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Leaflets

Leaflets are very powerful tools for promoting your products.  The idea is to find potential customers by distributing leaflets to their homes or workplaces.  Alternatively they can be placed where potential customers will see them.

Although many network marketers achieve great results using leaflets it is not without hard work and careful preparation.  This section runs through the key stages in an leaflet campaign - and includes suggestions and questions to consider when designing your particular approach.

One Step Or Two?
Distribution Options
Designing Leaflets
Handling Responses
Payments & Deliveries
Following Up
Sanity Check
Review Results
Further Reading

One Step Or Two?

First you must decide what kind of campaign you want to run - one step or two.

In a one-step campaign your leaflet asks your customers to buy your product immediately.  So the leaflet has to include all the information to persuade them to buy - and place their order.

In a two-step campaign the leaflet is only intended to attract the customer's attention - and persuade them to phone or write requesting more information.  You capture their contact details and send them a brochure or information pack.  This then contains the material to persuade them to buy, and place their order. 

The telesales variant of the two-step campaign asks the customer to phone for more information.  When they phone in, you answer their questions and try to clinch the sale there and then.  It can work well but requires good telephone technique.

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Distribution Options

There are several options for distributing your leaflets:

Push them through letterboxes in your area.
Place them on car windscreens.
Place piles of them in public places
Insert them into newspapers or magazines.
Include them in mailshots.

Think about the product you are trying to sell - and more importantly - think about the kind of people who are likely to buy it.

Where do they live?  Are you just aiming at people in your neighbourhood?  Or do you have wider ambitions?  Will saturation coverage of your area reach the people you want to find?  Or will your leaflets just get chucked in the bin?

Do they have cars?  If so, where do they park them?  Will a blitz on the town centre car parks reach the people you want to find?  Or will they just get thrown away? 

Which public places do they visit?  Supermarkets?  Libraries?  Sports centres?  Doctors' surgeries?   Use your imagination.  You'll need permission to leave your leaflets in these places - and some may demand a small fee.  Leave a small heap and see how quickly they get taken.

Which publications are they likely to read?  Don't just think about well-known titles.  If your product is aimed at a select group of people then look for specialist publications aimed at that group.  Do they insert leaflets?  How much does this cost?  Check out our guidance about choosing publications to advertise in.

Who is already mailing your target customers?  Use your imagination.  Suppliers of related products?  Clubs and special interest groups?  Do they insert leaflets?  Look for adverts under Business-To-Business headings.  There are specialist mailers who charge for their services.  Check out our guidance about mailshots

Pick out a few promising candidates and evaluate them a bit more.  For each one:  How many people will see your leaflet?  What proportion are likely to be interested?  How much will it cost?  Don't forget to include the cost of the leaflets as well as any charges for distributing them.

Finally, work out the Value For Money rating - our transatlantic cousins charmingly call this the "bang for a buck".  How many interested people you can contact for each 1 spent?

Estimate how many people will see your leaflets - and adjust it by your guess at the percentage interested in your product.  Then divide this figure by the total cost of the leaflets plus any charges for distributing them, ie:

Value For Money  =  People Contacted  x  % Interested    Leafleting Cost

Obviously, to get the most out of your hard-won cash, distribute your first leaflets via the options offering the best Value For Money.

Remember: It's worth taking your time to get your planning right because it's easy to waste a lot of money and effort on unsuccessful leaflets.

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Designing Leaflets

Leaflets vary in size from A6 (a quarter of an A4 page) up to A3 (folded to A4 size).  They can include colour, photos, drawings and logos which make them extremely effective.

The great advantages of leaflets are: (1) they can be made to stand out so they're very good for attracting the reader's attention, (2) they put across your sales message very powerfully, and (3) with the bigger leaflets you can include a cut-out form for enquiries or immediate purchases.

The main disadvantages are: (1) they have to look good so you may have to pay someone to design them and produce the "camera-ready copy", (2) printing can take time so you have to plan ahead, and (3) flashy ones can be quite expensive.

There are some basic rules for designing leaflets - but there is also great scope for artistic inspiration.  Like most things, the more you do the better you get.  Start by being clear what your leaflet is intended to achieve.

Many leaflets are part of a two-step campaign - where the object is to persuade the reader to phone, write, fax or email for more information.  If you want them to write, and you can afford the space, include an information request form for the reader to fill in and post to you.  This makes life easier for them.  And you can make sure they fill in all information you need.  You can also put a code on the form so you know which campaign produced the response.

One-step campaigns - where the object of the leaflet is to persuade the reader to buy your product immediately - are less common.  You'll need to describe the product, persuade readers to buy, and tell them where to send their order and payment - which takes space and increases the cost.  If you can afford the space, include an order form for the reader to fill in and post to you.  This makes life easier for them.  And you can make sure they fill in all information you need.  You can also put a code on the form so you know which campaign produced the response.

