Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Event Flyers: Classification, Conent, Design and Distribution

‘The purpose of a flyer is to convey information within a limited time-span’ (Lapow Toor, 1998, p.111).  Flyers are commonly used for announcing events, products and services, they can be used as a means of generating consumer footfall and sales (Gazquez-Abad and Sanchez-Perez, 2009).  They are one of many mass-communication marketing tools used by marketers and promoters, mass-communication indicates that flyers are a form of ‘push-promotion’ that are not specifically targeted at individuals personally (Moss, S, 2009).  A flyer should ‘draw attention to itself and capture’s people’s interest.  It gives them a reason to act immediately on that interest.  And it gives them the information they need to do so’ (Peterson and Vactor, 2002).  According to Crandall (2002), flyer’s are the cheapest form of written promotional materials.

Rutherford Silvers (2003) state that flyers ‘create awareness and provide information’ (p.97), they are ‘an introduction, an ice-breaker and first step’ (Levinson and Godin, 1996, p.79).  Flyers can be used as part of a combined promotional campaign that is intended to create ‘buzz’ before an event takes place (Locicero, 2007).  In terms of event promotion the useful life-span of the flyer is mainly until the event takes place.  The majority of flyers are quickly disposed of by recipients of them, although retention of flyers up to and beyond events taking place may lead to brand reinforcement amongst customers, particularly if similar future events are held.  Sloane (2007) notes that flyers are often disposed of quickly by recipients due to poor design or them being distributed to the wrong target market.

Flyers can also be used to gather consumer information, they may have a section, upon which customers may record personal details, such as contact details, which may be used by the flyer distributor to target the customer with specific marketing materials.  In such scenarios, providing this information is often incentivised and in return for this, the customer may be eligible for a gratuity such as a monetary discount or a free gift (Lipe, 2002).


There is no universally recognised industry standard classification for flyer types, and the interpretation of what actually constitutes being a flyer varies, ‘terms such as catalogue, free sheet, circular or shopper can be found as synonyms for flyers’ (Gazquez-Abad and Sanchez-Perez, 2009, p.3).  Lapow Toor (1998), Peterson and Vactor (2002), Whitbread (2001) and Yadin (2002) state that a flyer is a single or double sided sheet of paper, where as Christiansen and Bjerre (2001) cited in (Gazquez-Abad and Sanchez-Perez, 2009) and Gagliardi (2006) state that a flyer should have a minimum of four pages. 

Flyers are often typically classified by size, for example Lapow Toor (1998) classifies flyers by size using the following dimensions: 8 1/2” x 11”; 8 1/2” x 14”; and 11” x 17” (p.111).  Sources within the print industry use weight, size, paper finish and sometimes folds as a means of classifying flyers, however this mainly applies to those flyers that are printed upon paper.  Weight is given using the term gsm or gm, which stands for grams per square metre.  For example E-Printing (2010) classify flyers by their weight with the following classifications: 130gsm; 170gsm; 200gsm; 250gsm; and 300gsm – the higher the gsm, the better quality and more expensive is the paper.  E-Printing (2010) also use size as a way by which to classify flyer types, their sizes include: A3 (297 x 420mm); A4 (210 x 297mm); A5 (210 x 148mm); A6 (148 x 105mm); A7 (105 x 74mm) and DL (210 x 98mm).  Taking into account the fact that any size flyer can be printed on any gsm paper, there are 25 variants of flyer type just from what has been stated above.  This does not take into account the other formats that E-Printing produce such as folded leaflets and postcards (e-Printing offer five different formats of each), which from a promotional perspective could also be considered flyers.  In terms of paper finish, the most common types are ‘gloss’ and ‘silk’, the difference being that gloss has a high sheen finish giving it a more ‘shiny’ appearance.

By searching the websites of other printers, similar results can be found.  Wales Print (2010) offer flyers in A4, A5, A6 and DL sizes, but only on 130 gsm paper.  They also offer A5 and A6 postcards on 350 gsm paper; four-page leaflets on A4, A5 and A6 130 gsm paper; and 6 page DL leaflets on 130 gsm paper.  Wales Print also offer A3 sizes, however they classify these as posters and not flyers.  Labcreation (2010) classify flyers and leaflets together, they offer folded leaflets in the following sizes: 3 x A4 folder three times to A4 size; A3 folded to A4; A4 folded to A5; and A4 folded to six-sided DL size.  In addition to this they offer A3, A4, A5, A6 and DL sized leaflets on a choice of 135, 170 and 250 gsm paper.  This demonstrates differences in classification by printers as to what is a flyer, leaflet or poster, and differences in paper weight used by printers, but at the same time it demonstrates similarities in standard paper sizes.  The lack of a universally recognised and industry standard typology for flyers is all too apparent.

Content and Design

Flyers should be written in a typeface that is easily readable such as Sans Serif or Arial fonts as they are often skim-read (Lapow Toor, 1998).  Flyers should be catchy (Peterson and Vactor, 2002), colourful flyers are often eye-catching (Locicero, 2007).  Flyers should be designed with an attention seeking headline placed prominently, followed by a small amount of text containing essential information and a visual such as a photograph (Lapow Toor, 1998).  Levinson and Godin (1996) state that the headline on a flyer is one of the most important aspects to it, they also state that wording should be brief, including lists and bullet points, suggesting that the main information contained on a flyer should be: the headline; a positioning statement; an illustration or photo; a small amount of company information; and brief names and descriptions of products and services (p.78).  Peterson and Vactor (2002) state that a flyer should be a ‘one-subject announcement’ (p.84), and that event flyers should contain the following essential information: a logo; the event name and description; the location; contact details; time and date; a brief benefit statement; and a call to action (p.85).  Sloane (2007) states that flyers should contain a web address where interested parties may then search for further information about what the flyer is promoting.

