by Florrie Binford Kichler
Postcards from the Edge
Meet the humble
postcard—a low-cost, high-impact, versatile marketing tool in the
publisher’s arsenal that improves your competitive edge.
Book marketing with postcards is
one of the most cost-effective and customer-effective direct-mail marketing
campaigns you can launch. Whether you have one title or 200, a postcard with
your book cover(s) on one side and a promotional blurb on the other is
comparatively inexpensive and lends itself particularly well to a wide variety
of promotions. Why? For a baker’s-dozen reasons.
cents vs. 39 cents. The cost
difference between mailing a first-class envelope and a first-class postcard is
15 cents per piece. That means the postage for a mailing of 500 one-ounce
envelopes will cost $195, compared to $120 for 500 postcards. Do the math. With
a monthly mailing, you will save $900 in a year.
production. Two thousand postcards
with four-color front and one-color back can cost less then 10 cents each and
are an instant mini-billboard for your book(s). Delivery time is rarely longer
than two weeks. There are many postcard printers, including those that
advertise in this publication. Ask to see samples before you order, and check
with your book printer as well—often they can do postcards at the same
time they print your book cover.
rate. Direct-mail marketers spend
millions to determine how to get recipients to open the envelope. The beauty of
the postcard is that it’s already open, and your well-designed and colorful
book cover that appears on the front makes it an attention-getter that stands
out from the surrounding clutter.
announcements. Postcards are
perfect for announcing book signings and other appearances. Two thousand postcards
can cost less than 10 cents each, and if you don’t want to spend the money to
produce a customized postcard for a certain event, you can print your message
on small address labels and affix them to the front of your generic promotional
card. Not only do you save money by using the postcards you already have, but
you can then include a message on your label to “Bring this postcard to [store
or convention or meeting] and receive a gift.” When recipients bring the
postcard, they get a small gift like a promotional notepad or pen, and you get
to build a targeted mailing list.
giveaways. Postcards are also
perfect as promotional giveaways for trade shows—small, light, and
colorful—and they can double as bookmarks. When conferences provide
mailing lists of attendees in advance of the show, send either a customized
postcard or a postcard with a customized label inviting everyone to your booth.
And after the show, use postcards to follow up with prospects.
board displays. Educators and librarians
love postcards for decorating bulletin boards. Your postcard solves their
content problem, and you have a free advertisement in front of your target
promo pieces. Use your leftover
paperback covers as postcards. Any card larger than 4″ × 6″
requires at least a 39-cent stamp, but imagine the impact of a 6″ ×
9″ (or larger) image of your book. Simply cut off the back cover portion
of your flat cover and bingo, your front cover is ready to double as a postcard.
Another advantage of a book-cover-turned-card is that the flip side is blank,
ready to be printed with your custom message.
launches. Any size postcard is a
great way to break the news about a new book without breaking the bank. My
company maintains a master postcard mailing list for each new title we publish,
and we use it to start building the buzz long before the book is off press.
Everyone who inquires about our titles is added to the list. At 24 cents
apiece, postcards make an inexpensive way to follow up.
list updates. A 24-cent postcard
is considered first-class mail. If an address on your mailing list is incorrect
or expired, and you include your return address on the card, the post office
will return the postcard to you with the address corrected, as long as it has
the information. Small price to pay to keep your valuable contact list current.
billboards. We all distribute
business cards by the handful, so focus on a mini-postcard as another
opportunity to promote your titles. As inexpensive as it is to print business
cards, why not continually update yours with new titles? With a cover image on
one side and your contact information on the other, your mini-postcard
accomplishes both promotion and information—all in one 2″ × 3½”
invitations. Use the low-tech
postcard to drive traffic to your high-tech Web site. Inviting targeted buyers
to your site via postcard with a special offer avoids the spam issue and also
helps you add opt-in names to your email marketing list. By creating a special
landing page and including its URL on your postcard, you will be able to track
specific responses to your offer and use that information to improve the offer
style=’font-size:11.0pt’> Postcards are a low-cost way to test new offers and
new prospects. Include the same image on the front of the card, but print half
the postcard run with one message on the back and half with another version.
Then see which has the higher response rate. Mailing postcards to a new list
and measuring the response is also an inexpensive way to add to your own
connections. The key to success in
direct mail is repetition, repetition, repetition. We create a marketing plan
that includes a monthly postcard mailing to our customers that features a
different title each month, depending on what is appropriate. Of course,
holidays are a given, and sometimes an event in a month is connected to the
subject of one of our books. The point is not only to focus on marketing books,
but also to maintain predictable and constant contact with people who have
already expressed interest in at least one of our titles—our current
very best wishes to all for a happy holiday season and a successful 2007.
My virtual door is always open. I
encourage you to share your comments, thoughts, and ideas by emailing me at <span