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What is a Business Reply Card?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 17, 2024
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A business reply card (BRC) is a flat rectangular piece of printed thin card stock. It's also known as a promotion postcard, because it is a popular part of direct mail marketing packages. The BRC has the return address of the marketing agency or fulfillment house on one side and an order form or request for information on the other. A marketing agency handles promotions, while a fulfillment house supplies printed information booklets or other items. In basic marketing terms, a business reply card is known as a response device.

A response device is any type of form in a mailing which the respondent is encouraged to mail back. It may be used to order an item, receive an informational brochure, or agree to be contacted by a salesperson without an obligation to purchase. The success of a direct marketing mailing is gauged by its response rate, or the number of returned reply cards or forms. The responses are considered qualified sales leads because a reader who sends a business reply card back is showing interest in the product or service being promoted.

The pieces in a direct marketing package may vary, but some type of response device such as a business reply card is always included. The other pieces, which may consist of a sales letter, a brochure, a lift letter, and other printed materials, should compel the reader to fill out the BRC. While a brochure contains detailed product information, a lift letter may be a greeting card or note from a celebrity spokesperson or company president. Lift letters are designed to raise the response rate by adding a personal, yet official plea.

Marketing copywriters create direct mail packages. They must use a great deal of thought when writing the business reply card even though there is not much room on it for text. If a BRC is confusing or difficult to fill out, it is likely to result in a decreased response rate. To make the postcard as easy as possible to return, it is usually one piece with postage that is often prepaid. This way, the reader has to fill out only a few items, such as place a few check marks in boxes and perhaps write in their name and address.

Many BRCs are pre-printed with the recipient's name and address not only to save the reader time and make the business reply card easy to mail, but because studies have shown that the response can be greatly increased when the mailings are personalized. Post offices classify these pre-paid promotion response cards as business reply mail. Postal size regulations for the cards must be followed by advertisers.

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