Once simply a mode of quick communication, Postcards are now a marketing necessity. For small businesses, nonprofits and everything in between, custom postcards put a modern spin on package inserts, menus, direct mail and more. Go beyond the greeting and see how postcards prove it’s not the size of the print piece, but what you do with it that counts. (Hint: Jump to the end for some Postcard Design tips and tricks.)
So what do we mean exactly when we say go beyond the greeting? We’re talking marketing postcards. We’re talking package inserts. We’re talking creative print marketing that’s more than a simple thank you stuffed in a shipping box.
The great thing about postcard marketing is its versatility. Whether you’re placing a stack of postcards on a retail counter, in reception areas or in packages, your message and imagery make a statement that can be whatever you want it to be.
One of our favorite content ideas? Providing information about your products and services. Just add an image of the product your customer bought on one side and its features, benefits or instructions on the other. Or announce new services on one side and list your contact details on the other.
Do you partner with other organizations? Give them a shoutout on one side and a short description of your collaboration on the other. Want to include discounts to encourage future sales? Add perforation to your postcard, and boom, you’ve got an instant tear-off coupon.
Another important message: A genuine “thank you.” A creative postcard expressing your gratitude leaves customers with warm feelings about your business and works to solidify their loyalty and future engagement.
Hint: Want more package insert ideas? As a full-service online printing shop, we’ve got them for you right here: Packaging Inserts: 7 Ideas (& Tips) to Increase Engagement.
Elevate the Unboxing Experience
“Our postcard is used as a point of sale tool for our dropship orders to elevate the unboxing experience,” Hoyord said. “Having a beautiful lifestyle image of the product is a nice way to get customers excited about their purchase.”
“Print gives a professional finish to our brand.”
Smartpress’ double-sided printing option was also essential to Hoyord’s strategy: “It gives us a chance to list a few key features on the back to give customers a snapshot of what sets Pillivuyt apart, as well as our social handles so they can connect with us.”
And as a premium online printer, we understand the importance of staying on-brand with your marketing materials. “Everything we’ve printed [at Smartpress] is of the highest quality and gives a professional finish to our brand,” said Hoyord. “I love that the website interface is easy to navigate and allows for quick, clear ordering every step of the way.”
Designing the Details
Kylie Harrison, graphic designer at Jenny Yoo, leverages postcards that ship with the brand’s elegant dresses. Along with imagery from photographer Marcy Castelgrande, Harrison’s customer postcards feature “a note to welcome them to the Jenny Yoo family, info about our return policy to make the process seamless, as well as our social media.”
One of Harrison’s design dealbreakers was paper stock. With coated, uncoated, recycled and cover weight options, the right choice plays a huge role in the customer experience. “I love the feel of the uncoated smooth 100# cover stock,” said Harrison. “It feels high-end and matches the quality of our dresses.”
Hint: So you want to create a postcard but you’re not a designer? Let Canva be your guide, with millions of templates, artwork and elements to drag and drop: Design Online.
At this point, it sounds like postcard printing is only about marketing, but how’s this for a curveball: custom postcards as bar menus. Think there’s no way you’ll have enough space for all your menu items on a postcard? Think again. Our online printing services let you play with preset dimensions or custom sizes via Custom Quote.
Just imagine a list of drinks on one side and an event calendar on the other. Or happy hour specials on the front and themed artwork on the back. It was the idea of themed menus that inspired Sarah Julson, creative director at Travail Kitchen, to design her postcards.
“Our current menu concept is vacation-themed, so we decided to create postcards as menus – guests are able to take away the souvenir to remember their visit,” Julson said.
With different destination ideas and corresponding artwork and drink selections, Julson needed a design feature to speed up the printing process. Enter: Versions.
“[It’s] a fantastic time-saver,” said Julson. “You don’t have to remember all the settings you chose to create the same product with different artwork [and it] ensures consistency throughout my projects.”
As long as your size, stock and finish is the same, Versions lets you change your imagery and content all you like, all in the same order. And speaking of finishes, be sure to add UV coating or Soft Touch laminate to your postcards to guard against moisture and provide a polished look.
