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Mailbox Monday


When sending direct mail to consumers, our main goal is for them to open it. Actively interacting and engaging with the piece is even better. One of the most popular forms of direct mail are postcards. Postcards are simple to create and also simple to engage with. From the marketer’s standpoint, postcards are easy to design, print, and mail — while also bring reasonably inexpensive. From the consumer’s viewpoint, postcards are easily digestible, making the focus of the message clear and precise. Postcards are a great tool to use because they can grab a reader’s attention without needing to retain it long enough to open an envelope. Besides being time-consuming, opening and unfolding letters can be distracting. Readers might not even bother opening them before tossing them into recycling.

Postcards get the job done, and when done effectively, they get the job done well.

Which leads us to today’s post, which we’ll call, “A Tale of Two Postcards.”

Let’s compare two different direct mail postcards we very recently received. There is a clear winner here between the two of them. We’ll call them Postcard A and Postcard B. Postcard A is from an insect repellant company, MosquitoRanger. Postcard B is from Valvoline Instant Oil Change.

A main challenge postcards pose is the limited space. Due to this, the marketer has to be creative about picture placements, and the amount of text printed. Just like with PowerPoints, the less words shown on the postcard the more effective they will be. Postcard A has a single question on the front: “Is Your Family Protected Against Mosquitoes?” along with the company’s name, tagline, and website link. Meanwhile, Postcard B has a longer sentence at the top: “We let you see the job done right, right before your eyes” but also has an offer at the bottom for $9 off a specific oil change. Postcard B is much wordier on the front and it distracts from the picture. It is harder to read because the font is on top of the picture versus Postcard A’s question is on an orange banner that stands out from the picture.        

Looking at the images used on the front for each, the MosquitoRanger picture is much more pleasant and appealing. Its simple design features a small child hugging a dog. The cute photo catches your eye and is nice to look at. The picture in Postcard A is not distracting from the postcard’s content. Unfortunately, Postcard B’s picture is definitely distracting. The picture on Postcard B has a driver interacting with an oil change mechanic from inside the vehicle. The mechanic is wearing her uniform that has the company’s logo, her name stitched in, an American flag on the sleeve, and a mask with the company’s logo. (While we love that the picture is recent and encouraging good mask usage during this time, the colors and words on the mechanic’s uniform adds more distraction to the photo, which is already distracting due to where the words are placed on it). Overall, there is just too much going on for the front side of Postcard B.

Looking at the back of each postcard, Postcard A still comes out as the winner. The text’s font, size, and color is easy to read, and the words are not overpowering. The colors match the front side of the postcard and include a background of a backyard type space, which is in keeping with the background of the front side. The single offer here is explained simply and effectively. Postcard B, on the other hand, has four separate offers on the back side. One of which is the exact same offer that is on the front of the card. To the reader, this may be overwhelming. It is also hard to read because the font size is very small and each offer has a long description and expiration date. Two of the four offers also have recommendations for the specific car brand the receiver owns (kudos to Valvoline for the personalization!). The backside also displays one of the company’s location’s operating hours and address, but again the font size is very small. The reader likely has to strain their eyes to read it. Lastly, the colors used as fairly monotone and unappealing.

Postcard A is clearly the better of the two postcards shown here. When considering postcards for your next direct mail campaign, consider the message you are sending, and whether or not is simple enough for a postcard. Postcards that are too wordy or too distracting are more likely to be thrown out than postcards with easy bite size words and offers. When it comes to words and phrases on postcards, less is more. Choose pictures that are simple rather than complex.

Happy mailing!


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