Print materials are efficient and economical tools to reach a local audience.
Today, thousands of companies bid high prices on tech platforms for limited advertising space. Thousands compete for limited room in search engine rankings and social media visibility. Only a handful can afford to outbid or outspend all their competitors in the competitive, global, digital market.
This brings us to the opportunity of print marketing. Print takes us back to traditional, local advertising. It gives us an opportunity to appear in places where many competitors aren’t able or willing to operate. In many cases, it lets us spread a message to a receptive audience on a tight budget.
This article will discuss how you can distribute printed information – at local businesses, in public spaces, and directly to people’s doors and mailboxes.
Distribute Flyers at Local Businesses
Any local business you don’t directly compete with is a viable opportunity for distributing your promotional materials. The more similar your businesses’s customers are, the higher your return on investment will likely be.
Grove Collaborative is an e-commerce store that sells plastic-neutral cleaners and home essentials. They slip promotional flyers into healthy meal kits from EveryPlate, which serves the same customer segment of eco-conscious millennials. Grove can either pay for this promotion or ask EveryPlate to return the favor. In this way, the two companies are able to work together without ever hurting each others’ profits.
You can find similar opportunities by reaching out to businesses in your local community.
You can share flyers, business cards, or brochures at local businesses such as…
- Beauty salon waiting rooms
- Cafes (Many have a dedicated space for flyers.)
- Car repair waiting rooms
- Chambers of commerce
- Community centers
- Doctor’s offices
- Drug stores
- Grocery stores (Many have community bulletin boards.)
- Ice cream stands
- Libraries (Perfect for reaching kids and families.)
- Medical offices
- Post offices (Most have notice boards for flyers.)
- Shopping malls
- Visitors bureaus
Once you identify the types of businesses to reach out to, follow these top 10 tips for a successful distribution campaign.
You’ll increase your efficiency if you plan a route in advance. You can plan where to visit in Google Maps. Write down each business’s name and address in a note you can access when you’re on-the-go.
So many people are bored while waiting. This makes waiting areas perfect opportunities for getting people’s attention! If you can, pin several flyers to a bulletin board or leave them in a stack so that people can take one home.
Bring your print materials and ask a location representative if they allow businesses to share marketing information. If a business says no, just tell them, “No problem. I just wanted to check… Thank you for your time.”
Of course, in some cases, you will hear “yes!” instead.
Ideally you would like to display your flyer on a bulletin board or coffee table. However, if you get an initial “no” and you want to find an alternative, you can try asking if the business would mind if you share information with customers in the parking lot by placing flyers under windshields. While not as efficient or clean, this can still get your message out.
You can customize your pitch if you have a relationship with the business you’re contacting. If you already know an employee, you can ask them to ask the business’s management for you.
A simple way to develop a relationship is to buy something before you ask to leave flyers. Businesses are much more receptive to requests from their customers.
Look for synergy. If you ask a gym to share brochures for your new juice bar, you could offer to share the gym’s marketing materials at your location in return.
Log notes about what businesses are receptive to sharing your marketing materials. This will make it easy for you to return to the same places next month, next season or next year.
Look for events that will attract your target audience. You can find events by checking with your local library, community center, or live event venues.
At an event, try giving out a sample product or some other valuable with your printed information. You could give out local snacks, pens, or reusable grocery bags.
Limited time discount codes and referral rewards can incentive your current customers to share your marketing materials with their friends and family.
Don’t forget, you can apply this idea in the digital space as well. If you network with other companies on social media, ask if they might like to exchange shout outs. They could even share your print materials as online images to their following.
Distribute Flyers in Public Spaces
In most cases, you can legally post flyers on public property. Look for notice boards at bus stops, municipal buildings, parks, and train stations.
While freedom of speech generally allows you share information, cities can establish restrictions. For example, some areas prohibit posting to light poles, while in other areas this is perfectly acceptable.
To be safe, use tape rather than staples so that you avoid damaging property. Also, check your local laws, and call your government offices if needed. In the US, visit usa.gov/local-governments to find your local government’s phone number.
For flyers that you share in public spaces, consider adding strips at the bottom with your business name and your best contact method. This can allow 10+ people to take a strip, even if you only have room to post one flyer.
People are busy. To draw attention, use short, simple headlines. “Need a gardener?” in big font is going to be more effective than “The very best lawn mowing and lawn maintenance services in Boise.”
