Knowledge comes from a wide array of sectors. Books, magazines, seminars, classrooms and The School of Hard Knocks.

We learn from others, from ourselves, from mentors, from coaches, from colleagues and competitors; if we are receptive to knowledge, they all become our teachers.

In this chapter I have highlighted sixteen different industries through case studies of a few of our most successful clients. PostcardMania has over 350 industries in our database that we have created direct mail postcard marketing campaigns for. If you don’t see your industry in this chapter, don’t worry; chances are you’ll find one similar enough that you can extrapolate out their experiences with your own.

Read all the case studies anyway – sometimes the best idea comes from learning what others are doing outside your own industry. And if you’d like more information on how we have succeeded in helping other businesses in your particular industry, just email us at info@postcardmania.com. Type in the subject line: “Case Study Request.”

Remember, the case studies to follow were picked exclusively because of what they had to offer. Don’t flip through them just because you don’t sell insurance or tuxedos; the marketing strategies are universal, no matter what the client sells.


After Five Tuxedo Company

John Loftus
Industry: Formal Wear

Length of time mailing postcards: John Loftus has been mailing postcards since 2000. He became a PostcardMania customer in 2002.

Problem trying to solve: John wanted to generate more qualified leads and at the same time have his shop recognized by his target market as an upscale rental establishment. He had read in magazines that the upscale formal wear stores used postcards for their marketing efforts. Why reinvent the wheel?

Design Idea
John gets his design ideas from other mailers, posters and events that he comes across. He also gets input from his employees.

What worked and what didn’t: The card that John got the least response on was a card that only had a map on the back with stock images on the front. Now he uses a nicer, artsy picture on the front that has the text on the back and he gets a great response.

ROI
John mails about 150 cards every day to a list of couples getting married. He creates a list of whom he meets at wedding tradeshows. About 60% of the weddings he does are from his postcard mailings; he services about fifteen weddings per week at approximately $1,200 to $1,300 each. He tried prom mailings, but his ROI isn’t as good due to the fact that he only rents one tux as opposed to multiple tuxes required for an entire wedding party.

Summary
His closing percentage is about 80%. He’s not located in a mall, so most of the people who come into his store are seriously interested and are easy to close. When he was located in the mall, he had a smaller closing percentage because he had more people wandering in that were less interested.

Statement
“Postcards are the number one reason [that] people come into my store.”


C.W. Beale and Associates, Inc.

Chuck Beale
Industry: Financial Planning

Background
Chuck Beale started in the insurance business at age 22. Most of his clients were future doctors, i.e., college seniors, medical students, interns and residents. Through a “natural course of events” he ended up in financial planning. Beale and Associates started in 1988 and is located in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas.

Length of mailing postcards: Chuck started mailing postcards in 2004 when he became a PostcardMania client. In his early direct mail marketing days, he was sending out invitations in envelopes. The invitation invited prospects to a luncheon/dinner program that had a presentation about protecting against tax loss.

Problem trying to solve: As his industry caught on to the “invitation to a free lunch” approach, Chuck knew a change was in order. He wanted to do something different because so many other financial planners were now mailing out invitations in envelopes. Chuck chose postcards to be able to stand out more in his prospects’ mail boxes. He also determined that postcards were more economical when he realized that he got more mailings for the same amount of money. Now he does something different than offering just a luncheon/dinner – his postcards invite prospects to a bus-trip outing to Clinton Library, where they also have lunch and listen to Chuck speak for 20 – 25 minutes. Another twist on the lunch approach that they use is to offer a tour of Little Rock or Pettigean Mountain.

Design Idea
The design idea for his postcard came from a young lady that works for him. She came across PostcardMania initially. Beale and Associates did some of their own design and PostcardMania designers also helped with ideas.

ROI
Beale & Associates track results and tweak their postcards to get a better response. The response really depends on what they offer as the entertainment, Chuck said. He also understands that have to have a good offer and a good list to market to. In his case, they market to retirees. At the time of this interview, they were promoting a train trip and noticed that their response rate was higher. They normally get a 1% response rate from the dinner postcards. With the train ride postcards, however, they are getting 2%: a 100% increase. Their total ROI is about 10x what they spend on their marketing.

