For how long have you been thinking about using postcards to promote and market your business?

    Still thinking about it? Sometimes, we end up thinking about all the “what-if’s” instead of taking action.

    There are probably plenty of reasons for not doing something that you want to do or suspect you need to do (such as marketing with direct mail). But it usually boils down to fear of loss: loss of money, loss of time, loss of reputation…perhaps even loss of control because you don’t know what’s going to happen.

    But rather than ask “why,” let’s look at reasons to stop thinking about direct response marketing with postcards and just start doing it:

    1.) Anything Is Better Than Nothing

    Imagine you were a totally new business sending out your first advertisement to completely cold prospects. That would be kind of scary. You would probably have no idea what kind of message to write, what kind of offer to present, which call to action would be most effective, or what kind of images to use.

    So what? Just put something together and send it out. You might get a lot of response or not so much. If you don’t get any, then at least you’ll have discovered one thing that doesn’t work, and you’d be closer to generating some leads than you were before you sent those cards. Whatever responses you get, identify why people responded and strengthen that in your next campaign.

    But chances are that you’re not a totally new business. You probably know a thing or two about your customers and what they respond to. If you’re not using direct mail but are using other forms of advertising, apply what’s already working in your other ads to your postcard campaign.

    Any promotion you do is better than sitting around wondering if it will work. Each postcard, whether a “success” or a “failure” moves you ahead towards better results and more leads.

    2.) It Won’t Break Your Bank

    How much does it cost to market with postcards? It’s much less expensive than you think and more effective, too. (We’ll get to that in a second). But, rather than tease you, we’ll tell you: You can get totally professional, full-color postcards printed for as little as $0.17 each. (If you’d like more details, you can download our pricing schedule.

    3.) Direct Mail Works

    Studies from both the US and UK show that direct mail makes the recipient feel more valued, creates a more authentic connection and lasting impression than digital advertising. Does that translate into leads and sales? It does with postcards, as 79% of postcard recipients respond immediately, compared to only 45% of email recipients.

    There’s also a Canadian study that utilizes brain-imaging and eye-tracking (science!) to come to the same conclusions.

     

    So there’s three big reasons why it’s better to do your first postcard campaign than to continuing wondering about it: direct mail works, it’s affordable, and any direct mail you send is always better than none.

    Right now, you could log on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei and find out for yourself (instead of, y’know…thinking about it) how easy it to create your first postcard campaign with our customizable templates. You can even handle the mailing online.

    Or, give Opportunity Knocks a call at 1 (866) 319-7109 and talk to one of our expert marketers about your campaign. They’ll work with you and with our design pros to create an effective postcard campaign (What do you think of that?).

      It’s a given that your direct response mail piece—your postcard, door hanger, newsletter, etc.—must be clean, attractive-looking, and professional. People expect that. But the message that your marketing piece carries is ultimately what creates response, leads, and sales.

      There is an entire planet’s worth of advice, rules, books, courses, and systems on how to the write persuasive marketing copy. One of the best and easiest to understand is Hot Button Marketing.

      The “Why,” Not the “What”

      The basic premise of Hot Button Marketing (the title of a little book by consumer behaviorist Barry Feig) is that people buy products and services for emotional reasons, not rational ones; understand the emotion behind why people buy, then “push that button” in your marketing copy.

      One example of this is a man trying to sell a Jeep outfitted with a snowplow. He placed a classified ad that gives the usual car stuff: mileage, engine size, new tires (rational stuff). After getting no responses, he changed the ad to “Start your own snow removal business. Jeep with snowplow. Be your own boss.” He sold it the next day.

      Of course, this idea, that people buy for emotional reasons, is a fundamental of writing effective sales copy, and is not unique to Feig. However, what he brings to the table is a system in which he’s identified all the possible buttons.

