|Are you wanting to get more business / promote a product or service? - then you need to read before you spend your money on print & distrubiton.
We have all seen them, felt them, read them, and thrown them away - flyers, advertising products or service discounts in the letterbox . A regular question from business owners - do they work?
In the 70's and upto the early 90's printing was very expensive and it was less common to see in the letterbox. Only larger companies could afford and distribution was usually done by children on very low wage rates. People didn't get junk mail that often, readership was high - it was interesting.
Technologies and standards changed and it made printing cheaper, however distribution become expensive. Both small and large business could afford to print and advertise. These days we are bombarded by letterbox marketing material and readership is not so good.
We now find there are people walking or riding motorcyles along the footpaths, and sometimes even driving and throwing them out the window of car .... putting things into people's letterboxes.
BUT these are the questions you need to start thinking about.
- What method of delivery is the most effective?
- Is todays letterbox advertising effective?
- Is it an economical form of advertising?
- Being a print shop, do you recommend letterbox advertising?
Let me just mention that letterbox distribution is about reaching your local market to promote a business, service or some other occassion or practice.
So what is the best and most effective method of letterbox distribution?
a) People on motor cycles usually work from a home based business. They are limited by the amount they can carry and the distance they can travel to. While trying not to fall or slip from their bike they also need to re-fuel and go back and forth restocking. They can't deliver to every household due to safety conditions, tipping over, avoiding parked cars, dogs, trees or other over-growth and definately can't ride in bad weather conditions.
Bike riders are the slowest delivery people and the most costly.
They usually collate and bundle the flyers together and delivery them all at once - usually costing around $0.03 per letterbox or $30 per 1000. When they have 10 different lots it becomes $300 per 1000 households (10 different flyers bundled together) or $3000 per 10,000 households which is 1 weeks work. (not bad for a home based business). Takes 2 bike riders 2 weeks to do around 100,000 households, they can not do every suburb in any 1 week. They cannot gaurantee anything in their delivery runs.
They won't deliver just 1 flyer and they will wait until they have around 7 or 8 to deliver, otherwise it isnt' worth deliverying. It may take several weeks to get an amount that is worth delivery and your flyer may sit on a pallet under their house for several weeks before anyone will touch it. They aren't working for you sitting on a pallet under a house.
b) People rolling them up and throwing out of the window of the car is just a plain waste of funds - this is the worst method of delivery.
Think about it, they sit there overnight in the weather - sure, sometimes they are wrapped in plastic. Peoples flyers or marketing material usually rolled up with a local newspaper. Around 90% of items delivered this way will be thrown directly in the bin .. it is very convenient to pickup and put straight into the wheelie bin - very rarely read.
c) The companies that hire people to walk the print material around and place into letterboxes is one of the best and most affordable methods of delivery.
These sorts of companies have people in every suburb ready to deliver your marketing material. Parked cars, weather conditions, slopes in footpaths dont bother these guys, they will walk and get exercise delivering your marketing material. People can only carry so much weight over a certain distance so they usually use trolleys, backpacks, bags, prams, and sometimes little buggies.
d) Australia Post is the best form of letterbox distribution. These guys walk past every house, every day with trollies, bikes, and vans. Your printed material is treated as as an addressed letter.
Is todays letterbox advertising effective?
We have printed many, many thousands of marketing material for letterbox delivery and they are delivered in every way possible.
Yep, we love to print anything that we can possibly print, and a very common question to us is it effective to print letterbox materials?
No . . . plain and simple NO!!
There is too much competition in the letterbox and the readership level is pathetic. Attitudes from the 70s, 80s, and early 90s are so very different, especially when a pile of 25 flyers just got put into 1 letterbox day after day after day.
Is it an economical form of advertising?
Letterbox delivery is more expansive than the printing. You have the wages for collating, travel costs, insurances, and other business expanses to pay for.
Let me explain again, most delivery places won't deliver your 1 flyer by itself ... they will hang onto it until there is around 5 to 10 flyers. Oh, you where thinking your marketing material actually mattered to the deliver people? Wrong again!!
