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Thread: Are people still using simple printed flyers successfully?

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    Default Are people still using simple printed flyers successfully?

    Hello everyone!

    I'm a newbie to this forum... and online forums in general... so, if I'm breaking any rules or doing something that's otherwise not cool or acceptable, PLEASE let me know. I'm not out to cause trouble. I've just been out of the "business world" for the last decade, most of which was spent as a full-time caregiver for my aging parents. So I'm not totally up to speed on how to behave in online forums.

    But now I'm wanting to get back "in the game" and I've been searching for an online community to start getting involved in and add value to. So here I am! :-)

    I've got a question... for anyone who might have some experience to share with me.

    First though, a tiny bit of background...

    During the 1990's, I made my living as a small biz consultant. My area of expertise was marketing, especially in the area of print advertising and direct mail. I used to do a lot of fun stuff for my clients with paper and ink. In addition to very well targeted direct-mail, we'd make extensive use of flyers, brochures and special reports. (If anyone's interested, I can go into detail on some of the things we did.)

    (I left that field in 2000 to get into the world of online lead generation. Spent 9 years in that sandbox until I walked away from business completely to become a full-time caregiver for my parents, who both passed away in the summer of 2015. After they both were gone, my family and I took a year off to just re-establish what "normal" is in our lives after having taken care of my parents 24/7 for 6 years.)

    A couple years ago, through a very interesting set of circumstances, I became the proud owner of a small warehouse filled with the kind of stuff that you'd find at a FedEx Office or Staples Copy & Print. Dozens of color laser/inkjet printers... pallets of supplies (toner/ink) for those printers... and somewhere around 5,000,000 sheets of paper. (Most of it is plain ol' letter-sized, 20-lb., white copy paper... but there's also a lot of colored cardstock and colored paper mixed in there.) There's also laminating machines/supplies... and coil binding machines/supplies, too. Plus tons of #10/#9 envelopes... and probably 25,000 USPS forever postage stamps.

    I got this stuff for pennies on the dollar... and, in all honesty, I could sell the postage stamps alone and recover most of my investment. :-)

    Anyway, I put the word out to some friends that I had all this stuff and started doing flyer printing for a few local businesses. (I charge $0.05 for a full-color, single-sided, letter-sized copy. People tell me that I could charge more... but I still make a very nice profit at a nickel a sheet. No sense being greedy) One of my best customers is a Thrift Store that consistently outperforms all of their competitors in their geographic area. Their secret? They have lots of printed materials that they stuff in the bags of all of their shoppers.

    Coupons... sale calendars... etc. They swear by the effectiveness of using simple, paper-and-ink traditional marketing materials to drive customer loyalty and bring in new business. And their bottom line proves it. In an industry where all of their competitors put everything online... they print everything out and hand it to every customer.

    So... at least in this one industry, with this one customer... I'm seeing that old-fashioned, paper-and-ink marketing materials DO work. And work extremely well.

    My question is this...

    Are there any other examples out there of small, brick-and-mortar businesses that are still using things like flyers successfully? Or is my customer an anomaly? A dinosaur in a completely digital world who, for some reason, just happens to be lucky? I'm really curious.

    If there IS a place for old-fashioned printed flyers in today's business climate, I'd be interested in seeing if I could capitalize on that, since I've got this warehouse full of stuff that could easily be turned into millions of flyers. :-)

    To do that, though, I'd like to find out if there are other people who are having success with flyers. Any insight would really be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.

    --Jon

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    I could see printed material working for a Thrift Store. They would tend to have a larger percentage of customers that are less online. Such an approach may also work for other similar types of stores: resale stores, salvation army, second-hand stores, etc...
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    Of course real flyers still work, so does sending good 'ole fashioned snail mail. Works really well actually.

    It's all in who your target market is and what you're offering.
    David Hunter | Duke of Marketing | Retired Real Estate Agent
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    Yes, I had some success using wire stakes.
    It's somewhat frowned upon in my area but I've done it a couple of times when I want to farm a specific neighborhood .

    You should never be romanticized about the medium in which your message is written on.
    Whether its through postcards on car windshields or through Facebook, the medium is just that.
    A medium. Nothing else.

    The message and your target market is way more important.
    I don't care what anyone says...especially if you're a Facebook advertising consultant.
    A local car wash is better off farming car lots within a 5 mile radius then advertising through Facebook.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveStrait View Post
    Yes, I had some success using wire stakes.
    It's somewhat frowned upon in my area but I've done it a couple of times when I want to farm a specific neighborhood .

    You should never be romanticized about the medium in which your message is written on.
    Whether its through postcards on car windshields or through Facebook, the medium is just that.
    A medium. Nothing else.

