From the March 2002 issue of Entrepreneur

Q: How would you suggest we first introduce our new business to customers--via postcard or letter, for example-since our service is time--sensitive, new and not driven by repeat clients?
Name withheld

A: You'll do better with postcards. We've known for a long time that many people don't open envelopes, but now, due to anthrax scares, people are even less inclined to open letters from strangers.

Fortunately, postcards are less expensive to produce--and you can even create them with your own computer and printer. Try Microsoft Publisher, which offers various postcard templates, including some that use postcard stock available from Paper Direct.

An effective postcard accomplishes several things: It prompts some customers to phone you, and it inspires others to find out more about your business by logging on to your Web site (assuming your URL appears on the postcard). At a bare minimum, your postcard should prompt potential customers to remember something positive about your business. Effective postcards communicate something important, and some customers even hold on to them for future reference.

Because postcards have a limited amount of space, having a memorable business name and a logo that conveys your business are two shortcuts for making a great impression. Most important, though, you must succinctly state how your product or service--whether it's cleaning windows or repairing computers--will help the recipient of the postcard, and why you're the company to do the work.


Paul and Sarah Edwards' most recent book is Changing Directions Without Losing Your Way. Send them your start-up questions at www.workingfromhome.com or e-mail entmag@entrepreneur.com.