The most common idea when talking about the purpose of leaflet advertising is that leaflets sell your product or service. Now while that is partly true, it’s not quite as simple as that and to answer this, first, we need to explain the difference between marketing and selling.
The difference between marketing and selling
I have heard and read many explanations regarding the difference between the two. The one that stands out in my mind is this one. Marketing is the strategy, selling is the tactics.
This is very militaristic, but I think the point being made is the marketing men identify an area to exploit. They set out the plan by developing a product and creating a need for that product.
The sales clerks are the soldiers who enter the field and implement the strategy: they are the people that sell the product or service.
The Purpose Of Leaflet Advertising
So what is the purpose of leaflet advertising then? Are the leaflets part of the strategy, marketing, or are they part of the tactics, selling?
Marketing people will claim the former, salespeople will claim the latter.
The answer, of course, like most things in life, is not a simple one. A leaflet often called a sales leaflet can have a foot in both camps, so let me explain why.
A company planning to sell a high priced product such as a loft conversion, a conservatory or an extension to a home will carry out their marketing or strategy. The area they have selected will have houses large enough to be able to have a loft and land around them to take an extension, and they would have established that the homeowners fall into the income bracket to be able to afford their product.
Once they have identified their target area, what do they do next, send in a salesperson to knock on doors?
No, they decided to soften up the target with a leaflet distribution campaign. However, they do not expect this leaflet to generate immediate orders; no one will order a loft extension over the phone without talking to the company.
Therefore, although the leaflet has entered the target area, it has not actually sold anything.
Smaller businesses such as local shops, restaurants and hairdressers will also do their marketing, their strategy and then distribute their leaflets. They are more likely to add an incentive to their prospective customers, money off coupon or a two for one offer.
However, these leaflets, like the ones sent out by the larger concerns, do not necessarily make the prospect buy the product there and then.
In both cases, the actual selling will be done by other means.
In the case of the larger companies, the selling will be carried out by experienced salespeople. Smaller businesses will rely on other methods of selling. For example, shops will depend on their location and the merchandise they have available, hairdressers on location and expertise and restaurants on location, atmosphere and their menu.
So where does this leave the leaflet, in the marketing camp or the sales camp?
A leaflet can sell a product instantly, for example, a takeaway leaflet can entice the reader to order a meal the same day, but the menu will also be put in a draw for use again in the future.
However, for bigger ticket items the leaflets sell the idea of buying the product to the prospective customer by building the brand and, in turn, the trust of a company in the area they are targeting. This makes the selling stage of the campaign much easier for the salesperson.
I told you the answer was not a simple one, but one thing is for sure, leaflets do play a vital role in the selling process.