Physical promotion used the be the dominating medium for getting word about your event out to your target market, but with the increasing preference to spend marketing budgets on online advertising, should you be ruling out physical promotion altogether? In this blog, I’ll be discussing the pros and cons of certain methods of physical promotion and suggesting new and creative ways to use it in your future marketing campaigns.
Flyers – Just a throwaway item?
Ask yourself this, if somebody gives you a flyer when you’re walking down the street, how effective is it? If you’re like me, it’s a quick glance, into the pocket, to be disposed of at a later date. There was a time in the past where flyers would be the primary distribution method, the method at which you’d first hear about an event. Nowadays, they’re mostly a throwaway item, but does that mean the death of physical promotion?
Other than fresher’s week (if you’re a student-focused promoter), unless you’re being creative in your approach, I would avoid physical promotion. I say this due to the cost, lack of conversion tracking and large amounts of paper wasted in the process.
The first thing is to discuss the cost of physical promotion, let’s say, the cost to reach 1000 people with a flyer. Head over to Vistaprint and you can quickly get a quote for 1000 A5 flyers, standard thickness and a glossy finish. Add in five days shipping for £3.99 or two days shipping for £9.99 if you like to leave things to the last minute, and the total cost is around the £40 mark. Now consider the cost of delivering these to your target audience. Unless you’re taking this responsibility upon yourself, you’ll want to hire somebody for around the £7.50 per hour mark. From experience, in an area with high student footfall, you could distribute on average, 250 flyers per hour.
That’s an extra £30 on labour taking your CPM (cost per thousand impressions) to around £70. Compare this to online advertising, where you can pay as little as £1.50 to put a full-screen flyer in front of 1000 people, segmented by age, gender, interest and whatever other data the social networks have gathered about you. Any time I have used flyers as part of a marketing campaign, I’ve seen it as a waste of both time and money.
One thing to also note here is the legality of handing out flyers in certain locations. In Manchester, you have to apply for a license to distribute free material to distribute flyers on Oxford Road (the highest student footfall), the city centre and near the Etihad Stadium. The initial application costs a minimum of £111, with each license afterwards costing an additional £11. Once again, these are additional costs that small promoters do not need to be paying.
The best chance you have of somebody paying attention to a flyer is if you hand it to them on the way out of your event. The format could direct them to a website landing page in the form of a QR code or written link or it could offer them a code for a discounted or free ticket to your next event. You could even consider giving these out to only the people who stayed until the end, as a reward for their loyalty and to make them feel a sense of exclusivity.
Posters – Do we even look at them?
You do have some other options as flyers aren’t the only method of physical promotion. Strategically positioned posters could raise awareness of your event, but once again, unless a unique QR code or something similar is printed on each poster, there’s no way to track impressions. I know of Guerrilla Marketing and BagThing, who are two companies based in Manchester offering physical promotion distribution. Between them, they own the majority of poster space such locations as student halls, bars, cafes, record shops, venues, pubs and food outlets. They tend to work with clients with large budgets, so for the independent promoter, it may not be justifiable.
Some promoters like to stick up their own posters in places such as bus stops. This is flyposting and is illegal, leading to fines up to £2,500. Flyposting is reported quickly to the council, who will contact the venue displayed on the poster, issuing strict warnings on first offences. I strongly advise avoiding doing this. It is a waste of time and money and puts you at risk of prosecution.
An alternative approach for poster distribution would be to create an artistic poster and give this out for free. Students, in particular, those moving into new houses with bare walls will blue tack up anything they can get their hands on. Give them a good looking poster in freshers week and there’s a high chance it’ll be stuck on their wall until they move out in the summer. For best results, splash out and up the quality. The more premium it feels, the less likely it’ll end up in the bin.
How to be creative with physical promotion?
In order to stand out, you’re going to have to do something a little different. Some event organisers have already been experimenting with augmented reality posters, with Parklife Festival incorporating into their 2019 festival flyer. You can see it on their AR story highlights on the Parklife Instagram page.
This may be out of the budget for small promoters and honestly, who can be bothered to download an app just to scan a poster? Until we’re all wearing smart glasses than scan augmented reality objects automatically, I think it’s best to avoid.