How To Make Leaflet Drops Work Brilliantly…

Making Leaflet Drops Work Brilliantly

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Leaflets are a very effective marketing tool for reaching consumers in their homes. The rewards that await those that do it well are significant – and luckily for you, most do it badly!

Creating Your Own Customer Tap

You have listened to great design advice, spent the quality thinking time required and crafted the perfect leaflet.

Several boxes have just arrived at your office.

Your new leaflets are here! It has:

  • A great headline on both sides
  • An attention-catching image
  • It has been professionally designed
  • It is printed on the right stock
  • You have a compelling call to action
  • You remembered to put in a time-limited offer
  • And you even have a unique tracking phone number in place

Excellent work – 10/10

Now, go ahead and do what most others do. Screw it all up with unplanned (but probably cheap), unprofessional delivery.

Find a kid on a chopper. Give him a few quid. Hope for a response. A neighbour, a friend, someone. Anyone you can find to stuff some letterboxes.

At least you have that right; you should not be doing it yourself!

Lessons From The Trenches

Any results you get back will be meaningless when the delivery strategy is poor or non-existent. Unable to be replicated and built on. That’s the first miss.

I see it every week. Businesses order boxes of leaflets that turn up at their offices. They have little idea what to do with them next, how to get them delivered or what they should expect.

You need a plan!

A great delivery plan and an average leaflet will win over a great leaflet and a rubbish delivery plan every time.

Our 14-Step Blueprint


1. Demographics / Geographics

You must know the total number of letterboxes in your target area.

Look at the demographics of the area. Conduct a house count. The information is out there without having to get in the car or walk it.

Even the best demographic software gives you a relatively high-level view of the makeup of an area/suburb or street.

Don’t be too hasty to eliminate areas – especially on the first couple of drops, as you remove the possibility of some very interesting surprises as to where you generate a response.

2. Print

Having sorted the number of households, you now know how many to print.

Here is the formula we recommend.

Households x 3 = Total Print Run

It doesn’t have to be the same leaflet – you might do variations, but maintain ‘the look’ so you are recognised easily. You will see why.

A drop area of less than 5,000 isn’t going to give you much value in terms of learning, feedback and enhancements for future campaigns. It is just too small of a sample to be reliable in either direction.

Insider’s Tip: Find the ‘sweet spot’ for quantities with your print provider. 15 – 30,000 is the point at which the price advantages for going to larger quantities diminish. The other plus of printing in 20,000 runs, for example, is you have the flexibility to change a headline, offer or, god forbid, correct a mistake.

3. The Ultimate First Impression

Make sure your leaflet reflects how you want your business to be seen. Here is how to get it right.
Imagine you are hosting a launch event or special function for your business. It is a very important event for your business. You must make the right impression. You are greeting people at the door and handing them information about your business. Their expectations need to be met.

How does the paper feel that you hand over?

A leaflet arriving on someone’s door mat is the ultimate first impression challenge!

Print on a good quality paper to give the best impression. We recommend if you are looking to print on a paper 150gsm or 170gsm, and if you want to go for a card, 280gsm is the best option to go for. There are many other possible variations, including 350gsm with gloss/matt laminations, but we find these to produce the best ROI pound for pound.

Just don’t print on loo paper – even if it is Andrex!

4. Size matters

Don’t follow the crowd. Our clients often get great results with a 1/3 A4 sized leaflet. Why? Because it is different and not the norm, making it stand out from the others.

Most leaflets have far too much information. You aren’t selling your product here – you are stimulating the contact so you can sell your product.

Insider’s Tip: Designing your leaflet to work on A7 size is a great exercise. It will force you to think about what you are doing and keep unnecessary information off the design. Then scale it up to A6 or A5 if you want to.

5. Campaign Thinking

Repetition = Reputation.

In almost every situation, the default delivery plan should be a campaign, not a one-off drop.

I have seen it work hundreds of times brilliantly.

Drop 1. Gets a specific type of response – the low-hanging fruit. Your timing has been fortunate. These folk were ready to buy, and you have landed on their doormat at the right time. You look good, so now they know where to make their purchase.

Drop 2. Done soon enough to create the vaguely familiar early recognition responses from your targets. Now you start to get the more considered buyers coming in – those that were thinking about what you have and now wish to go ahead. Plus, you’ll pick up more low-hanging fruit.

Drop 3. Recognition starts to bite. Response levels 2 – 5 times what they were at drop 1. It looks like you are serious. You are starting to ‘own’ the area. You will be building a name for yourself.

Trust comes with recognition. Your flyer will be getting stuck to more fridges and notice boards, left on more sideboards and mantelpieces for a possible future need.

Insider’s Tip: Better to identify and own an area through regular drops than spread it all across town once.

The other thing we like about leaflet campaigns is that they are almost invisible to your competitors. They won’t know how many you have dropped, where or when.


6. Time between drops

It will vary but err on the side of more frequent if in doubt.

It can also depend on your leaflet, how well it stands out and most importantly, how memorable it is.

Plan it and get it right.

7. Memory Effect

What we are wanting to achieve is the memory effect.

A subconscious recognition at first builds to a conscious recognition and acknowledgement when your leaflet drops.

It is very unlikely you will build the memory effect (and its advantages) by dropping quarterly.

