In this article we are going to have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of leaflets so you can make informed decisions when embarking on a leafleting campaign.

Digital marketing holds the lion’s share of advertising. In fact eMarketer recently released forecasts predicting that digital media will account for fifty-four percent of advertising in America and sixty-six percent of advertising in the UK by the end of 2019. 

But as with all advertising, one has to weigh the cost versus the benefit one will derive from the advertising campaign you have designed.

It is common sense to diversify your marketing as much as possible to reach a wider audience even if you intend to market locally. In fact, it could be more important to use a wide array of advertising styles for a local business so that you can reach everyone in your area.

For example, a large percentage of the over-sixties do not often use the internet and of those who do less than thirty percent buy things online, so if one of your target audiences is the elderly, you should appeal to their more traditional mindset.

Even for those demographics that regularly use the internet, adblockers are being used more often in order to reduce the ‘noise’ of a webpage and make it look more streamlined. 

In short, digital marketing can be a hindrance because there is no way to truly restrain the advertising campaign to a specific local area and a majority of adverts online will be ignored at best.

Meanwhile, traditional media is maintaining a sizeable, steady portion of advertising that it should be employed as a strategic portion of your advertising. 

We recommend that all local business consider using leaflets as a major part of their advertising, particularly when they are just establishing themselves in the community and need to stand out.

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What Are Leaflets?

Leaflets are small pieces of paper, often no more than B5 in size, that are used as part of an active distribution of advertising.

Some people may draw a distinction between flyers and leaflets, saying that flyers are flat, unfolded pieces of paper and that leaflets are folded paper. 

For the sake of this article we class leaflets and flyers as leaflet advertising because the differences are superficial and the distribution method is the same for both.

Leaflets are usually handed out in person, displayed in buildings or on cars, or posted through letterboxes.

As such, they are both active and passive forms of advertising and are usually targeted towards a local area, though this is not always the case.

Why Do Companies Use Leaflets?

Properly employed, leaflet advertising guarantees at least one split-second view per leaflet as they require physical contact to acquire and throw away.

Generally speaking, they are more cost effective per character than digital advertising. If done well, a leaflet is visually appealing and more memorable; there is also something of a charm to a physical object that may be more attractive than a non-tangible piece of digital advertising.

Advantages of Leaflets

1. No VAT

​Leaflets are designated throwaway material by the government. As such, there is a zero percent VAT rate on them. This will help offset the cost of acquiring the needed permits for in-person distribution.

2. Cheaper manpower

Employing the time or one or two people to hand out leaflets is a lot cheaper than the ongoing costs of digital advertising over even a short-term campaign.

3. Cheap production costs

You can design your leaflet yourself at home or, for best impact, hire a designer to create an appealing leaflet for you. It is possible to print leaflets very cheaply even when using high-quality printing paper.

In fact, ordering one extremely good leaflet to be printed in bulk could be the best single investment in advertising your company could ever make.

4. Cheaper per word

Digital advertising has limited space and the continuing cost of paying for advertising online could run in the thousands.

Compared to a single bulk production of a leaflet and the amount of information you can pack into a single piece of A6 paper and you will soon come to appreciate the cost effectiveness of a leaflet.

5. Visually appealing

Simpler is always better, particularly when you combine a crisp design with a bold colour scheme. One leaflet should contain the name and/or logo of your business, contact information, details of your services and, ideally, a picture.

This minimalist design contains the essentials, but you are not limited to just that. You could include maps to your location, a little blurb explaining your company, perhaps even reviews. Make sure there is plenty of clean space to avoid overcrowding your leaflet.

6. Flexible design

Leaflets can come in a range of sizes and shapes, giving you plenty of options when it comes to your designs. Whether it be as a flyer, a menu-style folded leaflet, an accordion folded leaflet or any other design offered by your chosen design company, the presentation of your leaflet will depend on your chosen layout.

7. Targets specific demographics

The most common forms of distribution are through dropping leaflets through letterboxes or handing them out in busy areas such as shopping centres, high streets, bus or train stations and local events. 

This helps you concentrate your marketing directly towards the group you wish to cater to. There is no more effective way to reach your local audience than by directly handing your leaflets to your potential.

When it comes to dropping leaflets through letterboxes you can tailor your drops to what you are marketing. For example, if you are advertising a higher-end boutique you may want to concentrate your advertising in places where the average income is higher than usual.

