Can You Really Make Money With Postcards? (Part 1): Effective Postcard Design
By now you have done your homework from the last article and know what product to market first. Through your research, you have figured out everything you could about the clientele that buy that particular product so you can now learn what to say to them.
There are a few keys things to learn when designing postcards for marketing. Aesthetics is not the #1 aspect of a card. The absolute #1 aspect is whether or not it “pulls”. Does it elicit response? Does it make the prospect want to call you? You can have all the aesthetics in the world – beautiful colors, beautiful font, pretty pictures and it could pull nothing.
To give you an example: there was this commercial that used to play over and over in Houston, Texas. This was many years ago. It was corny. It was a furniture guy that sold furniture at cut rate prices. His commercials were actually obnoxious. He jumped up and down and said how he could save you money! But they (the commercials) pulled. That “guy” ran those commercials until the cows came home and people flocked to him like he was the pied piper or something. He became larger than life. And even when he expanded and moved into bigger quarters, etc. – he kept the same commercial. Only sometimes to mix it up a bit, he would have others jump up and down and profess he'd save you money.
Case in point – what he did worked. He got an emotional response from the viewers that watched his commercials. “Save You Money!” That was the thing that made people want to check him out. When he said that phrase and jumped up and down with a wad of dollar bills, people would think “How can I afford NOT to check it out when it's on SALE!”
So, back to your postcard – I'm going to show you how to get your market responding to your promotion. It's really not that mysterious.
10 Key Elements to Help You Get the Results You Want
1. A clear, bold headline. On front of the postcard or mailer there should be one central message. The best way to achieve that is with a headline that's not cluttered up with other text. It should be large enough that it's the first thing that's noticed.
2. A graphic that supports the message. The graphic should be very easy to understand. It should also add to the message the headline is trying to convey. For instance, if you are trying to get people to understand that they can get money out of their home, you could show a house bricked of dollar bills. That graphic reinforces the message more than a simple picture of a home.
You can use fear or humor to get attention.
3. Color that pops. You need to make the headline and other text stand out by using a color that stands out from the background color. Look at the card and ask yourself, “What do I see first?” If your answer is not the headline, you might want to tweak the colors.
4. Subheads that lead into text. If you have a couple of paragraphs of text with no lead in, there's nothing to entice people to actually read the copy. In other words, a subhead will give people a place to start reading. If you have a small amount of words, you may be able to get away with it. But if the text gets any longer, the average reader's attention span is not that long – especially with direct mail – so that reader will want to have some guideposts along the way. There is something called “eye trail”. Your eyes need to comfortably and easily trail the postcard while reading. Too much text all the same size looks too busy and right off the bat you've lost them.
5. Benefits, benefits, benefits. One of the biggest errors people make in advertising is stating features, rather than benefits. For example, never assume recipients automatically know what benefit can be derived from a lower interest rate on their mortgage. It may seem like a no-brainer. But people have to be told. Let them know that their monthly payments will go down; that they can save $300 per month or they can pay off their credit cards.
6. The offer. An offer is always a good idea and should represent a specific reason to call now, such as “Limited supply”; “Interest rates are climbing”; a 'percentage off' or an 'added gift incentive'.
7. Your company name and logo. Although this needs to be on the mailer, it shouldn't overshadow the offer. Customers care most about what you can do for them.
8. Call to action. Tell prospects exactly what you want them to do. “Call today for more information” or “See us online” are two of the most common desired actions. This again may sound too simple to point out, but believe me – I have seen postcards with no call to action. Then the customer wonders why their card didn't “pull”.
9. Contact information. Provide your name, phone number, and Web address directly following the call to action. Whatever you ask prospects to do, give them the means to do it easily.
10. Return address. A return address ensures you'll get returned mail from the post office and sends a message that you're an established professional. People feel better knowing the company they're dealing with has an actual location rather than a P.O. Box.
How to Figure Out What to Say
How do you figure out what headline, graphic or color to use? Well, you have to BE that client. You have to pretend you ARE them.
There is a monkey loose in your office and you can't seem to get any work done. The only solution is to catch the little distraction and FedEx him back to the jungle that he came from. Question: How do you catch a monkey? You have to get into his head, think like him. You have to “BE” the monkey to find out what is going to bring him close enough for you to catch him.
What does an annoying monkey have to do with Marketing Design?
Every potential customer is like the monkey. They are going to do whatever they want unless you can persuade them to listen to you. You have to get into their head, think like them, “BE” them. A monkey is a simple animal so you can probably get his attention with the stereotypical banana.
