Whenever you click on this blog, you get information on how to improve your postcard marketing.

    But today, we’re not going to talk about what you’re doing wrong or right or how to get a greater ROI. Rather, we’re going to take a closer look at the postcard itself: where it came from, what it’s had to endure…some interesting history and back story.

    You can always revisit any of our earlier posts here.

    How Old Is the Postcard?

    There’s no definite data on the birth of the postcard but the Smithsonian Institute (a reliable source of information) estimates that it developed from picture envelopes—mailing envelopes with an image printed on the front left side. This would have been 1850 or so.

    During the Civil War years, printers on both sides of the conflict created a specialized kind of picture envelope: patriotic covers. These envelopes carried messages and/or illustrations of cannons, flags, political leaders, and the like, supporting the Confederate or Union cause.

    Congress Gets In the Act

    In February 1861, Congress enacted a law which enabled people to mail privately-printed cards. Not surprisingly, the same year, an American printer named John Charlton copyrighted and patented the idea for the postcard. Charlton’s business partner was a man named Hyman Lipman. “Lipman’s Postal Cards,” which sold from 1861 to 1872, were the first commercially available postcards and were completely blank: one side was for the address, the other side, for the message.

    In 1872, Congress enacted another law which allowed for the government to produce postcards. Theirs were no different in appearance from privately-produced ones but they cost half as much to mail: one penny instead of two.

    By the turn of the 20th Century, another new law allowed “private mailing cards” to be mailed at the same low government rate. These privately-produced cards could have an image on the front or, if not, a message could be written there. The back side was still only for the address.

    Postcards’ Golden Age

    The modern postcard—image on the front with a split back for both address and message—came about in 1907 through the work of the Universal Postal Union, a special agency of the United Nations which coordinates postal policies among member nations.

    Improvements in printing technology positively affected all printed media and by 1939, postcards were being produced with a process called photochrome, which resulted in those bright, photo-like, but not-quite-realistic look we associate with vintage postcards.


    The Smithsonian opines that presently, people purchase postcards as souvenirs, rather than as a quick way to communicate. They obviously are unaware of the hundreds of thousands of businesses that use postcards to communicate with customers and prospects.

    Today’s postcard is still divided on the back but continuing improvements in inks and papers allow you to print any kind of graphics or images you can imagine (on both sides).


    Fact is, people love to receive postcards. By logging on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei you can take the first step. Check our customizable templates (or bring your own design), create a targeted mailing list, a few clicks to mail and boom—make history!

    Or, if your extra time is a thing of the past, call Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109 and have a quick chat with one of our marketing and design pros. They’ll handle everything for you, from design to mailing, so you can concentrate on becoming legendary.

      We begin today’s post with a little poem:

      Roses are red,

      Violets are blue,

      Marketing is hard.

      I’m overwhelmed.

      So much information….

      (The sound of a quietly sobbing poet)


      Does that remind you of anyone you know?


      Complicated and Simple

      There is no subject under the sun which can’t be reduced to its few essential principles.

      On the other side of the card, there is no subject that can’t be made to appear complex and hopelessly beyond the grasp of all but a few (highly paid) industry “gurus.”

      Direct mail marketing is a subject about which much has been written. Much advice has been offered and sold at premium prices (those gurus again). Everywhere you look for marketing advice, you find opinions and one expert’s opinion may be in conflict with another expert’s.

      It’s easy, especially for the new marketer seeking advice to end up with an inbox jammed with emails and offers from this expert and that one, all reaching for your dollars, with a promise of a no-fail solution. This is usually followed by information overwhelm, thinking you’ve got to learn and master many technologies and concepts in order to pull off a successful marketing campaign.

      Okay, stand up and stretch. It gets better from here.

      Now let’s flip that marketing card back to the simple side. How simple can marketing be made? How about this simple: No matter how small your list is, no matter if you’re working out of your den, no matter this-or-that, just start.

      I Can’t Just Start…Can I?

      Probably everyone reading (or writing) this has at some time been guilty of waiting…until everything…was perfect…before they took action.

      Well, the fact is, there is no such thing as “perfect” and the timing is never right to do things that you’re nervous about or afraid of. So, if you run your marketing (which is the lifeblood of your business) on this basis, you will never move forward—or upward.