“I wanted that classic postcard feeling with one side matte and the other side extra glossy,” said Julson. “The ultra gloss UV turned out exactly as I hoped.”
In a world of QR codes, physical postcards sent the right message for Julson. “Print remains a lasting extension of our brand and provides a level of hospitality through information sharing that allows guests to connect to their experience even deeper.”
Hint: Trying to decide between coating and laminate? Wondering what’s the difference between them anyway? We’ve got your covered: UV Coating vs. Laminate.
The idea of a souvenir (like Julson’s) got artist Heidi Derner thinking, too. Not so much about drinks and menus but showcasing artwork on personalized postcards. A standard postcard is the perfect size to create custom stationery or note cards with your own artwork and imagery on the other side.
For Derner, a postcard gave her a chance to display her work while commemorating a major event that was postponed due to the pandemic.
“[It] was for a 2020 Minnesota State Fair gift box. It was a way to celebrate the fair even though it was cancelled,” Derner said.
With a depiction of the state in a fluid mosaic of blues and greens on one side and addressing lines on the other, Derner’s design hit the mark. “My collectors love to show their Minnesota pride and this was a great way for them to share their love for the state fair and Minnesota with loved ones.”
Whether you’re an artist, reseller or entrepreneur, you can print your own postcards individually or in sets with our convenient shrink wrapping service for a professional (and protective) finish.
Hint: See how one of our cidery customers uses postcards here: Drawing from Whimsy: Runcible Cider Prints Promotional Postcards.
Direct Mail Postcards
You may have noticed we’ve mentioned mailing only once so far. You know, that thing you traditionally do with postcards? So here it is, the mail spiel. Direct Mail Postcards are indeed the typical way to use creative postcards and one well worth slipping into your marketing budget.
Whether you’re sending direct mailers to promote your products and brand or as invitations for corporate and school events, these postcards get your message straight to recipients (with no envelopes to open and no pop-ups to click away from).
Hint: Use variable data printing to personalize each postcard for individual recipients. Trust us, it increases engagement with customers and donors and is a thoughtful touch for friends and family.
Postcard Design Tips
As you begin strategizing your postcard projects, check out these tips and tricks for successful online printing:
- Our most popular postcard stock is coated matte white in 100# or 120# cover weight.
- It’s our only stock with a matte coating.
- Since it’s coated, ink sits on top of the stock and looks more vibrant.
- It’s the best bang-for-your-buck stock (affordable, yet looks and feels high-end).
- Include QR codes for promos or in-depth product information.
- Try unusual sizes (and square shapes!) to stand out from the competition.
- For a tactile experience, add Soft Touch laminate for a velvety finish.
- Write a quick message or thank you on package inserts for a personal touch (just be sure to coat only one side of your postcard so you can write on the other).
- Still have questions? Find answers with our Postcard Printing FAQs.
Direct Mail Postcards
- Protect your print as it goes through the post with a UV coating. (Soft Touch laminate isn’t an option because it doesn’t play well with mailing machines.)
- Don’t have a mailing list? Our mailing services can help you acquire one (or many) of potential customers in your area or desired demographic nationwide.
- Include your social media handles so customers can quickly find you online.
- Follow our mailing guidelines to stay within standard sizes so your pieces don’t require additional postage:
- Must be at least 5”W x 3-1/2”H.
- No larger than 6”W x 4-1/4”H for First Class rates.
- No larger than 11-1/2”W x 6-1/8”H for Standard rates.
- Still have questions? Find answers with our Direct Mail Postcards FAQs.
Pillivuyt Postcard Design by Amy Hoyord, Pillivuyt USA Inc.
Jenny Yoo Postcard Design by Kylie Harrison and Photography by Marcy Castelgrande Exclusively for Jenny Yoo
Travail Kitchen Postcards Designed by Sarah Julson
Minnesota Postcard Design by Heidi Derner Art Studio
Headline Direct Mail Postcard Design by Jake Ginsky
Appetite for Change Direct Mail Postcard Design by Genesia Williams for Appetite For Change