Postcard Marketing Example: Bed Bath and Beyond’s postcard is so good they get scammed

Probably the most well known brand postcard you’ve ever seen is Bed Bath and Beyond’s card. Look familiar…

Postcard Marketing Example: Bed Bath and Beyond Front


A perfect consumer postcard front

The front of this card is near perfect. Huge discount that catches your eye, their brand is the next biggest thing, and then there’s a reminder that this 20% applies to 100,00k+ items.

Honestly, for the folks they are marketing to… there’s not much more to say about this postcard. It’s divine. Copy it. It’s so good, all the terrible crap on the back doesn’t even matter.

Beyond a terrible back (but it doesn’t matter for BBB)

Postcard Marketing Example: Bed Bath and Beyond Back

It doesn’t really matter that the back side of their postcard is terrible, because the other side is so compelling… but there are other things to learn here. Let’s take a look at four areas that give you some insight here.

Coupon upsells (don’t do them!)

Bed Bath and Beyond must have had so much success with this campaign that:

  1. This is the only design they ever send
  2. They double-down on their 20% offer by giving you more ways to get 20% off.

This is super telling that they took about 1/5th of their overall space to offer you more ways to save 20%. Breaking up your message on a postcard is a dangerous game (splitting attention can often lead to inaction), but they send so many of these damn things it probably pays off for them… and email and mobile marketing is free once you convert.

Take this as a lesson… splitting your message is something you shouldn’t do until you’ve optimized your design so much that you can measure your return afford to send the same postcard over and over again.

Generally, it would be a better idea to send a 20% off postcard that they could only redeem by signing off for mobile offers OR email offers.

Gift card for breakage

Again, they have split their message. Saying to you, hey also do this other additional thing. Now a full 1/3rd of their available space is used for ancillary offers. If you’re not a big brand like Bed Bath and Beyond… DO NOT DO THIS.

Focus on your core offering only. They want to push their Gift Cards (which, by the way, you can’t get 20% off on) because of breakage. Breakage is basically the % of gift cards that never get redeemed… it’s why companies offer gift cards at all… that’s free money to them.

Smart lawyers

It’s clear that tons of people have exploited this offer and likely cost Bed Bath and Beyond tons of money.
Let’s dive into their caveats carefully:

  1. Can’t use online (this makes it harder for techies to take advantage of :)).
  2. Can’t duplicate (so you have to save each card).
  3. One coupon per item (100% off is clearly prevented).
  4. Can’t combine with a price match (probably lost a ton of money on this combo)
  5. You gotta give them the damn coupon to get 20% off (sneaky people took advantage of this, likely)
  6. You can’t get full price back if you return the item (20% CASH!!)
  7. Doesn’t apply to Gift Cards, sales tax, or shipping (sounds like a good scam, avoided, too)
  8. 66 brands excluded (you know it took them a long time to calculate margins on these items)
  9. 5 services excluded, 1 product only at 10% (smart parents saved a LOT on diapers)

Think about how many campaigns it took, how many mistakes, how much lost revenue it took for them to find out all of the various scams, optimizations, customer tricks, loss scenarios, and other various ways in which the 20% offer didn’t workout for them? A LOT of postcards!

Remember, if you keep your offer super simple you can avoid all of this work. It’s simple.

  1. What’s the Life Time Value of your customer (LTV)?
  2. How much did you pay to run your postcard campaign?
  3. How much runway do you have to realize that value?

If you’re LTV is $100 and you paid us $20 to run your campaign, but it takes 6 months to realize that $100… and you have a month of runway (whatever that means to you)… maybe postcards aren’t right for you. So, think about all of these variables before running a campaign.

Other technical notes

They have a note to the postmaster on when to deliver the cards. That’s crazy. That means that Bed Bath and Beyond sends so many of these and has such a good control of their process that they can specify a 3 day window. So, they must print them ahead of time to control their costs.

Also, note the expiration date… it’s about a month and half. That’s a good window to give people enough time to act, but to convince them to act at all. Although, insider tip, Bed Bath and Beyond never expires these things… so you can always use expired coupons.

Until next time.



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