SME’s and door drops

by Graham Dodd on 28/05/2013

Receiving real value for money must be a top objective for any SME when buying services?

Yet all too frequently, we come across door drop sob stories where the service has been bought on price, commonly at the last minute and disaster has struck.

In the first two weeks of May, we received two new client enquiries whose previous use of door drops this year, involved a company we understand has 9 county court judgements against them from 2012!!!

Most SME’s understandably cross quote, but buying door to door distribution services primarily on price is a dangerous policy.

And increasingly, many SME’s seem to leave their media buying until the very last minute.

We are constantly receiving calls/emails from potential new clients asking us to quote for their activity.

We ask when they are seeking the door drop to take place and the increasingly common answer is – asap; the leaflets are in my office/shop/warehouse/at the printers!

One call earlier this month was for over 100,000 leaflets and another in the last few days was for 250,000!!!

So why at the point you are starting out on the journey in terms of commissioning the creative/print, would you not also commission the door drop supplier?

Sometimes we are asked how long it takes to arrange a drop and we have a standard response which goes along the lines of – we can probably review your requirements, write a proposal including costs and agree a formula with you BEFORE you can print the items.

And by the way, until you have arranged the distribution/method and agreed a cost, how do you know what number of leaflets you will require?

Talking to us earlier in the cycle will open up the full range of opportunities available to you, will confirm when your leaflets need to be available for the different door drop options and how they need to be packed – most of the door drop industry works to a standard packaging specification.

We respect anyone’s opinion of what distribution service may be best for them, if that opinion is based upon fact and past experience.

Opinion based upon personal preferences and perceptions can be another dangerous practice however.

Clients will commonly insist upon solus distribution because at the point of delivery only their item is distributed.

Yeah but.

If you are buying what we would classify as cheap solus distribution i.e. £35-45 per 1,000, in the first instance make sure the drop is going to be completed on a solus basis, or are you actually buying a shared distribution where you are the only client of your type in the mix?

We don’t believe high quality solus drops can be completed at those sorts of rates (the sob stories only confirm that), but we have written expansively about that before.

But even if you do receive good quality solus distribution – just your leaflet – at those rates, how many consumers will perceive your item as solus?

Its an acknowledged fact that up to 50% of UK households are empty during the day whilst residents are at work, or simply out.

So arguably, up to 50% of your solus spend could be compromised if the item is only seen by those residents when they return home and your solus item is sitting on the doormat alongside any post and promotional items delivered by Royal Mail or free newspapers, or other solus activity.

Returning to price, its not inconceivable based upon a number of variables, that the Royal Mail door to door service may be similar, or even cheaper than a solus rate?

Free newspapers certainly will be.

There is commonly a lot of huffing and puffing about using free newspapers and everyone has an opinion on them, but more often than not, based upon perception not facts.

Free newspapers are the cheapest route to market and it would not take a sizeable budget to test them.

Whilst appreciating every penny is valuable to any SME, the only way you are ever going to find out is to try them (and Royal Mail).

Royal Mail’s lead times are not as long as many SME’s seem to think, but it can be a complex booking process follow – unless of course you utilise the skills of licenced resellers such as ourselves.

But equally, if you cannot match Royal Mail’s requirements, or at the last minute they cannot accommodate your drop and there is no free newspaper in the area, solus is pretty much your only option.

But by applying a little, early strategic thinking to door drop activity rather than, putting it bluntly, flying by the seat of your pants, SME’s could receive better value for money than they have previously experienced if they plan earlier and take professional advice.

And better value for money is driven by more reliable distribution.

Even if it does cost you a little more at the outset, does that really matter if it works………………?

This article was written by...

– who has written 86 posts on Letterbox Consultancy for Door Drop Marketing.

Graham Dodd is the founder of The Letterbox Consultancy - he has over 40 years of experience in the door drop industry and remains at the forefront of innovation in the business.

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