      Only 16 Buttons

      The marketing hot buttons—those emotional reasons that people buy stuff—are only 16 in number. While the scope of this blog post won’t allow us to discuss all of them (or any of them in great depth), here are several, which will give you a good idea of what this is all about:

      1. The desire for control
      2. The excitement of discovery
      3. “I’m better than you”
      4. Revaluing
      5. Family values
      6. The desire to belong
      7. Sex, love, and romance
      8. Fun is its own reward
      9. Poverty of time
      10. The desire to get the best
      11. Self-achievement
      12. The nurturing response
      13. Reinventing oneself
      14. Power, dominance, and influence
      15. “Make me smarter”
      16. Wish fulfillment

      These are the “why’s”—the emotional reasons that people reach for and purchase products and services.

      When and How to Identify the Hot Button(s)

      A target public—may have more than one hot button for purchasing your product or service. You don’t settle on a hot button based on the product; it will come from the target public.

      Some good times to isolate them are:

      • At the start, to find out if there’s actually a need for your product/service and which hot button(s) correspond that need.
      • When you want to increase your sales. You may discover that there is a stronger button than the one you’re currently pushing in your marketing.
      • When introducing a new product or service to your current offerings, to see if there is interest.

      In each case, the way you discover the button is not by talking on and on about your product but by asking your customers questions and listening closely to their answers. They will tell you what they think of your product and why they buy it (why = the hot button).

      When you seem to get that same “why” from a lot of customers, you can be pretty sure it will resonate with a large percentage of your customers and prospects. So use it on them in your postcard copy and watch your leads and sales go out the roof.

       

      Many of our clients tell us they love the fact that they can log on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei any time they want and create a postcard campaign with our classy customizable templates and mail it right from their computer.

      But if you’re dealing with a poverty of time (to quote Hot Button Marketing), give Opportunity Knocks a call at 1 (866) 319-7109, chat with our marketing & design pros and they’ll handle the design and mailing for you.

        Wow! Thank you to all our amazing contestants this past month!
        We had some terrific entries – and we thank you all so much for sharing your ProspectsPLUS! and Opportunity Knocks experiences! If your name wasn’t drawn – no worries! We’ll choose another winner next month!
        Congratulations!

        Our $200 winner is Wade Smith who shared:

        “Andy and the Opportunity Knocks team have been Awesome! They have been very prompt and professional with everything they have done for me. And the postcards look great and get mailed out right on time every week. Could not be more pleased with the service I have received from them!

        Thank you Wade and to everyone who entered! Ready to throw your hat in the ring? It’s easy! Simply share your experiences on our ProspectsPLUS! Google+ or Facebook Page, or our Opportunity Knocks Google+ or Facebook Page and you’ll be automatically entered. We’ll give away $150 credit. Next drawing is the first week of February!

          If this is not the first ProspectsPLUS! blog post you’ve ever read, please hang in there a for second, while we “preach to the choir.” For first-time readers, well…you’re the choir. And here comes the (short) sermon.

          Despite what you’ve heard about direct mail marketing, it’s still widely used. Yes, it’s true that we live in “a digital world” and all of that; nevertheless, the statistics for direct mail response remain impressive and that’s reason enough for you to be using it.

          Can we get an “Amen?”

          So when you decide to market with postcards, outsource it to a direct mail marketing company (also called a “mail house”). Here’s four reasons why:

          1.) The Convenience

          Once upon a time, there were printing companies. You brought them your design and they converted it to a printable medium and then printed however many you needed. But when it came to mailing—mailing lists, addressing, etc.—you were on your own.

          Later on, some printing companies began to offer in-house design services. These days, there are companies (like yours truly) that offer design, printing, and mailing all in one place. Some direct mail marketing companies (yes, yours truly again), allow you to do it all from your laptop or over the phone.

          2.) The Cost

          Unless you’re a particularly large corporation with continuous high-volume direct mail marketing needs, the cost of doing it in-house can be prohibitive. A direct mail house is already paying less for materials than you would because they purchase it in greater quantity. They subscribe to market-targeting services such as Nielsen PRIZM and others, the monthly or annual cost of which is usually beyond the budgets of most small businesses. You can even save on postage by going through a direct mail marketing company.