Statement
“I focus on the bottom line when it comes to marketing,” Chuck said. “In the last two-three years, my firm has ranked in the top 2% in the nation that sells annuities!”


D Copperfield Jeweler

Mike Reichow
Industry: Retail Jewelry Sales

Length of time mailing postcards
Mike Reichow has been mailing postcards since he began with PostcardMania in 2002.

Problem trying to solve
Mike was looking to get better results from his marketing. He had been mailing letters, but was not getting the response that he had hoped. He admits he was a bit nervous at first about trying postcards for fear that people would see his postcard as advertising junk and just throw it away. But he also knew that postcards would get a better result than something in an envelope. He was right!

Design Idea
Mike comes up with the design ideas himself, keeping in mind whenever he creates his design that he wants others to get the idea that he is a contemporary jeweler and not just a cookie-cutter-mall retail store. On his postcards he advertises what is popular at the time – something a little cutting edge to catch their eye, but not too edgy to scare them away. Mike says he markets his message exactly how he wants to be branded.

What worked and what didn’t
For Mike, the larger postcard does significantly better than the smaller postcard. He found that advertising a percentage off of his jewelry between two dates (e.g., between Jan. 1st – 15th) works the best, rather than advertising a discount off of one particular item. Mike does not do extensive tracking. He doesn’t even ask how his customers find out about his store. But he does know that business picks up when his postcards go out. He has learned by observation that when postcards are sent out, more people come in the door and he makes more money.

Special concerns
Mike does very little other advertising. He found the newspaper to be worthless and since they are in a suburb, advertising in the larger metropolitan area was way more expensive and was going to people that would never drive the distance to visit his store. Radio and TV were also relatively worthless advertising for him.

Statement
“Postcards are what work the best for us.”

As an aside: You will see in these case studies that not all business owners track extensively. Some go by the awareness of increased foot traffic; others will go by increased money in the door. These are both good tracking methods, but remember: the better you track, the more in control you will be over your marketing.


 

Lightning Pools

Chip Payson
Industry: Pool Remodeling

Length of time mailing postcards
Chip Payson has been marketing with postcards since he began with PostcardMania in 2004.

Problem trying to solve
Chip wanted to cut back on his Yellow Page advertising because he was no longer servicing two counties and felt that advertising in those directories was a waste of marketing dollars that could be better utilized elsewhere. He also knew that he needed to supplement his marketing with another form of advertising.

ROI
Out of 6,000 postcards mailed out per week, Lightning Pools gets 15 responses, which is a mere .25%. However, they know their calculations on this are not totally accurate because when they go out to homes for proposals, often people show them the postcard they got in the mail, even though they said something different when originally called and were asked. Chip thinks he could be missing the response rate by almost double. While reducing their Yellow Pages marketing dollars by 50%, they spent 1/3 of those advertising dollars with PostcardMania and reduced their overall monthly advertising budget by $2,600. What are the results? Their gross income was up 53% for the first quarter of 2005 over the same period in 2003 and 2004.


Measurable Solutions

Kathy Wach, President
Industry: Business Consulting

Length of time mailing postcards
January 2000 to the present, with PostcardMania consistently.

Problem trying to solve
One of Measurable’s owners is a Physical Therapist (PT) and knows that PT’s as a whole generally have difficulty getting new patients into their practices. Measurable needed a marketing medium that would allow them to immediately convey the message that something could be done about that problem.

Design idea
They use very simple designs with colors that they know work in ads (yellow, blue and red).

ROI
They spend 14% of their gross income on marketing, which equates to about $15,000 per week spent on marketing. In fact, they measure their growth by graphing certain functions. If you place their weekly “Promotion Out” graph [number of promotion pieces mailed out] next to their weekly “Gross Income” graph, they are nearly identical. Measurable Solutions tracks the leads coming in, but Kathy didn’t have the exact response rates for each postcard.

