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Does leaflet distribution work?

Marketing strategies of businesses in London have included leaflet distribution for decades and people in general have used leaflets to spread ideas for hundreds of years, if not more.

Even during one of the most seismic shifts in advertising in living memory which has been the introduction of various online marketing methods, leaflet distribution is still being used widely by some of the largest players in all fields.

Unlike many other physical and print advertising options the number of leaflets being delivered has actually grown across the board over the last 20 years.

Large multinational corporations are currently having millions of leaflets delivered throughout London every week.

On top of this countless small businesses and self employed micro businesses are working with leaflet distribution companies as well.

Today we’ll have a look at what makes leaflet distribution work and in which situations one might benefit from using another form of advertising.

Does leaflet distribution work?


Leaflet distribution works the best when it focuses on local areas. What does this mean?

The design of your leaflets, frequency of deliveries and the message they convey should represent the character of the area where the distribution is taking place.

Since leaflet distribution is a completely physical, real-world marketing method it has a unique way of developing a connection with people.

If you are running your leaflet distribution campaign in London you might want your leaflets delivered in Hampstead to look different to your leaflets being delivered in Clapton.

There are specific design elements that one can include to represent the area one is targeting. People are receptive to physical forms of advertising the most if they recognize elements within it. Even subconsciously.

This form of granular planning for each campaign is possible nowadays thanks to modern stock control and distribution mechanisms. As such your campaigns can be using multiple designs and distribution strategies in different parts of town.

Does leaflet distribution work?


We have mentioned the idea of using multiple designs in your campaigns to improve the impact of your drops on a local level.

This is however something you should consider organising with a professional designer.

There is much that goes into leaflet design and the outcome of your leaflet distribution campaigns relies on the quality of work and planning you and your designer put into the process.

A few things to keep in mind when you are working on the concept for your leaflets

Does it work from six feet away? This is a crucial element of leaflet design. You need to make sure that when your potential customers see your leaflet on their doormat they can easily understand what it is trying to tell them

Is your message clear? It is crucial that your leaflet remains focused on delivering a single message. If your business offers many different goods and services you might want to consider using multiple drops with a leaflet dedicated to each category.

You want to have your leaflet sending your potential customers in one direction and have it clearly communicate a single idea.

Is your branding consistent? You want to make sure that the colour scheme, logos and fonts that you are using in your designs correspond with your website, storefront and other printed materials you use. Keeping your brand consistent is very important.

Does leaflet distribution work?


When we talk about flyer design we shouldn’t overlook what has become the most important element of most people’s flyers – the choice of photos to be used.

Photography wasn’t always as important in flyer design but as flyers became simpler in message and form the photos used have become more important.

In general one page of your flyer will mostly consist of one main photo, well designed headline and your branding. This will often be the ‘front’ side of the flyer.

We generally advise that you hire a professional photographer to take images that they will tailor to you specifically. If this is not a possibility, selecting a high quality and relevant picture from one of the many online stock photo sites is a good option.

In order for your flyer to work well it needs to be well designed. In order for your design to be good you will most likely need very good photography included on your flyer.

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Local again

We’ve mentioned that larger companies that deliver leaflets in many different areas of London might want to tweak their designs to fit the character of each local area.

What is also worth mentioning is the importance of leaflet distribution for businesses that focus on serving their local area.

If you have some physical presence in your local area in the form of a shop window or attendance at local events, farmers markets or community park gatherings, running a leaflet distribution campaign can be very effective.

There is a compounding effect in physical marketing and when you combine visual familiarity with your branding and physical location with the physical nature of a delivered leaflet you can get some very good results.

Some of the businesses this applies to are

Personal trainers taking part in local park runs
Local restaurant with a physical presence
Local flower shop
Local butchers and delis
Estate agents
Plumbers, Gardeners, handymen and others…

Leaflet distribution makes up a considerable part of the marketing efforts of large companies but fyers can be even more important for small local businesses and self-employed people that aim to mostly serve their local area.

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Door to door

We’ve established that in order to make your leaflet distribution campaigns effective you need to respect the local areas you are delivering to and make sure that your design is of high quality.

But which specific leaflet distribution technique is the most effective?

In most instances it is door to door distribution focused on privately owned residences. This means that the distributor delivers your leaflets only through the letterboxes of privately owned homes.

In this system the distribution company would not deliver leaflets to businesses, local authority housing, housing estates, industrial areas and large apartment buildings that are impossible to reliably access.

This way your leaflets make their way only to residential households eliminating any wasted leaflets that might make their way to addresses you do not want to target.

We can segment these households based on demographic information as well as geographically which gives you great power and ability to plan your campaigns for some sophisticated targeting.

