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Customer Retention Using Postcards
by Barbara Garro

Doesn’t it make sense to go a little out of your way to retain customers who already contribute to your sales and profits?

Postcards are a hot competitive marketing secret, whether you are prospecting for new customers or focusing, like we are here, on customer retention. I have been writing about these economical but mighty business builders since 1997. All kinds of businesses keep on catching on that little postcards can pull in big returns on investment. I am seeing more and more postcards in my postal mail box. How about you?

Your customers are always looking for serious offers. Will you bury your offers among everyone’s email and print media? Or, will you direct mail your offer addressed to them personally in a postcard they can’t help but see?

Postcards present your message with style and bring you immediate attention from customers, subtly letting them know you’re thinking of them. Devise a plan to keep your customers coming back with postcards and you’ll watch your sales and profits build along with your business relationships. Choose this up-front and personal postcard option and make your offer one your customers feel good about accepting.

Remember, most loyal customers get really fried when they see discounts and free incentives pitched only to new customers. Researching for this article, I heard a story from a loyal cell phone customer who fired her cell phone provider because it wanted to charge her full price for the same new phone they gave away free to new customers.

Postcard retention incentives give your customers your open invitation to stay with your company, because you appreciate their business and make offers to show them how much.

You can do serious customer bonding with a 4-1/4” x 6” x .016” postcard with 34 cents postage. Or, you can opt for smaller, standard-size pre-stamped postcards from U.S. Post Offices for the cost of postage alone. Everybody pays attention to postcards, an effective, economical method of targeted print customer retention advertising. Receiving a postcard from your business says to your customer, “You are always on our radar and you always matter to us.”

Postcards are the mail medium that stands out amongst the multi-media blitz your customers face every day. And why not? Postcards are a flip over easy read with a positive image and, best case, an offer they can say “Yes!” to.

Here are 9 Customer Retention Postcard Ideas–

1. Promotions for Existing Customers Only

2. New Product & Service Announcements

3. Thank You Acknowledgements for Referrals

4. Thank You For Large Customer Orders

5. Thank You For Large Payments Received

6. Surprise Substitute When Customers are Hard to Reach

7. Product & Service Sales & Sales Call Reminders

8. Annual Customer Anniversary Remembrance

9. Heads Up Notice About Possible Delivery Delay/Product Scarcity

Successful business people have always understood that doing business is more about building relationships than selling. Customers rarely care what you’re selling unless it can solve their problems. Believing in your solutions requires trust and keeping a good relationship with them. One way of building trusting relationships is creatively keeping in contact with your buyers through focused postcard messages.

General Postcard Do’s

• Begin with a Plan for Each Postcard Mailing Campaign

• Keep Your Postcard Message Simple & Accurate

• Measure Your Return on Investment

• Make Your Customer a Money-Saving Offer of Appreciation

• Be Consistent There is Always Something In It For Your Customer to Respond to Your Postcard Contact

• Include Full Contact Information

General Postcard Don’ts

• Too Much Small Print

• Wasting Money on Expensive Postcards

• Unclear Offer

• Unclear How to Accept Offer

• Failure to Include a Named Contact

• Too Many Postcard Mailings

Now, for some specifics to shine attention on the customer problems your business solves. Postcards are visual workhorses. One full side is all yours. The other side is half for a focused direct message and half for the address and stamp. On the visual side, always show prominently your company name, address, website, telephone, and logo. There is room for pictures of products, lists of your most profitable services.

On the other side, the message portion gives your customer a free offer, special discount on products or services, always in a time-frame offer. You don’t want somebody showing up with a three-year old offer.

Here are Types of Low-End and High-End Postcard Concepts:

• Lowest End – You can buy pre-stamped U.S. Post Office postcards that basically give you the postcard for free. You can add adhesive company and contact information, logos. Biggest Benefit: You can have someone personalize and hand-write the message portion with a script you choose. In our high technology world, a hand-written message is sure to get read, especially if it is clear it is individually written in non-black ink. Takes someone about a minute to write and someone needs to proofread each one.

• Low End – You can choose from a large variety of generic message postcards available in quantity you can personalize. If you keep to the maximum 34 cent size limit stated above, you will save 15 cents by not moving up to the first class rate of 49 cents. Here, you will have the additional cost of the postcards, which are still relatively cheap over the Internet.

• Median Range – You can add your logo and address to generic message postcards and choose first class postage of 49 cents and increase your postcard up to maximum 11-1/2” long by 6-1/8” high.

• High End – Go for it with glossy, four-color photographs, messages, having your printer reproduce your full-sized business card on one end of the postcard and score it so customers can tear off your business card and save it. • Highest End – Jumbo postcards and two-part postcards that open up and produce impressive pop-up images. Definitely a possibility to have a truck pop up!

A well-thought out postcard campaign to hold on to your customers long-term takes serious planning but goes a long way to bond with your most valuable asset, your customer base. Once you agree on a budget to stay in contact with your customer base all year, the offers you plan to make, and a method to track your return on investment, next year will be a breeze.