      But if you just start—mail out your first batch of postcards in spite of fear of other considerations—you’ve factually moved forward. You’ve reached some people. You’ve opened the door to leads. And you can turn those leads into sales.

      By just starting this way, you will learn what works, so you can strengthen it, which will bring even better results.

      Waiting is losing. Starting is winning.

      Continuing is Winning-er

      When actors stop making movies, they disappear from the pages of People magazine and then they fade from the public’s awareness. Movie fans find other more visible stars to put their attention on. Tom Cruise is one of—if not the—biggest Hollywood stars because he is continually making and promoting his movies (He didn’t just stop at Risky Business, and hope to sustain a huge career, right?).

      In the same way, if you don’t routinely remind prospects and customers that you’re there, you fade from their awareness. Then, when they need the kind of service or product you sell, they will contact the company—your competition—that is “top of mind” with them.

      So, it’s crucial to start but then it’s necessary to continue with routine marketing.

      It’s an easy choice: get overwhelmed into paralysis by all the marketing experts out there, or just start.


      There’s never been a simpler way to start marketing your business than by logging on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei. There you will find customizable postcard templates, as well as prospect targeting resources, and mailing services, all for you use, all from your computer. So simple.

      Or, if want to start off with a bang, call Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109 and talk to our marketing and design pros. They know what works in your industry and will design a card that will get results and make it easy for you to continue marketing.

        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!

        Our August $500 winner is Christine Atwell who shared:

        “I started working with Opportunity Knocks at the very beginning of my business and continue to love our partnership. They understand my needs and goals as a business owner and are passionate about helping me fulfill them. Their products are beautiful – they make me look so good! And the customer service is outstanding. Always a pleasure to collaborate with their team!”


        Thank you Christine 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. The drawing is the first week of October!

          New customers. We all want them. There probably isn’t a business out there that isn’t focused on marketing to bring in new customers.

          And there’s nothing wrong with that; it’s how most of us built our businesses. Yet, in our efforts to generate new customers, we create something valuable which is often then neglected.

          That “something valuable” is the prospects who responded to your postcard but whom you didn’t close on the first or second contact.

          Here are some statistics you might have seen which tell you the value of persistence when it comes to continual follow-up with leads:

          • 2% of all closes happen on your first contact
          • 3% happen after two contacts
          • 5% happen after three contacts
          • 10% happen after four contacts
          • 80% happen after anywhere from five to 12 contacts.

          In other (rhyming) words, try-try-try = ROI.

          If you sent out 1,000 postcards at a cost of $400 and got 20 responses…that would be an acceptable ROI.

          Your $400 investment divided by 20 responses equals a cost-per-lead of $20.

          If you close four of those leads for $1,000 each, you’ve made $4,000 on your $400 investment—a not-too-shabby ten-fold return.

          You could probably do that over and over and get similar results each time, and that’d be fine.

          But what about those other 16 leads you paid $20 each for but didn’t close on the first one or two tries? If you don’t continue to follow up with them, you are leaving money on the table (and on the chair, the floor, and in the garbage disposal).

          Because those leads responded to your postcard, they are a potentially easier close than a completely cold prospect. You have their phone number or their email or their address, so continue to contact them and enlighten them about your product or service and how it makes their life easier, their home more beautiful, their body more fit, their business more successful, etc.


          One of the best ways to create leads you can follow up with is to send them a postcard. You can design and mail one right now by logging on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei. Use your own mailing list or create a targeted list using our built-in tools.

          If you’re too busy following up with leads but want even more leads to follow up with, give a call to Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109 and tell us about your customers. We’ll design a postcard campaign tailored to your industry that keep those leads coming in.

            You’re holding out your hand. Someone places a large dictionary on your open palm. It weighs a few pounds.  You can easily deal with it for a while.

            Then they take away the dictionary and they stand a golf tee up in your open palm. It remains there, vertical. Then they balance the dictionary on that.

            The dictionary weighs the same but you probably can’t deal with that weight for very long while it’s balanced on that golf tee.

            The weight of the dictionary, laying across the area of your hand has some impact, but not much. The weight of the same dictionary, concentrated down into a single point. Oh, now that has much more impact.

            If you could apply this concept to your postcard headlines it would blow up your response.

            The Power of 9

            You can apply this concept by keeping the number 9 in mind when you write (or edit) your headlines.

