Summer 2006
Direct Impact: Five Steps to Creating a High-Impact Postcard Mailing By Mollie Neal

Postcards Generate Sales and Goodwill

Tighe Estes, owner of Point Maine, a gift shop in Lighthouse Point, FL, uses newspaper and radio ads to attract new customers to his upscale store, which features clothing, glassware, jewelry and art. However, postcards are his top choice for keeping in contact with the roughly 5,000 customers on his mailing list.

Estes sends a minimum of four or five mailings each year. He focuses on making his customers feel special and giving them “legitimate and substantial offers.” Some mailings offer store visitors a free gift—no strings attached. Respondents receive a shirt or pair of shorts with a $40 retail value—which are actually $5 closeout items he buys from his vendors. He estimates that about 90 percent of the customers who take advantage of the free-gift offer make additional purchases while at the store.

During the summer Estes mails postcards announcing his annual “Drop Your Shorts” offer—an invitation for loyal customers to bring in their “slightly used” Sportif shorts to receive $10 off a new pair. Estes says the offer boosts store traffic during his slow season.

His customer mailings draw an impressive 5 to 10 percent response rate. More importantly, his return on investment has reached 10 times his mailing costs. “Dollar for dollar, direct mail is the best investment,” says Estes. “It has literally saved our business. It’s economical and the impact is unbelievable.”

Mollie Neal

Neal writes about market trends, demographics and advertising issues for a variety of business and consumer publications. She can be reached at

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