Direct marketing math has always been straightforward. Revenues minus expenses equal profits.
Not to everyone. Every year, we encounter direct marketers who in effect say, "Screw the ROI," and turn cost minimization into the number one goal.
They generally begin with a search for a dirt-cheap direct mail format. Doesn't matter who they're targeting or what they're selling. Cheaper is better.
Soon they find their answer: Postcards! Yep, those same vellum rectangles that are so useful when you're on vacation and just have to mail something trite to the folks back home.
For sure, the format is seductive. Postcards are readily available, come in a variety of bright colors, and are really cheap to print and mail. There's just one hitch.
Very often, they don't pay out nearly as well as formats that enable direct marketers to properly display the concept, tell the story, merchandise the offer, and capture the response. It's not unusual for postcards to pull a lower ROI than any other format. If you're skeptical, run some tests of formats, see what happens, and let me know.
I've never met a boss who was overjoyed to hear, "That postcard mailing bombed, but we're real proud of the fact that we cut the in-the-mail cost."
The approach that costs less but fails is terribly expensive -- and definitely not cost-effective.