Like Phillips-head and flat-head screwdrivers, both postcards and letters are useful tools, says marketing consultant David Alpert. “It's just that you use them differently.” To choose the right mailing tool, evaluate your objectives and your relationship with the recipients.

A consistent look emerges in this postcard series (two others not shown) for Greg Smith Co., Falls Church, Va. Marketing consultant David Alpert, who created the series, generally recommends mailing postcards three or four times a year.
A consistent look emerges in this postcard series (two others not shown) for Greg Smith Co., Falls Church, Va. Marketing consultant David Alpert, who created the series, generally recommends mailing postcards three or four times a year.

A consistent look emerges in this postcard series (two others not shown) for Greg Smith Co., Falls Church, Va. Marketing consultant David Alpert, who created the series, generally recommends mailing postcards three or four times a year.

  • Use postcards to make an impression with homeowners who may not know company. “Most direct mail gets tossed out,” Alpert says. Yet it only takes a split second or two for your postcard to make a positive impact if it has an attractive photo, distinctive logo, and strong message.
  • Reinforcement is key. Most people aren't thinking about remodeling at any given time. Regular mailings will create a “mental history” of your company's presence and stability, Alpert says. “You've got to keep sending your message, so that it will hit when it's relevant.”

    Be cost-effective. The economics of postcards lend themselves to large-scale mailings. Alpert has known remodelers to mail as few as 1,500 postcards at a time, but he advises printing enough to mail over a period of time, such as a year. “You get a better price if you're printing 8,000 than 2,000.”

  • Use letters to send a longer and/or more personal message to people who have a relationship with your company. This can include clients, past clients, or even neighbors of current clients, if you use jobsite signs, Alpert says.
  • Because they know you, or at least know of you, they're more likely to open the envelope than complete strangers are. Letters can make them feel special. “It's not necessarily bad for them to get a postcard,” Alpert says, “but a letter will mean something different.”

    Don't let your letter be mistaken for junk mail. Hand-stamp the envelopes. Use quality envelopes and paper. Print the address boxes directly onto the envelope. Sign the letters. Have a good reason for writing.

  • Cost-wise, letters can be more affordable for small single mailings, but hand-folding, -stuffing, and -stamping can be labor-intensive. Postcards are usually more economical for larger-scale mailings. More than cost, however, “what matters is what your mailing brings in,” Alpert says.

David Alpert, Continuum Marketing Group: 703.759.0106; www.continuum-mg.com.