Elements of Direct Mail Post Card Design

There is a rule in direct mail post cards called the 40/40/20 rule.  It is a formula for designing a successful direct mail marketing campaign.  

40/40/20 Rule of Direct Mail Postcards

Ed Mayer came up with the rule of 40/40/20 in direct mail marketing.  Very simply he said that 40% of your success depends on who you are targeting, 40% of your success is what you are offering, and 20% is determined by the design, layout, and "everything else." 

So, following this rule you will want to focus 40% of your efforts on determining who your target market is.  Who is the ideal target you are going after?  Researching and defining who your target is will go a long way to helping your success.   Even the best offer and most appealing design will not be effective if you are targeting the wrong people.   So, when mailing you will want to spend about 40% of your efforts, according to Mayer, on developing your target marketing list.  Jefferson Letter Service can help you not only determine who this target is but also help in obtaining the mailing list.

The next 40% should be about your offer. Regardless of how appealing your direct mail piece is, if you are not giving your target customer a compelling reason to purchase from you, the direct mail campaign will not succeed.  In your  direct mail ad, you will want to incentivize your target customers to act when reading your offer.  This is unless your single goal is brand recognition which can work but will take much more time to do so.  You want the recipients to act immediately by responding to this offer.  So, you will need to make sure it appeals to them in a way that compels them to respond.  

The design and layout of your direct mail marketing piece are then factored at 20% of your efforts according to Mayer.  Design is the emphasis that reinforces the idea or action you want your target audience to take.  If your target audience fails to notice your ad, then your efforts have been futile.  So, make sure you put adequate time and effort in presenting your offer in a way that reinforces the action you want your audience to take. 

For many years postcards have been a dominate force in the direct marketing industry.  This popularity comes with good reason.  The response rates are much higher then digital marketing, email marketing, and display ads.  Direct mail can also compliment your online efforts when integrated with services like Platinum Mail Plus.  

Here are elements that you will want to focus on to have a successful Direct Mail Postcard campaign that produces results.  

1. Your Logo

It goes without saying that your target market should know where the direct mail post card came from. Put your logo in a prominent place where it is sure to be noticed.  The logo should not however, overshadow the offer you are presenting your audience.  The offer builds up the brand.

2. Next is Headline

When someone picks up the direct mail postcard, they should be able to identify the main idea immediately.  Make sure your message is clear and concise.  Then seperate it from the rest of your text while using larger font.  

3. Graphics Come next

The choice of graphic, pictures, and illustrations should compliment your headline.  It should reinforce the message you are relaying to your target market.  

4. Typography 

“Typography” is defined as the style and appearance of printed matter.  The art or procedure of arranging type or processing data and printing from it.  Spacing between characters, the length of the lines, and text can be influential to your target audience.  Even emotion can be relayed by the type of typeface you choose.  For example some typeface is considered professional while others are more comical or whimsical. 

5. White Space

White space is the open space between graphics and text.  Not enough white space and your direct mail postcard will look cluttered and cramped.  The white space is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye and allows you to draw the attention where you want it.

6. Perfect Offer for Perfect Customer

The offer should bring the target to an immediate response by giving them an adequate reason to act on your offer.  We have already determined that 40% of success is determined by the offer you are making so it is crucial.  You want them to feel that they need it right when they get the piece.  Expiring discounts, free promotions with expirations, and limited time offers are all great approaches to get them to act quickly.  

7. Color Choice

The colors you use should be relevant to the message you are relaying to your audience.  Use color as a means to persuade your audience.  Although it is true that each person has their own color preferences, there are certain patterns in color perception you may be able to use to your advantage.  Think of how "sky blue" makes you feel?  Or "money green."

8. Message Body

The copy does not need to be long and drawn out.  Keep it clear and concise pointing out the benefits.  Benefits sell, features do not.  Point out why they need to act now.  Relay how your product or service can help them by appealing to their needs and wants.  

9. Post Card Quality

The direct mail postcards in today's market are durable well made.  The cardstock that you choose can be flimsy though and that will reflect on your offer and possibly the perception of your target audience.  Most printers now can print post cards at near picture vividness and clarity with great cardstock.  Choosing to not skimp will insure that your message isn't perceived as low quality.  

10. Call to Action

Finally is a clear call to action.  You will want to tell your audience what you want them to do.  You will want the standard websites, phone, and business address information, but a call to action tells your audience what to do and how to take action on the message you presented.  So, be clear and direct.