As a leaflet distribution company that has decades of combined knowledge of London and that continuously conducts research into various local demographic moves we can help you target demographics like.

– Students
– Young families
– Single professionals
– Retired couples
– etc…

These demographics are not going to be perfectly segmented into different postcodes but our system breaks down in a way that allows for such targeting with a fairly high level of accuracy.

It is worth pointing out that you might want to consider combining your local leaflet distribution efforts targeting specific demographics with other marketing methods like facebook ads.

The high level of accuracy in targeting and combination of these methods can bring some fantastic results when you have a clear idea of what you want from your campaign.

Does leaflet distribution work?

Repeated drops

There is another element to door to door campaigns that is not available when using other distribution methods.

With modern distribution systems and stock control we can arrange to deliver your leaflets to the same addresses repeatedly with very specific rest periods between each delivery.

Most marketing techniques rely on repeated exposure. Whether we are talking about TV ads, print advertising or social media ads we are meant to see these more than once as customers.

Repeated exposure is key to these techniques but leaflet distribution has historically not been able to implement this idea.

However with modern stock control and other techniques we can arrange multiple drops to the same addresses with very specific timings.

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This effect can compound with the fact that we can use a different or a slightly tweaked design for each drop.

This helps combat the most dangerous element of repeated exposure. Exposure fatigue. When we see a TV ad more than once we are more likely to remember the brand. However, if we see the ad too many times the repetition makes it irritating.

When we tweak your design for each drop we can avoid this. We can use different photos on your leaflet, change the wording or make it offer a slightly different service or product you offer.

Another important element of repeated drops using leaflet distribution is the fact that we can control the number of impressions very carefully.

If you pay for a TV ad you can’t control how many times people will see it. If you pay for a social media campaign you need to track it very carefully in order to avoid certain people being blasted by your ads too many times.

Given how door to door leaflet distribution works we can count each delivery as a single impression. It is unlikely that each member of the household will encounter each leaflet more than once.

With this in mind we can space out impressions sensitively and maximise our campaigns effectiveness.

Repeated leaflet drops tend to improve the effectiveness of your drops drastically. This is something that you should consider when planning.

Sometimes delivering your leaflets to twenty thousand households twice with a three week break between drops is better than delivering to forty thousand households once.

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Other methods

There are other methods of flyer distribution that also work and are effective. Door to door is not the only game in town.

These techniques will include

Hand to hand – handing out flyers in busy areas can work for very specific applications. In general it is expensive and slow compared to the alternatives but it has some uses.

B to B

– delivering your flyers to businesses can be effective if you offer b to b services yourself. This kind of distribution is considerably more expensive than standard residential door to door deliveries but this distribution method might be worth considering for some companies.

Local Authority

– local authority housing is automatically excluded from large door to door campaigns. This is due to the fact that these areas are very difficult to access and almost impossible to reliably deliver to as a part of a large campaign.

We at The Private Postman however run a bespoke local authority housing distribution system that focuses on council estates exclusively. We work with local councils to negotiate access and we’ve mapped out all the relevant estates in London.

If you think that this is where your clientele might be, using this system we can help you with deliveries better than any other distribution system available.

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Quality of delivery

We’ve talked about the design of your leaflets, keeping your message local and the distribution techniques that make your campaigns work well. Now let’s talk about some of the smaller details that relate to flyer distribution that have a real impact on the effectiveness of your campaigns.

The state in which your flyers are making their way through the letterbox has a real impact on how well they work. This is why at The Private Postman we do not deliver in the rain and we never fold flyers unless it is necessary for them to fit through the letterbox.

A simple rule like this will make a serious difference when a larger campaign is underway. Delivering flyers the best shape possible is what helps make campaigns effective.

We also make sure to keep our distributors from overloading themselves for their distribution rounds. We keep their workload manageable so there is no need to rush and make mistakes.

We also do our best to keep our distributors working locally close to their home. This policy helps us to get all the benefit of local knowledge that our distributors have and compile it into each campaign.

Combining our overall knowledge of London with updated local knowledge held by our workers is how we can keep our campaigns effective. Understanding the local area in which our distributors are delivering is very important.

Does leaflet distribution work?


Another important element that makes leaflet distribution work well is proper tracking. How do we know that the distributors have truly delivered your flyers? And in what shape?

A proper tracking system needs multiple layers for the best results. We at The Private Postman have three techniques that together form our tracking strategy.

GPS tracking

– every distributor that works with us carries a GPS device on them every time they are delivering. We then download the information from each device and superimpose it over a google maps like system.

The resolution on this is high enough that you can see each distributor walking up to each house to deliver. We supply these files to you at the end of each distribution round and they act as a proof of delivery.

