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Sales Flyers Stink February 21, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Tactics, Small Business Advertising.
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dirksphoto.jpgDo you know what the life expectancy of a sales flyer is? About 5 seconds…before it ends up in the vertical filing system (trash can). For effectiveness, they rate about as low as you can go. Yet, they are the bane of many businesses that merrily keep designing them and printing them in seemingly endless quantities and colors on 8 ½ x 11 paper! You’ll find them stuffed into envelopes (that’s personal!), stuck on your windshield, or sitting on a counter.

How do I feel about flyers? They stink. How’s that. Ok, you say if they stink, why do so many businesses use them? Because they are the cheapest ploy around. Also because many business owners are under the spell that if they print it, somebody actually will read it and buy something.

If only that were true.

Sales teams love flyers. Gotta have them. Over the years I can recall many sales teams who told me that if they only had a certain kind of sales/marketing flyer, they would do more business. So, we’d design one, with all the elements of an effective design (that in another blog posting), including a strong call to action for the reader. Result: despite having the flyer they couldn’t live without, no one ever could claim it did anything to their sales efforts. Ever. Never. They’d go away until the next great idea for a ‘gotta have’ flyer and we’d go through it again. And again.

The fact is that flyers are a cheap, mass-market, untargeted way to sell or market your business. Sure, the local design/print shop will be happy to tell you how good they are. That’s so they can sell you more of them!

Here are some things I’ve learned about using flyers:

1. Cheapest is not always best. Actually, for the results you get from them, they are actually very expensive. Here’s the math: 0$ sales – Cost of flyers = your loss. The low price of this medium may make you feel good, but the results are enough to make you sick.

2. Quantity is not better than quality. Many businesses are under the spell that if you print a whole bunch of flyers and distribute them widely, the odds are you’re going to get some sales that will more than pay for the cost of the flyers. Call me when you do.

3. Blast distribution to the world never works. Print lots of flyers and blast them out everywhere…the numbers have to work in your favor…right? Perhaps not. Perhaps it would be better if you figured out ways to deliberately target your potential customers instead of reaching everybody. Meaning, you end up reaching people who have no interest in buying your product or service anyway.

4. Flyer life expectancy: 5 seconds or less. When was the last time you picked up a sales flyer and kept it for future reference? Or even bothered to read it?

5. Bad flyer design is…bad design. Many business owners decide that they are not only experts in their business, but they are top-flight flyer designers too! Or someone in his or her family is known to have ‘artistic flair’ and gets the job. Sure, you save money instead of having a professional design it but it generally will look awful. You and I have seen plenty of those. Hideous and not very memorable either. So, if you’re convinced that I’m full of it and want to do a flyer despite my best efforts to convince you otherwise, take it to a good graphics designer. Please.

So, how do I really feel about sales and marketing flyers?

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