Remember a few years back when all the fast food chains crowed about their “secret" sauces and ingredients? It sure added some mystique, didn't it? Nothing improved the flavor of a hamburger or drumstick like good old-fashioned secrecy!
Now let's transition to postcard marketing, where a similar concept applies. A small percentage of real estate agents have discovered the “secret ingredients" of postcard marketing. As a result, they enjoy huge success each time they conduct a mailing.
Other agents, however, do not enjoy such success. They send postcard after postcard, but, alas, no response. These agents do not know the secret ingredients of postcard marketing success.
Let's uncover some secrets, shall we?
Postcard Secret #1 - Don't Rely on Technology
You first need to realize that technology alone won’t lead you to postcard marketing success. If it were that easy, all agents would enjoy record-breaking responses from their mailings.
In fact, technology is the most straightforward part of the equation. A postcard marketing service will handle all of the technology for you. But there’s the rub. Technology can help you deliver a powerful message, but it cannot create that message for you. That’s your job.
Nobody knows your audience or your skills better than you, and nobody cares about your success as much as you do. So the message, and everything that brings it to life, must begin with you.
Postcard Secret #2 - Know Your Audience
When creating your postcard message, start by identifying your audience. This might seem obvious, but it’s a critical step upon which the rest of the process will rest. To identify your core audience, you simply have to ask yourself a series of questions.
What area do I want to represent? Am I focusing on buyers or sellers? Where might I find these people? What's important to them? What do they want to know? What do I have to offer that might motivate them?
When you've answered these questions, you should be able to write a paragraph from the combined answers. This paragraph is your audience statement, and it will help you set your postcard marketing objectives accordingly. Once you've defined your audience, you can more easily determine the kinds of offers that might motivate them.
Postcard Secret #3 - Identify the Desired Response
Now that you know your audience (and assuming you’ve done some research to really get to know them) you can set the objective for your postcard campaign. Ask yourself, “What do I want to happen as a result of sending my postcards? What's the ideal response?"
Here’s the key to this step. Don’t ask your postcards to do more than they’re capable of doing. I see real estate marketers using postcards to try and convince recipients that they offer superior service. That’s a lot to ask of an 8" x 5" piece of card stock.
Scale back your objective until you find something that (A) gives the postcard a more realistic task, (B) follows a more natural sales progression, and (C) capitalizes on known behavior.
What's a good response to aim for? How about a phone call or an email? Now that’s something a postcard can handle, especially if you give people a good reason to contact you (like an insightful report on future construction in your area). And that leads to our next “secret"…
Postcard Secret #4 - Offer Something Great
We know from statistics that most consumers end up choosing the first real estate agent they contact. So you can capitalize on this known behavior by aiming for that critical first contact. This is where your offer comes into play.
The value and relevance of your offer will determine the size of your response. That's a fundamental principal of postcard marketing that many agents overlook. A postcard without explicit value is a postcard destined for the trash.
Think of it this way. The postcard is only a messenger. A messenger without an important message is worthless. But if the messenger has valuable news or information, everybody wants to hear what he has to say!
Here's an example. If I lived in a residential area suffering from “commercial creep, " and somebody offered me an exclusive report on future commercial development and how it might impact my home value … I would want that report! And I'd contact anyone to get it.
Postcard Secret #5 - Leverage Your Website
Have a website? If so, you have a perfect marketing partner to complement your postcards. The reasons are somewhat psychological:
The goal of any marketing program is to gain new business, but sometimes you have to offer indirect paths as well as the direct ones. Direct paths are for direct people. A direct path on a postcard would be a phone number. Some interested prospects will choose the direct route and call you straightaway.
But those who are less direct would rather learn more about you first. They need to get comfortable before they “raise their hands. " So why not build an informational resource section of your website and point to it with your postcards?
The point is to offer different response channels for the different personality types. A direct phone number for the direct people, and an indirect website path for the more timid souls. Then mention both paths on your postcards, and you've increased your chance for response - be it direct or indirect.
Postcard Secret #6 - Measure Your Success
Make sure you have some way to track the responses you get back from each mailing. This will allow you to compare one postcard message to another to see which one performs better.
First, establish a baseline response based on your first mailing (out of X number of recipients, X responded). Next, try to improve one element of the postcard, such as the offer. You won’t know if it’s truly an improvement until the test is complete, but that’s the whole point.
Lastly, send the new version of your postcard to the same list, the same number of recipients, and with all other things being equal. Track the results as you did before, and compare the two mailings. You’ve just completed a simple A/B test to determine which of two offers is more effective.
You can continue this testing in one of two ways: You can keep putting your winning offer up against new challengers. Or you can move on to other aspects of the mailing, such as the design, headline, list, timeframe, etc. The goal is to have a postcard that combines the best of all elements.
I hope you see now that the “secrets" of postcard marketing success aren't really secrets at all. They are proven methods that have been used by direct mail marketers for years. And now that you understand them, you have everything you need to create your own postcard marketing success.
* Copyright 2006, PostcardSmart. You may republish this article online if you retain the byline, author's note and active hyperlinks.
About the Author
Brandon Cornett is the editor of PostcardSmart.com, the Internet’s largest library of postcard marketing advice . For more expert articles on postcard marketing, visit http://www.PostcardSmart.com