What is Circular and Sample Distribution?

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Leaflet distribution has been making a spectacular comeback as one of the UK’s most popular marketing methods of late. Many businesses are adopting this model in favour of the more unreliable digital methods such as PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising. Despite this, some marketers are unaware of the different types of distribution available, so in this article, we’ll be looking at two of the most popular ones – Circular Distribution and Circular Sample Distribution.

Circular distribution

This term first emerged in the 1950s and is used to describe the process of sending the same content to a large number of people. Often used within workplaces to describe the distribution of information such as memos and newsletters, this is also used to describe the distribution of printed leaflets designed to advertise a business’s product or service.

Many UK businesses choose to market their business through circular leaflet distribution, and there are four main types of distribution to choose from:

  • Solus distribution – With this model, a business’s leaflet is delivered to the homes of potential customers by itself in order to ensure the recipient’s full attention.
  • Shared distribution – If you choose shared distribution, your leaflet will be delivered to customers along with those from other non-competing companies.
  • Hand-to-hand distribution – With this method, a team of promoters will physically hand your leaflet out to members of the public, usually within an area with heavy footfall, such as a popular shopping street or area.
  • Business distribution – This final method involves delivering to another business that may agree to help promote your company.

The method you choose depends on your type of business and who you want to reach, but all are extremely effective. To be effective, a business should:

  • Design an eye-catching leaflet with good use of colour, great images, and a killer call to action
  • Choose a professional company to conduct the distribution for them
  • Perform A/B testing to see what works best

Sample distribution

This enduringly popular marketing method is as simple as it is effective.

Since advertising first began, businesses have cottoned on to the fact that the best way to advertise a product to a potential customer is to let them try it.

Although this won’t work for large or hugely expensive products such as cars or high-end jewellery, it can be incredibly effective for products such as food, drink, cosmetics and perfumes.

While stores and supermarkets have been using samples as a selling tool for centuries, sending them by mail is relatively new and only really began to be a thing around 50 years ago.

This kind of marketing usually involves a marketing leaflet to which a small sample of a product is attached; for example, a sample pouch of a new chocolate bar or a scratch-and-sniff perfume sample.

This is a great marketing tool as, while a customer might discard a leaflet which has been posted through the door, they will almost certainly feel some curiosity when an item is attached to that leaflet. Quite simply, we all love a freebie.

This type of sample distribution can be particularly effective when coupled with a money-off voucher on the leaflet to be used when the customer purchases a full-sized product.

In the past, many businesses have been put off sample distribution due to the fact that, depending on the size of the sample, it could be quite a costly affair. While, in 2023, companies should still perform cost analysis for this distribution, innovative new packing types and methods mean that, in many cases, sample distribution can be performed successfully at little cost.

Sample distribution is made even more cost-effective due to the fact that companies such as DOR-2-DOR are able to laser target audiences, meaning that the samples will only be sent to those who are most likely to be interested in the product and to therefore be more likely to go on to purchase the product.

The Do’s and Don’ts of sample distribution

While sample distribution can be super effective, there are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind, and some of these are:


  • Ensure you correctly identify your audience and profile your ideal customer, as this will help prevent waste when sending out your samples.
  • Research the best (and cheapest) packaging methods for your samples, as there are lots to choose from.
  • Do consider timing – for example, you have a higher chance of your sample distribution leading to purchases if they are received shortly before the end of the month which is when most people get paid.
  • Do be clear about what you want to achieve from your campaign, i.e. an enquiry, a purchase or an engagement on social media.
  • Remember to include an incentive to purchase, such as a discount or a bundle deal on other products, to nudge the customer toward taking the next step.


  • Don’t send out fragile products by mail or those likely to burst and make a mess.
  • Don’t make samples too large – the idea is to give the customer a taster of the product, which will then incite them to make a purchase; something which won’t happen if samples are unnecessarily large.
  • Don’t send out more than one sample at a time to the same audience, as this can lead to confusion.

Is circular and sample distribution worth it?

The simple answer to that question is yes. Studies have shown that receiving a physical item such as a leaflet or product is much more compelling and attention-grabbing than seeing something online.

Studies also show that 45% of leaflet recipients say that they will either act on the leaflet or keep it stashed away somewhere for future reference – something which really isn’t possible with digital marketing content. Additionally, targeting is much more accurate with physical distribution than any digital method, leading to a greater chance of success.

Get set for circular and sample distribution

Marketing your business can be complex and frustrating, with trends and marketing methods changing daily.

However, one thing that doesn’t change is the simple effectiveness of getting your message across through leafletting and the distribution of product samples.

At DOR-2-DOR,  we have years of experience and bundles of expertise when it comes to getting the right message across to the right people at the right time, and we’re proud to work with some of the UK’s most successful businesses. If you’re ready to take your business to the next level with a circular sample campaign, our friendly and professional sales team is on hand to offer advice on the right solution for your business and to offer a free, no-obligation quote.

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