Written by Chris Lambrinides
CHAPTER 14 - 4x6 POSTCARDS
I love 4 × 6 postcards! They are one of the easiest, most affordable ways to get clients and prospectives to take action. There’s no envelope to open, just an instant message in the mailbox. You can use them to attract new customers or to get past clients back on the schedule. I prefer to use them on repeat clients and prospectives in my system—that is, people who are already in my database. This includes customers who have had a service done before and prospectives who called in for an estimate and never made it all the way to the schedule.
I started with a once-a-year “time to do the windows” reminder. This is an updated version of it:
It is simple, effective, and to the point. We mailed this to our existing client database. I would coordinate it so it would most likely hit the clients’ mailboxes on the first day of spring. I’m not sure if the timing of it was super important, but part of me always thought it was a real psychological trigger—the first day of spring, spring cleaning, etc.
After a long, cold, slow winter, I would look forward to this mailing like you wouldn’t believe. I knew all winter long that no matter how slow we were, this spring mailing would bring in a massive influx of calls.
How often should you be sending these postcards? That depends on your goals.
I started with a mailing once a year. Then, we shifted to twice a year: spring and fall. That led to a four times a year: spring, summer, fall, and then prewinter.
For quarterly mailings, here are some concepts you can run with:
■ Mailing #1: “It’s spring—time to do the windows. Let’s reserve your spot on the schedule now.”
■ Mailing #2: “It’s August; we are slow. Here is a nice discount and some other services we offer that you may not know about.”
■ Mailing #3: “Fall is here! Did you know we also offer gutter cleaning?”
■ Mailing #4: “Winter is coming. The in-laws are coming over, and the weather is going to be dreary. Brighten up your life with some clean windows.”
Those are the general messages we tried to convey. We mixed them up over the years and experimented with new things and new add-on services. It was a winning formula, and I stuck with it.
They say—though I’m not sure who they are—that it’s much easier to close a repeat customer than a new one. And it’s much cheaper to get a repeat customer to schedule than to get a new one. They are right. These four quarterly mailings provided us with an instant surge of work. It became a predictable and guaranteed way to fill up our schedule.
I talked about how we would send the spring mailing all at once. I would usually divide the other three mailings into four separate parts each. We would release them to the post office over the course of four weeks. This helped smooth out the influx of calls and better distribute our workload.
Group the Workload
We would even take this a step further and divide our service area into quadrants. We would mail to one quadrant at a time instead of across our whole service area at once. This would help cluster the scheduling and cut the drive time from job to job.
When to Mail
You can take the planning of your mailings a step further and try to coordinate what day of the week they arrive. I obsessed over this for years. Here is a little bit of theory about arrival dates (the date that a mailing hits a client’s mailbox).
■Monday—People are busy. They don’t have time to make decisions about things like this.
■Tuesday—This is a decent day. People feel caught up and have time to think.
■Wednesday—Traditionally, the least amount of direct mail arrives on this day. If it’s not buried, your message can more likely get noticed.
■Thursday—People are starting to think about the weekend.
■Friday—People are almost in full weekend mode. They say Fri- day is the best day for people to make impulse decisions.
■Saturday—This isn’t such a great day. I don’t even check my mail on this day of the week.
Knowing all this, and after years of unscientific testing, I deduce that Thursdays and Fridays are the best days of the week for your direct mail to hit.
Usually, it’s the wife who makes the “Let’s get the windows cleaned” decisions. But to avoid a battle, the wife will most likely run this decision by the husband.
Research into my database shows that women schedule 76% of all window cleaning appointments.
My thoughts are as follows: The piece arrives Thursday or Friday. The wife thinks about it and mulls it over. She then presents the idea to the husband over the weekend. He yays or nays it. The wife then will set the piece aside and call on Monday. Monday will likely be the day of the week you get the most phone calls.
I say “unscientific testing” above because I could never guarantee the exact date the mailing would arrive. I could guess and go by the average two days, but I could never be sure or guarantee it.
Efficiently Processing Your Mailings
When I first started, I would have one of the workers from the office put a stamp on each postcard. I soon realized we were wasting a ton of money this way. These days, you can get a postcard stamp for forty-nine cents. But if you use a mailing service with a real five-digit sort, you can get that price down as low as twenty-six cents.
Keep in mind that with a mailing service, you will pay a processing fee for putting the whole thing together. But if you are doing any more than a handful of cards, it is worth it in the long run to use a service.
Watch the Weather
If it’s set to rain, skip the date or move it. Coordinate it so your approximate day of arrival does not happen on a rainy day. Coordinate it for a sunny day after a rain, if possible. Most window cleaners watch the weather, so this shouldn’t be a problem. It’s just one of those little things that will increase your conversions and response rates. Be sure to keep track of the weather on the day your mailings hit or you think they would be hitting. It’s interesting to see what effect it has on your results.
Designing Your Own
We have hundreds of premade templates you can use at TheWcra.com. You can also use the ones that come with this book. But if you have the desire to try to make your own—and you should at some point!—please keep the following specifications in mind:
Please note the shaded areas on this image, which represent the space that you are going to want to leave free and clear for the post office. The white area is open for you to use as you see fit. I would recommend using this space for your contact details. Add some info about your service and maybe a coupon.
The other side is completely open for you to use as you please. This is a great place for compelling imagery, a headline, and a call to action. It’s also appropriate to use your phone number and web address on the front.
What you do, say, and present on this card all depends on what your end goal is. Do you want to prompt repeat customers to come back and try a new service? Do you want to remind your regular customers to schedule early because fall appointments fill up fast?
Whatever it is, go into it with your end goal in mind, and figure out the simplest, easiest way to convey your message. Include your call to action (what you want them to do). Call now or go online or text for info. Don’t be afraid to tell customers exactly what you want them to do. Be specific for the best results.
Visit the US Postal Service’s official website at usps.com. Doing so will give you more in-depth specifics on postal regulations and sizes. A wealth of information is there for review. If you do mailings infrequently, it will be helpful to visit before each mailing. Nothing is worse than designing a card and paying for the print, only to find out it’s not eligible to send because a mistake is on it.
Other 4 x 6 Sending Options
Take a look at SendJim.com. It allows you to send personalized postcards to your customers from your smartphone. These are so cool because they contain a photo of your customer’s actual home on the front.
All you do is take a picture of the house and upload it to the app. With a couple of clicks, you can trigger a postcard mailing of your choice directly to the client’s postal box. You can use it for existing clients or for targeting new ones.
SendJim also allows you to build sequences into the system for postcards to automatically mail out on future dates. You can schedule it to send cards to the customer or prospective customer at any frequency you choose. The sequence can include any combination of cards as well; it doesn’t have to be the same one.