Is the flyer dead?

I my first flat, I used to collect all the flyers from parties that I played at and tape them to my door. Over time, this grew into a pretty big collection of flyers in various colors and sizes. I was somewhat proud of this collection as each flyer was a bit like a trophy to me. However, as I started organizing my own parties, I thought more and more about flyers and if they are still worth the effort.

Flyers have been the standard way to promote parties for decades. They are relatively cheap to print, and they can be distributed all across the city. Many bars and clubs even have special stands where flyers are presented. You can often grab a couple dozen flyers for various events in even the smallest bars. Flyers seem to be the natural and obvious choice to promote a party – but does this still make sense?

If I change perspective and think not as a promoter and event organizer, but as a normal person who might be interested in an event. Naturally, I have often picked up flyers and then went to the parties – but I have also ignored countless flyers even though they might have been interesting to me, and I have often picked up flyers just to throw them away minutes later.

Printing flyers costs money, and it’s hard work to distribute them so that they can be found in all the relevant places. I have spent hours and hours walking all those cool bars and shops of Cologne just to distribute flyers. In the end, I had handed out a couple thousand flyers only to have a few 100-200 people at a party.

Everyone who has done this knows how much work this is – unless you pay someone to do it for you.

What could be the alternative?

For me, there are at least two good alternatives to this:

  • Facebook has become a great tool to promote parties. Facebook ads are also cheap, they allow you to target exactly the group that you want to reach – and you only pay per click. There’s no way flyers can get this flexible.
  • Here in Cologne, there are at least a dozen local online event platforms. All of them have event databases, and many of them allow online advertising at affordable costs.
Those two things are powerful tools, and I can do this without having to walk the entire city. So why not just go online with your advertising?
For the last Swing United, we tried a combination: We printed only about 200 flyers and did not distribute them over the city, but just handed them out directly to people we talked to about the party. In addition, we booked Facebook ads and went on the important online party platforms. The party was a success, and we had about the same number of guests as if we had distributed thousands of flyers – but with a lot less hassle.
The flyer isn’t dead yet, but it is slowly losing its value. I still collect flyers of parties where I play, but they are not as important for me anymore. My music collection has already gone digital – so why shouldn’t the party flyer follow?
Image: Snarl // CC-by-nc-nd 
About marvis (209 Articles)
Marvis is the founder of Sweet Headache. He lives in Cologne (Germany) and has been a music nerd for a long, long time.

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