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As a consumer, I'm exposed to varying sources of advertising on a constant basis.  Whether it's advertising on the internet, commercials on TV, or jingles on the radio, there's a pretty steady stream of information intended to drive me towards a particular service or product.

One other source of targeted advertising is your mailbox.  I'm not talking your e-mail account, I'm talking the actual mailbox where letters, bills, and of course, ads get delivered.

In addition to the catalogs and other types of products, one thing you surely receive if you have a mailbox is ads and flyers, often bundled with a local paper or shopping ad.  I'm sure a lot of this goes right into the recycling bin for many people, as it does for us, but there are instances where I've found that this type of advertising is effective in our household.

  • Local business – I've found that most flyers and such are advertising local businesses.  National businesses seem to stick more with the traditional ads that have larger impact.
  • Smaller scale – I stopped and thought about areas where I've actually purchased items that were on a local advertisement, and it's usually smaller in scope.  Glass block windows is a home improvement service that I took on simply from an ad.  My new roof?  That was too big of a project so I did research.  A local pizzeria?  Sure!  An expensive anniversary celebration dinner for my wife and I?  Probably not.
  • Professionalism counts – There's a difference between a flyer that someone prints at home and sticks in your mailbox versus an actual advertisement.  Whether it's fair or not, a homemade ad tells me that they are not a professional business and I may not get a professional service or product.  That's generally not a risk I'm willing to take.  But, a well designed advertisement can stand out, and provide a much better representation of the company and work that they'll do.  Professional designs can cost money but can pay dividends.
  • Building awareness – Sometimes the point of local advertising is to provide awareness that the business exists and what it can do.  For example, a few years ago I needed a propane tank filled.  I drove five miles to the place I knew about, and had it done.  A week later I got an ad from a store a mile away.  Without that ad, I probably wouldn't have known they were there, but now I get my propane four miles closer to home.

Advertising is often hit or miss, but if you know your product and your potential customers, you'll gain an understanding of the methods and designs which will turn those potential customers into actual sales.