Would potential clients identify more with verbal repartee between husband and wife leading to a remodel rather than a beautiful photo of a completed job? That's the risk Ridley Wills of The Wills Co. of Nashville, Tenn., took with a five-card postcard series -- none with pictures.

Wills says he didn't want to limit his prospective clients to only those who identified with the firm's high-end work. "I don't want to pre-set imagination," he says. "We want what you see to be what you want your project to be. We thought of the approach not as a risk, but as an edge."

The red, white, and black 5 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch text-only postcards play off the typical push-and-pull of a couple considering renovations to their home.

One reads: (obviously the husband) "I can get some guys from work to help me." (wife) "I thought we were thinking of home improvements." The closing line: "Great renovation. There's one thing they'll agree on."

The design and approach was a collaboration between Wills, his printing company designer, and a marketing consultant.

Wills supplemented his $2.6 million-a-year firm's 1,000-client database by buying a list of homeowners who earn $150,000 and up, with houses 10 years old or more in certain ZIP codes. Mailing, printing, list purchase, and marketing fees pegged the 10,000 cards at $1 apiece.

"They receive all sorts of things in the mail," Wills says, "so any approach is a risk. I felt cleverness is where I needed to be. No matter how stunning a picture, it wasn't going to make it as much as clever would, with my client base."

Wills is evaluating the campaign's effectiveness, although he's convinced it's "soft marketing," with a longer-term payout.

"If you like it, you really like it," he says. "Otherwise you don't get it. And maybe the ones who get it are my market."