Saturday, January 10, 2015

Postcards, Direct-Mail, Can Work for Authors

When folks say direct-mail campaigns are expensive, they're usually talking about paying for mailing lists/addresses, sending out a thousand or more at a time, and the sorting and grouping that comes with handling such volume. Direct-mail postcards and postage, however, can fit most any budget.

You can go to Vistaprint, GotPrint, Over Night Prints, America's Printer, Zazzle and a host of other printers and get real bargains on small- or large-run printer services for everything from business cards to flyers to postcards to book markers. You get what you pay for, but prices range from $20 to $50 to $100, depending on amounts, colors, size and other considerations. I personally have used America's Printer and Vistaprint. Both are good, my go-to printer is America’s Printer for all-around service and generally competitive pricing.

Those giant postcards are not what you want, and they do not impress me—I suspect they mostly irritate others as well. In this case, yeah, size matters, but don't consider anything more than 4x6 to maybe 5.5 x 8.5. Good enough. More on designing your postcard later in this article.

So, while it CAN be expensive, and I've not done much of it for my fiction publications/titles, direct-mail campaigns using postcards has always generated the MOST responses for me in all other marketing endeavors. I will be doing this in 2015 for all titles—fiction and non-fiction. NOTE: We’ll talk about e-mail campaigns, e-mail blasts, newsletters and other e-mailing approaches in a later article.

I did develop through, a postcard for my non-
fiction how-to book on making money with funeral and memorial videos. Following the same principle as I have with my video company's marketing for specific services—dance, performance, sports, events, etc.—that EVERY occupied home and address is a valid potential client, I've acquired any addresses I could without paying, and mailed out small batches of postcards.

My theory is that direct-mail doesn't HAVE to be based on a mailout of thousands, or even hundreds, of postcards. It can be handled based on my (your) budget. The effect, the exposure, accrues. The more you mail out, as often as you can afford, over time, the more visibility, linkage, and brand awareness you build. I have NEVER conducted a mailout of 20 or more postcards that I've not received inquiries and sales. NEVER!
And, I've even mailed a postcard a day for 30 days-in-a-row, knowing that by the end of that campaign I will have received responses and business. I fully intend to do this for all of my titles.

Here's my points:
1.) Your postcard doesn't ONLY get seen by the final addressee. It is seen by all who handle it en route, all those who reside at the address, and it has shelf life. People keep good looking, interesting and intriguing postcards around for a bit—mostly. Sure, we all toss stuff we get in those marriage-mail bundles, but we do scan some of it. If you've done something other than just filling your mailing piece with copy—dense, heavy copy—it will stop the eyeballs long enough to register.

2.) Postcards in small batches aren't THAT cost prohibitive, or expensive to mail. Not cheap, but small batches can be budgeted. Again, it is effective, over time, and as you continue mailing them.

3.) Postcards should include your contact information, your website and a QR code that takes people on the go with smart phones, tablets and other devices directly to your video book trailers. Or, your websites, blogs or other places where you have content you want to promote.

4.) Ah, yes, video book trailers. Combined with postcards, they are a win-win marketing program and will generate traffic to your pages and websites.

Designing a postcard, flyer, or book marker.

1.) Your book cover is your template. Other than your contact information, links to your Internet sites and that QR code, your cover and back-page blurb should be your postcard design—generally speaking.

2.) Color is no longer cost-prohibitive. Use color, unless you're making some kind of creative statement and desire to go with black and white.

3. Probably, the absolute largest postcard you want to create is a 5.5 x 8.5 and keep it horizontal, not vertical. I made that design mistake and hate it. Trust me. Horizontal.

That's it. Try some and see if it doesn’t get you positive results.

I told you my next blog topic would be "Return on Your Investment" but this one on marketing came up, thanks to my good friend and fellow writer, Ted Atoka. So, Return on Your Investment will be my focus for an upcoming article. Meanwhile, my titles can be found at Lulu Spotlight Earl and check out our posse of writers at Writers of the West.

More to come next time...

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