Your customers get bombarded with lots of leaflets.  Most get thrown straight in the bin.  So, if you don't want your message to end up in landfill, you'll have to use your artistic ingenuity to make your leaflet stand out from the crowd.

All leaflets should follow the tried and tested AIDA formula:

attract the reader's Attention
Interest the reader in the product
excite the reader's
Desire
ask for
Action from the reader

The big advantage of leaflets is that you can use photographs, drawings and logos to attract the reader's attention.

If you can't afford the artwork, or you're limited for space, maybe you can use lines, boxes, large print or special typefaces to achieve the same effect.  Some printers offer colours, but these usually cost more.  Most can print on  coloured paper .  Glossy paper looks more professional but costs more.

Photographs or drawings of people help catch the attention.  Obviously they need to be happy people.  If your customers are mostly men then a picture of a woman will be most effective - and vice versa.  (Reverse that if your target market is gay people).

Pictures of the product don't just catch the attention.  They also help to arouse the reader's interest and desire.  They're especially important if you're trying to sell "off-the-page".  If you're selling a service then consider a picture of something related to it.  For example, a car for motor insurance, or someone on the phone for cheap calls.

Logos also work well, especially if the brand name is well known.

Short phrases enclosed in simple graphics (banners, stars, speech balloons, etc) can be used to attract the attention and put across key points.  For example, "Sale!", "Special Offer!", "New!", "Half Price!".

Use all these special effects sparingly.  A few of them will create a strong visual impression.  Too many looks fussy - or even a mess!  Leave some "white space" around the content as that helps to draw the reader's eyes.

The headline - the first phrase or sentence - is critical.  It should be written in large bold type, possibly capital letters, and separated from the rest of the text.  Use the headline to attract the reader's attention - and make your leaflet stand out from the rest.  Take some time thinking of alternative headlines and picking out the best.  You want people to stop and read your leaflet - not other things around it.

If you're inserting in publication with a broad readership, eg. the local paper, then your headline should probably specify your product, eg. Rare Books!.  This will only attract the attention of people who are genuinely interested in rare books.

If you're inserting in a publication with a specialist readership, eg. Bikers News, then your headline can focus on what makes your product different from the rest.  For example, More Studs Than Any Other Jacket.

Another powerful approach, especially suitable for business opportunities, is to forget the product and lead with the benefit to the customer.  Examples include:  Be your own boss!  Earn in your spare time!  Improve your sex life!  Or you can use blatant attention grabbers like:  Free!  Brand New!  Only 2!  Two for the price of one!

The middle wording needs to interest the reader and build up their desire.  Where possible, emphasise the benefits for them.  Give enough information about the product so they understand what you're offering.  But, if you're two-stepping, don't attempt to do the job of your brochure or your telephone sales pitch.

Make good use of "power words" - words that make the reader sit up and take notice.  These include: avoid, bargain, bonus, discover, earn, easy, enjoy, exciting, exclusive, extra, fast, fortune, free, how to, learn, money, more, mystery, new, now, profit, save, special, win.  Don't force these words into your leaflet - but use them rather than weaker alternatives.

The tail end of the leaflet must tell the reader what to do next.  For example:  Phone 01234 567890 for details.  Send 4 x 26p stamps to Fred at ...  Visit our website at www.downline.co.uk.  Proof read this bit especially carefully.  It would be a crying shame to excite your customers' desire and not be able to receive their responses.

If you're one-stepping, include an order form for the reader to cut out, fill in and post to you.  This makes life easier for them.  And prompts them to fill in all information you need.  Put a code on the form so you know which leaflet and publication produced the response.  Make sure it tells them who to make out their cheque to, and clearly shows your postal address.

Check with your company.  They may already have some effective leaflets you can use or modify.  They can probably supply you with "camera ready copy" - which will save a lot of effort.  Also they may have restrictions about where or how you distribute leaflets.  They may insist on approving your leaflet before it's published.  You'll definitely need permission to use their trade names, photos and logos.

Make sure you proof read what you send for printing.  Spelling errors and nonsense wording make you look an idiot.  Incorrect contact details will lose you business and annoy your customers.

If you're setting the leaflet yourself, you'll need to send "camera ready copy" to the printers - a good quality original of your leaflet.  It must be clear and sharp enough for them to photograph or scan into their publishing / printing system.

For simple non-glossy leaflets, you can produce acceptable camera ready copy using your PC with a good laser or inkjet printer.  If you don't have the expertise or the facilities you may have to pay someone else to do this.  Some printers will produce the artwork for you - for a fee!

For very small leaflets check whether the printer can photo-reduce a larger original.  This may well give a sharper image than you can achieve directly from your PC's laser or inkjet.

