The following excerpt is from Robert W. Bly’s book The Direct Mail Revolution: How to Create Profitable Direct Mail Campaigns in a Digital World. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound
For many products and offers, especially complicated ones, you’ll need to send a full direct mail package or a self-mailer to tell the story, present the facts, answer objections, and allow the consumer to place an order. But not all direct mail campaigns require you to do this in-depth—a postcard works well enough to do the job.
Following are some guidelines for writing effective postcard copy, which you’ll need to do in a limited space.
Keep It Short
You don’t have much room on a 3½-by-53/8-inch or 4¼-by-6-inch postcard. Copy must be brief and to the point. Maximum length is approximately 100 to 150 words.
Don’t use an overly verbose or descriptive style. Write in terse, almost clipped prose. Make sure each sentence gives the reader a new piece of information—you don’t have room to repeat yourself. Avoid transitional phrases, warm-up paragraphs, and other stylistic habits that waste words. List key features or benefits with bullets.
Do a Copywriter’s Rough
Sketch a rough layout showing how your copy should be positioned on the card. And don’t just write copy in ordinary paragraph format. Use headlines, subheads, captions, bullets, bursts, arrows, underlines, boldface type, and other graphic devices to highlight various components of your copy.
Make the Headline Pay Off Right Upfront
The promise of the headline should be fulfilled in the body copy—immediately. Your first few sentences should explain, elaborate on, and support the promise made in the headline.
Here’s an example from a classic postcard selling a $69.95 book, The Complete Portfolio of Tests for Hiring Office Personnel:
HIRING THE WRONG PERSON
CAN BE A VERY EXPENSIVE MISTAKE!
Now you can avoid it with
The Complete Portfolio of Tests for Hiring Office Personnel.
Be sure the person you hire has the right skills for the job.
Highlight the benefits of what you’re selling. For example, if you’re selling a machine that folds paper into booklets, don’t just say, “Stainless steel hopper, 10 inches wide.” Add, “Makes up to 600 booklets per hour.” Postcards are inadequate for explaining complex products and concepts. If the reader needs a basic education in your product before they can make a buying decision, postcards may not work well for you. Of course, you can write a booklet or report presenting the background information and then offer it free through a postcard.
Tell the Prospect What to Do
Though it may seem obvious, don’t assume the reader knows what to do with your card. Include instructions on what to do next. Your copy should tell the reader, “For a free decorating guide, call toll-free XXX-XXXXXXX or visit www.XXX.com today.” A card that doesn’t ask for action is often just looked at and then thrown away.
Article originally posted by entrepreneur.