Sunday, July 26, 2009

Postcards and Twitter

Karen Daniels from tells us that postcards and Twitter have a lot in common.

If you’ve used Twitter, you know it’s limited to 140 characters. Do you know why? The postcard. As the story goes, the character limit was dreamed up by Friedhelm Hillebrand (father of modern text messaging) who came up with 160 as the “magic number” needed to convey something. When the deciding committee looked at Postcards and found most of the messages were around 150 characters – voila – the 160 character limit was born (Twitter keeps those extra 20 characters for usernames). Fascinating, right?

Karen goes on to talk about how you can apply this to direct mail marketing.

Think Vacation Postcard, not Marketing Postcard
The day of the forceful “I’m selling you something” marketing is gone to be replaced by relationship-driven marketing. If you don’t care about your customers, they’re not going to care about you. Remember those vacation postcards your friends have sent you over the years? “Hey, wish you were here?”That’s the feeling a Tweet gives you and the feeling you want to replicate with mailers today.

Keep it Short and Conversational
We are so deluged with information, it is a good idea to squeeze the important aspects of your message into as few words as possible because you’ll have a better chance at getting people to read and respond. The nature of both Twitter and Postcards force you to keep things short and get right to the point. Amen.

Be Personal - Don’t Automate
Even though there are ways to automate your Twitter responses experts say that it’s best not to do that. The same goes for Postcards. Give your postcard campaigns a chatty personal feeling, use names whenever possible, and create copy that is more like talking to a friend.

Updates & Invitations
Use postcards to keep your customers updated on events, promos etc. Just like you would with Tweets. For instance, send out a “mark your calendar” postcard for important events. Twitter is a good forum for generating quick invites to your blog or site – so are postcards. Use them to generate a quick phone call or for “driving people to your Web site” (or to your Twitter site).

The Postcard Tweet Me
One of the cool things about Twitter is the “you talk I listen, I talk you listen” thing – you know, a conversation. You can imitate this feeling with direct mail by sending out a mailer with a postcard the customer can return. A conversational, “Hey, what did you think of the red shirt you bought from us? Send in this card and let us know.” Then when they send the card in, respond to them by sending an email or other communication, “Thanks for letting us know how you liked the red shirt” and then invite them to follow you on your blog or Twitter.

The idea is to think about people as people, not a prospect or a customer. Make your tweets and postcards about the people you are connecting with. Imagine the smile on their face when the postman delivers something special other than a bill or advertisement.

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

Find a system that will let you send out high quality postcards for less then a dollar including postage.

1 comment:

Karen Daniels said...

Michael, glad you enjoyed my Twitter/Postcard article.

Karen Daniels