I plead guilty to enjoying a cold beer or two, and I’ve watched with amazement as the decade-long bull market in the craft beer industry shows no signs of abating.
Recently, to her surprise, my wife received another huge postcard from a local salon. But it wasn't just the size of the card that got her attention right away. Here's what set it apart from the competition:<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> •She recognized the salon. It was the third time she received a card from that salon over the last couple of months.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> •It was written and designed for women just like her—aged 45-55 with a high income.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> This simple postcard talked to my wife. It related to and connected with her. It delivered the salon's marketing message in a way that convinced my wife to visit it right away, even though she had been going to another salon. She felt she was ready for a change.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> If you've invested in postcard marketing in the past, I can almost guarantee your postcards were not as effective and did not create the emotional connection to elicit the above response. Why? Because there are many direct-response marketing rules that most people, including postcard-printing companies, fail to follow. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> So, how can you choose the best company to handle this important process for you? Here are seven questions you ask to avoid wasting your money, time, and energy:<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>1. Are you a marketing company or a postcard printing company?</b> Marketing companies who use postcards as their medium of choice tend to care about your business and your success. They want you to enjoy a generous return on investment. Most postcard printing companies just care about the sale. They use generic pictures, headlines, and body copy that won't set you apart from the competition, and they won't guarantee results.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>2. Do you offer a complete, all-inclusive turnkey solution with quick turnaround time?</b> It takes time and effort to effectively complete a postcard marketing campaign. Most companies rely on you to do most of the work or to hire other outside consultants. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Those that say they will write, edit, design, provide the list, and complete mailing will usually try nickel-and-dime upselling strategies. Want them to write your postcard copy? Add more dollars. Want a list targeting your prospects' age, income, gender, location, and street boundaries? Add more dollars. Want them to mail? Want it done in minutes? Want it mailed within 72 hours? Add even more money. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> This doesn't save you time or money. By choosing a complete, all-inclusive turnkey solution you save money. Plus, you gain the advantage of getting your postcards into the hands of your prospective customers quickly.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>3. Can you target specific audiences—such as the aforementioned women aged 45-55 with a high income—within a five-mile radius?</b> If they can't, then you're wasting your money trying to reach people who aren't interested in your message. The postcard marketing company you hire should use state-of-the-art list selection tools to create a mailing list based on your prospect's specific geographic area, age, gender, and income. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>4. How will you make my postcards stand out from my competition?</b> Most postcard printing companies offer all potential clients the same generic images and generic writing, which does not talk to your prospects' emotions. Does that help you stand out from your competition? No. Does it target the specific people you want as clients? Again, no. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> The postcard my wife received in the mail was written and designed not just for salon-goers. It was written and designed to elicit action by posing real benefits people just like my wife can connect with. And it included a compelling offer that made her want to visit the salon immediately. Beware if your postcard marketing company doesn't recommend a multitude of proven and compelling offers to make your mailing more effective. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>5. Do you mail postcards according to direct response marketing best practices?</b> If your postcard marketing company doesn't make it easy for you to repeatedly touch base with your targeted prospects, run away fast. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Most postcard marketing companies will persuade you to buy one huge mass-mailing postcard campaign. But when you send out, for example, 5,000 postcards only one time, you hit 5,000 customers who may or may not be ready to use your product or service. They may or may not have any familiarity with your business. And they may or may not like your offer. That's why you will get a better response mailing to the same 500 people six times. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Repetition is the only proven way to overcome resistance, extend different offers, and increase your chances of getting a response. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>6. Do you offer a guarantee?</b> Guarantees allow customers to shed the risk they would normally assume when making a purchase. If your postcard marketing company doesn't offer a 100 percent money-back or any other kind of guarantee, you should be wary. This means they don't have enough confidence in their ability to produce a strong return on investment for you.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>7. What do you charge? What do I get for this investment?</b> Design from scratch using a postcard printing company will cost you anywhere from $500 to $1,000. The question to ask is, what do you get for $500? <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> You want to make sure your postcard printing company's affordability gives you everything, including set-up, printing, personalization, quick turnaround, targeted list, addressing, and postage permit. Make sure they do all the labor, including designing, writing, addressing, and mailing your postcards. Otherwise, they are costing you time, money, and clients. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> You want a postcard marketing company that cares about your success. Make sure the service you select takes the time to get to know you, your goals, and the audience you want to attract. And follow these tips to ensure you get what you pay for! <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <i>Adam Suson is an authority on postcard marketing and the co-founder of <a href= "http://www.bbt4salons.com" target="blank">BBT4Salons</a>.</i>