Almost everyone is bad at postcard design because…

Most companies are terrible at writing great marketing copy.
They’re even worse about editing down that copy.
Worse so about talking about benefits, not features.

When these three things come together it usually makes this…

worst postcard design

When I see this, I feel like caneman.

It’s not your fault. It is because you use your product. You chat with happy customers. You know your product in and out and you want to share that with new customers. So it comes out like ALLTHEGREATTHINGSATONCE. Great postcard design is about getting people to the next step, to talk with you… not about closing a sale.

These are your top three weaknesses. Here’s how to counter them and design a postcard that will get you noticed.
This post will outline the process and tools you should use for coming up with something catchy. You don’t need to be creative, just persistent.

Great postcard design starts with an image and a campaign idea

I use three tools to get started on this process.

Start with Google Image to find a noun

solar postcard designenvironment postcard designtree postcard design

I always Google image search my topic. For example, for a solar customer we started with solar. That search sucked. Too literal.
Everyone’s seen a picture of a solar panel, it’s not novel.

We wanted to evoke something different. So we Google imaged environment.
Then trees. We liked where this was going. Now we needed a beautifully shot royalty free image.

Move to Unsplash.com for a high quality shot

Unsplash postcard design

We love Unsplash. But there are tons of options for royalty free photos.
The trees search here evoke LA, not the environment. So, we scrolled. And scrolled.

Tree Unsplash Postcard Design

We found it. Just look at this photo, how does it make you feel?
Here’s it is, too. It was bright. It showed growth, headed towards light, from a perspective we like.

A short and punchy headline with 3-7 words is the cornerstone of great postcard design

Now you need a great headline. Something that inspires. Head to Pinterest.com for inspiring headliners.
Just start typing in words related to your product. Your goal here is to get out of your head. Pretend you know nothing about your product.
You have heard your own jargon in your head so often you need to experience your product for the first time and communicate its key value.

Jack-in-the-Box nailed this, great image and a headline with a pun.

Pinterest postcard design

Talk about something that inspires your customer. Solar power is only sexy because it can save the world. It’s aspirational.
The headline is intended to grab people. It’s not about your product, it’s about your customer’s ideals.

They just came home from shopping.
Their kids are screaming at them.
They have bills they need to pay.
Their significant other forgot to do whatever.
They pickup 20 pieces of mail.
You have 4 precious seconds for your postcard design to earn you 15 more.

You have to stop them in their tracks. In this campaign we did that by keeping it short and appealing to people’s desire to protect the planet.

Postcard Design Solar

Deconstructing your postcard’s design will help you shine. Your image or headline doesn’t have to be about your product.
Looking at the image and the headline alone should make you feel something. Fear. Excitement. Savings. Most importantly, it should evoke interest.

The best test is to show it to someone else, for five seconds, and get their view. Someone who knows nothing about your product. Then ask them to describe what they now know.

Spectacular postcard design is about attention. If you don’t have their attention, you have their trash can.

Supporting text should be short, simple, and informative.

Your postcard design subtext, similarly, should be short.

It should be the third prominently displayed piece of the card, behind the image and attention grabbing headline. It should also be the most informative of these top three design elements.

Notice the punchy text. As. short. as. possible, just the facts ma’am. For iconography we absolutely love The Noun Project.

This is the place that can get you. You’re so likely to say terrible little things like, “the best power in the west,” or “save 10% on your electricity bill by allowing us to install solar panels on your roof for free and then allow us to pay you yearly as well. We are the very best solar installer because of a, b, c, d, e, f…” You know, stop. Get to the point. You have 5 seconds for recognition and then to invoke action to learn more.

What are the benefits to the customer? Get them curious. They need to call you or go to your website for any of this postcard to matter to either of you.

The bottom of the card is the call to action. They are enticed by the image and the headline, well educated by the supporting points, and now they know who did the first two pieces. The xxx is an area-code specific phone number and the landing page will track conversions on the campaign.

One mistake we see all too often is a huge brand. No one cares about your brand. The only reason anyone continues to drink coke is because it’s delicious, not because it’s coke.

Postcard Design Solar Front

Look at McDonalds. This poster screams benefits. Cheap coffee at 6, McWhatever at 7, iced death at 8, McSomething else, who knew they did pancakes…
This is about deliciousness and how I can eat every hour of the day if I so chose. It’s about the benefit to me. Keep that in mind.

Postcard Design McDonalds

Reiterate your benefits (not features) on the back

Peter is the customer’s first name (unique to every address). Our headline also doubles down on our key beliefs matter message from the front of the card.
This card asks the customer to take action to fight climate change and to do so by dumping a brand they likely already don’t like.

On the same visual line we’ve highlighted the savings, too. That number is also unique calculated based on the data we have about their home.
Do what’s right and make money doing it. But, this sounds way to good to be true? Right.
Every magic trick deserves and explanation so it doesn’t seem like magic.

The 1, 2, 3 format is a great way to make sure you don’t say too much.

  1. Don’t
  2. Say
  3. Too
  4. Much
  5. Point 4 and 5 are ironic

Postcard Design Back

Great postcard design is NEVER about conversions

What? But didn’t you do this to convert? Didn’t you even put conversion in the title? I did, but here’s the head fake. You send out postcards to drive interest. Conversion is not the purpose of the postcard. That’s why you have sales people. That’s why you use your telephone and the awesome informative power of the internet.

Interest is the purpose of the postcard. If your ideal customers don’t know how great their life can be with your product, they can’t buy it. Amazing postcard design should whet your customer’s appetite.  It should inspire them to act on your call to action… to contact you or to try your product.

If you design it for conversions you’ll do it from a, “what’s best for me” perspective.

Great postcard design is ALWAYS about what’s best for the customer

If you change your viewpoint to be, “what appeals to my ideal customer?” you’ll design a postcard that will motivate them to act.
Conversion is an exercise in “how does this benefit me,” but designing with the idea of, “what do my customers want when they know nothing about me” is an exercise in interest.

Design from  your customer’s perspective and you’ll find that there will be a lot higher likelihood your postcard will happen to lead to conversions.
Evaluate your postcard design in your customer’s shoes…

Conversions will come naturally from this design mindset.

Postcard Design Shoes, Empathy

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