            When you use a lot of words in your headline, you dilute the power of the idea in the headline and increase the time it takes for the reader to “get” it. It’s the dictionary across the open palm.

            When you express the same idea in fewer words, it increases the power of the idea and shortens the time it takes the reader to “get” it. It’s the dictionary on the golf tee.

            Top direct response copywriter Bob Bly recommends keeping your headlines to nine words or less. (To be completely accurate, he recommends keeping your marketing email subject lines to nine words or less. But we believe this to be applicable to postcards as well, due to their small size factor.)

            It can take a little time and practice but you can concentrate a big idea down to nine or fewer words. And those words will have much more power than a headline that uses 20 words to express the same idea.

            Oh, But Wait—There’s Less!

            Bly also suggests that you keep each word in the headline down to nine or fewer letters. Remember, postcards are not literature. People will more readily understand a short, simple word. So keep a thesaurus handy and replace those big, “impressive” words with short ones.

            And don’t limit this concept to your headline. Try using short sentences (12 words or less) and short paragraphs (one to three sentences).

            It will result in copy that is understood fast.

            This is not esoteric. It’s not beyond you. Here’s an example to show you how simple this can be:

            Example A: Get a free pizza when you buy a medium pizza

            Example B: Buy one, get one free (We’ll take for granted that the postcard has a picture of pizza, so that people know what you’re suggesting they buy.)

            Which one do you “get” quicker?

            In this way, less is more: less wordage, more understanding, and more response.

            Try it and see.


            Editing your headlines down may take a bit of work but creating your next postcard is as easy as logging on to www.prospectsplus.com/pei. There you’ll find all you need to design a postcard you’ll be proud of. Then you can target prospects (or upload your own list) and mail, all from your computer.

            Or, if your extra time is a thing of the past, call Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109 and have a quick chat with one of our marketing and design pros. They’ll handle everything for you, from design to mailing, so you can concentrate on becoming legendary.

              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!

              Our June $150 winner is Mary Busscher who shared:

              “Opportunity Knocks has great products and outstanding service. They create your product, take care of the delivery details and mailing. I am able to use my time to design and leave the marketing to the experts. All their products are very professional and depict my business services beautifully. Andy and Christian and their team provide excellent service.”


              Thank you Mary 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. Next month we’re giving away a whopping $500 credit. The drawing is the first week of September!

                It’s safe to say that most people are not as interested in how things work as they are in the how those things improve their life.

                Zero-to-60 in five seconds? Yeah! How the innards of a car engine work together? Nah, not so much.

                Results are cool. Results are sexy. The rest is for the scientists, mechanics, and geeks of all varieties.

                And it’s no different with direct mail marketing. (Sure…it’s an intensely interesting subject but, again, we’re mostly interested in the results it can bring)

                When it comes to postcard success, results are brought about by paying attention to five points and “tuning them up” to for the optimum postcard performance:

                1.) Simplify It

                It’s easy to get carried away trying to jam all the information about your product or service onto you postcard. But that’s not what a postcard is for. So, keep it simple.

                Use fewer and shorter words, shorter sentences, and shorter paragraphs. This applies to your headline, call to action and body copy. By keeping things short, your message can be understood quicker and with more impact. Make a game out of how few words you can use to deliver your offer.

                Don’t try to tell your whole story or give all of the information. With a postcard, you’re trying to capture and increase interest, not close a sale. So give just enough information to accomplish that.

                2.) Make An Offer

                If you send out postcards that only have the effect of saying “Hey, look, we’re here. We’re open for business. We’re ready to serve you, etc.,” you’re wasting your money and filling up peoples’ recycle bins.

                Make sure your card presents an offer. An offer is a combination of things:

                • A good deal
                • A sense of urgency
                • A call to action

                An offer such as “Call now for 10% off your first order” contains a good deal (“15% off”), urgency (“now”) and a call to action (“Call”). You can increase urgency with time or quantity limits. You can increase the value of deal in more ways than we have room for in this post.

                3.) Target Your List

                We will assume you’ve developed a “house list”—that list of people who have already purchased from you or who have responded with interest to your earlier direct mail. Now, the trick is to figure out how to mail to more people who are just like your house list.

                The way to not do it is to shotgun a lot of postcards over a geographic area without consideration to targeting.

                A better way is to buy or rent a mailing list. But an even better way is to use a tool like Nielsen’s PRIZM Database,  which enables you to target people based not only demographically but according to their attitudes, buying behaviors, and other similar “psychographic” data.