          3.) The Time

          Of course, if you wanted to, you could invest in the databases, digital design software, on-demand printing equipment and all the rest, take a couple years to learn how to use it all, then another couple years to learn to use it all well and then—okay, you get the point, right? A direct mail marketing company has already made the investment in state-of-the-art equipment and training. They’ll save you a lot of time.

          4.) The Experts

          Another thing about that investment in state-of-the-art equipment and training (mentioned above) is that it means your job is being handled by experts who know their job, move fast, and are able to routinely turn out top-level professional results. They make you and your company look great and are sure to know a few tricks to make your campaigns even more effective. (Go ahead, ask ’em….)

           

          Make a cup of coffee or tea and log on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei, where you can create a classy-looking post campaign using our customizable templates or your own design and handle the mailing, too—all before you reach the bottom of the cup.

          If you’d rather enjoy that warm beverage away from a computer, give Opportunity Knocks a call at 1 (866) 319-7109, and have our experts handle the design and mailing of a professional, high-response postcard campaign.

            Is it just us or does it seem like radio stations start in with the Christmas music earlier and earlier every year? Same thing with department stores and Christmas decorations.

            As a consumer, this may be a bit annoying but as a marketer for your business, you can’t afford to fight it. For one reason, According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), small and mid-sized businesses do 20 to 40 percent of their business during November and December. NFR also found that 40 percent of consumers start their holiday shopping before Halloween.

            So, it pays to join in and use the early-starting holiday momentum to increase your sales.

            Here are some of our best tips on how to do it:

            1.) Do a Holiday Count-Down

            A great way to stay top-of-mind with your customers during the holidays is to start a count-down campaign to your offer, discount, etc. This can work for almost any kind of product or service and would involve several postcards to remind consumers about your awesome deal and how many days until they can take advantage.

            2.) Provide Gift Solutions…Early!

            If your product or service would make a great gift, send a postcard to your customers and prospects to remind them about it. You’ll actually be doing many of them a favor because approximately one third of all shoppers wait until mere days before Christmas to start their Christmas shopping, which just compounds the holiday stress because the lines get longer and the inventory get scarcer. So by suggesting your product or service—and presenting a special offer, you’re actually doing them a favor by solving some of their shopping list and helping them avoid the last-minute madness—and you can even mention these “pain points” in the copy on your postcard.

            3.) Make Things Simpler

            For many people, if they are not leaving town to visit friends or relatives, they are staying home and receiving friends and relatives. Either way, it means making arrangements and getting things ready: travel, tickets, accommodations for guests or self and family, cleaning, landscaping, painting, food, recipes, music, decorations, entertainment—you name it. Figure out how to position your product or service in a way that makes their holidays simpler, smoother, more streamlined. Help people reduce the hustle and bustle and you are golden in their eyes.

            4.) Make Your Product/Service Holiday Related

            Similar to #2, except that instead of appealing to the consumer’s desire to reduce holiday chaos, you’re putting on your marketing cap and figuring out a way to position your product or service in terms of the holiday: A dentist’s postcard campaign can be about dental protection from the oncoming storm of holiday sweets; the auto repair shop can offer services to “keep your car running great so you can get through all your Christmas shopping and travel,” and lawn care companies can offer to get customers’ property ready for all the entertaining they’re going to do or to keep it looking great while they’re traveling for the holidays.

            5.) Holiday Spirit and Holiday Offerings

            For retail stores, the marketing goes beyond postcards, to include your premises and customer service. So remember to deck the place out in holiday colors (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, etc.). Perhaps you can offer free gift-wrapping, holiday refreshments—anything that gets into the spirit of the season.

            Start now because that season is coming up quick…

             

            You could start your holiday postcard marketing right now by logging on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei and creating your first postcard campaign with our beautiful customizable templates. You can create a targeted prospect list and mail from your computer, too.

            All you want for Christmas is…a little less work? We hear ya. So give Opportunity Knocks a call at 1 (866) 319-7109 and talk to one of our genius marketing elves. Then they will got back to their workshop and create a beautiful, high response postcard campaign for you.

              In the direct mail marketing world, a lot of emphasis is put on the quality of the copy—and rightly so: benefit-focused headlines, attractive offers, and clear calls to action are critical for the success of your campaign.

