Punch Your Way to a Great Direct Mail Campaign

Holey Postcards
In the summer of 2003, I created a direct mail campaign that earned a whopping 15% response rate — and it was probably the least expensive direct mail campaign ever run.


I was trying to pick up freelance graphic design work with local non-profits. So, I identified 20 prospective clients nearby and then designed the postcard on the right. The headline read, “are there holes in your advertising and design plans?” I actually punched two holes in the postcard, represented on the right by the circles filled with black. I did my research and knew the post office would still deliver the cards with holes in those strategic spots.


A few days after mailing the cards, I received calls from three different non-profits. After a week, I was working for two of them.

The Little Things Matter
There are three reasons this campaign succeeded:
  1. I targeted an untapped market. Not many people want to work with small non-profit organizations because there’s not a lot of money to be made. But I was willing to work for less money — I just wanted to gain experience and build my portfolio.

  2. The holey postcard grabbed attention. The first person that called me after receiving the card gushed about how cool the holes in the postcard were. He was convinced I hand delivered it and had not mailed it.

  3. I gave my clients great customer service. I put my cell phone number on the postcard — I didn’t require people to fill out a form online or do something elaborate to request more information. When they called the number, we immediately started talking about what they were looking to do and if I could help them. I set up meetings with them right then. The customers appreciated it.
Add This to Your To-Do List
“Start small but make it memorable. The target market is more important than the design.” Those are the two pieces of advice I give to anyone who is looking to try a direct mail campaign for the first time. We have all received hundreds of pieces of direct mail. Which ones stood out to you? What if you wrote 20 letters by hand to your biggest potential clients? What if you used an orange envelope? Try a small experiment and see what happens. After your first campaign pays off, you can afford to try something on a bigger scale.


There's never a lack of ideas.

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