                4.) Remember to Follow-Up

                This falls into two categories: (1) Following up with customers and (2) Following up on your results.

                If you send out a postcard with an offer (and you’ve got to have an offer, remember?), follow it up with reminder that the offer is coming to a close or you’ve only got two left at that price, or make the offer even more attractive with some add-on or further discount.

                And then ensure that your employees are tracking with your campaign. For instance, if you’re mailing a postcard that acts as a coupon, make sure that your employees are collecting them during the sale. Then you can see if your campaigns are paying for themselves.

                5.) Make It About the Prospect, Not the Product

                As we made reference to in the opening of this article, people (your customers and prospects) aren’t much interested in the superiority of your product or service. They snore when you give them specs (unless your customer is another business) and tune out when you talk about durability, warranties, materials, etc.

                People don’t care about products or services; they care about how such things benefit them. Ask yourself “How does my product/service make life easier, safer, more exciting, etc. for my customers?” The answer will depend on what it is you’re selling, but once you isolate the benefit(s), emphasize it on your postcard.

                You can expect your best results when your campaigns are “hitting on all five.”

                One way that ProspectsPLUS! makes your life easier is by enabling you to design and print your next postcard, as well as create a targeted list and activate the mailing. Log on now to www.prospectsplus.com/pei and see for yourself.

                Another way we do it is…by doing it all for you, through our full-service division, Opportunity Knocks. Give them a call at 1 (866) 319-7109. They’ll listen to your marketing goals and design an effective postcard campaign for you.

                  You’ve heard of the “dopamine effect?” The “experts” (psychologists, etc.) say that it’s what is to blame for addiction—anything from alcohol to a “Like” on one’s Facebook post—and how people go back to these things over and over, in hope of getting that same pleasurable feeling again.

                  Simply, dopamine is a chemical in the body which is said to affect our emotions, movement and the sensation of pleasure. The theory is that when certain things happen in life, dopamine is released in the brain, and it makes you feel good or it motivates physical activity.

                  The “experts” say that the dopamine effect is what’s behind “smartphone addiction,” “social media addiction,” and “video game addiction.” (We suspect that the experts might be addicted to identify new addictions.)

                  The dopamine effect may or may not be a real thing. For our purposes, it’s just a handy analogy to describe the feeling of pleasure we experience when we get something we want.

                  Perhaps people just like what they like and so they want more of it. We’re not sure. But one thing we are sure of is that people don’t visit their mailboxes everyday because they’re addicted to getting another bill.

                  And most people do check their mailboxes daily. The U.S. Postal Service found that 98.6% of Americans bring their mail in and read it every day.

                  Why? Perhaps it’s the same reason that they check Facebook 20 times a day to see if anyone liked or commented on that video they posted of a German Shepherd saying “I love you.” They need that “hit” of attention, recognition, and communication.

                  So, dopamine or not, there is an addiction problem and it’s rampant—a national epidemic.

                  The only humane thing that a responsible marketer can do is…send more direct mail to people.

                  Direct mail doesn’t just help promote your business; it makes people feel good, too. It brings them pleasure and happiness.

                  – – –

                  Yes, that was all a bit tongue-in-cheek.

                  Look at it this way: Americans are out there, every day, picking up their mail. A recent Postal Service report called “The Mail Moment” found that Americans spend up to 30 minutes a day going through their mail and reading it.

                  So send them something. You’ll make their day, and it’s an opportunity for your business to truly be seen.


                  Some of our clients are addicted to the flexibility of being able to design and mail postcards wherever there’s a WiFi connection. Log on to ProspectsPLUS at www.prospectsplus.com/pei, to access our customizable design templates and prospect-targeting tools.

                  Our other clients are addicted to our full-service outlet, Opportunity Knocks. Give us a call at 1 (866) 319-7109 and let’s discuss your customers and your marketing goals. We’ve created successful postcard campaigns for thousand of businesses in nearly every industry.

                    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!

