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How to Design Leaflets

Posted On - 11/07/2014 11:54:04

Not a week ago I got told leaflet drops are pointless. How 9,000 leaflets – distributed by Royal Mail and including a discount voucher - "didn't work". With a 0.1% response rate in return for around £1,000 spent, it was starkly clear this business owner wouldn't be trying the same any time soon. But, was he right to think like that? Is a 0.1% response to be expected? Could he have made it better?

Continuing our series on Marketing and Design, this blog dives into these questions. Critically, we table an approach to leafleting directly relevant to IT Resellers and guaranteed to make you stand out. Expert or novice, if you're thinking of leafleting this blog is for you.

Excuse me

No-one likes to be interrupted and made to do or listen to something they don't want to. After its heyday through the late 20th century, broadcast marketing is becoming increasingly desperate. Ever more ingenious and invasive techniques are being used to counter people junking direct mail and making a cuppa when the TV ads come on.

That's why businesses are popping up on Social Media. That's why fun You-Tube videos are fronted with advertising. Yet unless done deftly and with real skill these are prone to do the very opposite of what they intend. Dubbed ‘inbound or permission' marketing alternatives exist - things like blogs, training sessions/talks, events, PR, involvement in causes and, that old favourite, websites. That's why we talk about these so much – they're the right ways to go about things.

So why are we talking about leaflets – the epitome of junk mail? Well, many of you use them. But more importantly, they can be made anything but rubbish.

A best kept secret?

In February 2010 a Direct Marketing Association (UK) Ltd survey established some interesting facts about leaflets. For example, it's a commonly held view that ‘junk mail' just goes straight in the bin. If this were the case how is it 79% of leaflets are kept, passed-on or at least glanced at?

"So what, that's not business" you say. Well you're right, it isn't. But look at this: 48% of consumers visited a shop, sent for information or bought a product as a direct result of receiving a leaflet through the letterbox.

OK, so turkeys don't vote for Christmas, but this survey does show that far from being an utter waste of time, money and effort, leaflet distribution has merits. And when compared with all other forms of promotion DMA claim it's actually one of the most cost-effective. Food for thought.

Expect what's reasonable

When you drop a leaflet there's a host of interrelated things that'll affect how well it'll do. Leaflet response rates don't hinge on any one thing, they're the product of several things all acting together at once.

To be successful with leafleting, you have to think of all these things at once and give them equal weighting. Neglecting any one will have significant implications for response rates.

You can see this when it comes to  'defined response rates' - there aren't any. Except to say a poor response could be nothing, a good one is rarely higher than 10% and an average would be 1.5%.

From this comes a stark truth: leafleting is a numbers game. Putting design and message to one side for now, the more you send, the bigger the numbers of responses. And with scale comes cost.

But with the cost of 10,000 leaflets around twice that for 250, the cost to acquire customers also collapses with volume. While a drop of 9,000 isn't small, small business leaflet ‘regulars' wouldn't baulk at double even triple that. It's simply the most cost effective way to ‘buy' customers with leaflets.

Leaflets aren't just for Christmas

The scale issue goes further. Leaflet ‘regulars' don't just drop larger numbers of leaflets, they drop them regularly.

They realise people aren't machines and won't suddenly stop doing business where they do now in favour of you because of a piece of paper. They understand it takes more than the mere prospect of an alternative to prompt change.

People shop where they like – a psychology that's well known and is rooted in ‘familiarity'. You can influence this with leaflets. Get you and your message in front of people and from the first time they clock you they start to know who you are.

But just how familiar are people going to be with you – just how liked will you be - after one drop? Not much. This isn't unreasonable, it's human nature. It's not unusual, it's to be expected.

So leaflets aren't at their best as a one hit wonder, you need to do them regularly. They really should be part of an ongoing campaign. You simply can't judge how effective they are after a single or intermittent drops, you have to commit and try them several times.

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