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.