People are more likely to look at your flyer if you hire a live person to pass out your materials with a friendly smile and chatting. Usually, you can legally give flyers to passers-by on public sidewalk as long as you don’t obstruct movement. Again, check your local laws and call if you’re not sure.
- Incorporate a sales pitch to get attention: “Come eat homemade gyros at Mazzah” “Homemade pies, buy one get one free!”
- Have your staff dress like the people around them. If they’re in a business district, they should put on a dress shirt and tuck it in.
- Train your team to pick up any flyers that people drop. You don’t want passers-by to get the impression that your flyer is throwaway material.
- Most importantly, advise your team to avoid getting into debates. If someone is rude, your staff can simply say “it’s alright”, “no problem”, or “thank you” until they leave.
Distribute Print Directly to Doors and Mailboxes
It takes time to share flyers in the street. This is where direct distribution can really shine. Direct approaches include door hangers, direct mail, local news, and packaging ads.
Door hangers are perhaps the cheapest form of mass advertising. Including all research, design, printing, and distribution costs, a typical door hanger campaign will reach 4,000 doors at a cost of $1,400. This comes out to just $0.35 per door.
If 2% of your door hangers result in a sale, then your customer acquisition cost will be just $18. This compares very favorably to Google Ads and other digital marketing techniques where customer acquisition costs often reach $30 to $200 depending on the industry.
Typically you’ll want to hire two people to canvas an area with door hangers so they can work as a team. You can hire canvassers using LinkedIn. You can either post a job or direct message students or recent marketing graduates in your city. If you prefer, you can use a recruiting service like Time To Hire, which currently charges about $400.
Train your staff to deliver during the daytime, avoid knocking on doors, and skip houses with negative signs like “Do Not Disturb”, “No Solicitors”, or “No Trespassing.”
For much more information, visit our article about running a successful door hanger campaign.
The United States Postal Service offers a program called “Every Door Direct Mail®” (EDDM®) that allows you to ship up to 3 oz flats for less than $0.20 each. (A flat is a large envelope, newsletter, or magazine.)
As USPS promotes:
“If you’re having a sale, opening a new location, or offering coupons, EDDM can help you send postcards, menus, and flyers to the right customers. Use the EDDM Online Tool to map ZIP Code(s)™ and neighborhoods—even filter by age, income, or household size using U.S. Census data.”
Delivering to zip codes based on income and other demographics can significantly improve your return on investment.
USPS TV: Advertise Your Business with USPS Every Door Direct Mail Marketing
One catch to the EDDM program is that you can only address mailers to customers using a generic addressee name such as “Local Neighbor” or “Postal Customer”. To use a person’s full address, you can purchase a list from a broker and pay USPS a higher price for bulk mail or first class mail. To explore these options, use the USPS Delivers™ direct mail cost calculator.
While strategies vary by industry, with mailers it’s generally best to keep your information concise. The larger your mailer, the more expensive it will be to print and distribute, and the more likely your customers are to throw it away without absorbing your primary message.
You can place an ad directly inside local publications, or you might be able to get a newspaper or magazine to physically put your flyer inside their publication’s pages. Give your local newspaper, local magazine, or industry specialty magazine a call to inquire what costs would look like.
If you’re shipping a package, make sure to include coupons or catalogs so that your customers can place another order soon. Coupon codes with discounts will encourage customers to save your offers instead of throwing them away.
Research shows that it’s five times cheaper to keep an existing customer than to attract a new one, so make sure not to miss out on this easy step to extend the lifetime value of each customer.
Continuously Improve Your Print Distribution Strategy
Your print campaign’s effectiveness will depend on how well you target buyers, call people to action, get feedback, and retarget your best prospects.
Where you distribute your materials will depend on your target audience. Where do they gather? What time of day will they take time to look at your message? What headline will grab their attention? What graphic will draw their interest? What size print can they read?
If you’re promoting a holiday sale, consider distributing information at least 3 weeks before the sale.
Include a call-to-action along with your contact information. Include your phone number, address and business hours so people know how to reach you.
The distribution strategy that is most convenient for you isn’t always going to be the same as the distribution strategy that reaches the highest quality prospects.
To evaluate what’s working, ask your customers how they heard about your company. If they mention they saw an ad, ask where they saw it.
You can also measure response rates using discount codes that customers redeem in your store or on your website. You can also save money with bulk printing costs by manually writing-in discount codes customized for each location where you distribute your flyers.
People can take 10 or more impressions before they ever respond to an advertisement. Even if you don’t receive traction at first, revisit the same places with another print campaign. People who see your message repeatedly are more likely to take notice.