Traditional mail marketing has been a reliable and effective marketing strategy for small and mid-sized businesses for good reason. Studies show that in a time when the average inbox is flooded with marketing emails, direct-mail campaigns offer a higher conversion rate and return on investment than their digital alternatives.
With big visual appeal and low postage costs, business postcards are a popular marketing option for businesses in the St. Louis area. As with any other marketing campaign, the quality of the marketing product and the strategy employed are the variables that will influence the success of your postcard marketing campaign. If you want to improve your direct-mail marketing campaign this year, we’ve simplified the process for you. Here is a seven-step plan that will make printing your business postcards in St. Louis an easy process:
Step 1: Choose A Printer
The printing partner you choose will have a big impact on the quality and success of your marketing campaign. In today’s digital age, you have a variety of options open to you. Small and mid-sized businesses may find it beneficial to avoid big copy shops that simply can’t offer much more than a transactional relationship.
To get the biggest return on your printing investment, look for printers who can meet the criteria on this checklist:
- Design experience
- The ability to act as an interested partner when planning your print marketing campaign
- Proven printing experience to understand what your unique printing needs are
- The ability to be a resource to you for any print-marketing questions and troubleshooting issues that may arise
- Reasonable costs
When deciding on what print company will best meet your needs, ask yourself, “How will this partner benefit me for throughout the process?” Be prepared to answer with concrete reasons for each printer you are considering.
The bottom line is that for business printing supplier in the St. Louis area, you need a vendor who can offer products at a competitive price point, while still giving the personalized customer service that small and mid-sized businesses need.
Step 2: Determine The Core Message
After you’ve decided on the right print marketing supplier, you’ll need to clearly formulate:
- What your business postcards should accomplish.
- Exactly what your business postcards should say.
Be as clear and as specific as you can when stating your goal, and communicate this with your supplier. Having a clearly defined goal for your business-postcard mail campaign is crucial to each additional step in your planning, but that doesn’t mean that your goal needs to be complicated.
The goal may be as simple as, “Highlight holiday promotional items,” or as specific as, “Promote holiday sales to gain additional customers, with a projected increase of 123 percent by year end.”
The end goal will influence the complexity of the postcard’s message. Whether you have a detailed goal or a simple one, you’ll get the best results if you communicate your postcard’s message in as few words as possible:
- Use strategic words that promote action (e.g., “buy,” “take advantage,” “score”)
- Mention specific dates or time limits (e.g., “limited time only,” “ends at midnight,” “sale starts tomorrow”)
- Utilize language that communicates urgency (e.g., “last chance,” “buy now,” “lowest price”)
The complexity of your core message will limit the size of postcard that you pick, your additional design options, and the design of the card itself, so be strategic with your words.
Step 3: Choose The Appropriate Postcard Size
While this may seem like one of the easier steps in the design and planning of your postcard, there are some important considerations to bear in mind. Most businesses will find that either a standard 4.25” x 6” card or a 5” x 7” card will meet their needs.
While the smaller size qualifies for lower rates from the U.S. Postal Service, the larger postcards will open up more options, including longer messages and bigger images. In fact, many businesses find the extra advertising space so advantageous that they opt for a larger 6.25” x 11” postcard. The postal rates are higher for these larger postcards than they are for the standard-sized postcards, but the larger postcards will undoubtedly stand out from the usual mail that recipients sort through on a daily basis. Your printer will be able to advise you on which size is best for your particular marketing needs.
Step 4: Consider The Additional Options Available To You
Depending on what your printer can offer, you should be able to add several different finishing touches that will have a significant impact on how your postcard is perceived. Think carefully about decisions like:
- Card stock vs. plastic stock
- Square corners vs. rounded corners
- Standard rectangular dimensions vs. unique shapes that help your postcard stand out
If your printer offers premium printing services, discuss the option of adding:
- High-gloss UV varnish
- Matte/Dull coating
- Metallic or foil finishes
- Natural card stock that sends an environmentally friendly message.
All of these additional options can help send the appropriate message to your audience. If deciding on which extras are right for your needs seems daunting or too time-consuming (as it often is for busy professionals), ask your print supplier for advice. Choosing a St. Louis printing supplier who understands what your unique printing needs are is important for just these kinds of decisions.
Step 5: Design The Card
With the physical specifications of your card completed, it’s time to begin the real creative process. Business-postcard design itself can be a complex topic, but there are some basic design rules that you should include. In general, aim for a clear visual layout that doesn’t include much more than:
- A visual graphic or image on the front
- Brief explainer text
- Additional visual aids on the back
Don’t worry: designing the card and writing the content shouldn’t be a complicated task if you’re already clear on what your postcard’s purpose and message are. Stick to your message and say everything you need to say in as few words as possible. Working with a printing supplier that also has a full staff of graphic designers is the best way to communicate your message, while keeping the task of designing the card to printing to delivery, seamless and headache free.
Step 6: Print The Card
By this point, if you’ve picked the right vendor, everything should be straightforward and easy. After approving the proof, typically via email with a PDF, print production shouldn’t take more than a few days to complete. This is a general estimate on time.
Step 7: Evaluate The Success Of Your Campaign
After you’ve mailed the postcards, it’s time to analyze how effective your marketing efforts have been. Tracking the success rate of a marketing campaign isn’t just for digital strategies. It’s possible—and arguably necessary for both print and digital marketing. And it’s easier than you might think. There are three useful tracking options:
- Compare sales from the same time period in prior years, which will allow you to monitor trends in pre-postcard and post-postcard sales.
- Include a URL on the back of the postcard that leads to a landing page on your website which only postcard recipients will visit.
- Add a unique coupon or coupon code to the postcard that enables you to track the sales that are specifically generated from the postcard.
Running a successful business-postcard marketing campaign can be an effective way to reach your target audience. These seven steps should streamline the process of finding a local printing partner, determining the exact needs for your postcard, and evaluating the success of your efforts after the fact, in order to make future adjustments. Business postcard printing in St. Louis has never been easier.