Free and easy: door drops via regional media still deliver

by Chris White-Smith on 18/04/2013

Chris White-Smith, MD Newsquest Direct, gives his view on the changing role of free newspapers in door drop campaigns.

Regional Media has faced its fair share of challenges in recent years; particularly the ongoing adverse economic conditions, as well as increased competition from alternative media – specifically the emergence of digital.

However, it is not all doom and gloom. Far from it. There are numerous opportunities and therefore there is still a place for free newspapers to form an integral part of a door drop campaign and indeed as part of a comprehensive marketing campaign.

The advantages of door drops are well documented; placing well targeted brand messages in the hands of potential consumers in their own homes where they have the opportunity to consider the message and/or offer, and then respond in-store, online or by telephone.

So what of the role of free newspapers in completing such campaigns?

On the face of it, with free newspaper circulations declining, for similar reasons identified above, some may argue that the role of free newspapers has diminished significantly. This piece reminds us of the core strengths of the free newspaper distribution network and what Regional Media companies need to focus on to ensure that they continue its role as an integral element of a door drop campaign.


One of free newspapers strongest attributes is that they connect with local consumers in their community. Free newspapers deliver local content on issues that matter, directly into the households within the community the paper serves. With this comes a sense of responsibility and therefore mutual trust. Door drop clients can ‘maximise the impact of the strong local connections and trust by ‘piggy-backing’ free newspapers in communities across the country.


Door drops with free newspapers are flexible. They can be booked at short notice (providing the promotional items are ready) and a wide range of options are available. Whether it is a straight forward single sheet or a 500 page catalogue, a die-cut item or a free sample, delivery with free newspapers still offers a flexible route to households. Onserts are another creative option that delivers immediate and retainable impact. The only limitation is your imagination.


And all of these creative options can be specifically targeted to the relevant audience. Free newspapers, like other providers, can be targeted by postcode sector (approximately 2-3,000 households) or, should a client’s target audience be more specific, a round level targeting service can be provided such as SMART-Drop, targeting down to each individual round of around 200 households.


Free newspapers are audited closely. Members of ABC/VFD must meet strict rules surrounding the number of checks made on free newspaper deliveries. In addition, members of the DMA are encouraged to comply with best practice guidelines in order to ensure that a minimum standard is adhered to. In essence, where publishers are members of such organisations you can be confident of the service you are buying.


Despite the reduced coverage over recent years, free newspapers still represent excellent value for the service, providing a low cost route to households that comes with the sophisticated targeting techniques and accountability all of which still makes door drops with free newspapers good value.

So, what about the future?

The outlook for newspapers is positive providing it keeps providing the Usp’s outlined above. But there is still more work to be done.

Regional Media companies need to assess their coverage and identify where their core areas are and ensure they reach them. If this means reducing the number of postcode sectors that are delivered to in the interests of increasing coverage in ‘core’ postcode sectors then so be it. It is essential that free newspapers are able to supply critical mass in the postcode sectors within the communities they serve.

Reviewing their coverage will help re-position free newspapers as part of an overall door drop solution rather than the complete solution it offered previously.

In addition free newspapers should look to embrace its growing digital offering and look to provide complete packages to clients. Numerous studies point to offline mechanics driving online traffic. Research in how Regional Media companies can provide an overall solution should be high on the list of priorities as we look for an integrated package that will extend reach and improve response.

But none of these challenges are insurmountable. All of these things can be done. It is an exciting new chapter for Regional Media and free newspapers which will allow them to continue to provide solutions to local communities across the country.

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– who has written 1 posts on Letterbox Consultancy for Door Drop Marketing.

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