How to get the best results from postcard marketing

Feb. 25, 2013

By Joy Gendusa, CEO of PostcardMania

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to marketing, including postcard marketing. There is a certain amount of strategic planning, skill, and coordination that goes into the perfect direct mail campaign. You can't just snap your fingers and produce an effective design and targeted mailing list. But there are a few tricks of the trade that will help you build a winning campaign from the get-go, without the trial and error setbacks many of us in the industry, myself included, have experienced.

Let's leave aside for the moment the numerous nuances that really go into creating a fully-optimized postcard marketing campaign. Instead, let's focus on the big three — size, design and list — because once you understand them, you can expect excellent results from your postcards, even if you haven't gotten to the more nuanced strategies that can wring every last cent out of your marketing investment.

If you get the big three right, you will see big-time results for your restaurant. You can focus on fine-tuning later.


"What size postcard do I need?"

"Can I get away with a smaller card?"

"What is the benefit of a bigger card, anyway?"

The size of your postcard will have a direct and very real impact on the response to your mailing. Of course, there are many variables when comparing direct mail campaigns, but you would be hard-pressed to find someone who disagreed with the following statement: "A larger postcard is easier to see." Since a large postcard is easier to see, more people will notice it, and read it, and that increases your chances of turning them from a raw prospect to a lead, and then from a lead to a sale.

Most direct mail postcard companies have options when it comes to the size of your card. If the company you choose doesn't give you options, choose another company. Usually, your options will look like this: Small (4x6), Medium (5x8), and Large (6x11), though the names will vary. The size you ought to choose can be decided by answering these questions:

How much do other companies in your industry market?

  • Not at all/I'm the only one (You can lean towards a smaller card);
  • Light to Moderate Amount (Lean toward a larger card);
  • Moderate to Heavy Amount (You need a large card).

Do your competitors also mail postcards?

  • No (You can lean towards a smaller card);
  • Yes (You need a large card).

How much explaining does your offer require?

  • Not that much/Easy to grasp (Smaller card is fine);
  • A little background info (Medium should do the trick);
  • A lot/Details are important (Go big or go home).

What kind of restaurant do you have?

  • Fine Dining (Go big);
  • Family/casual/pub (Medium is fine);
  • Pizza, quick-service (small or medium will be fine).

Based on these results, my suggestion is at least a medium-sized card. There is no use putting the effort into a card just to have it ignored because you wanted to save a little bit on printing. I've seen large card work over and over for restaurants. You are trying to cut into a busy market. If you want your message to sing, give it a stage.


In order to design a card that cuts through the noise and communicates your message to prospects, there are a few elements that you need to be aware of and include in the design; precisely, there are 10 of them:

  1. Clear Headline
  2. Supporting Graphic
  3. Color that Pops
  4. Intriguing sub-headings on the back that lead into benefits
  5. Benefits!
  6. Enticing offer
  7. Restaurant name and logo
  8. Call to action and/or expiration date for the offer
  9. Contact Information — website, map, phone number
  10. Return address

Elements 1, 2, and 3 are how you get attention and immediately turn that attention into the decision to read more of the card. If these elements fail to grab attention and generate interest, your cause is lost. Elements 4, 5, and 6 are where you convince the reader to take action. The sub-headings pull the reader into the body copy, which needs to be chock-full of customer-related benefits. Then you seal the deal with an offer they can't refuse. Elements 7-10 give your prospect the information she/he needs to respond. Note that No. 8, the call to action, is vitally important, as, believe it or not, most people won't think to take action if you don't ask them to. They are too busy already.

Once you get these elements working in harmony, you are ready to mail, but to whom?


The final, and most crucial, of the big three is the mailing list. Without a good mailing list, the world's best-designed postcard is useless. The list defines the type of person who will be receiving your ad, and this, more than any other factors, influences how they will respond. In order to get the perfect mailing list, you need to understand the type of person who is your "ideal prospect." Does your restaurant cater to an older crowd? What about families with young children? Are you an edgy hangout for teenaged rockers? Whatever your ideal target market is, that is who you need to get a list of. The specificity of the lists you can obtain is astonishing, too. Families with two children under 10 that live within 20 miles of your location? No problem. Professionals with a household income of $150,000 and above? No sweat. The trick is to know who you are looking for.

Specifically for restaurants, I have seen huge success with birthday lists. This is a monthly list that is compiled based on those in your area who have a birthday that month. The restaurateurs I have worked with have seen great success by mailing out a special birthday offer to these lists. They get redeemed at very high rates, and nobody eats alone on their birthday!

As you know, once you get a new patron into your restaurant whether they return is completely based on that first experience. The idea is to get them coming back — so giving them an incredible birthday experience is crucial. Once, I responded to a birthday promotion and my husband and I made a reservation. They were really on top of the promotion. When we arrived and checked in, we were each instantly brought a glass of champagne on the house. What a GREAT first impression! Needless to say, the money they "lost" giving a "free entrée" to the birthday girl, they made up in spades from all our subsequent visits.

So if you want to give your marketing a boost, just nail the big three. Postcards are proven to work. I have seen it over and over again for 55,000-plus businesses. They work, and this is how to make them work for you. Now, go make 2013 your most profitable year yet!

Read more about marketing.

Joy Gendusa is the owner and CEO of direct mail marketing firm, PostcardMania. Joy began PostcardMania in 1998, originally as a full-service postcard marketing company helping clients create turn-key marketing campaigns with graphic design, printing, mailing list acquisition and mailing services. Since then, PostcardMania has expanded to offer its clients more services including website and landing page design and development, email marketing and full marketing evaluations.

Topics: Communications , Marketing / Branding / Promotion

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