The column strategy is a method I developed (and often use) where a portion of your card (typically the size of one ad space) is replaced with a “column” of a few small, bare bones, no frills coupons such as 3″ wide by 1″ tall. This is a GREAT way to kickstart your first card or break into a new area for two reason:

  1. It gives you a low ‘teaser’ price to offer and then walk up to bigger ads
  2. You can use it to showcase coupons that you’re very confident will return great response in order to build the value of the card to both advertisers and recipients.

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Having a column space with 3 or 4 column ads on your card serves a few strategic purposes:

  1. If used as a coupon form (preferred), with good offers, it’s a quick way to capture the readers attention. Usually their eyes will go right to the column coupons and they’ll see value right away, keeping the card along with it as well for deeper reading.
  2. You can give them away strategically. Badly want someone on the card but can’t get them to commit to a space? Give them a free column ad in exchange for doing a really substantial coupon offer. Not only will they likely see a huge response but you’ll add such a high amount of value to the card itself that you’ll easily get your money’s worth.
  3. You don’t have to give them away, you can price them anywhere from $50, $75, $99 or even more if your’e feeling frisky.

Some tips on implementing a column:

*Don’t offer any customizations to the ad, simply use the company name, a small coupon space, and some details for the fine print. A stores logo is fine long as it fits. Any customization means they should buy a proper space.

*Don’t offer exclusivity. If a pizzeria has a great column ad, feel free to put another pizzeria on there. If they want exclusivity, they can pay for a proper ad.

*Don’t settle for run-of-the-miss coupon offers. If they want to run a 10% off coupon, they can buy a regular ad. In exchange for your low (or free) pricing, they have to put something that’s going to knock people’s socks off. This ensures they get the best chance of response as possible plus gives your card that “WOW” factor when people get it in the mail.

*DO advertise products/services that are likely to get great response. Think oil changes, car washes, baked goods, pizza, ice cream, food, liquor, etc. You want it to appeal to the most people as possible.

Switch it up each mailing so that the offers in the column stay fresh and so that past column advertisers will be forced to buy regular ads. The column is a GREAT overall tool to include in your card. While it does complicate things slightly (but not too much), it can be a real lifesaver and integral part of your overall business model.