              While less emphasis is put on the image—the photographic elements used on the card—a carelessly chosen image can confuse the customer/prospect and kill response. By choosing the right image, you can create the desired effect of increasing customer interest and response.

              Keep in mind that the right image isn’t merely a pretty picture or one that’s technically perfect but rather one that conveys the benefits of your product/service and supports the overall marketing message of the postcard.

              So what is the “right” image? Here are four tips to help you choose:

              1.) Smiling Faces Making Eye Contact

              Smiles sell. It’s the postcard version of the “friendly greeting” factor, which suggests that delivering a sincere, friendly greeting to a customer within 10 seconds of them entering your store makes them (a) likely to respond with a greeting in return and (b) more likely to make a purchase. One study, conducted by a software marketer, showed that using smiling faces vs. non-smiling ones in his marketing produced an initial 50% improvement in response and a 10.7% increase in profits over five weeks. It doesn’t even matter who the smiling faces belong to (you, the business owner, or just an unknown model in a stock photo).

              2.) The Finished Product

               By showing people the desirable finished product, you give them something to compare to their current situation. For instance, a shiny, freshly-painted car, a flawless smile, or a kitchen with a smart-looking set of new cabinets. People may never consider such things for themselves and the only way it may ever come into their sphere of existence is through someone they know who gets their old car painted, or gets cosmetic dentistry or has their kitchen remodeled. But you can’t rely on that happening and then wait for them to call you. So, do your customers and prospects a favor: show them the finished product on your postcard.

              3.) Before and After

              This is like the finished product example but with added power of contrast. This approach has been used for decades by television infomercial marketers for everything from cleaning products to hairpieces because it works. In the “before” image, people often see what their current situation looks like and then, in the “after” photo, what they could have instead. And, because your postcard won’t have that over-the-top narrator (“But wait—there’s more!”), you won’t run the risk of being cheesy, as some infomercials have historically been accused of being.

              4.) A Good Metaphor

              This is the trickiest to pull off but, if done right, can truly be the “picture worth a thousand words” (or, better yet, thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars in sales). It’s also the toughest to explain but, in terms of advertising or marketing, it’s the use of an object not usually associated with your product or service, to represent your product or service. The best way to understand it is with examples, such as Evian’s ad from a few years back which showed the peaks of a snow-covered mountain range beneath the words “Our factory.” Or the hilarious Comcast commercial which started out describing it’s high-speed internet as “a rabbit, genetically modified and bred with a panther” and kept building on it until the rabbit was equipped with jet engines, racing across the ice, flown by an over-caffeinated fighter pilot down a ski jump in Switzerland. (Absurd? Totally, but an unmistakably strong metaphor.)

              Speaking of metaphors, we’re your one-stop-shop for postcard design, print, and mailing. (Okay, not a strong metaphor but nonetheless true.) And you can do it all from your computer with just a few mouse clicks. Log on at www.prospectsplus.com/pei.

              Or, if you need it done as fast as that rabbit-panther thingy, call Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109 and have our design DaVincis and marketing Einsteins produce great looking, high response postcards for you. They can help with the list and mailing, too.

                Wow! Thank you to all our amazing contestants this past month!
                We had some terrific entries – and we thank you all so much for sharing your ProspectsPLUS! and Opportunity Knocks experiences! If your name wasn’t drawn – no worries! We’ll choose another winner in December!
                Congratulations!

                Our $150 winner is Bob Frazier who shared:

                “Andy and his team at Opportunity Knocks does an outstanding job.  Their partnership has been a critical component of our marketing strategy that has helped us achieve our sales goals year after year!!!

                 

                Thank you to everyone who entered! Ready to throw your hat in the ring? It’s easy! Simply share your experiences on our ProspectsPLUS! Google+ or Facebook Page, or our Opportunity Knocks Google+ or Facebook Page and you’ll be automatically entered. We’ll give away $150 credit. Next drawing is the first week of January!

                  When you were younger—or maybe you’re young right now—did you ever hear somebody insist, “You have to have money to make money.” If so, were you a bit mystified about how that worked exactly?

