Direct Mail Letters versus Postcards - What's Better?

Direct Mail Letters versus Postcards - What's Better?

Marketing for Accounting

1 common question I get when teaching accounting marketing is about whether to use a direct mail postcard or letter in an envelope. Which is better?

Before I answer that question, the question that should precede this question is: does direct mail marketing work?

Absolutely, it works if you know how and incorporate best practices into your campaign. Direct mail marketing is effective when done properly and in a system.

Also, the decision to use a letter versus a postcard is priority # 3 in terms of what's most important. In other words, the physical characteristics of your direct mail campaign represent about 10% - 20% of what determines whether your campaign is successful.

Direct mail marketers are like statisticians. They test everything quantitatively to determine which variables are most important. They test the list, offer, message, color, font, expiration dates, letter versus postcard, type of paper, hand signature versus electronic, teaser copy, postage type, etc. They literally test everything.

Now that we've established that this question deals with a small portion of the sandbox, the answer is that the letter will outperform the postcard. Hands down!

Direct mail letters win because they allow you to tell more of your story and are more persuasive than postcards. A well crafted letter can paint a picture for your service like a talented salesperson can. They can create a need, deliver the benefits, and enhance the value of your services. And letters have a higher perceived value than postcards. Letters are more business oriented, especially for complex services.

Yes, I fully understand that letters are more expensive. For business-to-business campaigns targeting small business owners for ongoing accounting services, the ROI will be higher using direct mail letters. The exception to this rule is for business-to-consumer campaigns where you are strictly targeting individual tax clients. In this scenario, I would use the postcard and use the savings to increase the size of the mailing.

In a nutshell, use a direct mail letter when targeting business clients.

By Hugh Duffy

Hugh Duffy is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-Founder of Build Your Firm, a practice development and marketing provider for accounting firms. They work with small and medium sized accounting firms. They offer a free e-book for new accounting startups. Download Critical Steps for Starting a New Accounting Practice

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Direct Mail Letters versus Postcards - What's Better?
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