Reprinted from Direct Marketing to Business Report

Lowest-Budget Lead Generation Promotions

For Business-to-Business Direct Marketing

by Rene Gnam

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 mail.

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?

  1. When does a prospect's oven break down, leading management to consider a new oven?

  2. When and where is a restaurant expanding, or remodeling with the right menu selections?

  3. 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+ valves.

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 one.

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 try it.

And, go ahead. Go out tonight. Enjoy those baby back ribs. Did they come from an oven I helped sell with a postcard?


Rene Gnam is an independent response marketing consultant

specializing in creative advertising techniques.

He can be reached at 813-407-8400


Photo of Marketing Consultant Rene Gnam

Rene Gnam is a Marketing Consultant and Advertising Copywriter

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I'm usually in Florida, and here are the numbers:

FAX 813-475-4354      CELL 813-407-8400

You can reach me right now by e-mail:


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