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DIRECT MAIL TIP : MAKING A CHOICE

Postcard Printing Services - How to Choose
by Brandon Cornett

Direct mail postcards can help you promote your business easily, effectively and affordably. But to capitalize on these benefits, you need a reliable and efficient program in place. That’s where postcard printing services come into the picture.

These days, there are dozens of postcard printing companies, but not all are created equal. This can make vendor selection overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. To understand the differences between these companies, you simply have to evaluate and compare their services.

Here are some key criteria you should look at:

Knowledge & Experience

When shopping for a postcard printing company, you should find out what background and experience they have. The good news is, you can go about it fairly easily – just visit their website, or pick up the phone and call.

A company is only as good as their people, so find out:

  • Who makes up the company?
  • What unique skills and experience do they have?
  • How much do they know about printing and direct mail marketing?
  • Do they offer educational tools as part of their service?
  • Have they published relevant articles in magazines or online?

Design Options

As far as your prospects are concerned, your direct mail postcards reflect your company as a whole. So design matters. Ask printing companies what kind of design options they have. If they say they only do the printing, and that you’re on your own to create a design, keep shopping!

Some vendors will offer a variety of design options to match the varying skill levels of their customers.

Common offerings include:

  • Web-based design tools
  • Complete design templates that customers can personalize
  • The ability for customers to upload their own designs
  • Stock images for customers to use
  • The ability for customers to proof their designs online before checkout

Choose a postcard company that offers at least two of these design options. If you find one that offers all of them, even better!

List Options

When it comes to direct mail marketing, your list is more than just a way to reach your audience. Your list is your audience.

Most marketers maintain an in-house database of customers and/or prospects. So when reviewing postcard marketing vendors, ask if you can upload your own list. This is a common offering, but it’s best to make sure.

But what if you don’t have a mailing list? Or what if you want to do a mailing to a new group of prospects, people who aren’t on your in-house list? In such cases, you’ll need a vendor who offers some way to build a list online.

This kind of feature is not as common as the "use your own" approach, so when you find a vendor who offers this, write them down for further consideration. Then proceed to evaluate them based on the other checkpoints in this guide.

Mailing Options

"Of course a postcard printing company will mail my postcards for me. That’s what they do, right?"

In most cases, yes, a postcard printing service will print and mail your postcards for you. But there are some that do the design and printing, but not the actual mailing. Don’t assume -- just ask.

Another consideration: what if you only want your postcards printed, but you’d rather stamp and mail them yourself (for a more personal touch)? Some vendors will print and mail your postcards to your list, but they won’t print and ship them to you. If you see yourself needing both options, ask about it in advance.

Pricing Structure

You would think postcard pricing would be straightforward. But in truth, there are a number of variables to consider and questions to ask.

For example, some postcard vendors have “base pricing” that does not include things like two-sided color or postage. In such cases, you have to do a bit of math to figure out the true cost per postcard. Other vendors have an "all included" price that accounts for design work, full color on both sides, and postage (no math!).

You should also find out about volume discounts. Some vendors charge less per postcard the more you order. These “volume tables” should be published on their website so you can easily calculate costs.

Other vendors have a set price per postcard, regardless of how many you order. With these vendors, there is no reward for larger jobs.

Ease of Use

Even if a postcard printing service scores well in all other areas, it won’t matter if you can’t figure out how to use their service. The technical term for this is "usability."

From websites to hairdryers, everything has some level of usability. When usability is high, you don’t have to think too hard about completing your task. When usability is low, you’ll get a headache at best and be unable to complete your task at worst.

First and foremost, find out if the service is entirely web-based or not. After all, the whole idea of using a postcard service is to pass the logistical burden over to them, right? You should be able to place a postcard marketing order from your home or office computer. In this age of Internet commerce, there’s no reason not to have this ability.

A good way to gauge a vendor’s usability is to visit their website and poke around. Move about the site and read the information you encounter. You’ll get a pretty good feel for how easy and efficient the system is.

Conclusion

Direct mail marketing with postcards can be an affordable, effective part of your overall marketing program. But to get the most out of it, you need to find a vendor who's right for you. Use this guide to evaluate postcard marketing vendors. Choose wisely, and your direct mail postcard program will be easier to manage, more effective, and more professional.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brandon Cornett is the editor of PostcardSmart.com, the Internet’s largest website dedicated entirely to direct mail marketing with postcards. For more expert articles on postcard marketing, visit http://www.PostcardSmart.com

 

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