A few years ago, when I was working as an Area Sales Manager, I used to get a lot of flyers/leaflets/brochures printed. We were taught that flyers were a very effective way of reaching our target audience. In a simple colorful one pager, the USPs of a product could be communicated. More flyers = more eyeballs = more brand awareness = more brand recall = more sales. We used to have a separate marketing budget for printing flyers. We used to fight with the central marketing team to increase this budget. Those were the good old days. We wouldn’t care to bother what would happen to the flyer. Until I met my mother-in-law…
My mother-in-law is a B.Sc ( Baby Sitting Champion). One of her key skillsets as per her Linkedin Profile is putting babies to sleep. She also mentions a few certifications in her profile – cost management by effective flyer utilization. I did not understand what this meant. One day, I decided to shadow her for a full day to probe this. As soon as she received the newspaper in the morning, she started shaking it (like a baby cough syrup) to check for flyers. Three flyers fell from the newspaper. She beamed with joy on seeing them. For a second, I thought she had cracked the final question of Kaun Banega Crorepati. I was puzzled. I looked at the three flyers.
The first was an orange colored flyer with a big photo of our corporator and her achievements in the last few years. I could recognize it was our corporator as she had just visited our house recently asking to vote for her. She comes every five years just before elections to show that she’s alive. The only reason we still end up voting for her is because at least she comes once every five years. The opposition party I guess has given up hopes from winning from our constituency and therefore they don’t bother to do this. Our flat broker proudly introduces our family to her every five years. The flyer mentioned her proud achievements over the past five years – 3 crores “sanctioned” for pure drinking water. She had the audacity to write a budget sanction as her achievement. This is equivalent to me writing “prepared a PPT to increase market share in my district” as one of my professional achievements. Or “brainstormed with my team to think of ways to improve work-life balance”. While the front page had a lot of questionable and “sanctionable” achievements, the back page had a full-length picture of the national leader screaming “Ab ki baar, nan maga Sarkar”.
The second flyer had a picture of a dog in the centre. Surrounding the dog were pictures of the party founders, their children, their grandchildren. The headline screamed “Garibi Hatao… