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Mailbox Monday


At B Direct, we love postcards. And we've designed hundreds over the years for clients in retail, healthcare, high tech, financial services, education, and nonprofit. They're a great choice for multiple reasons. They're quick and impactful, perfectly suited to today's diminishing attention spans. They're economical in terms of paper and postage. Their real estate can be cleverly used for product photos, features and benefits, special offers and promotions. And, they give you a chance to establish a brand; we often compare the to mini billboards in your mailbox.

They also challenge creative teams to think about clever copy and engaging artwork, without falling back on extravagant budgets or whiz-bang production tricks.

Yes we love postcards ...

BUT, there are certain rules that need to be observed, whether you're developing a postcard or a multi-component 3-D package, And, one of the most important is readability. Because the truth is, no matter how brilliant your message is, if it's too difficult to read (or even just perceived to be too difficult to read) ... guess what? It won't be read. And, that's a waste no matter how much or how little you just spent.

Case in point, we just received a postcard from Ooma Office. It's a generous 6" x 9", full-color, on fairly nice stock.

The art side has an aerial image of two office workers, and a seal of approval from PC Magazine. The headline reads, "Cut your office phone bill in half. Keep your throttle on full." Not bad. This is followed by (maybe a little too much) persuasive copy, an image of a phone, a graphic that boasts "NO CONTRACTS" and urges "ACT NOW." It's branded Ooma Office and lists a toll-free number and promotion website. So far, so good.

Then, we turned it over, Yikes!

All of the content — and again, there's a lot there — is reversed out of black in either white or orange type. There's a headline, subhead, price promotion, six bulleted paragraphs, multiple calls-to-action, and a fat paragraph of teensy-tiny disclosure text.

And, that's a big problem.

Other than extremely judicious and limited application, reversed type is a big no-no for direct marketing. Here's why. It can reduce readership by 75%!

We'll say that again ... It can reduce readership by 75%!

Many marketing gurus cite reversed out type as their number one DON'T. It may seem boring, but dark (preferably black) type on white is easiest to read. And, if your marketing isn't read, chances are, it's not going to pull much of a response.

So, the Bs at B Direct must give this postcard a thumbs down.

Sometimes sticking to the tried and true is the best strategy. For readability and results.


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