    The message and your target market is way more important.
    I don't care what anyone says...especially if you're a Facebook advertising consultant.
    A local car wash is better off farming car lots within a 5 mile radius then advertising through Facebook.
    I couldn't agree with your comments more.

    Many years ago, when the Internet was brand new, I had someone ask me if I thought that "Internet Marketing" would replace all other forms of marketing.

    I answered them like this...

    "I don't think that there any such thing as 'Internet Marketing' any more than there is such a thing as 'Business Ethics.' A business can't be ethical... but the people who run that business can be. And, when you really think about it, a person is either going to be ethical in everything that they do... or they're going to cut corners in much of what they do. You're going to be a person who can be trusted to do the right thing all the time, whether it's filling out your taxes... being faithful to your spouse... or doing the right thing for your customers, employees and suppliers. If you have a business that is staffed with ethical people, you'll have an ethical business. On the other hand, if you have a bunch of people, especially at top management positions who have a habit of cutting corners in many areas of their lives, that will undoubtedly carry over into their business dealings.

    As for 'Internet Marketing,' the Internet," I continued, "is nothing more than one more way to connect with your customers. Now, to be sure, it is the absolutely coolest thing to come down the pike because of the speed with which you can communicate... and the capacity for testing different approaches in real time is a direct marketer's playground... but it's just one more way to communicate. It might be the best way ever invented to communicate, but it's not a 'magic bullet' that will replace everything else."

    Back in the day when I was working with small business owners, I urged them to embrace the Internet... but not at the expense of shelving everything else that was still working. The best marketers are those who aren't dependent on (or enamored with) one single channel to connect with their customers and prospects, but test as many different approaches as possible and use a mix of those approaches that are profitable.

    I always told my clients that they should, as long as the ROI was positive, continue to use flyers... because, unlike a digital screen, paper and ink is "physical real estate" in your customer's home.

    So... yes, you are totally correct. And, it's so refreshing to find a balanced person out there who realizes that, in some markets, "traditional" marketing methods still work well... sometimes even better than Facebook. (And no, I'm NOT discounting Facebook, YouTube or search. I'm fully aware that all of those platforms are very important components of a well-rounded marketing plan.)

    I'll now get down off my soapbox!

  6. #6

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    I've noticed that when attracting more narrow group of potential customers on your local market it can be beneficial no to discard traditional ways of marketing completely. I've got a friend who owns a small Spa, and to reach new clients she put some flyers in gyms nearby and many people found out about her that way. Neglecting Internet Marketing would be stupid in modern world, but we need to remember about more traditional forms to reach as many clients as possible and to be recognisable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Blake View Post
    I've noticed that when attracting more narrow group of potential customers on your local market it can be beneficial no to discard traditional ways of marketing completely. I've got a friend who owns a small Spa, and to reach new clients she put some flyers in gyms nearby and many people found out about her that way. Neglecting Internet Marketing would be stupid in modern world, but we need to remember about more traditional forms to reach as many clients as possible and to be recognisable.
    The other factor to consider is that, for the most part, when people go online they're seeing ads that relate to -- or are a direct response to -- a search that they've done for a specific product or service. In the case of your spa-owning friend, there's always the possibility that the clients of the gym weren't actively searching for a spa... but, if the flyer had such a "can't say 'no' to" offer on it, that was enough to cause someone to take it home with them and, eventually, check out the spa.

    This is why I still recommend that small business owners still use paper-and-ink, if it's appropriate for them. Case in point: A couple years ago, I worked with a window cleaning service that put flyers in all of the self-service laundromats in town. He told me that the flyers he put in laundromats were, hands down, his best source of new business... next to referrals, of course. I wouldn't have thought that... because I think that most laundromat customers are renters, not homeowners. But I was wrong. The bottom line proved that. :-)

    (And yes, he did put a coupon on all of his flyers. Coded each one so he knew which laundromat it came from.)

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    If anything, traditional (paper) marketing is more effective than now, simply because everyone has rushed to the internet, so competition and costs have gone down.

    As others have said, I think it's all a matter of what the company is doing, and who the target market is. But even for non-local businesses, if a direct mail campaign is conducted well, it can work a lot better than a digital, especially if those decision makers are hard to reach on the internet. Whereas, if you have their name, you can probably reach them with a good direct mail campaign.
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  9. #9

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    Not a small company but the Bed Bath and Beyond "forever" 20% off coupons they mail out get us in the store.

  10. #10

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    It really depends who will be using it, and what it will be for. I work at a Fortune 500 during the day, and just created a report for my marketing director on our print material.

    Out of roughly 1,400 pieces of printed material we created only 42% was purchased once by our sales reps.

    To me it's been a huge waste of my time because they only purchase cheesy material and none of the information that's actually relevant to their job.

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