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Post Cards: Improving Readership – Part III

Post Cards: Improving Response
Jeffrey Dobkin

In the first part of this series on direct mail post cards, “Post Cards, Improving Instant Readership,” we discussed Instant Readership as the 2 seconds you get when someone first glances at your post card when they first pick it up. In this short duration, they decide to either read your card — or throw it out (along with your money).

In the second article in this series, “Post Cards, Increasing Glance Readership,” we discussed attracting and keeping readers by using G-R-E-A-T headlines and subheadlines, and body copy geared towards fulfilling your objective, getting the reader to call. This is the third and final article in the series on marketing with direct mail post cards. Thank God…!

Here, we’ll discuss the best way to make readers call. And also… well – just read the article already and see.

Let’s see, where were we…

Oh yes, you were bitching, er… complaining that your direct mail post card wasn’t large enough to sell your products, and I said you’re right – it isn’t. The ONLY job of your post card is to make the reader pick up the phone and call YOU. Then, YOU sell your products.

To do that, I suggested you offer something FREE. You remember all that – or, were you sleeping like the rest of my students? Or whatever they’re doing when they have their hands in their laps and there is the gentle glow of a cell phone coming from under the desk. Texting perhaps? Playing Candy Crush?

Rule 14. Offer something FREE

OK, so a FREE CAR is good – everyone would call! But wait… it’s expensive. Damn, I knew there was a reason we didn’t use that. A FREE Mont Blanc pen is nice – but wait, heck that’s expensive, too. I mean, not like a car, but still it’s pretty pricey when you’re sending out a few thousand direct mail post cards. Or a few hundred thousand post cards.

Rule 15. Offer something FREE that’s not so expensive.

Hummm… if there was only something that we could pique the reader’s interest in so keenly, and drive him to the phone. If there were just something, anything, we could describe in one or two lines, so that we made the free offer the reader would want it, need it so badly that if he threw out the post card, he’d wake up in the middle of the night and come running down to get the card out of the trash… and respond.

Oh, if there were only some bit of information that we had, a small piece of the puzzle, some crucial information that he needed so badly that he would call and ask for it; critical information that… what? Wait. Wait just a darn minute here. Information? Did I say “Information?” “Information the reader needs?” That’s it! Information the reader needs. Information he needs badly! By Jove, I think we’ve got it!

Rule 16. Offer Free Information

We’ll offer FREE information. We’ll offer an informational booklet! A FREE informational booklet. They’ll call for that, hummmm… if we can just make it sound useful and incredibly interesting. Maybe there’s a way…

Rule 17. Offer a FREE informational booklet with a catchy title.

Maybe if you write a catchy title —— something your clients really, really want… and need. A title so compelling they’d gladly dive in the trash can to recover if they inadvertently tossed it out earlier. More than that… Something they’d drive across town to find out!

Maybe… Information they’d want so badly they’d swim across the English Channel to get! Information so valuable they’d take my wife… and keep her. OK, never mind that. This last idea was asking just a little too much from anyone.

But certainly offering information readers need and want would generate a phone call.

So, settled! Offer information. Information about how readers can easily resolve their wants; and satisfy their needs, if they just call now. It’s a good thing your products and services can do exactly that. If only we could figure out – how to make them pick up the phone and call…

But wait – How about offering a FREE booklet that has valuable information specific to the needs of your market? Yes!

Yes, with “FREE” written in all capital letters, like this: FREE! Because would you rather have a free booklet, or a FREE booklet. See what I mean. Maybe offering a FREE booklet with a title that has a number of ways readers can solve their most pressing problems?

“How To Solve your 9 Biggest Headaches concerning______.” Excellent! How about “FREE BOOKLET shows you 9 ways to solve your______!” Yes, even better! Just fill in the blank part yourself—with exactly what your customers are looking for, what they need, or how to resolve their areas of pain.

Solve a specific problem: “9 Ways to cut your employee payroll without layoffs!” Yes! “6 Ways to increase your profit in a down economy!” Yes! “12 Different Ways to Find a Leak in your Roof!” YES! “7 Things to Check when your Car won’t Start… and 5 ways to Get it Started!” Yes, yes, and yes!