Human beings on the other hand are extremely complex. Then you add in the fact that the mailing list is targeted and it can get quite challenging. Following are a few examples:
Product: Wrinkle Reducing Eye Cream.
Who do you need to “BE”? Probably a woman over the age of 40. Try it. Pretend you are a woman over 40 with lines and wrinkles around your eyes and mouth – and they are getting worse and worse each day. Did you do it? Are you her? Good.
Now, how bombarded with advertising is this woman over 40 that you're being? Just think about it. PLENTY! So how are you going to communicate to her in an ad to get her to respond?
You may have a headline that pushes the button of how upset she is about those crows feet like, “Crow's Feet Getting Worse as You Age?” You may want to show a before and after shot of a woman looking younger after using the eye cream.
Now getting to the good stuffâ€¦
This example has you trying to determine the biggest benefit of refinancing a mortgage for families with a household income of $75k, revolving debt of $15k and 2+ children. Sound complicated? It can be. Maybe the benefit is getting cash to pay off their debt; maybe it's paying for college, or even lowering their monthly payments. There is no real way to tell just by looking at the situation. Now you are going to have to do some research. And hopefully, you already did that after reading my last article.
Research can be as in depth as actually phoning some of your past clients or just asking yourself these questions:
- Why are you refinancing?
- What made you choose me as your Mortgage Broker?
- What is the thing that you liked about working with me?
- What is the thing you didn't like?
- What do you feel is the most beneficial part of my service?
It is not always obvious what is going to be the benefit that is going to pull the most response. Use your three assets (Reasoning, Experience and Research) to get as close as possible. As time goes on you will build up your experience, but in the beginning you will need to rely more heavily on your Reasoning and Research. And the easiest and fastest thing you can do is to “BE” the target market.
Now back to the targeted family that we want to refinance their home. Pretend you are a family man or woman with a household income of the $75k with revolving debt of $15K and you've got two kids! Kids can be pretty expensive. So, why would you like to refinance?
Show How it Works
The case study for this article is Riverbend Mortgage's “[Don't] Miss the Boat” postcard.
- The headline is a well-known expression. Sometimes classic expressions are the best. Who hasn't heard that? It may seem trite, but it gets the point across.
- It is an excellent graphic. Bravo! They used a graphic of a pretty peaceful boat in beautiful blue waters. My heart rate went down just thinking about what lower rates could do for me.
- The color pops – in other words, “MISS THE BOAT” isn't all blended in with the background. You see it right away.
- Turn it over and see the subheads that lead into the text. See how the font gets smaller? That's “eye trail”.
- Then the benefits are bullet pointed to make it easier to read. And they tell you what Riverbend Mortgage can do for you.
- They don't have a particular offer, but that's okay – in this case the “offer” is all of the benefits.
- The company logo doesn't overpower the postcard, but it's there. Repeated mailings will emblazon that logo on the brains of their prospects.
- The call to action is “CALL” in all caps! You can't get anymore explicit than that.
- Contact information is right under the call to action; the phone number is easy to read. You don't want them to have to figure it out; if they have to, the majority won't – they don't have time.
- Their return address is by their logo, perfect place for it.
This particular postcard pulled extremely well for Riverbend Mortgage. Wayne Laverdiere, a Managing Partner of Riverbend, said that his response percentage has increased with each mailing. The 1st mailing got a 1% response; the second mailing got a 1.5% response and the 3 mailing – a 2-3% response! This directly correlates with the whole concept of campaigns/repeated mailings. The more you mail to your prospective clients, the more credibility you have with them and eventually the in-bound communication will start to snowball.
They key point about this design was not only to show how much better one's life could be with lower financing rates, but connecting the graphic to the region in which Riverbend operates. Being on Badger's Island in Kettery, Maine, Riverbend Mortgage is right on the ocean and they market to the surrounding lakes region (Lake Sebago and Lake Winnipesauke). The real estate in those surrounding areas of Maine and New Hampshire are prime locations for vacation and dream homes on the water. By being able to “BE” their prospective clients, Riverbend was able to choose a design that really pulls for their area. Not to mention that Wayne is a boat enthusiast himself.
“We're stuck with that design” Wayne chuckles, “it has worked so well for us that we will always have that design. We will be trying other designs in the future, but we will always have that one.” In fact, Wayne has done so well with that postcard that his Return On Investment is 25X what he spent on his postcard marketing!
Now that you have the skinny of the many marketing tips I have for mortgage brokers, figure out what to say and how your postcard design should look; then compare it with the 10 elements check list in this article.
Congratulations! You just got the inside scoop on being a graphic designer. Put it to good use and start creating direct mail pieces that really pull!