Both postcards and catalog play a fundamental role in direct mail marketing. But is one better than the other? In order to make a decision on this you must look at some of the obvious costs such as design, printing, and mailing.

With postcards we know that they are quick and easy to design, less expensive to print, and your mail cost is about half as much as mailing a catalog. So overall the cost to produce a postcard is about half of a catalog. Postcards are best used for showing an offer because they don’t have enough real estate to showcase your merchandise. This is where the case for a using postcard starts to diminish. There shelf life is very short, unlike a catalog, and this combined with much lower response rates make one wonder if they are a good alternative. Postcards may work well for brick and mortar stores to drive store traffic, as long as they have an enticing offer, and possibly in conjunction with a catalog to get offers in front of our consumers.

We believe the additional cost for produce and mail a catalog creates demand for your merchandise, something a postcard won’t do. So if you’re looking to sell more, and build your brand use a catalog.

According to a 2010 Lett Direct article, “Postcards have their limitations. For example, they are not effective when mailed to prospects. Postcards should be used for mailings to customers since they know and trust your company. When designing a post card, keep in mind that the reader spends very little time deciding if the offer is anything of value to them. Postcards should be used in addition to scheduled catalog mailings, not in-lieu of.” This still runs true today. Click here to read Lett Directs article with full analysis.

Don’t take our word for it. Test Test Test. Capture all the costs and the response rate for each, and let the numbers tell the story. It’s the best way to understand what works best for your business.