We as printers take pride in our printing, we really love working our printing machines, enjoy the smell of printing, the sounds, the feel of the paper, and the reactions of people saying that is great stuff. But when we see these guys pick up the printing and throw them into the back of a van or ute and drive off ... then find them sitting on a pallet weeks later while knowing the print customer was very eager to get them in peoples letterboxes is just devastating...it's so very wrong.
As a print shop we print for a purpose, sometimes fold for distribution purposes and every print order is important to us and our customer.
Or when that job is bundled with lots of different marketing material, our customers print job is no longer important. It has now become unfuctional, and its then treated as just a bundle of paper. They grab the collated bundle and put directly into the bin.
I have seen a bundle of 24 delivered in 1 hit ... this means the delivery people may have skipped a few weeks of delivery, propably for mechanical repairs, weather conditions, or sickness. This actually reduces their running costs and increases their profits ... 24 x $0.03 = $0.72 per letterbox, or $720 per 1000 letterboxes instead of the usual $300 delivering to 1000 letterboxes..
For around 140,000 houses, it would take upto 2 to 3 weeks to deliver to the households they can reach. The material is already collated before hitting the streets and it takes time ... if you expect your material to be delivered quickly then your going to be heartbroken.
You have to remember that they will never deliver just 1 flyer. A fortnightly run of 12 flyers to the entire 140,000 houses is (140,000 houses x $0.03 per letterbox) x 12 different flyers = $50,400 for a 2 week run.
They complete their 2 week run and start all over again ... like I said, not a bad home based business, eh?
Deliverying 1 flyer to 10,000 households is too expensive for the delivery companies and they would never deliver it until they had enough to make it profitable. (10,000 x $0.03) x 1 = $300 for a 2 or 4 day delivery cycle - remember the mechanical maintenance, fuel, heat/beverages, and re-stocking. Australia Post do not have these issues, they are already going to every letterbox everyday, but have additional paperwork to fill out and office duties.
You've paid for your printing, paid for your letterbox distribution and fighting for competition in the letterbox - fighting to get noticed in a bundle of mixed up colours, textures, and it was wrestled out of the over flowing letterbox.
No, letterbox distribution is not affordable - and no it is definatley not economical.
The printed product is going straight into the bin. The only people that profit are the delivery companies - they are purely ripping the advertisers off, destroying the print order, and blaming poor readership on the quality of the design, content of the print order, paper quality (people only read the glossy stock, etc), or even the quality of the print itself - we have heard all the excuses from delivery companies.
Letterbox marketing now has a very very low return and you would be better off employing young sales people to walk around and hand out your printing / marketing material in person or why not hand them out at the local shopping centres when people are actually spending money on their weekly shopping.
No, we don't recommend letterbox distribution .. we believe in proper marketing.
Let me explain. Over the last 10 years reports from customers have changed - community responses have changed, the business budgets towards letterbox distribution has changed, and wage rates have also changed.
Old age pensioners no longer look through marketing material with awe they will look through marketing material for discount coupons, sales, and local community events and then put them all in the bin.
It has turned from a viable marketing avenue (20 years ago) to a complete waste of time, money, and energy. In fact it is become more and more common with letterboxes having No Junk Mail stickers on their letterboxes and still having masses of marketing material protruding out of the little slot.
We have had reports from disgruntled people that their personal mail was discarded from their letterbox to make room for marketing material.
People finding unwrapped large bundles of print in bins, worksites, even in green spaces (like parks, nature reserves, and drains) which had been dumped by delivery people so that they can avoid weather conditions or some other circumstance..
In November 2008 we printed 3000 full colour flyers for a local church who then gave the order to a local bike distribution firm to distribute 2 weeks prior to Christmas in the areas of the church attendees. 2 weeks after Christmas we received a phone call that not one of the regular attendees of the church received a flyer in their letterbox. Over the years we have had similar responses from customers from all sorts of delivery methods.
We have invested lots of time, energy, and printing into the study of letterbox distribtution in and outside of our local areas.
Please think about the issues listed before you plan a mass distribution of flyers.