Interesting Note
Measurable Solutions made Entrepreneur’s 11th Annual Hot 100 List in 2005 as one of the fastest-growing new companies in the USA.

Statement
Measurable Solutions’ statement to Entrepreneur Magazine of their success secret was: “Promote broadly to all potential public, and internally make sure everyone’s purposes align with the goals of the group.”


Report Masters

Ron Savelo
Industry: Computer Software

Report Masters sells a software program to chiropractors which helps them generate reports to send to insurance companies to justify payments.

Length of time mailing postcards
Ron has been mailing postcards since 1999 and has been with PostcardMania since 2001.

Problem trying to solve
Ron had done some direct mail in the past by mailing out letters in envelopes which were stamped “time sensitive” to attract attention, but he was looking for an easier way to do direct mail. He found postcards to be a much simpler process.

Design idea
In the past, Ron did most of the designs himself but currently sends a six card series designed by PostcardMania’s design team.

He noticed that his gross income was not changing even though his price was going up, which meant fewer orders. He also realized that chiropractor offices around the nation are mainly one-man operations and he was pricing them out of the market. He decided on a new campaign to bring back his 1995 pricing of $595. This new campaign is modeled after his original idea to have the best product, while undercutting his competition’s price.

What worked and what didn’t
There was never a problem with the design or copy of Ron’s postcards, but his tracking methods needed improvement. He realized his tracking methods were giving him incorrect data while reviewing his figures, which revealed he was only getting .4% response from his postcards. Upon some research, he found he was actually getting 800-1,000 unique visitors on his website per week: a 14% response! These visitors were finding out about him via his postcards. From this he realized that he needed to convert more of these unique visitors into qualified leads by having them fill out the on-line surveys. At this point he streamlined his webpage and the number of steps that it took for a visitor to get to his survey. The results are as follows: Prior to the changes, he was only getting 8-15 people per week filling out surveys. Now 25 people per week (25 out of 1,000 = 2.5%) are filling them out. From the calls he gets every week his closing percentage is 40% – 45%. From the on-line surveys, his closing percentages vary from 15% to 25%.

ROI
Ron puts 16% of his income toward marketing every week which equals $1,930 and generates $12,000 in weekly gross income. He mails 7,000 postcards per week and is gradually increasing it to 10,000 per week.

Author’s Note
This is a great example of how tracking your marketing can help in evaluating the effectiveness of a campaign. Direct mail postcards should have your website address plainly visible on them. When a prospect calls in whoever answers the phone needs to ask how the prospect found out about the company. If the prospect says “your website,” then the next appropriate question should be, “How did you find out about our website?” After all, it didn’t just appear on their computer screen one day! In this case, Ron figured it out and his seemingly ineffective campaign showed its true colors!


Riverbend Mortgage

Wayne Laverdiere
Industry: Mortgage

Length of time mailing postcards
Wayne has been mailing postcards since 2004, when he became a PostcardMania customer.

Problem trying to solve
Wayne wanted to attract more business and sell more vacation homes.

Design idea
PostcardMania came up with his design. Wayne picked the “Don’t Miss the Boat” postcard from our website. His office is right on the ocean and they market to the surrounding lakes region, where there is prime real estate for vacation and dream homes: Lake Sebago and Lake Winnipesauke in Maine and New Hampshire. Being a boat enthusiast helped him make the decision!

What worked and what didn’t
When asked what hasn’t worked in regards to his direct mail postcard marketing, Wayne said, “Nothing!” In fact, he jokes that he is “stuck” with his original postcard design because it has worked so well and he’ll always keep that one in the mix no matter what other designs he uses.

ROI
His ROI is 25 times what he spends! He noticed an increase in each subsequent mailing:

  • 1st mailing – 1% response
  • 2nd mailing – 1.5% response
  • 3rd mailing – 2 to 3% response
  • (And it has kept increasing the more mailings he has done.)

