Why use postcards to market books? 5 reasons

I was sitting in a café in London Victoria recently, having a coffee with Alex Singleton. Alex, who is on a mission to become the world’s leading PR author (you heard it here first), invited me to make some suggestions on how to market his forthcoming book, The PR Masterclass (Wiley, December 2013). Now marketing and PR are not the same, but they are sufficiently close to make me think Alex is likely to know better answers to his own questions than I do. Still, I was happy to volunteer ideas.

“You could try postcards. I don’t know why, but postcards work well for books,” I said.

Since that conversation, I’ve asked myself the question, Why is it that postcards work well for book marketing? 

My answers run as follows.

1. Shape

The shape of a postcard is similar to the shape of a book. As a result, they tend to work well for displaying front covers.

2. Scale

There is enough room on a postcard to provide the kinds of marketing information usually provided with books, e.g. blurb and bibliographical details such as extent and ISBN.

3.  Kinship between media 

There is a kinship between postcards and books that goes beyond shape: it’s also the use of print. An email feels somehow less suitable for marketing a print book and similarly a postcard seems an odd choice for marketing an e-book, whereas cards and printed books make a good match.

4. Lack of intrusiveness

Postcards don’t feel intrusive in the way that other direct mail does. There is a long tradition of postcards as something one welcomes. And the use of card, rather than paper, gives the object a sense of value – gravitas, even.

5. Retention and display

People tend to hold on to postcards longer than they do, say, flyers. So postcards sit around in offices or on desks, providing an occasion for word-of-mouth. Many people even display them, pinning them to the noticeboard or blu-tacking them on the sides of filing cabinets.

So what have I missed?

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3 Responses to “Why use postcards to market books? 5 reasons”

  1. Nice post. You can also use them as bookmarks – I guess that’s part of #3. They’re semi-public – people can be nosey and read them without feeling guilty. Then they can talk about them … i.e. #5. Maybe see (though I haven’t read it yet) Gumbrecht’s Production of the Presence http://www.amazon.co.uk/Production-Presence-Meaning-Cannot-Convey/dp/0804749167 for the power of materiality in an increasingly digitized world.

  2. Those are very nice reasons and I believe that post cards are really very hard to resist. And, there is no need for envelopes. Postcard + address label + stamp = easy!

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