EDITOR'S NOTE: Rene Gnam is a hands-on consultant who
advises business marketers on effective strategies and improving
promotions. Services include program reviews, copywriting and
design, catalog improvements, creating new campaigns, and marketing
consultation. He can be reached at: fax
813-475-4354, cell 813-407-8400, email
A terrific promotion for
companies wishing to continually attack precise markets without
spending a fortune is the forgotten direct mail format -- the
postcard. It's a low-cost, high impact communication that brings
rich rewards to those companies willing to stand out in a pile of
Just ask Donna Cramer and Mark Ellis, owners of Cook Shack, an
oven manufacturer in Ponca City, OK. Their market used to be
restaurants from Louisiana to Arizona, about as far as a salesperson
in a truck could drive in a day. But now you can enjoy smoked or
barbecued meat, fish, or fowl anywhere in America -- from a Cook
Shack oven sold as a result of a postcard lead.
Do you face these Cook Shack "no knowledge" problems?
When does a prospect's oven break
down, leading management to consider a new oven?
When and where is a
restaurant expanding, or remodeling with the right menu
When and where is a new restaurant or
second location opening?
Most of us can't answer those questions for our businesses. So,
at a 1980 meeting in Dallas, I recommended that Donna use postcards
regularly. She could then afford to blanket entire sections of the
country -- prior to a salesperson's visit to that area -- and book
leads for personal contacts. We designed several cards.
They're still working 20 years later. I'm tired of looking at
some of those old photos, but as long as they pull highly-qualified
leads, I'm as happy as Cook Shack.
Cheers for Donna -- she expanded on this concept and now also
uses postcards to increase trade show booth traffic.
You wonder if postcards can work for your business? Here are some
other long-use examples of postcard success:
All Medicare Health Aids in Florida disdains
newsletters, instead mailing monthly postcards to hospitals,
HMOs, nursing homes, and health plan administrators.
Frank Eastern Supply in New York entices you to become
a new office supplies customer by selling specials on postcards
and then upgrading you to its full line.
Frank D. Riggio Company, a New Jersey industrial
boiler distributor, gets leads for $40,000+ boilers and $5,000+
Wings Across America, a Florida real estate franchise,
sells its franchises to new brokers using postcard leads.
Don Feltner Photography, a Colorado studio, sells
group contracts to corporations, schools, and municipalities.
Flex-a-Bed, Inc., a California and Georgia hospital
bed manufacturer, uses its cards to get leads from both
furniture dealers and health care facilities.
SunGraphics, a Florida printer, sells its printing to
leads generated by postcards.
And I've built my business using postcards to sell my
creative services. Other cards sell registrations to direct mail
seminars I present. Others sell consultation meetings.
What are some of the keys to a successful postcard? Make it
dramatic and colorful, with an exciting proposition and hard-sell
copy. Your recipient knows your card is an ad. Make it look like
Yes, you can incorporate postcards in your overall prospecting
scheme. For instance, if you can't afford to send an expensive
mailing to fringe lists that don't pull well, try a card. When you
have a dazzling new product announcement, use a quick card to cream
the market before your competitor copycats you.
We tend to forget the postcard format because it's not in our
standard repertoire. But it's a powerful producer and I urge you to
And, go ahead. Go out tonight. Enjoy those baby back ribs. Did
they come from an oven I helped sell with a postcard?