Is letterbox marketing still a thing?

Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist specializing in lead generation and content marketing.

OPINIONS: One of my little marketing hacks I love to share with my clients is to choose the paper to print on carefully. If you are going to give that piece of paper to a customer, make it a good quality one.

There’s something about a beautiful piece of paper that makes it hard to throw it away. If you’ve got a marketing flyer you want people to keep, make sure you print it on at least a 80gsm piece of paper. Flimsy paper is just much easier to pop in a bin.

Of course it’s also got to have something on it people want to read. When we started running events we created a “Magalog”, which is a catalogue, combined with a magazine. It had ads about us in, but it also had a lot of information-based articles. We sometimes get an email from someone who got a magalog in 2019 that they still kept! That’s the power of print. It’s much harder to get that long tail of impact from an email.

Using flyers, letterbox drops and print advertising is still an incredibly valid and affecting form of marketing. I recently interviewed Struan Abernathy, the chief executive of Reach about how their company helps businesses create both letterbox campaigns and what is called “out-of-home” advertising.

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Out-of-home advertising covers the marketing you see on the backs of buses, on bus stops and on billboards. Good billboard will catch the eye and if it’s clever enough someone will take a snap of it and share it on social, giving it more eyes on it. Of course you can’t just plonk a big sign somewhere and hope for the best.

Abernathy explains part of the process they do with their clients.”If you fully understand who your target demographic is, we can take that and then clearly show you what assets so what billboards, what bus shelters, what street furniture, you know, where you should be putting your marketing or advertising material throughout New Zealand.”

Reach blends their “out-of-home” marketing tactics with offerings in digital marketing. The digital marketing activity has helped them build out a really extensive set of data around the different demographics of communities and suburbs around New Zealand. As Abernathy explains, “We have a very large team and capability around data science. So one of the things our business does and maybe is not particularly well known for is we provide the audience measurement solution for the out of home industry, here in New Zealand.”

I love a witty billboard. I don’t enjoy ones that are cryptic or too wordy. We’re driving past at a pace, or trying to concentrate on rush hour traffic. We want to be entertained, for it to be clear and for the message to stick. This is why it’s essential it’s placed in the best spot for the maximum percentage possible of your ideal client to see.

Using flyers, letterbox drops and print advertising is still an incredibly valid and effective form of marketing.

MARION VAN DIJK/Nelson Mail

Using flyers, letterbox drops and print advertising is still an incredibly valid and effective form of marketing.

It’s unlikely the message will stick on the first go. This type of marketing requires larger budgets than most small businesses are prepared to invest, as the advertising space is large, and having a campaign up for a week won’t give you the repeat points of contact between the viewer and the billboard

Most of Reach’s customers for this type of advertising are large businesses. However they also offer letterbox marketing, which is both in the reach of small businesses. If you are too small to be able to use Reach’s services, at least let it spark you into considering print and letterbox marketing as part of your own strategy for 2023.

For a long time I’d have said that letterbox marketing as a rule was not value for money, time and a waste of paper. However, I’ve always been an advocate for targeted letterbox drops. Abernathy says it’s common for people to have that opinion as for a long time with was just a blanket nationwide drop.

“It used to be that if businesses and customers were investing into letterbox, it was very much a scattergun approach where you would just hit every letter box in a certain area or every letter box throughout New Zealand if you were doing national, but we’ re very, very much now about optimizing that marketing spend and optimizing where you’re putting your marketing material,” explains Abernathy.

If you are going to give that piece of paper to a customer, make it a good quality one.

Unsplash

If you are going to give that piece of paper to a customer, make it a good quality one.

A very simple way to use this technique for your business if you are a service-based business is to use specific location targeting. If you install pools, have marketing material to pop into the letterboxes on the street you’re currently working on. If you are a childcare centre, and you get an enrollment, go to their street and pop in marketing material that says “We have families in this street attending our centre. Come join and be part of the community.” Both of these techniques can have a high return for low cost and low time investment.

Reach does look after small businesses with this offer, too. Their customer base is varied in size. “As far as our customer base is concerned, we service from sole traders who, you know, example might be Joe’s Lawn mowing around the Coromandel who wants to create more customers as far as his lawn mowing service, right up to a very large enterprise wanting nationwide sales.”

Marketers spend a lot of time talking about digital marketing but there are so many other types of marketing that can have a huge impact on your business. And one of the best things you can do is have a blend of on and offline marketing blended together for the biggest positive impact for your business.

If you are doing any print, you need to first ensure you have active social media and a converting website. These are essential as so many people will go from the flyer to a quick google or check you out on Facebook (or another platform.) If they are really active on a platform they may follow you and start interacting with your posts.

You will also need a Facebook pixel on your website so that it can track your visitors, and then grow a targeted dataset of people coming to your website. If you do add this, do remember to add it to your privacy policy.

This is part of what I term “building a sitcky web” where all of your marketing fits together to bring your ideal customers closer and ready to buy. You cannot rely on one type of marketing, and marketing once to an ideal customer for them to buy from you. It’s about repeated interactions over time.

One of the attractive parts of using Reach if you’re looking to outsource some of your marketing is they now offer a mix of letterbox and digital marketing combinations. Abernathy expands on this. “We’ve just launched Reach Home into the market, which is a basically a combination of the letterbox channel, then, using mobile location data re-targeting the same message. So you’re getting that repeat repetition of offer or repetition of brand through your digital advice of what turns up into your letterbox.”

Thinking about how you could incorporate an “offline” marketing strategy to complement your online one would prove very effective. It’s something that we’ve been working on in our business, as we start to run our in person events, and use print more. Abernathy frames it really nicely.

Thinking about how you could incorporate an “offline” marketing strategy to complement your online one would prove very effective.

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Thinking about how you could incorporate an “offline” marketing strategy to complement your online one would prove very effective.

“From a human behavior perspective, we don’t just operate in the physical world, and we don’t just operate in the digital world. We hang out in both places, don’t we? So from it makes sense that if you’re going to invest in marketing, and you want to get a message out there around brand, or offer or whatever, you need to be in both places.”

If you are considering letterbox marketing this year, what are the essential additions to incorporate into your design. Abernathy says that the call to action is key. You need to ensure it’s clear what action you want to receiver to take from your marketing. He also says that you need to see it as something people might love receiving. “It’s almost a surprise and delight channel. When you go to the letterbox these days, it is because you’ve received a courier parcel or there’s a sample or there’s some brilliant piece of marketing that’s in your letterbox. So something that’s actually going to resonate, be clean, have a clear call to action.”

Perhaps 2023 could be the year of print, to add to your digital marketing. Make it targeted, make it compelling and make it something worth keeping.