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Letters vs. Postcards: Yes, Age Matters

I often get asked the question, “Which has better response, letters or postcards?”

My answer is normally, “It depends.”

In fact, it depends on several factors, but let’s focus on one key factor — age.

Many traditional direct marketers swear by letter packages. Short form, long form, buck slips, reply cards and envelopes. Letters packed with lots of great information and response vehicles.

These packages have made them lots of money over the years so why should they change?

Here’s why.

As these marketers change, so does their audience. We now have a major generational change taking place and it is probably the most significant change we’ve seen in our lifetimes. As key buyers change from Baby Boomers to Generation X and Y, we will see the largest age gap transition in history.

The MTV Generation is now running the show with the mobile / tech kids right behind them.

If you are older than 50 and you’re reading this, it’s likely you have an emotional attachment to letters. You received letters as a child from friends and relatives. Birthday cards came to us every year — with real money in them! We were then required to write letters to our friends and relatives thanking them for all of the great presents we got for holidays and birthdays.

We liked letters. Letters were good.

If you are under 40, you probably sent emails. You got e-cards, maybe even electronic gift certificates. You have also been part of the electronic revolution when it came to advertising. Everything is at your fingertips; you get information immediately. You see 3,000 various ad messages a day out of 30,000 to 50,000 that are paid for in your area. You are deluged with media of all types.

When you flip through your mail at the end of the day, do you bother to open envelopes? Probably not unless it is something you are waiting for.

The biggest issue with envelopes today is that they need to be opened to be read, and the younger generations won’t take the time to open them. With a postcard or self-mailer you get a tremendous graphical impact that will effectively capture the attention of today’s largest consumer sector.

With postcards, the message is front and center. You don’t have to open it.

Sure, there are still some markets where letters continue to outperform postcards – senior products and services, investments and medical services. However, postcards and self-mailers are starting to yield increasingly better results due to their high graphical impact and close to 100% open rate.

Remember… a postcard is already open when it lands on the kitchen table!

By Keith Goodman, VP, Corporate Solutions, Modern Postcard

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