Don’t Forget about One of the Most Versatile DM Pieces: the Postcard

By T.J. Tedesco

If you’re looking for a proven, low-cost direct-response marketing vehicle, consider the timeless, versatile, and, yes, safe postcard. Postcards are a subclass of First-Class Mail, but feature lower rates. Compared to other types of printed promotions, postcard campaigns are relatively inexpensive to produce. They deserve extra consideration, especially when timeliness and cost considerations are paramount.

Production and Postal Issues

A few areas can be “hot spots” when developing postcard mailings—all of which can be addressed in advance with good planning:

  • Size: To qualify for postcard rates, pieces must be between 4 1/4 × 6 in. (108×152 mm) long and 3 1/2 × 5 in. (89×127 mm) high. Anything larger will mail at lettersize rates.
  • Paper thickness:  Most designers know that 7-pt. high bulk is the minimum postcard thickness. However, even though this weight of paper meets USPS standards at the low end of dimensions, it often has a flimsy feel to it. Consider increasing your paper thickness to 9-pt. or even higher.
  • Double postcards: Folded postcards with perforated business reply cards (BRCs) qualify for postcard postal rates, if the attached card is a true BRC. This means the second panel of the card must be detachable and mailable as a reply device. Don’t add a folded panel just because you’re running out of visual real estate. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a rude postage surprise. The address side of the reply card must be folded inward. Also, the two panels must be sealed with one seal at either the top or the bottom.
  • Reflectance and barcode clear zones. All USPS reflectance and barcode requirements apply to postcards.
  • Multiple versions. If you’re planning a multi-postcard campaign or printing similar versions together, specifying all the jobs to run together could save both time and money. These “ganged” production runs are just one area for potential savings.

Next time you need a low-cost versatile mail piece to get the word out, consider a post card campaign.

For more information on direct mail best practices, please send me an email at or give me a call at 724-746-8900.

Some of the content for this post was originally published in the newly released Direct Mail Pal 2014, authored by T.J. Tedesco and Charley Howard (publisher: Printing Industries Press).