer. The more interesting it is, the better response you are going to get. You will also find that when you create a direct mailer that people really enjoy, they show it to others. The more people who see your mailer, talk about it and share it, the better your response will be. Sensory input leaves a lasting impression on the recipient. If you want to add another layer of input, check out our blog post on adding scent to mailers. A good combination of texture and scent can knock your ROI out of the park!