By Rhee Gold
In the world of internet marketing, email blasts, Google ads, and Facebook ads rule. But don’t disregard an old standby: direct mail postcards.
Sending postcards to existing or potential clients is a simple, low-cost marketing option, made especially affordable when you use online printing services. Postcards have several advantages over other types of direct mailings. They’re the least expensive way to do a direct mailing (currently 33 cents to mail a standard 4×6 postcard), and in my experience, they ensure that messages are seen. The “readable rate” for a postcard is much higher than for mailings sent in envelopes because there is nothing to open, and the striking or beautiful graphic on the card catches the eye.
Think of a postcard as a mini-poster. It should have an inspiring message, conveyed in only a few words or sentences.
Another plus is that online printing is a very competitive industry, so printing time frames are quick and come with many opportunities to get discount coupons for future jobs.
Design is all-important with postcards. Your goal is to grab the viewer with an eye-catching picture, one that’s either adorable or beautiful. Think of it as a mini-poster. It should have an inspiring message, conveyed in only a few words or sentences. Simple, bold statements work better than detailed, potentially confusing information. If in doubt, go for clarity. Send a powerful message that’s easy to understand.
For photos and illustrations, stock photography sites have professional-quality, uncluttered images. If you want to use photographs of your school or students, keep in mind that the image you choose should be simple and powerful, with ample white (empty) space within it to include your message and/or your school’s logo.
You want the full impact of your message to be on the image side of the postcard; use the back for your contact information and any promotions or deadlines. Back-of-postcard material should include: your school’s email address, telephone number, Facebook page URL, and website URL, along with promotion, deadline, or other pertinent information, such as “Fall registration now open!” or “New location!”
Print technology makes opting for high standards affordable, and therefore a must. Go for full color and a glossy finish on the image side of the card; using one or two colors on the address side is sufficient.
Postcards are great for sending time-sensitive messages, such as registration reminders, notifications about new programs (for example, a six-week session) or products, January registration dates, show openings and ticket sales, and holiday discounts. They can also drive potential clients to your website and serve as gift certificates or coupons. Whatever your purpose is, make your message distinguish itself from the other marketing efforts you see in the dance-education field.
To get the most out of your marketing dollars with postcards, encourage a quick response by giving recipients an enticing reason to act. You might offer a bonus if they act by a certain date; for example, those who register within seven days will have the registration fee waived, or they’ll receive a free studio T-shirt. Whether you’re promising a discount, deal, special offer, or promotion—such as a discount on the first month’s tuition, the option to add a second class for half off, or a free pair of ballet shoes for all preschoolers—make it time sensitive (for example, valid for 30 days only).
Make sure to target your postcard campaign to specific audiences, such as potential new clients for preschool, recreational, and adult programs, hip-hop classes, or intensive training.
By coding your mailing list to target specific markets, you’ll be able to mail directly to those people who might be interested in a particular offer.
For online printing, check out vistaprint.com, psprint.com, and overnightsprint.com. For photos, try fotosearch.com, istockphoto.com, and shutterstock.com.