Friday, March 25, 2011

Should You Use Traditional Mailing Pieces in Your Senior Marketing?

With the popularity of electronic media increasing, many photographers often ask "is it even necessary to do a mailing? Can't I just use Facebook and my student reps?"

Any marketing campaign (and that's what we're building - a package) should contain enough elements to cover your target market in as many ways as possible. In my market (a large metro area) advertising in the newspaper, or on radio or television is not only cost prohibitive, it's fleeting and ineffective. Ads on broadcast media are literally "gone in 60 seconds", while newspapers get recycled at the end of the day, often without your target market having seen or heard your spot.

Remember, we are marketing to both the high school senior and his/her parents (or the checkbook holder who gets the final say), so I still use 3-4 USPS mailings per season. This literally puts my name in the hands of both student and parent in a format that is more permanent than radio / TV / Facebook / newspaper. Since there is a coming need, the card is bound to be put in a prominent place (such as the refrigerator door) and kept for reference.

Here are 6 important things to consider when doing a senior mailing:

1)     Use images to grab attention, use simple text to hold it. Design the front side of the card with eye-catching images and graphics, then use a short headline to entice them to read the other side.

2)    The offer portion of your card should be simple and easy to read. Don't try to cram every little detail onto the piece; state your offer quickly and concisely.

3)    Include a Call-to-Action statement. A generic offer with no call-to-action doesn't push the reader to make a decision and act on it. Something like "One Day Sale" or "Hurry, Offer Expires April 1st" will cause the reader to respond.

4)     Include your contact information! While this seems simple, too many beautiful cards get designed with the studio phone number and website as an afterthought. Don't make it the reader have to hunt for your contact info.

5)     Address the card "To The Parents Of" the high school senior. Once the piece is brought in from the mailbox, it often gets sorted by addressee. You want mom to see the your piece as well as the senior.

6)     Work from a reliable mailing list. While you can purchase lists from brokers, sometimes the actual school district will sell you a list of their upcoming seniors. Check to see if this is available in your area; it's far more accurate than a purchased list.

There are numerous places to get quantity postcards printed in full color. Depending on the quantity of cards needed, I have received great prices and service from these vendors:
Next Day Flyers -
VistaPrint -
Willy Walt Printing -
(Check out the VistaPrint link for special discounts!)

Of course, one of the keys to a successful mailing campaign is repetition. Sending out a single card often leaves photographers wondering why they received little or no response. Follow up with 2 or 3 smaller cards after your initial mailing to remind parents and seniors that "there's still time to schedule your appointment".

Start designing now so they'll be ready to mail in the coming months!

- David Grupa


  1. Awesome post David! Do you have any idea what percentage of your senior clients contact you because of your mailings?

  2. Shocking as it may sound, a return of 5% on a mailing is considered excellent! Point #6 is huge; lists from schools (private schools often have "student directories" with names and addresses) are far more accurate than one purchased from a list brokerage.

    I do a couple of different mailings; the ones with the best offers get the best responses; those are generally mailed earlier in the year. I offer these huge discounts to keep people from waiting until the last minute; why give a deal as deadlines approach and reward people for procrastinating?)

  3. I should clarify on the above comment; mailings to a targeted group such as this (one that is definitely in the market for your product) get a much higher response than a mailing to a group of families promoting family portraits, or a mailing for a children's special