If you want to advertise a restaurant that is somewhat out of the way, you can concentrate marketing in the area immediately surrounding the restaurant.

8. Engage your audience

You can directly talk to your customers, so do so. Ask for feedback and provides ways to deliver it. Make sure that contact information is listed along with business hours and honour them. If you say on your leaflet you will always respond, follow through on your promise.

One of the best ways to engage your customers is by including discounts, coupons or free services for a limited time.

Always make sure the deadline for any such exchange is within a reasonable amount of time in order to encourage potential customers to engage with your services when they have the time and money for it.

Disadvantages of Leaflets

1. Considered dismissible

​Given the prevalence of junk mail, it is easy for your leaflet to be lost amongst the other things posted through a letterbox. This is why your designs need to be instantly appealing.

If you hand leaflets out in person, your approach needs to be polite and warm. The key to convincing someone to take your leaflet and look at it rather than discarding it is your representative’s first impression, so you will have to train your people to give a very short sales pitch.

2. Can become passive advertising if not done correctly

​Unless you opt to directly distribute your leaflet in person or through dropping it in letterboxes, you will be relying on the power of passive advertising.

Passive advertising is considered the displaying of information in or on buildings or other objects. This style of leafleting has the lowest chance of drawing an audience because they are easy to overlook.

3. Discarded if poorly designed

​Once read, a leaflet is easily dismissed; the customer may read it, but they will not remember your service or company. The quick turnaround means that while it may gain you a customer once you will need to ensure their return through great service and other forms of advertising.

Tying into the first disadvantage we outlined, the most important factor in retaining someone’s interest is to create a visual hook to convince your audience to try your service once. Therefore, the most important facet of a leaflet must be the layout and presentation of your material.

4. Depends on careful marketing analysis

Leaflet campaigns need to be carefully planned because poor targeting of audiences will lead to low catchment rates. 

Furthermore, if the leaflet’s quality is poor, such as printed on standard paper from a home printer, there is a higher chance of your leaflet being discarded.

You should consider where your target audience can be found and the time of day you will hand out your leaflets in order to make the most impact.

Advertising a dog grooming service at a local park or place known for pet activities is a better alternative than simply handing them out on a busy road outside of a clothing shop.

5. Permits and permissions

Leaflets are designated throwaway materials which means that in many places, particularly busy cities, they need to abide by the general littering laws.

Permits are different based on location, where and how you choose to distribute your leaflets. Posting them through letterboxes requires no permit, but handing them out on the street does.

Legally, you may not be required to get a permit in order to hand out leaflets within a building, but it will always be better for community and intra-business relationships to ask permission before you do.

Gaining negative attention as your first impression will never be a good marketing strategy and will only poison people’s opinions of you. Be a respectful and considerate business owner.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Leaflets: How to Use Leaflets to Your Advantage

​Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of leaflets is all well and good, but how do you use leaflets to your advantage?

As you can see from the lists of benefits and disadvantages, the number one factor in creating business from leafleting is the design of the leaflet itself.

In order to make the best from your campaign, you should consider hiring a freelance graphic designer to create your leaflet and then hire a printing company for one mass print of your leaflet.

Include the least amount of information possible whilst ensuring the customer is fully informed about your service because the cleaner your leaflet is, the more professional it looks.

A professional presentation will always attract the most potential customers and ensure a longer leaflet retention rate.

Ordering a minimum of one thousand leaflets will be enough for several small rounds of advertising carefully planned out over a few weeks, or it can last several months depending on your planned distribution method.

It will also be important to consider whether or not you need permits in order to avoid fines, and research the laws concerning your local area.

The best way to do this is to contact your local authority as they are the ones who define the laws concerning littering and throwaway materials.

Whether you are handing leaflets out or putting them through letterboxes, analyse your local area for hotspots of activity such as transport hubs, common meeting grounds or festivals.

Choose which times and places are most fitting for your services and plan accordingly. For example, cleaning services would be best advertised on the local high street or in shops rather than at a pub or local art festival.

For letterbox drops you can make a selection based on income and local reputation in order to achieve the best results with the fewest leaflets possible.

Ultimately, the leaflet is the opening act in any local business venture so make it high quality. A leaflet can provide the basis for regular customers for years if done properly, but the only way to guarantee loyal customers is great service.

We hope our guide to the advantages and disadvantages of leaflets helps you make a more informed decision when planning your next leaflet distribution campaign.


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