Several days ago, two boxes, weighing 78 lbs were delivered to my studio doorstep. They weren’t holiday gifts–next spring’s postcards had arrived!
The 2009 Postcard is a departure w/a white background and new tag line
I have produced a postcard for all but one of the past six years. 2008 was the only year I didn’t use one because I flirted (erroneously) with glossy magazine advertising instead. It was not as successful as my previous postcard campaigns. Expensive lesson learned.
There are marketing specialists out there who say that postcard mailings don’t yield enough results. I think it depends on the postcard. If it looks like just another advertising gimmick filled with too much information on too small a space–I agree with the marketers. Whenever I visit someplace new, I buy a postcard. When I visit a museum, I buy a postcard. People collect postcards. I try and make a postcard that people will keep.
Every year the choice of photograph is the most wrenching task. That photo will become the ‘face’ of my studio and the one I use on all promo pieces for that year. The 2008 postcard’s layout and graphics have been changed to be in visual sync with that on the website. Some of you may have noticed that all of my on line avatars are similar to the photo of the garden you see above. That isn’t an accident or me being lazy. Image/brand recognition is the goal.
I use postcards in a variety of ways—as direct mail pieces, as promotional pieces at events, as informational pieces at other businesses, as client leave-behinds, and as alternative business cards. Each of those functions is described below along with a gallery of prior cards.
This year I printed 6000 cards and will mail out 5000 of them in early April—hopefully to arrive on the first warm Thursday. Why a Thursday? I want potential clients to look at the card right before they start to think about using their properties over the beautiful spring weekend. This is late in my design cycle for the season, but I found that mailing any earlier in my zone 6 climate just doesn’t do the trick. I invest in a well vetted demographic mailing list in addition to my own that will yield 50 phone calls that in turn will yield 4-5 projects. These projects help to fill up my summer and fall design calendar.
The 2005 postcard–this one generated some great projects
Now before you say, “That’s all?” I will also get calls next spring from people who have received previous year’s postcards and had saved them. People toss business cards and mailers, as I said previously–they save pretty postcards. I actually walked into two new clients’ kitchens last year and each had multiple cards tacked up over a workspace or posted on the fridge. Next thing I know they’ll be selling them on Ebay.
At the special events I participate in, from flower shows to show houses to charity auctions, the postcards become a promotional piece. They are the souvenir visitors pick up when they tour through a show house garden. When tied to a trowel, the postcards become a gift certificate for a charity to be auctioned or raffled. Every time I’ve donated my services for a cause the purchaser of the item has become a client.
2006 Postcard–not as successful because it did really show a ‘garden’–just plants. Did get a good project though…
I’m very lucky to have a local upscale garden center that doesn’t provide design services as a source of referrals. I give them postcards each year in February—they in turn give them out to clientele who ask them for design service recommendations. I have through the years received more referrals from this than any other single source other than my website.
2007 Postcard–My least favorite because I succumbed to a cliched image–shame on me!
Not every new client has received a postcard, so when I meet with someone new, I hand them a postcard instead of a standard business card. The image on the postcard helps to clarify what they can have on their own property and they usually turn it over and read the laundry list of services. This simple process often that adds to their mental list of what they’d like me to do but maybe hadn’t considered.