Don’t forget to tell readers exactly what you want them to do: “Just Call Now and get your FREE booklet!”

Booklets are cheap to produce, easy to change, light to ship and make excellent giveaways that your customers will hold onto for years if you provide valuable information. And they’ll call if you can create the booklet title on target by offering the specific information your direct response market of readers really want.

Rule 18: It’s the TITLE of the booklet that makes it valuable.

The better the title, the better the response. A very simple formula. A FREE booklet with an irresistible title makes readers call.

It’s not really the booklet itself – just the title. They don’t see the booklet until much later, way after they’ve called – so frankly, the booklet doesn’t need to be that great. People call just because of the title. So the title needs to be exceptional.

When readers call, the post card worked. The booklet title made readers pick up the phone. The better the title, the more phone calls you get. The more phone calls you get, the better your direct mail post card worked. And the more opportunities YOU have to sell your products or services. The success of your post card is measured by how many readers call. Simple formula, isn’t it?

And here is a great formula for creating the best headline to increase your success:

Rule 100-to-one, revisited.

The best way to create a title for your FREE informational booklet? Yep… Same way you came up with your headline, and your subheadlines: The 100 to 1 rule: Write 100 titles, go back and pick out your best one. (Remember we struck-up a deal in the first article of this series – you were going to send me 5 bucks each time you used this?) The 100 to 1 Rule is taken from the book written by Jeffrey Dobkin, “Uncommon Marketing Techniques.” It’s the best way to create the most irresistible booklet title. And yes, it works.

7 Point Article Summary

1. Get your post card through the first critical 2-second round of Instant Readership: by having a super-compelling headline, tightly written sub-headlines and outstanding graphics.
2. Get the post card objective right: The objective of the direct mail post card is NOT to sell your product or service, it’s to generate a phone call.
3. Make the phone ring by offering something for free. I mean for FREE (all capitals)!
4. FREE informational booklets work really well.
5. The booklet TITLE drives the response: the number and quality of calls. The title owns 100% of the responsibility of getting the reader to the phone to make the call. The better the title = the more calls.
6. When the phone rings, the post card worked. It did everything it was supposed to do: make your phone ring.
7. Finally, when the phone rings, YOU sell your product or service.

Post card marketing and Instant Readership: The better your graphics and the better your headline, the more people will read your post card. The more readers, the more opportunities you have to offer something for FREE. Offering a FREE informational booklet is one of the best, lowest-cost ways to drive maximum phone calls.

The TITLE of your booklet determines the response. The better the booklet title, the more calls you receive. The more calls you receive, the better your direct mail post card has worked. The success of your direct mail post card is determined by the number of your phone calls. The more phone calls, the more opportunities you’ll have to sell your products and services. Any questions?

Jeff Dobkin will now take your questions.

This is the third and final installment of the direct marketing article series on “Glance Readership,” on creating highly responsive direct mail post cards. It was written by Jeffrey Dobkin to help you improve your direct mail response.

Jeff Dobkin will now take your questions.

This is the third and final part of “Glance Readership,” An article series on direct mail, and increasing your direct mail response to your post card campaign. Hope you enjoyed it. Please don’t forget to visit our store, where we have books and audio products written by Jeffrey Dobkin.

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This is not Jeffrey Dobkin

This is not Jeffrey Dobkin

Dobkin is a speaker (blah blah blah, yip yip yip) and a marketing consultant (marketing plans, pr, market strategy, plan analysis: audits and review, media review) who happens to be an amazing writer (corporate literature, articles, brochures, ads, collateral, annual reports, technical material), specializing in direct-selling print and web (DR Ads, catalogs, TV scripts, web copy) and direct marketing material (letters, direct mail, mailing packages brochures, catalogs, web copy and did I mention post cards?) He’s also pretty darn good at analyzing catalogs, ads and campaigns and direct mail packages. He has written over 250 articles and 5 books on direct marketing. He can be reached at 610-642-1000. Please stay right here at for additional articles and more of Jeff’s fun-filled, typo-prone and grammatically-challenged writing.