Independent Rockstar

Insight for Independent Musicians

Putting Up Flyers – Old School Style

With computers becoming more and more a part of our lives it’s easy to completely forget about some of the things we can do off-line to promote ourselves.  How about flyers?  When was the last time you put one up?

Most people tend to get frustrated with flyers at some point when they realize that they aren’t bringing in a great return on investment.  So is that they final word on flyers?  Are they always useless because no one came to your show last month when you posted 47 flyers at every conceivable location in town?  Not necessarily.  Here are some tips that can help you make fliers work 10x better for you:

The first thing you need to do is Decide what you want people to do. Do you want to build awareness for your act or do you want people to take action, like come to a show?

If you want to build awareness then you need your flyers to be seen, be simple and be memorable.  If your flyer doesn’t catch people’s eye then nothing else matters.  Vivid colors, high contrast, simple design and striking imagery can all be used to help your flyer stand out.  One of my favorite images to use is a human face looking straight ahead.  We’re hard-wired to see faces, and faces that are looking right at us have a particularly strong effect.  If the face is especially attractive or unusual then that’s even better.

If your goal is to build awareness then you don’t want to give people too much to have to remember.  A memorable name and a striking image will go a long way.  Simplicity is key.  Here’s a great example from Bangups (see left).  Note that when you type in the word ‘Bangups‘ in google, they come up first.  The flyers stand out a mile and the only thing you need to remember is ‘BANGUPS’.  This leads into my next point…

Don’t expect to get results because you posted a ton of flyers one time.  This is a long-term approach that needs to be combined with other marketing efforts and… good music!  It’s important to realize that people will need to be exposed to you in some way a number of times before they’ll take action to check you out.  This is NOT a push-button strategy that will produce immediate results.  Be patient and expect that you’ll have to sustain your efforts to get enough exposures to make a difference for you.  That being said, the more clear, defined, consistent and striking your imagery is, the more effective this approach will be.

Put flyers up where you don’t have much competition.  Look for new opportunities to promote your music where other people haven’t thought of or wouldn’t dare try.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of asking.  Also, there are some people who are so charming, attractive, well connected, bold and/or relentless that they can get flyers up where others can’t.  If you can find one such person who loves your band then maybe you could find a way to make that work for you.

A few years back, my singer’s Mom used to get our flyers up in places I never would have ever imagined they could be, including prominent locations in corporate stores who surely had policies against them.  She’s a sweet, charming lady with a thick accent.  She’s also bold as all Hell and absolutely relentless.  If you were in Hollywood at the time then chances were good that you saw one of our flyers in some crazy location that she was able to arrange.

How about having a contest amongst fans to see who can get your flyers in the best places?  They take photos and submit them via Facebook.  You give them all a little something and something extra to the winner.  If you’ve got a good flyer then it could be a good return on investment.

If you want people to take immediate action, like come to one of your shows, then here are a couple things to keep in mind:

Sell the show – not your band. If people don’t know who you are then they’re not going to go to your show because of your flyer – no matter how many you put up.  If they know another band, are familiar with the venue, and/or can be enticed by drink specials or any other promo going on that night then you may be able to pull some people in with flyers.  Forget about putting your name all over the flyer in huge print and instead focus on what people already know and want and advertise that instead.

Don’t give people too much to remember and don’t expect them to write anything down.  Have tabs that people can pull off with the important info or a web address where they can get it.

Have you got any tips for posting flyers?  Post your comments below!

About Scott James

Musician / Blogger / Web Designer / MBTI Nerd living in Hollywood, CA
Scott James

6 Responses to “Putting Up Flyers – Old School Style”

  1. Weston of "Behemoth and Leviathan" says:

    Great tips!

    I got one for you guys. First off, I have been using Photoshop to make my fliers as high quality image files, but any image editor will do. Staples(if you have one by you) allows you to upload your image and create a project online. You can choose the paper type and color right on the site and preview it. I printed 25 black and white 8.5 x 11 flyers on cardstock for about $5! The prints were ready in 2 days, and I picked them up at my nearest Staples. Give it a try!

  2. Thanks for the tip, Weston!

  3. Eliza Neals says:

    Great way to promote your brand I did it on my first iTune release in late 2005! Here is a link to my video I did in NYC turns out it’s Illegal I was ARReSTED Yikes!!! Got off the charge (first time) so be careful or more stealty! Look at the video I put up a Whole Bunch before stopping… I got coverage in many publications because I put my posters all over where the main cool papers worked… The editors had to walk by my posters! So if you do this GO LARGE!

  4. Ian says:

    And, put a QR code on them that links to your free music sign-up page on your site.

    They’ll stand out.

  5. FlyersUp! says:

    Great tips Scott. Check out too. You can post your flyer online and get social distribution for free–and direct digital ticketing and sales with a QR code link. Lots more coming soon. Let us know what you think.