Savvy Salon

Susan Hughes
Industry: Beauty Services

Length of time mailing postcards
Susan has been mailing postcards since 2002. She became a PostcardMania customer in 2004.

Problem trying to solve
Susan had discovered that advertising in the newspaper did not pull in the type of customer she was looking for and it did not fit the image she wanted to portray for her salon. She was looking for other ways to target an upscale market and knew that a committed direct mail campaign would have more impact than a one-time mailing.

Design idea
The message that Savvy wanted to portray was upscale, but not stuffy. They wanted to translate a friendly and inviting image with their postcard, as opposed to the normal “attitude” most upscale salons are known for. They also wanted to portray that even though the customer would pay more at their salon, they would get better service, a better environment and much more personal service.

What worked and what didn’t
What didn’t work for Savvy was offering a complimentary haircut with hair coloring. This particular offer brought them a lot of “bargain shoppers” instead of upscale clients. Susan also noticed that other salons were starting to offer the same thing, a free haircut with hair coloring. Savvy changed their offer to a complimentary KERASTASE hair treatment with any hair service ($40.00 value). This offer really stood out because only 700 salons in the nation can carry that particular product. The people that began coming in from that offer not only knew what that product was, but were higher-spending clients. The new offer with the KERASTASE treatment is something that other salons cannot easily copy since the product is exclusive to a smaller group of salons. Savvy began a quarterly newsletter campaign directed to their in-house clients alongside their direct mail postcards to get new leads. Susan said it’s working very well.

ROI
Savvy tracks the number of appointments that get booked starting the first week their postcards hit their prospects’ mailboxes. However, they don’t do much tracking beyond that. They do get feedback from their postcards, like “Saved your card, saw it before and remembered you when I needed a haircut.” She said that there was a lot of talk around town and reference to their salon once their postcard campaign begun. “Oh, I always get your mailing” is another comment she often hears.

Statement
“You cannot mail out postcards just once if you want a good response.”


St. Charles Office Furniture

Erik Nobs
Industry: Furniture

Length of time mailing postcards
St. Charles has been mailing postcards with PostcardMania since 2001. They currently mail 5,000 postcards per week and they also do a monthly brochure mailing of 12,000 pieces.

Problem trying to solve
St. Charles wanted to sell more furniture.

What worked and what didn’t
Erik has never gotten a zero response, but his best response is when he mails consistently and uses colorful designs. He discovered that people respond to different things and what works well for him is to change the design of his postcard every three mailings. “If we stay too long with one design, the cards just don’t pull as well,” claimed Erik.

ROI
Postcards make up 75% of St. Charles’ marketing and the postcards are supplemented with newspaper, radio, TV and trade magazine ads. They definitely get the most response from the postcards and brochures. Many people bring in the postcards because they have a discount or special offer on them: some people, Erik said, hang onto the cards for years and then bring them in. Erik has calculated that his return on investment is at least 10 times what he spends on his postcard marketing. But he made the point that you have to send them out repetitively to get that kind of response.

Statement
“Find your public, find out what they want and communicate that to them – communicate again and again and again.”


Texoma Community Credit Union

Mike Segaloff
Industry: Banking

For this case study, I thought you would want to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth:

“Just received one of your marketing pieces in my email, and noticed this line from it: ‘A one shot in the dark postcard mailing is not going to change your business, your bottom line, your life or your anything.’

“As a long-time professional marketer, I would generally agree with that. However, I just thought I would share the results of the last postcard job you did for us. You may or may not recall doing the blue castle-in-the-clouds postcard for Texoma Community Credit Union back in April-May. It advertised some great CD rates, and said, ‘Your big dreams deserve a big rate.’

“You printed 5,000 for us, 2,400 of which you mailed for us to a list of homeowner-investors that we purchased from Database USA. We mailed an additional 1,000 to our top depositors, and handed the rest out in our two credit union lobbies. We were extremely pleased with the quality of the paper and printing you did for us. Our initial goal was to raise $1 million in CD deposits in May. During the month of May, the postcard brought in $5.3 million in CD deposits, surpassing our goal by well over 400%. Needless to say, we were quite pleased!