The best results we see come with a frequency between 10 and 30 days. The other plus of more frequent drops is you can quickly learn what is working and what isn’t to refine your campaigns.

8. Shared or Solus?

Both can work well… but if you want the best results, there is only one way to go.

Solus (just your leaflet) can never do any worse and is likely to work significantly better. It is more expensive to buy in, but the list of advantages soon offsets an extra cost.

Test each approach if you wish to, but I always recommend starting with Solus delivery. Why would you want to compromise?


If you do go onto a shared delivery plan, make sure:

  1. You know what the timings are going to be for all your campaign drops. Screwing around with the frequency isn’t going to help the memory effect.
  2. Make sure you know what else is going to be on the drop and that it isn’t competitive or otherwise harmful to your business.
  3. Check the leaflet delivery company policy – how many others will be on the same drop?
  4. Do they ‘Nest’? Royal Mail nest – because it’s much easier for their posties. In other words, will your beautifully crafted leaflet be stuck inside the larger pizza menu or local builder’s merchant brochure? You want a NO NESTING policy – and no more than four leaflets in total.

(While on the subject of Royal Mail, the other major issue is that your leaflets will arrive in the mail. The mail is important – so by default, your leaflet is unimportant and lower priority. Not helpful.)

Solus or Solus + – Just your leaflet or one or two non-competitive others

  1. You have more control over the timings
  2. You have more control over the number of leaflets delivered together.
  3. You will get a better response (providing you follow our design criteria)

No brainer if you are serious. Maximise your returns, don’t compromise them.

9. Expectations

It is hard work delivering leaflets. Trust me; you will get fed up way before you hit 1,000 households.

Given that most drops should be at least 5,000 households in order to have a meaningful impact and produce valuable learnings (10 to 20,000 is recommended), here is what you should expect and make sure you check with your delivery company.

  • Who do they use? Employees, subcontractors, adults, children?
  • How do they pay their delivery people, and how much?
  • What is their delivery capacity in your areas of interest for a week /month?
  • How many do they expect their people to deliver in a day/per hour on average?

10. Some facts – and we know!

Adult delivery staff do better.
The likelihood of running into a problem increases as age falls below 20 and will get worse as you head to 13 – the legal minimum age. It doesn’t mean there aren’t great kids out there, and I am sure yours are. It does mean that the risk goes up, so be aware of it.

To deliver to 1,000 households in a typical suburban area will require a walk of between 20 and 22 miles. I have 1000’s of GPS tracks to prove it. Most people can’t do that in a day and certainly not for several days in a row.

A delivery rate in an easy area might get as high as three a minute – 180 an hour. To keep that up, you have to be very focused and fit. Claims of delivery rates much beyond that should be treated with absolute caution.

A more realistic rate is around 100 – 120 an hour.

Posh areas take longer! Driveways are longer; properties are further apart.

11. Backchecking

Some companies claim that they audit their delivery folk by physical backchecking, in other words knocking on the door and asking the householders if they have received the leaflet. We have tested it many times.

As a method of verification, it is next to hopeless! It is just not reliable.
Here is why.

False Negative. You are relying on the person answering the door being the same person that picked up the leaflet off the door mat. With an average household having 2.3 residents, the chances are already under 50% before you even knock. If he answers the door and she had thrown it away before he got home, you get a false negative.

False Positive. You knock on the door and are immediately perceived as a nuisance. They will say anything to get rid of you. They are afraid if they say ‘no, didn’t get it’ that you will start selling to them. I tested this a few days ago in a street where we had not delivered the leaflet I was showing to householders. Want to guess what happened? 38% told me they had got the leaflet!

Bad Memory. Can you remember a leaflet you got yesterday – or even last week? I can’t, and I’m in business. The reality is homeowners can’t tell you because they don’t know.

Genuine responses. You will get people that respond accurately to this backchecking approach with correct, truthful and accurate answers.

Now, do you want to tell me what the mix from all of the above possibilities will be? No one can tell.

I have no idea why leaflet companies insist on using this as a method of checking delivery.

Door knocking to back check isn’t almost useless – it is a total waste of time!

12. Readiness

Be ready to handle the response – and no, I don’t mean with a voicemail.

If you are not answering the phone yourself, make sure that whoever does knows exactly what is going on and has a pre-scripted response to gather the correct information, assess the caller’s seriousness and value, and make the right impression.

No point in doing all this work and not being ready for the response!

13. How to kill leaflet response in one easy move.

So far, it has been all about things to do. Here is the one thing NOT to do.

Have it delivered inside something else – a free newspaper or magazine. NEVER do it. Response rates are low enough already without making it even more difficult!

Expect to reduce response rates between 38% and 65% if you go down this track.

Yes, it’s cheap. But it won’t help. If you want to be in the paper, take out an advert.

14. And Finally

Gather feedback, responses and trackable data from each drop. Spend time extracting the lessons and apply them to the next campaign to continue improving.

It is perfectly possible to get your leaflet marketing to a position where you know what it will produce before you commence the drop.

Get out there and make it happen – leaflet campaigns are often overlooked. They can be an excellent tool for switching on that customer tap when needed.

The last idea – get the professionals in to do all this for you while you focus on the other parts of your business where you can have the best impact.

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