How I CRUSHED My Competitors With This Simple Postcard

Want to make a killing with email marketing? 

Let me tell you a quick story about how working at a furniture store over 30 years ago taught me the secret to making a killing with email marketing (6 years BEFORE I ever sent my first email)…

I went to work at Grand Furniture on Denbigh Boulevard in the summer of 1990. I started as a salesman and I worked my way up to being the number one salesman in the store within about 90 days. 

The other salesmen hated me. 

The old guys that worked there hated me because I came in and actually did work every day! 

I got the names of all the past customers in the Newport News area… anyone who had ever come into the store and bought. 

Every day you would sit there on the sales floor for up to three hours waiting for a customer to come in so you could try to sell them something. 

While sitting there one day I thought of something my mom used to do to drum up business for her home-based craft business.

I talked to the manager, and I said, “Hey, if I were to send out 10 postcards a day, would you guys pay for the postage? I would like to contact old customers and see if they want to come in and buy more furniture or accessories.” 

He looked at me funny and then said, “Sure.” 

(By the way, a first-class stamp in 1990 was 25 cents.)

I decided to push my luck and ask, “Can I offer them 10% off if they come and hand in this postcard so we know where they came from?” 

He said, “Sure.” 

Apparently nobody ever asked to do this before. 

So, I wrote up a simple little card that looked like it came from someone they knew (or should know). It basically said,

Hey, my name is Jim Edwards, I’m the new salesman at Grand Furniture on Denbigh Boulevard. 

I’m just reaching out to past customers to see if you need anything. 

As a special reward to get you back into the store, if you bring this postcard in and ask for me, I’ll give you 10% off your entire purchase (whether it’s a lamp or an entire bedroom)! 

But the manager said I can only give you that 10% off for the next week… so please drop by the store this week ending (DATE) if you can. 

By the way, I’ll be here all day Saturday (DATE) from 9 to 9.

Hope to see you then!

Jim Edwards


I was having two customers a day coming in asking for me by name within a week! 

The other salesmen were sitting there getting angry because it’s their turn to work with the next customer, but people were coming saying “Hey, is Jim here?”

When a customer asked for you it didn’t count as an “up” – so you got to work with them AND you got to keep your place in line to work with a customer when it was your turn!

I was killing it as far as sales.

So pretty soon, the manager said, “Okay, you other chuckleheads, you need to start doing the same thing as Jim!” 

So now these guys had to sit down and write out postcards by hand to past customers… they were pissed off because they were lazy!

What they didn’t see (and I wouldn’t let anybody see me do it when I was working by myself), was that I wrote out ONE card with the dates on it in black ink. 

Then I fed the other cards through the Xerox machine when nobody was looking. 

Finally, I would personalize the cards with their name with a black pen.

So I had this big stack of cards where all I was doing was just putting a name on and addressing them.

I could do 10X the number of cards compared to anyone else (at my height I was sending @150 cards a week).

That’s when I learned about using a simple message targeted at a specific audience with a special offer and a deadline… 

… and I crushed it!

So much so that it became company policy. 

Every single salesperson in all their stores had to send at least 10 postcards every single day… and they did it for years. 

That’s the first lesson I learned about a targeted message to past customers. 

The second lesson I learned was about geo-targeting… I learned this from my mom and her craft business.

When my mom was going to a certain mall to do a craft show, she had her address book organized so she knew all the past customers who ever bought from her at that mall before. 

She would send them all a postcard letting them know that she was going to be there one specific days and, if they came to see her, she had a free gift for them. 

There were plenty of times when the mall was dead. But here come these ladies with their designer bags and fat checkbook. 

Many days these were the ONLY people coming into the craft show… and they walked past EVERYONE else and headed directly to see my mom. 

They were buying stuff and getting their free gift. 

Even as a 10-year-old I can see my mom’s crushing it and making cash while all the other hippies at the craft fair are counting pennies to try and figure out if they’re going to get something off the 99 cent menu for lunch. 

From my mom I learned about combining relationships and geotargeting to make a specific tantalizing offer with a specific call to action and a deadline. 

So that’s the story of how I learned the principles of effective email marketing 30 years before email even existed (at least outside some super-secret gov’t lab) and how you can apply them today. 

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