A couple hours ago I read this thread, where another warrior who owns a house cleaning business wanted their postcard critiqued.
I wouldn't normally do this but I really know how much this can help some of you. I know how difficult it is to actually find an example of a what a good direct response postcard looks like these days. You'd think it's like finding the Yeti.
Sure, you can pry your eyes open with paperclips and read all sorts of copywriting manuals (boring!), seeing highly outdated examples of the guru's past campaigns that got huge response. Nevermind the fact these were often relics from decades ago; when people were less jaded and significantly more gullible. I bet that postcard you did before with the FREE week of this NEW fangled thing called "milk delivery service" really rocked 'em hard back then!
You can also see others half-assed attempts spread around the web of their postcards that tend to have a viciously over-bearing load of 'shocking' copy so over the top and ridiculous that the recipient probably laughs as they throw the thing out.
I read a marketing book once (can't remember which one) that mentioned a guy who actually put an Ad in the paper for "$200 FREE" or something to that effect, only to find that no one actually called even though he was literally giving away the money free to see how many people would respond.
When I say, a really good postcard, I'm not talking about something made by a web graphic designer on fiverr and written by a discount copywriter who's expertise consists of multiple $5,000 weekend retreats in the 90's with dan kennedy and "the gang."
I'm talking about what the hell works NOW. What works in this day and age when people have seen so much advertising that they wanna puke in their mouth a 'lil everytime someone tries to sell them something.
Don't think I'm against guru marketers or tried-and-proven copywriters, because I'm not. They've probably made more money than I'll ever see in my lifetime. I'm simply someone who takes some sound principles and uses to literally print money. If you want to print money just use them too.
In today's day and age, your marketing has to be absolutely phenomenal if you want your message to cut through.
I want to show you what good design, good copy, and good psychology can do to transform a weak attempt at postcard marketing--to a monster that shakes the recipients body when they first lay eyes on it.
Hey, I know it's tough to find a good example of what a postcard looks like by someone who actually knows what the heck they're doing. That's why I want to show you how I would polish a complete turd of a postcard. And I know what I'm doing.
In the post I saw earlier today (awesome story by the way), they uploaded their postcard for critique:
When I look at this at first glance, I see a lot of things that can be improved. For example:
- The offer is pretty good but it's not presented strong enough. There's no real punch to it
- The offer isn't present on the back of the card, which is the most important side because it's viewed first
- The background is a modern 'grunge' texture while the foreground has classic vintage elements. This clashes way too hard.
- The font choices aren't very good.
- There are no benefits & no words to stir up a 'need' or 'desire'
- The logo is taking up way too much prominence.
- There is virtually no call to action
- The vintage lady looks like she's trying to tell us something but we don't know what it is. Kinda looks like she just pissed herself and you happened to walk in.
- The 'cleaning you can trust' statement is an instant "YEAH WHATEVER!" from the recipient. They've heard this BS a million times.
- There is no expiration date or reason to act fast on yhour offer. Maybe I'll keep this card around for ten years, would you like that?
All-in-all there is basically nothing that will really motivate someone to grab the phone and call Pixie Dust Services up, unless the recipient SERIOUSLY needs someone to clean their sh** up at that very moment. Good thing is, if you send enough postcards out you'll actually run into these people. Props to Pixie dust though for getting into direct mail.
The real money is in the people who could use your service but never really thought of actually hiring someone, let alone doing it right away. That's where direct response marketing shines. You want to get them all fired up to do it.
Creating that motivation (enhancing the response):
Direct response marketing--where you have only a blip of a second to get someone to actually read your offer, and say "wow I really could use this and I better act now to take advantage of this" takes some work.
I'm not going to bother with the front of the postcard because I don't have the time and it's not nearly as important as the back--which is what the mail carriers leave facing up.
Here's the process I took to polish this turd of a postcard:
1.) Get rid of the lousy grunge background and bring some cohesiveness to the vintage-tinged elements and the rest of the card. I sampled some colors off the broad's (eek is that too sexist!?) face and found a nice color to use as the background.
2.) Create a bold headline up in the top left that gets them to want to read further. I prefer to use ones that ask the reader a question. No one likes a question that goes unanswered. It's gotta say "wait--don't throw this out yet!".
3.) Put together a little subhead under it that further gets the person to want to figure out what this is all about. Create some inquisitiveness. You can hit 'em hard right here and take them to an emotional state that projects them as if they've already benefited from this product or service.
4.) Make a big prominent coupon with dashes, an all-caps "FREE" and a heavy bolded typeface. It's gotta say "damn boy this is some value right here!". And it's gotta have a very strict expiration so that people feel they'll lose out if they don't take action NOW.
5.) No testimonial needed, instead we'll use the vintage chick and add those missing words she was trying to say in the old postcard. She looks credible enough, right? She's in there scrubbing the hell out of that floor and it's very obvious she should have just called pixie dust or she wouldn't be scrubbing that floor all day. It's undeniably logical.
Also, next to her is the perfect place to pop that logo in for some brand-recognition. Just big enough to be there but not distract.
6.) Next to the coupon, you have a few lines to put some copy in that can explain what's included, what's available, why it's available, and stuff like that. This is where you have the chance to give them that final push over the edge. Validate your offer. Tell them why it makes sense to use your service. You'd have to be an idiot not to take advantage of it.
This is where you need some BULLET POINTS with strong benefits (not too many though, don't overload!).
I'm hitting them here with all sorts of ninja strategy. Some cutesy rhyming going on, some ugliness that makes them feel bad about their current conditions, some health issues, some easy avenues to get away from tedious tasks, etc.
7.) Big ol' call-to-action. What good is all of this if they can't reach you immediately? Like RIGHT NOW!
Ok you want to see what this turd looks like now?
Before (the original design)
After (what I would do)
See the difference? Hey, I'm not here to prance around and show off. This is what a direct response message looks like. We're not trying to win a creative award or stun them with our artistic genius; the goal of the card is to look professional, credible, and most importantly--interesting and compelling.
Don't blame poor direct mail results on the medium. I don't care if you sent thousands of postcards out and didn't get any response. You either didn't target well enough, or more likely, your ad sucked.