By , on Business Management.

Did you know that it costs five times as much to sell to a new customer as to sell something else to the same customer? Although this fact is far from a marketing secret, it’s a rare company that takes full advantage of this important dynamic. Online, you can follow up a purchase using autoresponders. Offline, you can inspire a buyer to purchase again and again with postcards.

Here are some inexpensive and powerful ways of using postcards to inspire repeat business.

1. “Thank you’s.” Three to seven days after a purchase, mail a simple postcard to the purchaser saying “thank you.” Even if the postcard isn’t very personalized, in itself it makes a significant impression. By getting across the message that you don’t take customers for granted, it creates good will and encourages the customer to shop with you again and tell friends about your company. Don’t forget too that postcards often get posted on refrigerators, slipped into briefcases or file folders or propped by the telephone as reminders.

For this kind of a postcard, try for something eye-catching, unusual, scenic or humorous rather than a clichéd image. A “thank you” makes an especially deep impression when the purchase was downloaded. Intensify the “wow” experienced by the customer by signing postcards with handwriting in ink before they go out.

2. “Stick message.” Information marketers recommend a message congratulating the purchaser, providing instructions on how to get started with the product and reiterating the benefits of the item purchased. While this is often enclosed with the product, it can also be sent afterwards on a postcard. Stick messages reduce refunds and lay the groundwork for a great long-term customer relationship. Include contact information – your email address and/or phone number – and invite questions for even greater effectiveness.

3. Unannounced bonuses. Deepen customer loyalty by sending some or all of your buyers a postcard that they can redeem for a gift by bringing it into the store, calling your office or using a coupon code at your web site. I can still remember my surprise when online bookseller Amazon sent me a branded travel mug out of the blue and Google sent me a little cookbook and apron for being a good customer. The postcard is a cheaper yet still effective way to deliver a bonus gift, as well as to train customers to pay attention to your mailings.

4. Revised versions. Use a postcard to let past buyers know that a revised version of the product is now available. Of course not everyone will want to upgrade, but such a card helps maintain the thread of your relationship with each customer and helps you stay top of mind when a related need arises.

5. Complementary products. Figure out which other products might appeal to those who bought Product X, and create postcards pitching one of the complementary products at a time. Send them a month apart. When the marketing copy makes clear the connection with what they’ve already bought, customers tend to like being pitched. Again, recipients start to welcome your follow-ups and become more likely to recommend you to others and to repurchase themselves.

6. Reorder reminder. For consumable purchases like vitamins, toner cartridges, auto maintenance services and so on, a well-timed postcard letting your customer know they may run out soon and giving them a special offer if they reorder now usually gets results. Such a program almost always adds to your bottom line, because when customers order before they use up what they have, they purchase more times per year.

7. Seasonal offers. Contact customers by postcard to let them know how you can help them with tasks that are especially appropriate for a certain time of the year. Be creative, and the postcards can miraculously bring in revenue during predictable slow times. For instance, a landscaping company can offer stone wall or driveway maintenance just before winter sets in, or a B&B can send a “staycation special” postcard to past visitors when gas prices have spiked and fewer folks are traveling.

8. Useful information. Simply staying in touch reminds customers you exist and reminds them to call you about a current need. So monthly or quarterly postcards to your customer base could present snippets of useful content, such as recipes, statistics, case studies, industry news, a short editorial or opinion piece, and so on. Be sure to include a call to action on such an information piece, such as an invitation to visit your online catalog or to call about an upcoming project.

Don’t forget that postcards are versatile! Besides sending them out in the mail, you can enclose many of the above types of cards with a purchase, hand them out at a trade show or stack them on the giveaway table at a networking event. Even though they’re designed to be mailed, postcards are much more magnetic than a typical invoice, sales sheet or business card.

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 ways – some of them simple and inexpensive – to generate results using postcards in her The Mighty Postcard Marketing Course