                    Our June $150 winner is Erik Bolog who shared:

                    “Please allow me to express my sincere and utmost gratitude and thanks to the team at Opportunity Knocks/Prospects Plus, ESPECIALLY Courtney in particular. She has been simply amazing in helping me bring my vision of a vast marketing campaign to reality, every step of the way…answering all of my questions with complete and total class, knowledge, and professionalism, and addressing any concerns I might have had with a seemingly never-ending positive and down-to-earth attitude and mindset. I wish more companies out there had such dedicated and passionate people like this, I feel like I am part of a true family that cares! 🙂 Thank you again for everything, it truly is appreciated. You officially have a customer for LIFE.”


                    Thank you Erik 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 August!

                      In the dictionary, the word “provoke” is defined: “to stimulate or give rise to a reaction or emotion in someone.” It’s usually associated with strong and unwelcome reactions.

                      The word “provocative” is defined as “causing annoyance, anger, or another strong reaction” or “arousing sexual desire or interest.” In either case, it’s done deliberately.

                      However, in direct marketing, being provocative means that your headline is not boring “vanilla” but is more interesting. It gets the reader’s attention and arouses an emotion. It generates further interest, and gets people talking. The more interest you generate, the more response and, ultimately, the more sales you get.

                      So, sometimes it pays to be a bit provocative. Here’s how you can do it:


                      It’s been said for some time now that “sex sells.” What does that mean? It can be the use of any allusion to sex in writing or in images, to sell a product:

                      • The toothpaste that promises “a whiter, sexier smile and fresh breath”
                      • The perfume commercial that shows guys noticing the girl when she starts using the fragrance
                      • The online ad for a fitness product that shows young women ogling ripped, middle-aged men

                      Of course, you know your typical customer/prospect best, so you can gauge if using sex is the right approach or if it will alienate people.

                      Though often effective, sex is not the only way to be provocative in your marketing. Anything that causes an emotional reaction is considered provocative.

                      With a little thought and research, you can tap into “provocative power” without offending anyone.

                      One way is to study the covers of Cosmopolitan, Reader’s Digest, the National Enquirer and similar publications with a marketer’s eye. These publications’ selling power is fully in the emotion-provoking copy on their covers.

                      A few recent examples:

                      • “Donald & Melania Fight Back: How They’ll Crush Their Enemies”
                      • The Bachelor Betrayal: I Made a Huge Mistake…I Had To Take a Risk.”
                      • “Is Your House Trying to Kill You?”

                      Conflict, sex, personal relationships, environmental menaces—these are all big emotional “buttons” for people. And there are plenty of milder (but still effective ones). You push them and cause a reaction. The one(s) you use might be broad or they might be more specialized and unique to your audience.

                      Study the Pro-vokers

                      Along with starting to pay attention to the provocative value of tabloid and magazine headlines, you could also start looking at and learning from the work of master marketing copywriters, some of whom can be very provocative.

                      Among these is Gary Halbert. It’s said that his provocative “Can You Look Younger?” headline helped propel Vikki Lamotta Cosmetics into a $30 million winner. Among Gary’s other provocative headlines were “Half-Dead Cuban Washes Ashore in Miami With Strangest Secret That Can Double The Income of Most Americans!” (That’s pretty provocative.)

                      Another guy to study is Bill Jayme, who wrote winning campaign after winning campaign, starting with his very first direct marketing letter as a copywriter at Time magazine. Among his most famous headlines was now-legendary envelope strapline for a Psychology Today magazine subscription campaign: “Do you close the bathroom door even when you’re the only one home?”

                      These guys were professional provokers (“pro-vokers”). Google them and “greatest copywriters” and study what they wrote. Get a “feel” for what makes a provocative headline.

                      Keep Your Eyes Open

                      Great ideas—provocative ones that you can adapt for your own marketing campaigns—are all around. So pay attention. They can be found in the subject lines of marketing emails in your in-box or in the direct mail that you receive. You might see a billboard or….

                      Take note of headlines that grab you. Get a copy and put it into your “swipe file” of copy examples that impressed you or that you might use for inspiration or adaptation in the future.

                      If you do these things, you will end up being a more provocative and effective marketer, even if you stay entirely away from the topic of sex.


                      Postcards that will fill your customers with desire—for your product or service, that is. Log on now to www.prospectsplus.com/pei and design your next postcard using our customizable templates (or your own design). Then target your customers and mail it out, all from your laptop.

                      And if what you desire is a little more free time, contact our full-service division, Opportunity Knocks at 1 (866) 319-7109. Tell them about your marketing goals and they will design an effective (and even provocative) postcard campaign for you.