We also check every file and device that comes back to us from our distributors on a daily basis. We look for irregularities, common mistakes and missed addresses. This gives us the ability to keep improving what we do and gives you a proof that your flyers have been delivered.

Live tracking

– on top of this we will inform you every time a distributor starts delivering your flyers. We will inform you of their location every approximately thousand flyers.

This means that you can come see your flyers being delivered in real time at any time unannounced. This brings a unique level of transparency and put pressure on us and our distributors to perform at a hundred percent at all times.


– on top of the tracking systems mentioned above we employ supervisors that receive the live updates as well. They then go to each area that is being delivered to and physically observe and check the distribution happening.

This is another layer of quality control that we run that allows us to make sure that your flyers make their way through each letterbox correctly and in the best shape possible.

This combination of tracking, checks and transparency is what makes our system so bullet proof. We can guarantee you that our distributors will deliver your flyers properly and in the best shape possible.

Does leaflet distribution work?

Mapping system

Another thing that will relate closely to the above is the mapping system that is used to plan and execute your campaigns.

A mapping system needs to be bespoke and unique to the company you work with. Sometimes using the basic postcode delineation of London works but there are areas and parts of the capital where this just doesn’t cut it.

A mapping system needs to be regularly updated especially in a dynamic place like London. Some areas change drastically within a year. New buildings pop up. People move into areas that used to be industrial but have become more residential.

A mapping system that will give you a good amount of control over how you plan your campaigns will need to consider geographic location as well as the demographics on the ground.

If you are looking to target privately owned residential households with door to door leaflet distribution campaigns it needs to also exclude all industrial areas, businesses, local authority housing and large apartment blocks that are not reliably deliverable.

With all of this being said it also needs to be easy to read and discuss.

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Our system

We base our system on what we call Groups and Walks.

A Group is generally a geographically and demographically homogeneous area of five thousands households. A group like this will be clearly marked on a map of London and it will be given a number. For example G1 or G62.

Each group breaks down into five Walks. These are sub-sections of each group and you will find approximately one thousand flyers in each Walk. We give each Walk a letter. For example G1A, G1B, G1C, G62B, etc…

Thanks to the fact that these are continuously updated and the numbers of households are checked against the numbers of leaflets distributed every week we are absolutely sure about the numbers of leaflets we require for these areas.

With a clear system like this, organising and communicating about your campaigns is very simple. This is what makes your campaigns work.

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Help with planning

Very closely connected to this is the fact that we help all our clients plan their campaigns. We are not looking to just ask you where you want your flyers delivered and without questioning just execute the distribution.

We work with our clients more closely. We want to understand the goal of your campaigns, what your clientele is and what is your place in the market.

With this information we can make suggestions about which areas might be currently underserved and where you could get a better response.

As we deliver millions of leaflets every month we have a good knowledge of London and can help advise you on which areas you should focus on based on the types of goods and services you are offering.

Having an expert walk you through the differences between areas and how you can take advantage of these can be the missing piece that makes your campaign work efficiently and that will get you the results you are after.

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QR codes

Combining your online and offline marketing and activities can be very helpful in making your leaflet distribution campaigns work.

Leaflets exist in the physical offline domain for obvious reasons. However many online businesses have been using leaflets as a part of their marketing as well in order to side step some of the more crowded online marketing channels.
A good example of this are local restaurants that use delivery apps to serve their areas with food deliveries but who advertise via leaflet distribution. Their leaflets include QR codes with links to their delivery app profiles.

This way local customers receive a leaflet and by simply scanning the code with their smartphone they can immediately make an online order.

This way restaurants use leaflet distribution to use the online focused services for their benefits while keeping control of their marketing and not allowing the technology giants to fully lock them into their ecosystem.

In this sense leaflet distribution can be liberating for a small business that might otherwise have very little control over their advertising. For example a local restaurant on a large delivery app.

When you make it easy for people to move from your leaflet to your online presence and make an order, your leaflet distribution campaigns can become way more effective.

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To summarise what we’ve talked about today. Leaflet distribution works but there are many elements that go into a leaflet distribution campaign or strategy that help maximise your results.

Like any other form of advertising leaflet distribution needs you to approach it with knowledge to be truly effective.

– Your design has to be on point
– You need to select your photography right
– You should focus on the local area you are delivering in
– The leaflet distribution company you use should have a great mapping system
– The company you use needs to have the tracking of your leaflet distribution campaign down
– Your campaign should be carefully planned
– You might want to consider running repeated drops
– If you can, connect your leaflet distribution with your online presence

If you follow these principles your leaflet distribution campaigns will become more effective and you can expect your response rates to grow.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Yes we do. It’s 5,000 leaflets per postcode. If you have less than 5,000, you will be charged for 5,000 anyway – it’s the minimum job rate. We can print 5,000 leaflets from around £90.