Repeat after me: promotional flyers are not obsolete.

This claim may surprise you, because a quick look around the internet would suggest otherwise. The vast majority of people believe that they are outdated and inefficient.

The arguments in favor of this claim are convincing enough. Receiving flyers is annoying. No one pays attention to flyers, they go straight to the trash. Promoting a concert on social media is way easier than passing out promotional flyers.

Don’t listen to any of that advice, because it’s bad. The truth is that using flyers to promote your concerts may be more important than ever, and we’re about to share the secret that all these other people are missing.

That secret is simple: The effectiveness of a flyer is entirely based off of the manner in which it is distributed. And almost everyone is doing it wrong.

Consider your own experience with flyers ‘in the wild’. I can almost guarantee that the majority of flyers you’ve seen were attached to poles, piled on tables and counters, or shoved in your face while you walked down a busy street. 

Only people who have no idea what they are doing distribute their flyers like this.

If you only take one thing away from this article, let it be this: you’re goal has to be to develop a connection with people first. Use the flyer as a reminder of that connection.

Develop Connections, Not Litter

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The approach that most people take involves accepting a very low conversion rate but playing the odds by placing flyers in the hands or faces of as many people as possible.

Put another way, people think that if they just spam enough people, some will end up responding.

This is the worst type of marketing that you can engage in. To understand why, you really need to appreciate permission-based marketing (a topic we’ve touched on before).

A simplified explanation of permission based marketing is that people are receptive to ideas when they show a desire or interest before you advertise to them, and unreceptive when presented with unsolicited information.

This is why the conversion rate of most flyer-based marketing is virtually non-existent. An unsolicited piece of paper without anything to back it up really is garbage, and there is enough of that in this world.

The Real Value of Flyering

The real value of flyering comes down to the fact that you are creating face-to-face connections with your potential fans. People crave this type of connection, especially in a world dominated by social media and loose connections.

Face-to-face interactions make people feel valuable, and this makes them much more likely to take an interest in what you have to say. When you treat people like human beings and not like potential sources of money, it is surprising how much more receptive they are!

In this way, flyers are more of a reminder than an advertisement. Once you develop a connection with someone, they are much more likely to want to come to your show, but they’re also more likely to keep the flyer and not just throw it away. This means it can very easily end up on their fridge or desk, where they’ll see it frequently, increasing the odds of their attendance to your concert.

Let me guess, you’re probably sitting and reading this, frustrated by the fact that this makes sense but you still don’t really know how to go about flyering. Keep reading, because we’re about to go over what you can do to develop the connection that we have talked about and where you should be doing it. You’ll even find out the number one time and place to give out flyers, and you’ll probably end up kicking yourself for not thinking of it sooner.

Successful Flyering 101

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There are three aspects to face-to-face flyer distribution that you need to get right if you want to be effective. These three things are distributing flyers in the right places, making a good first impression, and engaging people so they develop an interest in your music.

Where to Distribute Flyers

One of the biggest mistakes people make when promoting their concerts is distributing flyers in the wrong places. Again, people approach this as a numbers game and simply try to go to places with a high volume of foot traffic. This won’t work. To be successful, you need to get inside the minds of potential fans and go where they will be.

The simplest way to do this?

Go to the venue where your show will be hosted in the days and weeks leading up to your own concert. There is no easier way to find people who may come to your show than going to the place it will be hosted and talking to concert goers.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same venue for this strategy to be effective. Targeting live music fans in general is a good idea, but you can be even more effective by focusing on the shows of bands and artists that are similar to you.

Other places to flyer…

While concert venues are the easiest and best place to find a highly targeted group of fans, you can use your imagination and come up with other places that will also work. The key is to remember to go places where your audience is likely to frequent, and this will vary based on the genre of music that you play.

Some good places to consider include college campuses and popular nightlife areas in your city. If you want to try to get a last minute boost, passing out flyers in touristy areas on the day of the show can sometimes work. While you don’t know anything specific about the people at a tourist hot spot, you can assume that they will be actively looking for things to do for enjoyment, which makes your job a little easier.

Making a Good First Impression

When performing any type of face-to-face marketing like flyer distribution, the first-impression you make is one of the most important things to get right. People will be making a snap decision on whether or not they should engage in a conversation with you, and they have very little information to base that decision on.

This means your appearance is going to play a very important role.

Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you go all business-like and dress in a suit. Actually, it’s important that you do the exact opposite. Wear whatever you would wear for a show, as your image is part of the act. By dressing like you would for a show, the type of people that stop to talk to you will naturally be interested in the general vibe that you put off.

