The use of direct mail to engage existing customers and lure prospects is time-tested and produces positive returns year after year. Some say there is a resurgence, but many marketers will tell you that the success of direct mail campaigns has never waned. The best performer: the direct mail postcard. It’s flexible, accessible, and instantly engages recipients as soon as it is retrieved from the mailbox.
For marketers, the value of the direct mail postcard is clear. For producers of these postcards they represent opportunity. Not just in the production of the cards, but in the services that lead up to production. With careful planning, direct mail postcards can become their own revenue stream!
Think of it as the postcard gambit. You take on the job of enhancing your software, hardware, and services to enable greater production opportunities. It all begins with a careful review of your direct mail postcard capabilities beginning with what you currently offer. If your current process is to accept composed files ready for print and mail, you have one path. If you are a full-service provider (or want to be), you have another path. Here are some ideas to consider for each environment.
Focus on Print
Producing direct mail postcards has changed over the decades. In the new digital world, postcards are often graphically rich and contain variable text and images as part of targeted campaigns. You never want to tell a client that they need to reduce their use of color or make their postcard less complex, so this is a great time to evaluate your print and finishing capabilities against the current market expectations.
Your checklist should include:
- Review of current color management solutions
- Review of substrate range
- Review of post-coating and enhancement options
- Review of finishing options: sizes, shapes and fold options
If your evaluation concludes that you have these options handled, great! But, if you see opportunities to improve, this is a good time to begin talking to vendors and putting together plans. It may be time to trade in current equipment and upgrade to more competitive options.
Focus on Services
Services opportunities for direct mail start with creative and composition services but can expand into data acquisition and response analysis offerings. If you have expertise in a segment, you can offer guidance based on that expertise. Each service can provide a lucrative revenue stream when the services are based on well-designed platforms and processes, and when they are priced appropriately to clients. A common mistake is to give away or discount services to secure the print work. Use the combination of your print and services expertise to show how your direct mail postcard execution proves its value.
Start with services you have or can partner for, and then incrementally add more! Your starting point can be creative and composition services. This can be an in-house team or a network of partners and freelancers who allow you to offer the widest range of services.
Training Can Be Your Secret Weapon
The best direct mail providers have a program to keep their team well-trained. Lunch and learn sessions with vendors and industry experts, subscriptions to industry newsletters, and memberships in industry organizations that share data and insights can keep the team focused on the industry trends that keep clients at the top of their game.
Postcard direct mail is the secret weapon for many marketers. It provides the perfect messaging real estate for targeted messaging that is visible from the point of delivery. It can be targeted and personalized. It is the perfect marketing medium!
Meet the Author
As a 20-year veteran of the print industry, Eric is an established global product leader responsible for the development and delivery of a multi-million dollar global software and services portfolio. A native of Colorado, Eric holds degrees in both Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business, balancing his technical and business aptitude to prepare him for working with teams and customers around the globe. From first joining the IBM Printing Systems Division to his current position as Director, Ricoh Global Software Product Management, Eric is tasked with driving the development of high-value products through innovation, providing solutions to Ricoh customers across a broad spectrum of industries in the commercial print, transactional and enterprise space.