By Sam Upton
The return of the Edinburgh Fringe sees thousands of comedians and artists handing out flyers to advertise their shows. But why do they still use flyers and what advantages do they have over digital media?
On July 28, the 18th Edinburgh Fringe returns to the Scottish capital, bringing with it thousands of performers and hundreds of thousands of visitors. This year, the iconic arts festival is back to full strength, with the 2020 Fringe cancelled because of the pandemic and 2021 featuring a reduced line-up.
This means that once again, Edinburgh is transformed into a city-wide celebration of the arts for a month, with over 3,000 different shows and almost 50,000 performances packed into over 250 venues. That’s a lot of shows in a lot of venues, which all need filling if the performers are to get anywhere close to breaking even.
Of course, like any product, the answer to selling tickets is effective advertising, and Edinburgh has a long tradition of artists and performers using paper flyers to grab and keep people’s attention. Despite digital media offering quicker and cheaper ways to contact potential fans, the flyer is still the king of advertising on the Royal Mile.
The Personal Touch
In a crowded marketplace, flyers offer a number of advantages for the performer hungry for ticket sales. Firstly, they engage the consumer, compelling them to look at the details and consider attending the show. Then, if they are interested and keep the flyer, it provides a physical reminder of that show, giving them a tangible piece of marketing that provides instant details about time, venue, and what the show is all about.
The physical nature of paper has another advantage in that it’s easily passed around – if friends need to know who you are seeing, the flyer does the job of quickly showing them. No searching on the internet, no downloading of apps, none of the connection problems associated with being in a huge crowd of people all using data at the same time.
And best of all, when handing out the flyers, the performer has the opportunity to make a personal connection with the person they are handing it to. Indeed, the distribution of flyers at the Fringe has become an art form in itself, with comedians and performers making themselves more memorable by using every possible sales tactic, from reciting one-liners from the show and handing out free badges to simply chatting to the person, building that bond.
Lessons For Business
While it may not be efficient for the average company to pound the streets chatting with every potential customer, there’s a number of lessons they can learn from the use of flyers at the Fringe. To begin with, they are highly cost-efficient. Compared to most other forms of advertising, they offer great value for money, especially if you need a quick turnaround to take advantage of new discounts, store openings or product launches.
Then there’s the precise targeting. While online advertising and TV may have a bigger reach, flyers enable you to get your brand directly in the hands of consumers that are much more likely to need your service or product. Whether it’s the right set of postcodes or events where receptive consumers are likely to gather, your flyers will have a better chance of hitting the right spot if they are correctly targeted. Taken with the ability to be tracked using QR codes and unique URLs, flyers have a huge amount of potential for brands keen to get closer to their customers.
Not only is the paper flyer effective at engaging the audience, it’s also a sustainable form of advertising communication. When the consumer is finished with it, it can be recycled and the fibres used to continue the loop of making paper and paper-based products.
In 2020, a total of 56 million tonnes of paper was collected and recycled in Europe – a recycling rate of 74%. This is approaching the estimated practical maximum of 78%. Not only is it one of the highest recycled materials in Europe, but the fibres from paper are re-used an average of 3.8 times. 56% of the fibrous raw material used in Europe’s paper industry comes from paper for recycling.
1. European Paper Recycling Council, Monitoring Report, 2020
2. Cepi, Key Statistics, 2020