                  We’re here to demystify it for you. An easier way to understand this idea is, “You have to spend money to make money.” This is especially true where your direct mail marketing is concerned.

                  But many new businesses (and even some not-so-new ones) make the mistake of being frugal with their marketing budget, seeking to spend as little as possible. Here are the three ways it happens.

                  1.) Investing too little to see a meaningful return

                  Unless you already have a solid customer base, effective direct mail marketing campaigns are a matter of repetition: it takes an average of three postcards for people to recognize your name and seven for them to associate your name with your line of business.

                  Repetition is what generates ROI, not only because bigger print orders mean lower production costs, but because response rate increases with repeated mailings. (Marketers have observed this to be true since the dawn of direct mail, more than 130 years ago.) This means that rather than looking to do the least and pay the least, you should budget sufficiently for direct mail.

                  So, how much should you be allocating to your marketing? This can vary, depending on how much competition there is in your market but the U.S. Small Business Administration suggests that you invest 7-8% of gross profits if your annual revenues are less than $10 million.

                  2.) Not getting acquainted with your customers

                  The heart and soul of all successful marketing is “presenting the right offer to the right audience.” The more data you can gather about your customers and potential customers, the “righter” things get because you can use data to craft offers that will get response.

                  There are two classes of customer data:

                  • Demographic data gives you the physical attributes, such as geography, age, gender, and income.

                  Many businesses skimp on this aspect of marketing because market research can be expensive or it can be quite time consuming if you take it on yourself. But for success, the need for substantial and accurate customer data is as much a fact of marketing life as the need for repetition.

                  3.) Bailing out on a strategy before you learn from it

                  Similar to #1 above, many direct marketers give up on a particular marketing strategy (or never fully commit to it) before they can collect enough results to analyze and learn from. Even with the best customer data and the best copywriter available, direct mail is still an experiment. It’s scientific. Based on your response and results, you will make adjustments to your postcard and then test it against the original…then test a third version based on those results.

                  Experience—that’s how you find out what works and how you improve as a direct marketer. But you won’t get that experience if you bail out on a strategy because it didn’t deliver instant rave results.

                   

                  Speaking of experience, there’s no easier postcard design-print-mail experience than the one you get by logging on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei. There you can upload an existing design or use our custom templates to produce professional-looking results with a few mouse clicks.

                  Or, if you don’t feel like sitting in front of a computer for any longer than you have to, call Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109 and put it into the capable hands of our design and marketing pros for an unmistakably great-looking, high-response postcards.

                    Whether you’ve just sent out your first postcard campaign or your hundredth, it’s likely that there’s room for improvement—maybe a little, maybe a lot—in your response. Though there is a ton of information available today about how to get better marketing results, the small business owner can feel as if he/she is in a cloud of confusion as how and where to start to improving their own results.

                    Luckily, there isn’t a multitude of possibilities but rather just three specific areas you need to look at. Usually, it takes addressing just one of these areas to produce greater response.

                    But before we address those three areas, let’s consider your marketing from the viewpoint of the prospect. It is estimated that the average person is exposed to (some would say “bombarded by”) thousands of marketing messages every day—so much so that they will ignore it for one or all of these reasons:

                    1. It doesn’t address them by name but rather as “Dear Resident,” “Dear Neighbor,” “Dear Sir or Madam,” etc.
                    2. It presents no benefit but only asks for the sale.
                    3. There is no clear direction on what they should do.

                    It’s these three oversights that make people cynical about marketing, waste your marketing efforts and wreck your response and ROI. So here’s three ways to avoid those oversights and create greater response:

                    1.) First Names

                    There is no sweeter sound than the sound of one’s own name. So address your prospect by their first name: “Hi, Bob,” “Dear Susan,” or “Howdy, Zeke.” When you call someone by their first name, it’s personal. You will have their attention. Calling someone by name on a postcard is not much different than it is when meeting people in person. When you call someone by name, they will be interested in finding out your name. And they will feel compelled to respond. And when they respond, well…you will have “response.” Using their name also helps them to remember your name. Try it.

