Designer sitting at a desk picking colors for a design

Designing an Effective Postcard

One of the best ways to use direct mail is to use postcards. Postcards are an inexpensive way to get your message in front of potential customers, and when done well, they can produce great results. How do you design a direct mail postcard that moves people to action? Read on to find out.


  1. Keep it simple.

The first rule of thumb is to keep it simple. Your postcard should have a clear and concise message that is easy for the recipient to understand. The last thing you want is for your postcard to end up in the trash because the recipient didn’t get your point or see the relevance immediately. So keep it simple and to the point.


  1. Create different messages for different target audiences.

While full personalization (each piece speaking directly to each recipient individually) is highly effective, it may not always be practical. Fortunately, dividing your audience into targeted segments gives excellent results, too. You will speak to parents with young children differently than you do single adults or empty-nesters, for example. Or talk to men differently than you do women. By segmenting, your copy will be more relevant, increasing the chances that your postcard will be read and acted upon.


  1. Use eye-catching Images

Another critical element of creating an effective postcard is using eye-catching images. With a postcard, you have limited space to get your message across. Studies have shown that people process visual information 60,000x faster than text, so when space is at a premium, let images help tell your story.


  1. Don’t forget the Call to Action

Last but not least, make sure you include a call to action. This is a step that many businesses overlook, then wonder why their results are disappointing. If you’re running a sale, your CTA might say, “Visit our website today and use promo code XYZ.” Without a call to action, people may set down the postcard without ever taking the desired steps. Don’t assume your audience will act. Always include a CTA!


Postcards can be a great way to reach your target audience and generate leads. To get great results, you must keep it simple, mail to carefully selected targeted audiences, use eye-catching images, and include a powerful call to action. Follow these tips, and you’ll be well on your way to designing postcards that get results!

Professional people shaking hands in an office

Turning a Bank from “Stodgy” to “Personal”

Do you always need lots of data to make your mailings seem personal? No. Take the example of MB Financial, a Chicago-based financial institution that used segmentation to achieve great results. It’s a formula that any company can follow to make its mailings feel more personal and increase conversions without personalizing them down to the individual level.


MB Financial wanted to target more than 430,000 small companies in the Chicago area. MBF has 86 branches, but it wasn’t connecting well with its audience. Small businesses saw the bank as an old, stodgy institution like all others. MBF wanted to put a more friendly face on its branches and make banking at each location seem more inviting and accessible.


To do this, MBF developed a four-pronged messaging strategy: “We deliver the personal attention you want, the banking services you need, business advice you can use, and business connections you wouldn’t expect.” The heart of the campaign was direct mail, but it also used radio and digital media ads.

  • First, MB Financial used customer modeling to identify 30,000 small businesses that were its most likely prospects.
  • Second, it broke its mailing into highly versioned segments, one for each local branch.
  • Third, it created targeted postcards that appeared to be coming directly from the bank manager at each SMB’s closest branch.


Each postcard included a photo of the branch manager, a personal message from the manager, and an invitation for the recipient to call their direct line. To sweeten the pot, MB Financial included an offer to receive “bonus cash” for opening an account or line of credit.


The results? High visibility and a 205% increase in sales leads attributed to the direct mail campaign alone. What a great way to make a large business seem small!


Inspired? Let’s discuss creating a similar campaign to reach your target audience!

Brain cell neurons making direct connections with each other

Why Our Brains Prefer Direct Mail Over Email

Want to geek out on marketing science? Check out neuromarketing, a field examining consumers’ responses to marketing stimuli. Neuroscience looks at how the brain receives and processes information, and neuromarketing looks specifically at the impact of this process on the various marketing channels. Spoiler alert: These studies consistently find that while email is an important channel, it isn’t for everything. Especially for higher-end products that require more thought processing, direct mail is a better approach.


How do researchers come to these conclusions? They use three primary methods:


Eye tracking: Camera and infrared technology that monitor eye movements in speed and duration of attention. Eye tracking tracks visual attention in reaction to predetermined areas of interest.


Core biometrics: Sensors placed on participants’ fingertips that measure heart rate, skin conductance (sweat), motion, and respiration: Core biometrics gauge the depth of emotional engagement.


Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FRMI): Brain scanners measure changes in oxygenated blood flow to reveal regional activation during a task or experience. FRMI pinpoints specific deep brain activity beyond surface cognitive function (e.g., empathy and reward).


