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I'm considering dropping off / posting leaflets to local small businesses to advertise my web & graphic design services.

Is this kind of promotion acceptable or might it just result in people getting annoyed?

  • Posting as in franked mail is not cost effective, selective high street industrial park may work to a small percent but what do your family do with fliers through the door ? Face to face is best (you can ask to see the bill payer, but expect many rejections / call head office manager / the boss is not here) notice boards in supermarkets may occasionally work as small business owners have to buy food, but best suggestions below are 1) Network 2) ask local small business adviser how to contact other parties say via newsletters / business mag. – KJO Jan 13 at 1:37
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Like any advertising venture, leaflets or fliers can be beneficial.

If you think the local market would produce some clients this way, then by all means I'd try it. Costs are really minimal compared to possible returns. You wouldn't need anything overly fancy, a simple well designed, clear, one-color flier, which is merely copied rather than printed, would suffice.

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I think it depends heavily on a few things:

  1. Your region. Do businesses usually drop off leaflets?
  2. Cost. You need to print the leaflets somehow, and that will be a cost to your business. If you're just starting out, it may not be feasible, depending on your circumstances. If you've been in operation for quite some time, then it should be a moot point.
  3. Leg work. Do you have the time and patience to walk into all the small businesses in your area just to drop off something that may get thrown into the garbage?
  4. Design work. You need the leaflet to look like something the potential customer will not want to immediately throw away. Spend some time on your design choices, and your elevator pitch (30 seconds to convince them)

I'm not saying don't do it, but you need to consider some of the extra work required.

What about posting on bulletin boards around town? What about your local Chamber of Commerce (or similar)?

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To be candid, I think you'd be better of spending your money on a few pints than chopping down trees and throwing them to the wind. :) I've been traveling around the world doing web and software development for about two decades now. Dropping of pamphlets is as effective as direct mail marketing (it's not). Since you are in the web & design business, you would be much better served by attending networking events (meetup.com events, Toast Masters, conferences, InterNations, etc). Studies show that the response rate to direct mail marketing is around 4%. Much less still are actually converted into a sale. From my own experience, you're better served chatting it up at building a great portfolio online, chatting it up at networking events, and handing out a card like there is no tomorrow. See if you can get a chance to get up and speak at these events and be sure to plug your company as much as possible. Many of these events won't let you self-advertise, so arrive dressed as a human billboard.

  • It's important to realize that for direct mail, if you spend $5k creating a campaign to sell a $300 product/service and mail it to 75,000 people... a 4% response is 3,000 people. If then even just 1% of those (30 people) then purchase, that's a $9k return on your $5k investment. Almost DOUBLE your investment. It's easy to look at raw response rate numbers and devalue Direct Mail.. but once you look at profits you'll see there's a very valid reason it's still in use, even in this "digital age". – Scott Jan 9 at 21:06
  • Now, direct mail to 50 people selling something for $300 would be a bad campaign to run. Only some campaigns are suitable for direct mail. Primarily if the mail list is substantial. – Scott Jan 9 at 21:20

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