If you're posting camera ready copy to the printer - don't fold it!  It won't photograph cleanly with a fold line down the middle.  And put a stiffener or some padding in the envelope so your precious original doesn't get mangled by the postman.

For most publications there is no flexibility about their deadlines.  If you want your leaflet to go into a particular issue, get it to the publisher in good time for the deadline.  Make sure you tell them (preferably in writing) which issue you want it to go in.  If you don't tell them it'll be your own fault if it goes wrong.  And you won't be able to claim a refund.

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Handling Responses

Telephone Calls

Good telephone manner is vitally important.  Speak clearly and at a comfortable speed - not too fast - not too slow.  Try to sound keen and interested in what the customer is saying.  But be yourself.  If you try to put on airs it will sound false.

Work out a standard greeting and use it whenever you answer an incoming call.  This should include your trading name - so the caller knows they've got through to the right number - and your name - so they know who they're dealing with.  For example: "Fred's Sheds - Harry speaking".

You should also get an answering machine to field your calls when you're out, or otherwise unavailable.  Murphy's Law says that the phone only rings when you're in the toilet.

Work out a standard message along the lines of: "Thank you for calling Fred's Sheds.  I'm sorry we can't take your call right now.  If you'd like to leave your name and number after the tone, we'll get back to you".  Note this doesn't say you're out (which might give a hint to burglars) and it doesn't say when you'll call back (which might raise false hopes).

Your friends and family may think you're a bit odd - but the only alternative is a separate phone number.  Answering with "Ullo?" will make your customers wonder just what kind of business they are dealing with.

You'll also have to train the family to answer the phone properly too.  Stroppy teenagers often baulk at this - it doesn't help their street cred.  Explaining that new clothes or computer games depend on business success may tip the balance.

Modern telephones are very good at picking up background noises - even with your hand over the mouthpiece.  For some reason the television, the kids fighting, and the toilet flushing - all sound much louder over the phone than they do in the room.  So try to find somewhere quiet for your business calls.  Never, ever, make remarks about the caller!  Assume they can hear everything.

If you just want to capture the callers details and send them an information pack then keep the call short and business-like.  Capture the bare minimum of information: name, address, postcode, phone number, what product they're interested in, and where they saw the leaflet.  Write it all down - there and then.  Keep a notepad and pen by the phone.  Human memory is notoriously unreliable - so don't rely on it!

If you want to clinch the sale over the phone then make sure you're well prepared.  Work out the key points of your sales pitch and rehearse how you're going to say them.  Emphasis and intonation can be quite important here.  Prepare counters for objections they might raise.  For example: "It costs more than brand X", "Yes, but you use less each time so it lasts longer".

Try to establish a personal relationship with the caller.  Make sure you get their name early on and use it occasionally.  If they mention their family, or their job, or where they live - show an interest, or tell them something similar about yourself.  But don't overdo this or you'll spend all the time gossiping rather than selling.  Make a note of key points.  They'll come in handy the next time you talk to them.

Listen carefully to what the caller is saying.  Ask them open questions (ones that can't be answered yes or no) so you're clear what they're looking / hoping for.  This should be a conversation - with them speaking as much as you.  Don't let it degenerate into a monologue.  Try to tune your comments to fit in with their train of thought.  Find ways to agree with them.  Simply dropping in the occasional "Yes" helps build a rapport.  Even if you have to disagree with them try to say "Yes, but ...".  

When you've told them about the product and its benefits, and they seem to be interested, you come to the crunch point - asking them to buy.  Sales people call this "closing the sale".  Don't approach this head on.  "Do you want to buy one?" comes across as aggressive - and allows them to answer "No".

Much better to ask them a question that implies they have decided to buy.  Like "How many would you like", "Which colour would you like?", "How would you like this delivering?", or "How would you like to pay?".  Usually they'll just answer the question and you can move swiftly on to capturing their order details.

Even if they baulk at this question all is not lost.  They'll probably say "I don't know" or "I haven't decided".  You just switch back into your sales pitch and try to close the sale when they've had a bit more time.

If you don't have the enough time to make the sales pitch - eg. you have to get the kids out of school - explain the problem, take the caller's name and phone number, and sort out a mutually convenient time to call them back.  You should call them (and pay the call charges) because you're the one causing the problem.  Whatever you promise to do - do it!  This is essential to build up their trust.

At the end, thank them for their call - and say goodbye.  Then wait for a second so they can hang up first (otherwise they may think you're glad to be rid of them).  You'd be surprised how many people forget these simple courtesies.

If you've promised to send the caller an information pack then get it on its way today!  Follow the guidance below about replying to letters, faxes and emails.

If you've taken an order from the caller then move it on to payment collection and delivery promptly.  If possible despatch the order today.  Fast delivery is always very impressive and makes them well-disposed towards further purchases.