What do these methods show? A good example comes from one study conducted by Temple University’s Center for Neural Decision Making in concert with the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG). The study found that while participants could process the information from digital ads more quickly than from print ads, the details weren’t retained or recalled as easily later.


What made participants more likely to retain and recall that information more easily in print?

  • They spent more time with physical ads.
  • They had more robust emotional responses to those ads.
  • While they stated similar preferences and willingness to pay for the item, whether it was delivered in physical or digital format, their brain activity indicated a greater subconscious desire for printed products.


“These findings have practical implications for marketers,” note the report’s authors. “If short on time, the digital format captures attention quicker. However, for longer lasting impact and easy recollection, a physical mail piece is the superior option.”


So, there you have it! When given a choice between print and digital media, especially for products and services that require deep cognitive processing, the brain loves print.



Person holding a bucket with letters falling into it

Four Data “Buckets” and How They Can Benefit Your Messaging

Shoppers today expect their marketing messages to be highly targeted to their wants and needs. The good news is there is a ton of data for use in targeting, whether you gather it yourself or purchase it from a reputable list company. But what are the best ways to use that data? There are many different categories of data, and each can be used for various purposes. Let’s look at four data categories and how they can be used.


Demographic data: Demographic data are the most specific data types and create large customer “buckets” that can be used to market the right products to the right people. As two straightforward examples, the types of clothing you will offer teenagers will differ from the types of clothing you will offer thirty-somethings, and the type of landscaping services you suggest will differ whether someone’s home sits on a .5-acre lot or a 15-acre farm. There are limitations to how much demographics can tell you, but they can be an essential starting point.


Geographic data: Where someone lives can give you important insights, too. Customers in the Northeast will be open to different products in January and February than those in the Southwest. Customers in urban areas generally have other priorities and needs than those in rural settings. There are many geographic “slices,” so find the right ones that make sense for your products.


Interests: Cross-referencing your customer data with interest-based data can also be incredibly useful. For example, knowing whether people in your database donate to charitable causes, purchase hunting or fishing equipment, or participate in ultra-marathons will give you even more ways to divide your target audience into relevant segments.


Past purchases: Tracking customer purchases can teach you a lot about your customers and help you anticipate what they might need next. If someone purchased a pair of general-purpose walking shoes in January, for example, they will likely need a new pair one year or so later. If, on the other hand, they purchased a pair of high-end trail running shoes, they are likely logging serious miles and will need replacements within the next three to four months.


Customer targeting doesn’t have to be complicated. It just requires finding the correct type of data to match your marketing goals, then being intentional about how to use it.


Need help? Just ask!


5 COVID-19 Consumer Trends Impacting Packaging…for Good

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the way shoppers live, work, and play. Experts say many of those changes are permanent when it comes to packaging. COVID-19 has reshaped consumers’ shopping habits, and because many of these habits have longer-term benefits, these changes are going to stick around.


What are these changes, and how do they affect you?


According to Steven Williams, CEO of PepsiCo Foods, speaking at the 2022 National Retail Federation Big Show, here are the changes you should know:


1. Shopping local. “People are falling in love with their local stores again,” notes Williams. Consider increasing (or adding) targeted, segmented packaging to engage with niche and local audiences.


2. Food e-commerce is here to stay. People who started food shopping online during the pandemic have made it part of their norm, and more and more people are joining them. In terms of design, maximize the appearance and utility of your packaging for the screen. If you are using QR Codes to engage audiences with nutrition information, how-to’s, and recipes, consider making those codes visible on the front so they can be scanned from a computer screen, as well as in-store.


3. In-home meals are on the rise. Consider launching an at-home meal or food prep line if you haven’t already. Or add QR Codes leading to easy recipes to spark shoppers’ creativity and tap into this trend.


4. Value, value, value. With inflation making it harder to stretch a budget, value packaging and pricing are more important than ever. If you haven’t been mailing printed coupons, this might be a great time to start.


5. Growth in multipacks. Okay, they aren’t environmentally friendly, but consumers love them. According to Williams, consumers choose multipacks for ease of carrying, health and safety, and portion control.


Need some packaging design changes? We’ve got ideas. Let’s talk ! or Let’s Chat  713.956.8555


The Best Place to Get Data About Customers? From Customers Themselves!