The theme of flyers including logos, design and wording should match other promotional mediums that are being used to highlight what it is the flyer is promoting, this helps to enforce brand awareness by promoting a consistent identity, thus creating a cohesive promotional campaign (Carter, 2007).  The presence of high-profile and recognisable brands on flyers can make them more appealing to consumers (Gazquez-Abad and Sanchez-Perez, 2009).  Spending large amounts of money on flyer design, including the material upon which it is printed, may not necessarily lead to improved sales, but it may convey a more successful image of the company using the flyer (Lipe, 2002).  Sloane (2007) suggests the use of thick high quality paper for flyers, although this does bring expense implications, Hayden (2006) states that if flyers look home-made or unprofessional, potential customers may view what the flyers are promoting in the same way.

Levinson and Codin (1996) state that the use of humour on flyers can be effective in encouraging people to take them, although this may not be universally correct or appropriate.  Masterman and Wood (2005) suggest that flyer designs should be tested amongst audiences prior to production, including: concept tests, where focus groups made up of target audiences, may be used to discuss which words, colours and images best promote a theme; and rough tests, where rough drafts of flyer designs are put before members of the target audience for their reaction (p.32).  Gazquez-Abad and Sanchez-Perez (2009) recognise the difficulties in attempting to ascertain how effective flyers are.  ‘If the message has been developed with the target audiences’ specific characteristics in mind then it will use a frame of reference which they can relate to and will be understood and interpreted as intended’ (Masterman and Wood, 2005, p.  69).  Therefore it is perfectly natural for flyers aimed at one specific target market e.g.  teenagers, to be perfectly understandable to them, but not to another market, e.g.  their parents.  This also highlights the phenomenon of ‘culture gaps’, which are ‘a difference in values, behaviour, or customs between two cultures or groups of people, esp.  as a hindrance to mutual understanding and communication’ (OED, 2010).  It is therefore essential that when testing flyers designs, to do so with participants who are also a part of the target audience (Peterson and Vactor, 2002).


Flyers are distributed by hand, door-to-door, inserted into newspapers and magazines, and handed out in areas where there are high volumes of passers-by such as exhibitions and street corners (Yadin, 2002).  Masterman and Wood (2005) concur, stating that once ‘attention has been gained they are more willing to accept the flyer’ (p.203).  Frazier (2008) states that flyers can be effectively distributed within magazines and newspapers that have the same target market as the flyer, meaning that flyers will be read in a leisurely way, possibly being more successful through being of interest to the reader.  Advertising alone ‘is not an effective way to gain a prospective client’s trust’ (Hayden, 2006, p.169), so personal distribution of flyers into the hands of potential customers may be advantageous, in that it allows for the additional element of dialogue between promoter and target audience.  Dialogue may help to enforce the message of the flyer, as well as building trust.

Static flyers displayed in public places have the advantage of reaching a lot of people, if they are displayed in the right places (Lapow Toor, 1998).  Campion Devney (1991) additionally state that flyers placed in a variety of locations including museums, launderettes, gyms and supermarkets are useful for event promotion.  Debelak (2000) concurs, and states that flyers for events should also be used as part of the décor at events.  Flyers that are placed statically need to give people a reason to take the trouble to pick them up, special offers and discounts promoted on the flyer are one way of ensuring this (Hayden, 2006; Locicero, 2007).  This relates to the AIDA sales principle of attention, interest, desire and action (Carter, 2007).  Masterman and Wood (2005) concur, stating that once ‘attention has been gained they are more willing to accept the flyer’ (p.203), as well as the message it conveys.  Peterson and Vactor (2002) discuss how flyers should ‘funnel’ the attention of those who read them, this is very similar to the AIDA sales principle, and is known as a sales funnel.  Those consumers that are actively engaged in searching for discounts and special offers are more likely to be interested in reading flyers, and those who are not price-sensitive are least likely to be attracted by flyers (Gazquez-Abad and Sanchez-Perez, 2009).  Statically placed flyers have the disadvantage of not allowing for relational links to be established between promoter and potential customer.  ‘If the brand chooses to have only a purely commercial discourse, it denies itself the opportunity to form a more affective relational link’ (Lehu, 2007, p.224).  The power of such relational links, generated by positive word-of-mouth enforcement, along with promotion being portrayed as a genuine customer service offering can build trust amongst potential customers leading to an increased likelihood of sales being made (Semprini, 2005), and the flyer being a more successful promotional tool.

Kumar (2003) suggests the use of eflyers as an alternative to physical paper flyers – in other words an electronic document of the printer flyer, such as an Adobe portable document format (PDF), to be emailed to interested parties.

A contemporary issue with regards to flyer distribution (both statically placed flyers and flyers handed out in the street), is nuisance flyer distribution.  This is where flyer distribution may directly annoy those who are subjected to it, or where flyers may be contributing to litter.  If potential customers are annoyed by flyers, their annoyance may put them off what it is that the flyer is promoting (Feltenstein, 2005).  Flyer distributors causing large amounts of street litter, placing flyers under car windscreen wipers and attaching flyers to publicly used infrastructure such as bus shelters have lead to the introduction of legislation to combat this problem.  In the UK, this process is managed at ‘local’ level, often by councils.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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