“Our ROI calculations came out quite nice:

“We spent $610 on printing and $670 on postage, for a total of $1,280. We generated 198 CDs, totaling $5.31 million, with the average CD balance of $26,816. We use the “spread” between the interest we earn (on auto loans, for example) and the interest we pay out on CDs to calculate our ROI. In this case, the business your postcard brought in generates $9336 per month in net income to the credit union, which gave us a break-even point of just 4 days, and a 12-month ROI of 8652%.

“Not bad, for a one-time postcard mail-out! By the way, I have entered this postcard (and the latest brochure you printed for us) in this year’s Texas Credit Union League marketing competition. I’ll let you know (in October) if we win!

“Just thought you might want to hear a success story. Feel free to share this as appropriate.”

*By the way, another successful auto-financing postcard that Mike created won a “TCUL Lonestar Marketing Award” in the category of Direct Mail Advertising, for Texoma Community Credit Union’s “Auto Loan Recapture Postcard Campaign”. The postcard was printed by Postcardmania.


Villa Valenti

Ralph Valenti
Industry: Restaurant & Retail; Foods (Bottled Sauce Company)

Length of time mailing postcards
Ralph had been mailing postcards for about four years before switching to PostcardMania’s services in 2004.

Problem trying to solve
Ralph wanted more new business and more repeat business for his restaurant. Initially, he thought that using postcards to market was a gamble, but he had a good feeling about it.

Design idea
In the past, Ralph tried various ideas, but the one he uses now works. It was designed by PostcardMania. What he found worked best was getting the right combination of an offer and making it easy for the consumer to acquire it.

ROI
Villa Valenti sends out birthday cards to their database and even though Ralph does not do extensive tracking, he said that there has been a substantial increase in business since doing so. However, he also added that to make it work where it’s actually profitable for a restaurant, he pushes his wait staff to up sell additional menu items to increase the ROI.

Methodology
Villa Valenti now has almost 40,000 names on their mailing list and they mail approximately 3,000 birthday cards a month.

Start Planning Your Own Marketing Campaign!

Chapter Index:
The Ultimate Postcard Marketing Success Manual
Read
Chapter 1:
Marketing Strategy Defined
Read
Chapter 2:
Two Step Marketing
Read
Chapter 3:
Attention Grabbing Marketing
Read
Chapter 4:
Overcoming the 4 Marketing Obstacles
Read
Chapter 5:
Email Lead Generation is NOT the Answer
Read
Chapter 6:
Marketing ROI is Key, Not Responses
Read
Chapter 7:
How to Build a Marketing List
Read
Chapter 8:
Marketing to Customers
Read
Chapter 9:
Marketing to Follow-Up List
Read
Chapter 10:
Marketing to Targeted Prospects
Read
Chapter 11:
Targeted Mailing Lists 101
Read
Chapter 12:
Targeted Mailing Lists 102: Keep Them Fresh
Read
Chapter 13:
How to Design an Effective Ad
Read
Chapter 14:
10 Elements of a Effective Postcard Design
Read
Chapter 15:
Writing Effective Ad Copy
Read
Chapter 16:
Crafting a Successful Marketing Offer
Read
Chapter 17:
Web Design Marketing Tips
Read
Chapter 18:
Building an Integrated Marketing Plan
Read
Chapter 19:
Setting a Marketing Budget
Read
Chapter 20:
Setting a Marketing Schedule
Read
Chapter 21:
Marketing Repetition is Crucial
Read
Chapter 22:
Tracking Marketing Campaigns & Improving Results
Read
Chapter 23:
Lead Follow-Up Process
Read
Chapter 24:
Complete Marketing Process Overview
Read
Chapter 25:
Postcard Marketing Case Studies
Read
Chapter 26:
Key Marketing Terms Defined
Read
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