Late comic Mitch Hedberg once famously joked that when someone hands you a flyer, it’s like they’re saying “here, you throw this away.” And isn’t this all so relatable? Whether we are entering a mall, heading out from home, or checking our letterbox, chances are we will be met with a couple of flyers no matter where or which era we live in.
But can we gather from this common practice that flyers do indeed work in the favor of businesses? Because why else would flyer distribution persists for such a long time it doesn’t deliver results? Today we explore why this seemingly old-fashioned marketing strategy can be useful and highly effective if used correctly. Let’s start by taking a quick look at how flyers originated.
“…campaigns resulted in armies being formed, rebellions taking place, and the rapid spread of Christianity…”
Marketing pamphlets came along with the invention of the printing press in Germany during 1405. Since then, information could easily be committed to paper and duplicated on a massive scale to help further ideas and spread causes. Prior to that, flyers were notes that were painstakingly handwritten before distribution.
But whether handwritten or printed, flyers have always been effective tools that helped align the thoughts and actions of many. So much so, that we see its occurrence in many forms throughout our history books and folklore. From war enlistment campaigns to secret moon cake messages, and even to spread religious doctrines. These campaigns resulted in armies being formed, rebellions taking place, and the rapid spread of religion – a testament to how deadly effective flyers can truly be.
But there is an apparent reason why print advertisements are so powerful. It has the capacity to take intangible ideas and present them on tangible paper, whereby masses of people can receive one unified message – making it possible for abstract concepts be communicated to thousands and millions of minds.
Inevitably, flyers soon became one of the very first tools used by companies to market their business as well. Modern times have supplied us with flyers distribution routes via:
- Direct mail
The only problem is that most flyers get discarded before their content receives a single glimpse from the recipient – instantly rendering them obsolete. So, the objective is actually to increase its chances of being retained by the recipient in order to maximize its effectiveness.
“…exactly where mail is expected; leaving recipients more receptive to the message…”
Let’s start with hand-distributed flyers, if a burger franchise were to distribute coupon flyers near their outlet, virtually all its coupons will find themselves stuffed into the nearest bin. This is because people naturally do not want to hold on to extra baggage as they make their way about; unless they are already intending or considering a burger meal. This method even has the potential drawback of decreasing average transaction values due to giving (already interested) customers a discount, rather than attracting new ones.
Door-to-door distribution, on the other hand, has the tendency to evoke negative responses because it intrudes onto our homes. It is quickly identified as unwanted garbage due to its silent, intrusive nature. Competitors will instinctively remove your flyers since they are competing for the homeowner’s attention, and not to mention strong winds causing flyers to literally fly all over the place causing a mess.
This brings us to direct mail. Arguably, the one and most effective out of the 3 methods simply because it does one thing so efficiently: It gives your flyer the highest chances of being brought home. And while it is true that plenty of direct mail gets discarded, compare it with hand-distributed flyers, or flyers shoved in-between our gates, and it becomes clear why direct mail wins in every instance of being retained.
Direct mail does not come across as intrusive because it is received in mailboxes – exactly where mail is expected; leaving recipients more receptive to the message it holds. And since it makes it into the homes of your recipients, they now have time to consider offers and deals along with their families, multiplying its reach – simply.
Flyer distribution can use used by businesses with powerful results. The only caveat is that it must be presented in a non-intrusive manner for recipients to be receptive to its message. Therefore, direct mail can maximize the ROI of your flyer distribution campaign simply because it is delivered via a medium that the recipient is accustomed to.