On top of your apparel, you should also make sure that you are as nonthreatening as possible. Anything that you can do to appear more friendly will go along way towards increasing the amount of people who stop to hear what you have to say.

Be Engaging! Try Playing Some Music…

Talking to random strangers can be overwhelming, but there are simple things that you can do to make the process more effective and less stressful. To be engaging, you need to do something that captivates people’s attention.

One of the best ways to do this is to just play some music. Whether you play the guitar, sing for a band or rap, giving people a taste of your music is the easiest way to find people who enjoy it. The other benefit of this approach is that you can attract multiple people at one time, and the people who don’t appreciate your music are free to keep moving.

Doing this in the hours leading up to other popular shows is a great way to ensure you’ll get a decent audience. Play in a parking lot near the venue where people tailgate or hang out before the shows, and they’ll naturally gravitate to you (and your band, if you have one). After you play a couple songs, thank everyone for listening and explain you have a show coming up. This is the perfect time to flyer, and you’ll be guaranteed an engaged audience who enjoys you and your music.

If You Can’t Play Music…

If playing music isn’t an option, you need to find some way to get people interested in you before explaining your band. Figuring this part out is up to you, and you’ll probably need to test many different approaches to find out what people respond to.

The best piece of advice I can give you is to plan these interactions out ahead of time. If you aren’t great at face-to-face interactions, practice. It sounds weird, but a little bit of planning and practice will make you much more comfortable when out on the street, and people will pick up on this extra confidence.

The Number One Time and Place to Distribute Flyers…

The perfect time to hand out flyers for an upcoming show is so simple that it should be obvious: after your other shows!

The only way that you will ever find success as an artist is if you manage to develop real fans, not just one-off concert attendees. This means you want to work to get people coming back for more, and you should do your best to make it easy for your fans to know when and where to find you.

After a concert is the best time to do this, because you can’t get a more targeted audience than this if you tried. People love interactions with bands and artists that they see live, and going out to talk face-to-face after a show has many benefits beyond flyer-giving potential.

The Making of a Great Flyer

If you put all this work into developing a connection with potential fans, the worst thing you could do is distribute flyers that ruin all of the work that you put in. Poor designs, bad information, and low-quality print jobs can all have this effect.

In general, a simple design is better than something very complicated. Don’t let your affinity for interesting artwork get in the way of conveying information, which is the most important job of your flyers. Your name and upcoming dates should be the focus, and the rest of the design needs to supplement this information, not distract from it.

A low-quality print job, including cheap paper, is an easy way to lose credibility. You want to send the message that you mean business and are aiming to be successful, so you should take your promotional materials seriously as well.

While it may be necessary for you to start by printing flyers at home using regular old ink and computer paper, you should try to budget for higher quality materials as quickly as possible. Full-color printing and thick, glossy paper are two good ways to help your flyers stand out from a cluttered crowd of low-quality handouts.

Good Flyers Are Worth The Money

I can already hear you cringing at the thought of spending the amount of money you think it takes to get flyers like that, but before you assume that you can’t afford to advertise your music the right way, let me engage in a bit of self-promotion.

As part of Afton’s commitment to helping up-and-coming artists access the people, venues and tools they need to find success, we offer a popular printing service designed around the specific needs of bands and musicians.

Our rates are literally half what it costs to get the same type of quality from any major print shop. We can offer these rates because our dedication to musicians has allowed us to specialize and avoid unnecessary overhead and expenses. Take advantage of this and get the materials you need to get the word out about your concerts without breaking your budget.

A Quick Review of Effective Flyer Distribution

If you follow the advice in this guide, you should notice a considerable increase in the amount of people that you are able to reach by distributing flyers. Like I said at the beginning of this guide, the most important thing for you to remember is that your goal is to develop real connections with people first and foremost. Giving them a flyer is just a way for you to remind them of who you are and where they can find you again.

If you approach flyer distribution with this in mind and follow the rest of the advice that I shared, you will be one of the few people who understand how to distribute flyers effectively. Use this information to your advantage.

If you know anyone who is doing this the wrong way, please take a minute and share this article with them. Our goal is to help as many musicians as possible, but we can’t do it without your help!

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Ryan Kintz
Co-Founder of Afton at Afton Shows
Since starting the company in 2004, Ryan has held to our founding principle, that every talented unsigned artist deserves a chance to get onstage. When he’s not working, Ryan likes to play guitar, golf, disc golf,
snowboard, travel and spend time with family and friends. He’s been an avid animal lover, and Vegan, since 2013. Ryan is a Booking Manager, runs day to day operations, creates new artist services, and constantly optimizes how our booking and ticketing platforms can help our artists succeed. He also is the head of our national tours division for signed, nationally touring acts.