Why Traditional Paper Fliers DO NOT WORK… And What to Do About It

Paper fliers and posters have ONE main function: To let your CURRENT FANS, and people who already know and like your music about the show. That is it. Paper fliers and posters will NOT convince people who have never heard your MUSIC to come to the show.

The reason paper fliers and posters WILL NOT convince people who do not know who you are to come to your show is because people cannot hear your music from that piece of paper. People see advertisements everyday, and they are hit up by local and national bands everyday on the radio, internet, posters, etc. So a flier or poster—no matter how artsy or graphically appealing—WILL NOT differentiate you much from any other ad they see that day. Especially since they cannot hear your music from the flier or poster that they see! This is why AUDIO FLIERS are SO MUCH more effective—it not only informs people of your show, but also lets them put it right in their car on the way home and LISTEN to your MUSIC. (For more on Audio Fliers visit: Fliers They Can Hear)

Why Do Promoters For National Tours Use Fliers?
The reason that Promoter’s use fliers and posters for their nationally touring acts is because those acts (such as Fallout Boy, As I Lay Dying, MxPx, Radiohead, Linkin Park, Brand New, The Pixies, etc.) ALREADY have 1,000-10,000+ EXISTING FANS in that market. Therefore, those fliers and posters can effectively get a crowd out. HOWEVER, the fliers and posters used even for these larger events DO NOT convince people who are not already fans to come to the show. Think about it, if someone has never heard Fallout Boy or their music—will seeing a fancy poster at the venue convince them to pay $20 or more to come see the Fallout Boy show?

Unfortunately, local artists see fliers given out for these larger shows and think, “They use fliers and get a ton of people out, so we should too!” What is important to understand though, is what the function of fliers is—to let the EXISTING FAN BASE know about the show. So, if you are a local artist who has 50, or even 100 existing fans in your city with a total population of, lets say 1 million people—less than .0001 percent of the city knows who you are. So your fliers will NOT be effective at generating a crowd! Instead, use your time to promote in more effective and strategic ways—using “Warm Market Selling,” Audio Fliers, an effective E-Newsletter, Offering Deals to your Fans, etc.

Still Think Fliers Work At Getting People Out Who Are Not Already Fans Of Your Music?
If you still wholeheartedly believe that this is not the case, and paper fliers DO work at getting out people to your show who were not already fans, then TEST IT… Actually TRACK your results. As stated earlier, IF fliers DO work for your band, than you should use them. But don’t blindly waste your time on fliers unless you have personally tested their effectiveness! Your best option is to test your theory, so that you know for a fact you are not wasting your time on an ineffective promotion tactic. This theory has been tested before, and you can see the results of that study here: LocalMusicResearch-Fliers (Coming Soon!).

Best-case scenario—this works for your band somehow. Great! Then use it! Expected results—there will so few people that come to the show because of this that you’ll find it’s NOT worth your time and money to hand out fliers to strangers or leave fliers around town.

IMPORTANT: DO NOT give these fliers to people who ALREADY are fans of your music. That will skew your results—this test is to see if fliers get out people to your shows that have never heard of you before. There is no question as to whether or not fliers are useful for notifying your existing fans about the show—after all, they already know your music and they already go to your shows. But you don’t need to go to the mall and randomly hand out fliers in order to get them into the hands of your existing fans. If you’d like to target your existing fans and personally give them some fliers than go for it. What we would like artists to realize is that giving out hundreds, or even thousands, of fliers to people who do not know who you are and are not already fans, and driving around town hanging up fliers and leaving stacks of them at different places is a WASTE OF YOUR PROMOTION TIME.

On each flier you give out for this TEST, you must have printed in large, bold text, “FREE CD IF YOU BRING THIS FLIER TO THE SHOW.” This way, you will be able to track your results—since no one will come to the show without bringing the flier they received because they will want to redeem their FREE CD. Also, if you can’t give out 500 or 1,000 fliers that have this kind of crazy deal on them and get new fans out—then how would a normal flier without any special deal on it ever work?

Go leave these fliers at every venue, music store, and skate shop you can think of. Go all out! Have EACH band member personally give out fliers to people at the mall, at big shows around town, etc. MAKE SURE TO KEEP TRACK OF HOW MANY FLIERS YOU ACTUALLY GIVE OUT, AND HOW MANY HOURS YOU SPEND! That way you can take the total number of people who BRING their flier to redeem their FREE CD and then divide that by the total number given out to get your “conversion rate” percentage and know how many “man hours” your band put into these fliers. Be sure to also include the time spent designing and printing the fliers.

At the night of the show, the people who come with the fliers will find you at your merch table to get their FREE CD. This is another reason you MUST have the “FREE CD IF YOU BRING THIS FLIER” deal, no one will come to the show who got a flier and NOT bring it, because they will want the free CD if they end up coming out. You can collect the fliers that come in and count them to see how effective this test was.

Take the total number of people who came in with fliers to redeem their new CD and divide by the total number you gave out. Then look at how many HOURS your band spent doing this, and how much printing costs were. DECIDE FOR YOURSELF if you think that the percentage of people who came out was worth the TIME and MONEY.

If you do find that the effectiveness of your promotion efforts using fliers are worth the time, money, and effort that you invested… Than GREAT! You should definitely keep using them and doing that. Most likely, the findings from your test will be similar to those that have been conducted in the past. Fliers and posters are only good for getting existing fans out, NOT getting people out that have never heard your music and who are not already fans. Do whatever promotion your band finds works BEST! But DON’T waste your time blindly promoting with tactics you hope are effective. Track the results of your promotion efforts so that you’re not wasting your time, effort, and money on tactics that are not working!!! You’re going to spend many hours promoting no matter what methods you use, so make sure you are using the most effective methods so that you’re not just wasting your time.
For information about strategies that have proven for most to be much more effective than fliers and posters, visit: Fliers They Can Hear
For links on how to Most Effectively Expand Your Fan Base so that you have people at the front of the stage every time you play...