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An advertising postcard is a postcard used for advertising purposes (as opposed to a tourism or greeting postcard). Postcards are used in advertising as an alternative to or to complement other print advertising such as catalogs, letters, and flyers. Advertising postcards may be mailed or distributed in other ways.
Advertising postcards may be sent in the mail directly to a prospective customer. An organization may send advertising postcards to their current customers, prospective customers, and/or names and addresses to which they want to target their advertisements. Direct mail advertising postcards offer an advantage over other direct marketing mail pieces, such as letters, because the recipient can see the message without having to open the mail. However, they also suffer disadvantages. For example, because of their relatively small size, they cannot carry much content, and as their contents cannot be hidden from view, they are not suitable where there are privacy or security issues.
Many traditional businesses use direct mail advertising postcards. Common examples include:
- Realtors to advertise new listings (example: Real Estate Postcards)
- Political campaigns to get the message out
- Doctors / Dentists for appointment reminders
- Others - lawn care, oil change, movie rentals, coupons, etc. (example: Coupon Postcards)
Though postcards have traditionally always been rectangular in shape, some postal authorities, such as Canada’s Canada Post Corporation, may allow non-rectangular shaped cards to be mailed. This has given rise to new marketing concepts such as round postcards or cards specifically die cut to match the theme of a particular campaign.
Freecards are usually distributed by display on stands with patrons being encouraged to take them for free. Postcard displays usually have between 10 to 20 slots, and cards are changed on a regular basis so there is a continuing supply of new material to maintain interest. These postcard are designed and used to advertise or raise awareness of a company, service or cause. Some of these postcards have insufficient space to include a postal address and a message on the reverse side.
Freecards are generally found in venues frequented by younger people (in the 18-35 age group), and in nightclubs, restaurants, bars, cinemas, art galleries, museums, theatres, hotels, retail sites, universities and high schools.
A characteristic feature of these cards is that they carry the publisher/distributor’s name and logo. The success of the medium relies on clever, catchy or discreet slogans, attractive or ingenious images and production on good quality card stock with a traditional postcard back. One of the marketing concepts is that the cards are so attractive that people want to pick them up, save, show, or post them to a friend and say "have you seen this?". They can become print viral marketing.