Just as making an outstanding meal takes the freshest, most flavorful ingredients, creating an exceptional marketing campaign starts with the newest, most accurate data. But what is the best way to get that data? You can purchase a mailing list and third-party data, but it’s always more effective if customers are willing to provide it themselves.


Here are five ideas for getting your target audience to share more information about themselves.


1. Just ask – and offer an incentive. Customers are more willing to share personal details when they think it will benefit them. For example, if you’re a clothier, you might woo them with the promise of customized style suggestions. “Take this quiz and find out more about your style!” Once you know what clothes they like, offer to keep the tips coming. “Want more like this? Sign up for new introductions you’ll love!”


2. Let address updates do double duty. When you ask people to update their contact information, ask them to provide other demographic or lifestyle information, too. “Tell us a little more about yourself so we can personalize your experience and better serve you.”


3. Ask in the moment. What better time to ask customers to provide more information than when they are already on your website looking for something? “Help us get to know you, so we can give you exactly what you need!”


4. Follow up on the sale. Customers love to provide feedback, whether positive or negative. Follow up the sale with a short questionnaire. “Thanks for shopping with us. How did we do?” Then throw in a few demographic or lifestyle questions while you’re at it.


5. Understand the mindsets. Understanding how consumers think about sharing data helps you craft your messaging. Different studies have developed different categories of consumer attitudes. Regardless of which you follow, just understanding that not everyone feels the same way about providing data helps you be sensitive to different personalities and motivators when you ask.


Learning more about your target audience is an achievable goal, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes it can be as easy as, well, just asking.

Effective Communication Breeds Customer Loyalty

Are you up for a surprise? In a customer satisfaction study of 10 major industries, nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents indicated that they were delighted with the products or services they purchased, yet 88% said that they were willing to switch providers for any reason!


How can this be? If customers are happy with the products they buy, how can they switch so easily? Because so many companies offer products and pricing similar to one another’s. That’s why maintaining customer loyalty takes more than the basics. You have to make people feel valued, not just by offering them great stuff, but by how you treat them. Give them a great customer experience.


According to Price Waterhouse Coopers, 73% of consumers consider customer experience important in purchasing decisions. This means that all things being equal, they will go where they feel most valued and appreciated.


That’s why a consistent, high-quality drip of customer communications is so important. It makes customers feel noticed and valued, not just when you want them to purchase something.


• Set up a series of “nurturing” mailers throughout the year. Make it a continuous client contact program that demonstrates that you are sincerely grateful for their business at regular, pre-planned intervals.


• Use the data you’ve collected to grow your relationship with these customers. Offer valuable tips, newsletters, and case studies that remind clients of your commitment to service, value, quality, innovation, and loyalty.


• If you are going to cross-sell or upsell, make those suggestions valuable and relevant to your customers based on the information you have collected, such as their past purchases or subscriptions that are expiring.


• Ask for their feedback. People love when you ask their opinions. Now act on what you learn. Communicate through tangible actions that you not only care about what they have to say but are willing to act on it, too.


Direct mail isn’t just for customer acquisition marketing anymore. It is a critical part of effective customer retention.

Keep Them Thinking About You

In marketing, there is one thing worth more than gold. It istop of mind. Being top of mind means that when someone thinks about your product category, they think of you. Delivery services? Most people think of FedEx and UPS. Soft drinks? They think Coke and Pepsi. Laundry detergent? Tide. Are you top of mind in your category? If not, how do you get there?


Here are five ways to stay top of mind with your customers:


1. Promote your selling proposition.


Every company has (or should have) aunique selling proposition. This is the reason people should buy from you. Think about DiGiorno frozen pizza. “It’s not delivery. It’s DiGiorno,” right? Their selling proposition is a compelling one — it tastes like delivery without the wait. What’s your selling proposition? Identify it, then articulate it clearly, consistently, and briefly in all of your marketing communications. Keep saying it!


2. Create a consistent visual identity.


There are certain brands you can identify from a mile away: their colors, their design style, their spokesperson, or mascot. A consistent brand identity isenormous when staying top of mind. Create a consistent look and feel in everything from your direct mail to your company stationery. Use templates if necessary.


3. Stay out there.


A one-time advertising blitz can get your message out quickly, but you build credibility and stay top of mind with regular, timely communications. Drip your marketing communications a little at a time to remain part of the conversion.