                    2.) Appeal to Prospect’s Self-Interest

                    Let’s be blunt: when it comes to your marketing, the vast majority of prospects don’t care about the quality, speed, value, or price of your product or service. It’s the age-old marketing duality of features and benefits. Businesses and marketers are naturally more aware of their product—it’s specs and features. The prospect is largely aware of his own needs, problems, and dreams. So, once again, as a business, you’ve got to walk in the prospect’s shoes. Figure out what problem your product/service solves for them. Or what need it fills. Or what dream it fulfills. Once you’ve identified it, put in your headline. Expand upon it in your copy. Make sure the image on your postcard supports it.

                    3.) Give a Clear Direction

                    Your marketing should not be a puzzle. It should not be literature. It should not require the prospect to figure it out or interpret it. On the contrary, it should be totally obvious—and this is especially true of your call to action. You may present the juiciest, most desirable offer but if you don’t tell your prospect exactly how to get it—in large, prominent copy—few of them are going to take it upon themselves to figure it out. So if you want the prospect to call, tell them “Call now.” If you want them to bring the postcard into your shop to get a 20% discount, tell them in large type, “Bring This Card Today for 20% Off Your Next Order.” Also, make it as easy as possible for people to reach you by making your phone number, address, and or website URL easy to find.

                     

                    And while we’re talking about three things, you can design, print, and mail your next postcard campaign as easy as 1-2-3 by logging on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei. Use your own existing design or one of our custom templates, upload your mailing list or use our audience-targeting tools to produce a new list, with just a few mouse clicks.

                    Or, save time and make it easy by calling Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109. (See? We know how to appeal to your self-interest.) Our design and marketing pros will produce a great looking, high response postcard for you, target it, and mail it too.

                      The holiday season is more demanding of your customers’ attention than any other time of year, with the added social obligations and related distractions. In order to not get forgotten in the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Years blur, smart businesses use the holidays to keep their names in front of their customers and prospects.

                      Here are six rules to remember to get the most of your holiday marketing:

                      1.) Make it Personal

                      First and foremost, the purpose of sending postcards during the holidays is to deliver a holiday greeting and thus create a more personal relationship with your customer or prospect. While the front of the card will display your holiday message (“Seasons Greetings” or what have you), include a personal holiday message on the back, such as a thank you to your customers.

                      2.) One Card, Two Jobs

                      In addition to delivering your holiday greeting, you can also present a great holiday offer of the back. If you’re having a holiday open house or other event, include that information on the card as well.

                       3.) Avoid Selling

                      “Salesy” messages are unwelcome most any time of year, but especially so during the holiday season. A laid-back offer, such as a discount, is welcome but skip any loud, “buy now!” sales copy.

                      4.) Thanksgiving, Veterans Day…Halloween?

                      Smart businesses sent Christmas cards but the really smart ones also send on greetings on other holidays as well, including Thanksgiving, New Years Eve, Valentine’s Day—and did someone say Groundhog’s Day? Different holidays may be more appropriate and lend themselves to your particular business or message, so check and see what’s coming up.

                      5.) Make It Fun

                      Nothing communicates like humor, so let your hair down and show your personality. You can even contact us at 877-222-6010 for help on this, if you find you’re taking yourself too seriously. We’ll help you choose just the right images to tickle your customers’ funny bone and keep you top of mind.

                      6.) Do It Sooner

                      Because of the additional burden on the post office at holiday times, make sure to get your mailings out the door at least two weeks prior to the holiday. You can also shave off a lot of delivery time (up to 10 days in some cases) by sending your postcards first class instead of standard rate.

                       

                      You can get a jump on your holiday postcard campaigns by logging on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei, where you will find plenty of attractive and customizable holiday designs or upload your own. You can also handle the address and mailing, all from your computer.

                      If you’re going to be busier than usual during the holidays give Opportunity Knocks a quick call at 1 (866) 319-7109 and have our design and marketing pros create a beautiful and memorable holiday postcard that will put your business at the top of your customers’ list.