Postcards of #PortesdePenge: five ideas to combine print and online

Blog about #PortesdePenge postcards

Blame or thank Instagram, I constantly take photos these days. From daily feeding of the Instabeast – to make the habit stick, as much as anything – #PortesdePenge postcards followed.

The aim? Help get more eyes on Penge SE20’s portal and, in the process, support local traders. Starting a creative project and getting more involved in my local community too … What’s not to like?

Getting more hits on my website (thanks White Heat Design for the events page, including LinkedIn workshops for business owners) and keeping myself “front of mind” for creative copywriting, editing and research projects with business owners and corporate clients. Yes, that too.

You also may choose to include an offline-meets-online marketing project as you develop your business. (I call that process of my own the mush-mush, push-push programme…) Here are five ideas you may want to think about.

1. Prick up your ears

I post a theme, a “mini-blog” if you will, on social media most working days — starting with Facebook business, then publishing a variation on LinkedIn… (Some disagree about adding a link to that content on Twitter too — here’s a recent example about #PassOnPlastic — but it’s part of my “publish once, recycle” approach.)

So, ears peeled.

When listening to Radio 2 one workday morning, who should mention “snailmail” but Fearne Cotton, sitting in for the veteran Ken Bruce. (“Off taking the bracing sea air with a tartan rug round your knees for warmth?” as his sidekick Lynne Bowles might ask.)

I’m always on the look-out and listen-for creative content. So Fearne’s rhetorical question “Isn’t it the best feeling ever, getting snailmail?” was grist to the Twitter mill to promote the postcards. Seamless…

2. Track your targets

Instagram, for me at least, is about taking the time to notice details — whether the colours and shapes of a doorway, the colours of a woodland or the late-afternoon light.

If you have an idea for creative offline content (a postcard, a seasonal greeting card maybe) that you can tie in with your online posts to develop your business, why not give it a try?

Blog about #PortesdePenge postcards

Philip Clough (cover photo) licence fee donated to, with thanks. Published in a about #PortesdePenge postcards.

Targets… Try to be as clear as possible about what you want to achieve from the project and keep tabs, even if in a simple Excel worksheet. Talking to other business owners about their marketing experience will help.

(Swapping ideas, listening to others’ plans and how they overcome challenges — that’s what I enjoy most about going to events, whether at Croydon Chamber of Commerce, comms association PRCA, industry network Constructing Excellence, or local business-owner groups Beckenham Business Association and Cooking with Scissors in Dulwich.)

Blue Belle cafe and the (much missed) pop-up shop Pengetout kindly stocked the postcards. My initial idea — to sell some and give the proceeds to Penge Traders Association to support local community events — soon gave way to a small donation as part of the #PortesdePenge project.

3. Include a call to action

So you have an offline marketing project. Grand.

I send the #PortesdePenge postcards to former colleagues from Bloomberg — the new London mother ship near Cannon Street is quite something, including a wall of ferns — clients, PRs from my days as a news-wire reporter, potential new clients…

Include a call to action. In my case, that might be “Please add a comment if you read one of my blogs”. (I set myself a comments target for each blog: five at least. Respond to each one, tweet my thanks. Link back to the blog.)

For other businesses, those invitations might range from “Connect with me on LinkedIn” to “Take a look at the latest product video on my website/YouTube channel”. Designer Drapes of Penge, for instance, has started using video on their Facebook page to explain product features or mark a 30-year celebration.

Blog about #PortesdePenge postcards

Image by skeeze on Pixabay. Published in a about #PortesdePenge postcards.

The response to an offline project may surprise you. I got a call from a PR who received a set of #PortesdePenge cards a couple of days after I’d put them in the post. Others have sent me a message on LinkedIn, or e-mailed me to say thanks, including from Washington State.

(A potential client who moved to the States very kindly recommended me as a copywriter to companies back in the UK. I said thank you with a set of Penge postcards.)

Speechless in Seattle? If I’d moved 5,000 miles from Croydon, I would be too on opening an envelope of #PortesdePenge postcards

Does everyone respond? I’d not expect them to… The follow-up you choose (e-mail, phone call) depends in part on what you’re comfortable with and how well you know the person.

(Considerations about GDPR — General Data Protection Regulation — loom large here, not least as the European Union’s regulations on data protection come into force on 25 May.

Blogs by Andall Legal on the subject might be of interest. The Information Commissioner’s Office, of course, has a wide range of resources.)

As you send the offline cards, you may want to use an online map such as ZeeMaps to give a flavour of your progress so far. This is an early version, and one that I’ll be updating to get more eyes on this blog…


(Talking of maps, no blog about Penge could not nod to Terry Wogan, the Irish charmer of broadcasting fame, who enjoyed a reference to Penge-sur-Mer — pronounced à la française, of course.

Mange tout, mange tout — as Peckham’s Del Boy sitcom character might have added.)

4. Transmit your values

Blog about #PortesdePenge postcards

@propertyworld26 & @BrianMcGee8 on Twitter.  Published in a about #PortesdePenge postcards.

Whatever size your business, no doubt your marketing budget is limited – and value for money is key.

So if you choose to put some shekels towards a community event, make sure it chimes with the values of your business.

I try to support the traders on Penge High Street for community, shop-local, small-business reasons.

The fact that events from Pengemas to the Easter trail and Penge Festival, in its 46th year, all happen nearby gets my vote.

But how about tone of voice?

If it’s a local community event at Easter and you want to eggs-change (groan) tweets about it, go ahead… enter into the light-hearted banter. (“Serious schmerious,” I write elsewhere.)

(Eggs-cited for or about Easter? That, and other linguistic conundrums, appear in a previous blog. Puzzled I remain.)

5. Think laterally

It’s been a fun content experiment, not over yet. (Thank you Stephen Shillito for your graphic design skills.) The second edition of the postcards, courtesy again of local printers Press Gang,  includes the hashtag #PortesdePenge. My own online oversight, first time round.

If you do give an offline-meets-online marketing project a try — and I will be very interested to hear about any examples — chances are you will probably see parallels with your project when out and about.

Why not include a reference to that in your posts on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn…?  Here’s an example from up the hill in Crystal Palace. Others, mostly on Instagram, range from tardis-like in Brixton to a leafy lane in Clerkenwell via slat-work in Croydon, a disused factory in Dalston to a slimline letterbox in Ladywell

Wherever I may roam, #PortesdePenge call(s) me home.

>Where’s your nearest postbox?
Here are details of a 30-day writing challenge (Sept 2019).
The aim is to write at least one postcard, sometimes a short letter, to friends or family…
every day for thirty days in a row.

Another set of postcards that I’ve produced, with help again from
graphic designer Stephen Shillito and local printers Press Gang,
has the hashtag #bmcreativeplaces.<<

*How is your business, or one that you know of, supporting local bricks-and-mortar traders on your High Street, including cafes and eateries?

What’s your experience of offline marketing? Please add a comment below.*


6 comments on “Postcards of #PortesdePenge: five ideas to combine print and online

    • Brian McGee on

      You’re welcome Allison. Very kind of you to comment on another of my blogs. Glad to know that you found it useful.

  1. Caroly Davies on

    Great advice here, Brian, and a wonderful way to support your local community. So much beauty to be explored and transmitted.

    • Brian McGee on

      Thanks a lot for your kind words, Bruce. (It’s the 100th comment on my website, a figure that includes my replies to each comment.) I’m really glad you like the #PortesdePenge postcards and the blog. It’s a fun project and not over yet…


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