Is leafleting dead?

Image credit – Vistaprint

One of the more traditional marketing techniques for any company is ‘leafleting’

Or in more general marketing terms: ‘Direct mail’.

But in a digital age, is putting a physical piece of mail through a letterbox still an effective way to generate new business?

Here’s some interesting stats about direct mail:

  • Direct mail has a much higher response rate than email

In a study by the Direct Marketing association, Direct mail averaged a 4.4% response rate, compared to email’s average response rate of 0.12%.

  • 76% of people said they trust ads they receive in the mail

According to Marketing Sherpa

  • Up to 90% of direct mail gets opened, compared to only 20-30% of emails

(Data & Marketing Association)

  • Over £1bn is spent on direct mail per year in the UK alone


  • Consumers aged 45-54 are the demographic group most likely to respond to direct mail pieces

This is a great demographic for a lot of painting and decorating companies.

(Data & Marketing Association)

  • Google use direct mail

Yes, you read that right. The people who practically invented digital advertising spend millions of dollars on direct mail every year.

Every time a business registers an address on Google, they send out a postcard with an offer on it. Usually for a certain amount of free credit to use on their adwords platform.

And to be honest, even if you ignore all the other stats. The fact that Google use direct mail proves that it must still be effective.

Ok, so looking at these stats direct mail clearly still works.

And I think for painters and decorators it can be a brilliant investment.

After all, one new client can be worth tens of thousands of pounds over their lifetime.

However, like all advertising, it only works when you do it right.

Here are some tips help with your next campaign. So, you can produce the best possible return on investment (ROI)

Make your mail stand out

The size and shape of your direct mail can have a big effect on the success of your campaign. 

Cheap and flimsy leaflets printed out at home won’t cut it. Think outside of the box and don’t be afraid to spend a bit more money on the printing.

Here’s some useful stats on what styles bring the best results:

Oversized envelopes have the highest response rate (5%), followed by postcards (4.25%), dimensional mail, or anything more than 0.75 inches thick (4%) and catalogues (3.9%).

(Data & Marketing Association)

Personally, I’d say postcards are a good choice. They stand out, because of their size and thickness.

Plus, you can send them without an envelope, so they almost always get read!

Test different headlines

A good headline can increase sales by 10x, which when you consider the average value of a decorating job, could mean tens of thousands of pounds in revenue.

Before doing a large campaign, it is a good idea to do something called a split test, or A/B test.

In this case, it would mean creating 2 leaflets that are identical, except for the headline.

You then do a small batch of each leaflet. Send them out. And whichever headline performs best gets scaled up to the big campaign.

This simple test could make you thousands of pounds, so it is worth doing.

Make the text simple and concise

It takes effort to read, and people are lazy, so you need to make sure your leaflet is easy to understand. Use clear and simple writing. This is not an exercise in fine writing. Make the tone conversational.

Write like you are talking to a friend and you’ll do well.

A good test is to read it out loud to someone. If it sounds awkward then you need to change it. If it sounds like you are just speaking normally then you’re on to a winner.

Include an offer they will want to keep

Generally, direct mail is kept for much longer than other forms of marketing. In some cases, it’ll get kept for a very long time. It’ll be filed away or stuck to the fridge.

This is what we are aiming for.

To do this, it helps to include an offer. As a decorator you could offer something like a coupon for 3 free colour sample pots when they accept a quote.

Or 10% discount when you present this leaflet at the quotation stage.

This is the sort of thing people will want to hang on to. And if they don’t, they might share it with a friend who is looking for a decorator.

Have a clear Call To Action (CTA)

Make it obvious what the customer needs to do with your leaflet. Do you want them to visit your website? Facebook page? Call you? Email you requesting an appointment?

It sounds simple, but you need to put this in big and clear writing so the customer can understand what to do in a fraction of a second.

Don’t just list your contact details at the bottom of the page. Tell them exactly what to do.

‘Call now to book your free consultation!’

Include customer reviews

People love to see that others have used your service and had a good experience. Make sure you have at least 1 customer review on any piece of direct mail. Include their name and where they live. And a photo is you can!

You don’t have to be too specific. ‘Mrs S – Oxford’ is fine.

Pick your audience carefully

Look at all the towns and villages near you that you could target. Be as selective as you can. Choose the type of home that is most likely to hire a decorator.

Don’t waste money by leafleting a street where nearly every property is a rented 1 bed flat.

Go for the big mansions in the local village. (If that’s your target customer)


One spelling mistake or grammatical error can be enough for the customer to lose trust in your abilities.

It sounds harsh I know.

But it’s said that people read their post whilst stood over a bin. So, one wrong move and your lovely leaflet gets dropped into the rubbish.

If spelling and grammar isn’t your thing, then get a trusted friend or family member to check it over.

Get your timing right

Think about the best times to do a leaflet campaign and plan it accordingly.

If you are always quiet around the Christmas / New Year period. Plan a leaflet campaign for the end of summer.

If you know customers love to freshen up their home in the Spring, do a leaflet drop at the start of the year saying you’re now taking bookings for April / May. Remember in January, everyone has that ‘new year, new me’ mentality. So take advantage!

Combine it with other marketing activity

Advertising campaigns work best when you have a few going on at once. Consider combining your leaflet drop with a Facebook ad campaign targeting at the same area.

The more often a customer sees you, the more you will build trust with them.

Come at them from multiple angles to maximise effect.

Want to start leafleting for your business?

Here are some useful tools:

Royal mail door to door: https://www.royalmail.com/business/marketing/mail/door-to-door

If you don’t want to deliver the leaflets yourself, you can get someone else to do it.

There are loads of companies that specialise in it, so check your local area. But if you want to use a well established company then check out Royal mail.

You can quickly and easily target specific postcodes.

Prices can be as cheap as £500 for 8,000 leaflets (£0.0625 per leaflet)

Vistaprint: https://www.vistaprint.co.uk/?no_redirect=1&xnav=logo

Ok, so Vistaprint often get a bad rep for being poor quality but they are worth considering.

I would suggest your first choice should be to try a local printing company. This way you can touch and feel the quality and make sure the design is perfect. But if you can’t do this, then a company like Vistaprint can help.

5,000 postcard size leaflets on their highest quality glossy paper can be as cheap as £47.97 ex VAT.

Canva: https://www.canva.com/

Canva is a great website for designing leaflets and brochures. There are thousands of FREE templates and it’s really simple to use.

You can sign up for free and be creating in no time.

I use Canva for lots of things and highly recommend it. 

Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/

Pixabay is an amazing website for royalty free images. There is loads of choice and they are high quality. Perfect for advertising.

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