Postcard Marketing

By Tim Diering

While I spend a lot of time in these articles discussing high-tech solutions for marketing your summer camp, I’d like to turn the clock back a little to discuss one of the standards of direct marketing--postcards.

Postcards are a simple way to get a message out. With all the concentration on electronic communication these days, using a postcard instead of an e-mail seems more personal and traditional. And since summer camps are in the business of building personal relationships and summer traditions, adding postcard marketing to the mix is a perfect fit.

First of all, a postcard is a physical, three-dimensional entity. Once delivered to a camper’s home, it is right there, demanding attention. You don’t have to wait for someone to turn on a computer and open e-mail. It doesn’t disappear as soon as the computer is turned off. It’s always hanging around.

And if you plan a postcard campaign properly, it can stay in a home for months, even years, after it is received--a constant reminder of the camp.

So, let’s take a look at what makes a postcard-marketing campaign successful.

The Elements Of Postcard Marketing
A postcard can be used to:

• Stay in touch with campers and their families. It can be a simple message during the winter months that reminds a camper and his or her parents that the excitement and thrill of summer camp is not far away.

• Remind families that registration time is coming soon. Let them know you’re looking forward to seeing them again this summer. Be sure to use a save-the-date reminder.

• Remind parents of a two-child special or refer-a-friend discount or early-enrollment bonus.

• Personally thank a camper for making the previous season such a wonderful experience.

• Thank parents for choosing your camp.

The possibilities for postcards go on and on--only limited by how you want to use them.

One of the best ways is to stay in touch with kids and families who have contacted you previously about attending, but never did. Do you keep a file of everyone who’s ever contacted you for information about your camp, even though the child didn’t attend? If not, you’re missing out on a potential gold mine.

Families that have contacted you in the past have already expressed an interest in the camp. They asked for a brochure or a DVD, so you have contact information. Now you can simply drop them a personal postcard--to remind them about you, let them know you’re still around, and are still interested in having them visit the camp this summer.

Or, send a reminder card right before registration begins. It’s always about making it easier for families to decide to attend. And most families are attracted to people and places that treat them personally.

Designing A Postcard
First, consider the size. A traditional penny-postcard might be OK (and cheaper to mail), but it may limit the impact the card has on a potential camper.

Go with the oversized card because it will have more of an impact, and is more likely to stand out when the postman drops it through the mail slot.

There are online vendors who specialize in printing marketing postcards. One of my favorites is It offers a variety of sizes and configurations--from a 4¼- x 6-inch card to an 11- x 17-inch poster!

Once you’ve selected the size, decide on the appearance and content. The content will be determined by the message. Is it a reminder, a teaser, an announcement? Keep the language light and exciting. You want the camper to remember how much fun the camp was to attend. The image also will be determined by the message--the more colorful and interesting, the better. And, remember, the more interesting the front of the card, the more likely it’s going to stay around in the home.

My two favorite things to put on the front of a postcard are:

• Nature shots--gorgeous sunsets, striking mountains, babbling brooks, beautiful horses, etc.

• A full-year calendar (even highlighting the summer months in red as a subtle reminder).

The reason I like these two is simple: stunning images of natural beauty and practical things like calendars are more likely to hang around on a refrigerator or a kid’s wall, thus increasing the longevity of your message in that household.

So, that’s about it. Postcards--a simple, easy and personal way to stay in touch.

Tim Diering is vice president of marketing at Summer Camp Design, a full-service marketing and design firm dedicated to creating cost-effective marketing and design solutions for summer camps. He can be reached at (800) 957-7175, via e-mail at or visit