The "Big Three" of postcard marketing: Size, design and list - Professional Carwashing & Detailing

The “Big Three” of postcard marketing: Size, design and list

There are many moving parts in quality marketing, and postcard marketing is no exception. There is absolutely strategic planning, skill and coordination that goes into a great direct mail campaign. In other words, you can’t just snap your fingers and produce an effective design and targeted mailing list. However, there are a few tricks of the trade that will help you build a winning campaign right from the start, without enduring the trial and error setbacks many other business owners, myself included, experienced on the road to direct mail marketing expertise.

Forget for the moment that there are subtle nuances involved in creating a fully-optimized postcard marketing campaign. That is not our concern now. Instead, let’s focus on the Big Three; because once you know the Big Three, you can obtain fantastic results from your postcard campaigns even if you don’t yet have a handle on the more nuanced strategies that can wring every last cent out of your marketing investment.

If you get the Big Three right, you will see big-time results for your carwash. After that, you can focus on fine-tuning later. The key is to get started. The Big Three are: Size, design and list.


  • “What size postcard do I need?”
  • “Can I just use the smallest card possible?”
  • “What is the benefit of a bigger card anyway?”

Here’s the deal: The size of your postcard will have a direct impact on the response to your mailing. Obviously, there are many variables when it comes to analyzing direct mail campaigns, but it would be difficult to find someone who disagreed with the following statement: “A larger postcard is easier to see.” It is just a fact. A larger postcard is easier to see, so more people will notice it, and that will increase your chances of turning them from a raw prospect to a lead to a sale.

All reputable direct mail postcard companies have options when it comes to the size of your card. If the company you work with (or are contemplating working with) doesn’t give you options, go with another company. Usually, your options will look like this: Small (4 inches by 6 inches), Medium (5 inches by 8 inches) and Large (6 inches by 11 inches), though the specific terminology will vary. The size you ought to choose can be decided by answering these questions:

  1. How much does the carwash industry (in general) market?
    • Not at all (You can lean towards a smaller card.)
    • Light to Moderate Amount (Lean toward a larger card.)
    • Moderate to Heavy Amount (You need a large card.)
  2. Do your local competitors also mail postcards?
    • No (You can lean towards a smaller card.)
    • Yes (You need a large card.)
  3. How much explaining does your offer require?
    • Not that much/easy to grasp (Smaller card is fine.)
    • A little background information (Medium should do the trick.)
    • A lot/details are important (Go big or go home.)

My guess is that for many of you, the answers are: B, B, and A. Based on these results, my suggestion is a medium or maybe even small sized card. Just be careful that you answer these questions carefully and truthfully. There is no use putting the effort into a card just to have it ignored because you wanted to save a little bit on printing.


In order to design a card that cuts through the noise and clearly communicates your message to prospects, there are ten elements you need to include in your postcard design:

  1. Clear headline
  2. Supporting graphic
  3. Color that pops
  4. Intriguing sub-headings on the back that lead into benefits
  5. Benefits
  6. Enticing offer
  7. Carwash name and logo
  8. Call to action and/or expiration date for the offer
  9. Contact information – website, map, phone number
  10. Return address

Elements one, two and three are how you grab attention and turn it into the decision to read more of the card. These elements are key, because if you fail in the goal of grabbing attention, nothing else matters. Elements four, five and six are where you convince the reader to take the action you want them to take. The sub-headings pull the reader into the body copy, which needs to be chock-full of customer-related benefits. Then you close the deal with an offer they can’t refuse. Seven through 10 give your prospects the information they need to respond appropriately. The call to action is especially important because most people won’t think to take action if you don’t ask them to. Sounds crazy, but it is true. People are busy; you need to spell it out for them.

Once you get these ten elements rolling, you are ready to mail. But to whom?


The mailing list is the final, and most crucial, of the Big Three. A bad mailing list will completely torpedo the results of even the best postcard design. Because the list defines the type of person who will be receiving your ad, it holds the key to achieving great response and return on investment (ROI). The perfect mailing list is a list of people who fit the description of your “ideal prospect.” Does your carwash cater to an upscale crowd? What about busy professionals? What kinds of people already visit your carwash? Whatever your ideal target market is, that is who you need to get a list of. The specificity of the lists you can obtain is amazing, too. Homes with household income of over $80,000 within 20 miles of your location? No problem. Homes in your area with two or more vehicles? No sweat. The trick is to know who you are looking for.

So if you want to give your carwash’s marketing a boost, just nail the Big Three. Postcards are proven to work. I have seen it over and over again for 55,000+ businesses. They work, and this is how to make them work for you. Now, go make 2013 your most profitable year yet.

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