Have you ever bought anything simply because someone sent you a postcard?

Hardly a day goes buy that I don’t get some kind of promotional postcard in the mail, offering me everything from pizza to carpet cleaning to the services of a competent, experienced realtor. These cards go directly to the recycling bin, destined for the Mixed Paper section of the local recycling station.

But they must work, otherwise people wouldn’t send them to me.

Postcards are a favorite topic of authors. I don’t know why they’re considered such an effective marketing tool. Even using a reasonably priced service like Vistaprint, it will cost around $120 to send out two hundred postcards. If you’re lucky and you get a 2.6 % response rate, you sell four books, not nearly enough to cover the cost of the mailings. Of course, response is a relative term. Most likely, the response means that 2.6% of those people will go to your website, say "Oh, isn’t that interesting?" and not buy anything.

I’ve received a number of postcards announcing upcoming books by authors I’ve never heard of, and I’ve never bought a single one. Like most people, I will read a book because I heard something good about it. Either someone I know recommended it or I heard a review of it on the radio. Hearing or reading interviews with the author also has motivated me to buy a book.

Marketing is a pretty tricky business. I can’t begin to say what works and what’s a waste of time and money. I have heard that whatever you do,only ten percent of it pays off. The problem is, you never know which ten percent. I know that to sell my book, I need to somehow bring it to the attention of prospective readers in a way that’s interesting and not irritating. The trick is finding out what among the millions of marketing strategies out there accomplishes that feat.

Anyway, I’m prety sure it’s not the postcards.

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