By , on Business Planning.

Imagine the difference between a company whose customers have so-so feelings about it and one whose customers wouldn’t dream of buying from anyone else. That’s a tremendous gap that can be narrowed with just a little expense and effort, using an inexpensive, often overlooked tool – the postcard.

By sending simple yet strategically chosen postcards to people who have already bought from you, you can turn an iffy, indifferent buyer into a sticky, delighted one. Here are five ways to use postcards to create a bond with customers and thereby encourage them to become strongly loyal, to refer friends and colleagues to you and to send interesting opportunities your way because they care about your success.

1. Thanks. Set up an ongoing thank-you postcard campaign that sends a card to each new customer the week or month after they first bought something from you. If it’s feasible to have a handwritten signature, that’s best. You may choose to include a limited-time special offer, such as 20% off their next purchase or a free gift if they stop in the shop again before a certain date, but even if you don’t do that, a warmly worded thank-you card makes a significant impact.

2. News. Remember when it was common for financial services companies and other professionals to send a monthly or quarterly newsletter to clients? This stay-in-touch technique reinforces your expertise and helps the customer remember you when they need your services again. Printing one newsletter item on a postcard rather than sending a four-page, folded-twice newsletter is much more cost-effective and much handier for the customer to save by the phone or post it on a bulletin board or refrigerator. Make sure there’s a human element in the postcard content, with the word “you” liberally sprinkled around it.

3. Come-back offers. Don’t let your buyers feel faceless and interchangeable. Send periodic postcards with an appealing discount or bonus and a friendly message. I doubt very much your competitors are doing this. I travel a lot, and only once in my life have I received a “come back and see us” postcard from a hotel or inn where I stayed. In fact, I still remember who sent it, even though it was years ago: The Jailhouse Inn in Newport, Rhode Island. Design the postcard so it tells an inviting story about a customer who’s bought from you again and again or an anecdote about someone on your team who went above and beyond for a customer.

4. Birthdays or anniversaries. Do you have or could you get your customers’ birthdays? Some businesses wow their clients and create a closer bond with them by sending a postcard for a free haircut, massage, house plant or dessert in honor of their birthday. You could do the same for a milestone that was specific to the recipient, such as their child’s first summer or winter, or halfway through their fiscal year.

5. “Wish you were here” cards. Don’t you like it when friends and family members send you funny or gorgeous postcards when they’re on vacation? Think up convincing and appealing reasons for you to send postcards to new clients when you travel. For example, if you’re attending a conference or trade show in New Orleans, you could show a photo of the French Quarter with a chatty message about how you’re collecting ideas and inspiration at the XYZ national show that you’ll be sharing with anyone who sets up an appointment for June. This way, you come across as active, interesting, thoughtful and constantly reaching out to customers.

Which of these ideas are you excited to implement? Get started on your next postcard campaign today!

About the Author
Veteran postcard marketer, consultant and author Marcia Yudkin teaches the strategic, logistical, design and copywriting secrets of successful postcard marketing. Discover the top ten ways – some of them simple and inexpensive – to generate results using postcards in Top Ten Strategies for Using Postcards to Market Your Business. (This article is tip #4)