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with Mary Lou McNatt

Learn tips and hints to use a variety of electronic and technical equipment to enhance work with volunteers.

~ December 2004 ~ Topics

Creating Postcards to Market Your Program

Using postcards as newsletters or announcements can have multiple advantages for contacting your clients, customers and volunteers. Postcards can be serious marketing and communication tools.

In this day of modern marketing technology why would you want to create postcards to get your message out? You can now send out mass emails or newsletters and reach hundreds to thousands of people. But how many people actually read your email message? So many people have learned to pass over or delete non-essential information from the vast amount of emails people are now receiving. Are you even sure your message is getting out?

Email has become a less reliable form of communication than it was a year ago. Filter technology to combat the endless flow of junk invading our inboxes is becoming very sophisticated thus possibly eliminating that your message is received by your chosen recipients. Even the sheer volume of emails a person receives today can be a hit-or-miss try when trying to communicate your message online.

I suggest that you give postcards a try. Postcards are inexpensive, easy to create, convenient to use, offer fast message delivery and create instant visibility.


Post cards have nearly 100% readership rate. You pick it up. It is a physical and visual medium that can compel you to browse it. If it is attractively designed it is more likely to get read than an on-line newsletter or piece of mass email.

Postcards are:

  • Low cost – because of their size they can be in-expensive to produce and mail.
  • Save Time – once you have designed your postcard it is easy to address, mail out and can be used over and over again.
  • Flexible – postcards can be used in many different ways to promote your program. You can send out a postcard with the highlights of your program to entice others to go to your website to read the full text.
  • Visibility – you don't have to wait for people to get time to read the online message about your program they will have the basic information immediately at their fingertips. Martha Retallick suggests that you design your postcard with the Refrigerator Door Mindshare, "A card that someone would be proud to display on his or her refrigerator door."
  • More likely to read – people are more likely to read a postcard than an unsolicited letter in an envelope.
  • No fancy equipment – if your budget allows you can outsource the designing work, copy writing and printings.

But there are also even more inexpensive ways to create the postcard yourself from your own computer.

Creating Your Own

There are two sizes of postcards you can choose to work with:

  1. Small Postcard – A standard small postcard can't be smaller than 3 1/2 by 5 inches or larger than 4 1/4 by 6 inches. These can be created on an 8 1/2 by 11" sheet that is cut into fourths.
  2. Jumbo Postcards – These can be created by using an 8 1/2 x 11" sheet and cut in half. The cost to send this card will be the same as the first class letter rate but they can definitely have more impact than a traditional letter.

Creating from - Microsoft (MS) Word template

I'd like to share with you a template for the small postcard and give you some simple steps on how you can create one using your own computer.

  1. Download a template
    • Go to: http://office.microsoft.com/templates/
    • Scroll down to Marketing
    • Go to Marketing Materials – Ads, Flyers and Posters
    • Click on Page 2 – Scroll down to "Special offers postcard, front"
    • Download it to your computer
    • Accept the licensing agreement. You now have a document that you can format for your own use.
  2. Replace the default text with your own text.
  3. Retain or replace the picture
    • Click where you want to insert the picture.
    • On the Insert menu, point to Picture, and then click From File.
    • Locate the picture you want to insert.
  4. Do a spell check.
  5. Rename and save your document for printing and cutting.
  6. On the back face of the post card (download the "Special offers postcard, back") you can create an address mail merge or create separate labels to apply.
    ** For Jumbo postcards to Word – Cards – Holidays – (Page 2) 'Valentine’s Day postcard.'
    ** You can even create your own template by using the Tables function in MS Word.
    ** Avery also sells postcard formatted stock that can be designed through Word's label program.
    ** More MS Word office templates for postcards are available at: [http://www.hp.com/sbso/productivity/office/direct_marketing.html]

And Beyond…

Want to work more with postcards and see what is out there? Try these options:

  • USPS: The United States Postal Service (USPS) has a postcard mailer service that allows you to sign up to save postcards and mailing lists online. You can prepare and send hardcopy postcards from the convenience of your computer and not even have to make a trip to the post office. Full-color, highlight color, and black & white postcards for about the price of a first class stamp. You can customize a postcard and pay online. They do the rest.
  • Newsletter: Go to: [http://www.ideabook.com/nlcard.htm] to view a step-by-step process to create your newsletter as a postcard.
  • MS Publisher: Use MS Publisher Postcard wizard and tips from Assistance on Microsoft Office Online to create and print your postcard.

Using postcards can increase responses to your program. They are quick, easy, and economical. Once your design and format have been created a postcard can serve as a fast response to your constituency in marketing and promoting your program.
Give postcards a chance and have fun creating this new image for your program!

Plan an EDU-VACATION - April 26-29, 2005

Training for managers of volunteers, leading to a certificate, is being held April 26-29, 2005. Sponsored by Washington State University, the Volunteer Management Certificate Program will be held in Port Hadlock, Washington, in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains. Topics include:

Recruitment Evaluation
Training Management and Supervision
Recognition Risk Management
Diversifying the Volunteer Pool The Internet as the Manager's Next Best Friend

Interactive Case Models based on student process is the focus of Learning Activities.
For more information, visit the website at: http://www.emmps.wsu.edu/volunteer.

Mary Lou McNatt has many years of experience working with volunteer programs, advancing our profession and has a passion for introducing the advantages of technology to volunteer programs. She was instrumental in obtaining Ivan Scheier’s body of work on volunteerism and putting it online. She can be reached at mlmcnatt@indra.com.

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