Letters, Faxes and Emails

First rule - strike while the iron is hot!  Your customer has seen your leaflet and taken the time to ask for more information about your product.  It's vitally important to reply quickly while they're still keen.  Aim to post, fax or email your reply the same day.  If illness or absence delays your response then apologise!

Keep an accurate record of who has responded and what you have sent to them - with dates.  Store their personal details securely - and don't give this information away to anyone else.

What are you going to put in the reply?  Make sure it includes everything the customer needs to make their purchase decision and return their order.

Where possible, use the standard brochures, price lists and order forms produced by the company who supplies your products.  They're usually well printed on glossy paper with nice pictures.  And the wording has usually been carefully crafted to present the product in a good light, explain the offer accurately, and comply with the law.  Substitute your own material at your peril.

Make sure your name and contact details appear on the material you send out - even if you have to add a sticky label to each item.  Adding a short personalised letter or note is a nice touch that can endear you to the customer.  But write it neatly (or type it) on quality paper - or you can undo all that goodwill at a stroke.  The same goes for the envelope.  Appearances really matter a lot.

If you're replying by fax or email then take your time to get the wording right.  Also lay out the text so it's easy to read and the page looks visually attractive.  You'll only get this one chance to make your pitch so prepare it with the same care as you lavished on the original leaflet.

You can use graphics on faxes to improve their appearance but check what they look like after faxing.  Shades of grey get changed to black or white which can have some unfortunate effects.

If you have a PC with a modem, try sending your faxes direct from the PC.  The appearance at the receiving end is often much better than if you send from a low-cost fax machine.

If you're replying by letter, make sure you put enough stamps on it.  Having the postman knock on their door to demand excess postage will put a customer right off you.  Check the weight of the sealed envelope on your kitchen scales if you're in any doubt.

If you can afford it, use first class postage for replies.  Second class may be cheaper but it allows the customer 24 hours longer to cool off and gives the impression you're less serious about wanting their business.

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Payments & Deliveries

With some schemes, the customer sends their payment to the company and orders are delivered direct to the customer.  This is the quickest, cheapest, and least error-prone approach.

With other schemes the network marketer has to collect payment from the customer and then pay the company.  The company delivers the order to the networker who forwards it to the customer.  If your scheme involves you in payments and deliveries then here are a few points to remember.

When you receive a cheque, make sure it's completed correctly.  The right date.  The right payee (the company or you depending on the scheme).  The right amount (in words and in figures).  Signed (with the right name).  Make sure the customer has put their cheque guarantee card number on the back of the cheque.

If you receive a payment by credit card or debit card (and your company accepts them) make sure you have all the necessary details.  Cardholder name?  Card number?  Expiry date?  Issue number (Switch cards only)?  Amount to be charged to the account?  Cardholder's address (as recorded by the card company)?  Delivery address (if different)?  Cardholder signature (not possible for telephone orders)?

Don't delay!  Send cheques and card payments to the company (or your bank) as soon as possible.  Send the order paperwork to the company at the same time together with any payment due.

As soon as you receive the goods, check the contents against the customer's order.  Chase the company immediately if there is anything wrong or missing.  Despatch the goods to the customer or call them to arrange a convenient time for personal delivery.  Your customers will be more inclined to buy again if you get the goods to them promptly.

Finally, remember to put a new order form in with the delivery so it's easy for your customer to order again.

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Following Up

Your campaign will have given you the names and contact details of paying customers (even if you didn't recover your costs).  Record these people in your customer list and guard it jealously.

Once you've captured a customer, follow up every few weeks/months.  Send them the latest brochure when it's updated.  Or phone them for a brief chat (but back off if they don't seem keen to be called).  Your aim is to encourage them to buy again.  Remember, it's much easier to get further orders than to find new customers.  

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Sanity Check

OK.  You've now worked out what leaflets to distribute where - and what to do with the responses.  However, it's possible to design a leafleting campaign that successfully sells products to customers - but ends up losing you money!  So, before you leap into action, take a short breather and conduct a Sanity Check on your plans.

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Review Results

At the end of your campaign you should review how well it worked so you can learn how to do better in future.  Count up how many responses your leaflet produced (and, if you're two stepping, how many orders).  Work out the value of the orders taken and your commission / profit.  Then take away your costs.  Did you recover your costs?  Earn a bit of extra cash?

Were the response rate, order rate and average order value what you predicted before you started?  If they were higher - well done, your campaign design worked better than expected.  Remember that publication and the key elements of your leaflet.  They're probably worth using again.

If your campaign didn't do as well as you hoped, have you any clues as to why it went wrong?  Should you use that distribution option again?  Was there something wrong with the leaflet?  Keep a note of what happened, and bear this hard-won learning in mind for future campaigns.

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Further Reading

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