4. Use multiple touchpoints.


Direct mail is highly effective in reinforcing a personal bond between your company and your customers. Multiple media support that message by touching prospects at different times and ways. Send a customized letter giving your best prospects the inside track on a new product. Follow up with email. Send a postcard or brochure when the product is available. Send a note of thanks when the client makes a purchase.


5. Timing is everything.


Strategically plan repeated communications so customers perceive you as a provider of helpful information rather than an intrusive pest. This requires both organization and dedication.


Never before have consumers had so many choices. Staying top of mind will lift you out of a noisy marketplace and increase customer retention and response rates.

Earth Friendly Printing

How To Practice Earth-Friendly Printing?

5 tips for sustainable print that go beyond recycled paper


We all want to be friendly to the earth, but what is the best strategy for doing so? Often, our first thought is to use recycled paper, and this is an important step. Yet there are other ways to make earth-friendly decisions when designing and ordering print materials. Let’s look at five simple ways beyond recycled paper to make your print more sustainable


1. Spec paper with virgin fiber.


While this might seem counterintuitive, virgin fiber is an important aspect of the sustainable print lifecycle. Sixty percent of forests in the United States are privately owned. Demand for pulp-based products keeps our forests a viable source of income for forest owners, making them a valuable asset. If private forests don’t provide revenue, they risk being sold for other revenue-generating opportunities.


Virgin fiber is also a vital component of the recycling stream. Paper fibers can only be recycled five to seven times before they are no longer usable. To maintain a strong, high-quality pool of recycled paper, virgin fiber must be flowing into the system.


2. Look for environmental certifications.


When purchasing any type of paper, whether with virgin fiber, recycled fiber, or both, look for paper that has been certified by environmental organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). While each certification is slightly different, all signify that the paper you purchase is coming from sustainably managed forests and is harvested in ethical and ecologically sound ways.


3. Ask for environmentally friendly inks and coatings.


While solvent-based inks and coatings have many benefits, including extremely high scuff-resistance, their use in the print production process emits toxic fumes, and the resulting products cannot be recycled. Water-based inks and coatings, on the other hand, have high performance qualities and do not emit toxic VOCs. Many coatings allow the paper to be repulped and recycled, as well.


4. Avoid lamination.


If you’re specing packaging, try to avoid designs that require lamination. Once plastic film is laminated to paper, that paper becomes much more difficult for mills to depulp and reuse.


5. Clean and de-dupe your mailing list.


Nothing says “waste” like undeliverable mail. For the lowest environmental footprint, keep your mailing list accurate, up to date, and free of duplicates.


Any one of these steps will improve the sustainability of your print projects. Do all five and you’re a sustainability hero!


5 Fun Stats to Inform Your Fundraising

5 Fun Stats to Inform Your Fundraising


As a nonprofit, you know the importance of personalized direct mail. Most likely, you are already personalizing your mailers by the donor’s name, giving history, and often household income. But are there other data points that could help? Here are some exciting statistics that, while they may not all apply to your organization, illustrate how important it is to know as much as possible about your donors. You never know what data might be vital to increasing their support.


Should you be targeting Millennials?


Not necessarily. Millennials (those born 1981–1995) are more socially-minded than older generations, but does this mean they are a fundraising gold mine? Actually, no. According to Blackbaud, Millennials aren’t significant givers. On average, they give $481 per year, compared to $732 for Generation X and $1,212 for Boomers.


Mac users are more generous.


On average, Mac users give $182 per donation, while PC users give $137. This reminds us that correlations related to giving can be found in the most unexpected places, so dig deep!


Add video.


According to Olgive, 57% of people who watch a nonprofit video will ultimately donate. Use print-to-mobile tools like QR Codes and augmented reality to enable donors to feel more personally connected to your cause.


Be mobile-friendly.


According to Nonprofits Source, 51% of people visit nonprofit websites on mobile devices. Even if you send your appeals through the mail, make sure your website is optimized to look fantastic regardless of what device people use to access it.


Don’t overlook lower-income households.


If you think the more money someone has, the more likely they will reach into their pockets, you’d be wrong. In one survey, households making $25,000 per year gave an average of 12.8% of their annual income to charity. This is the highest percentage (and nearly double that) of any other income demographic.


All of this points to the need for more and better data. Every nonprofit’s donor base will look and act differently, so before mailing out that appeal, invest the time to understand yours.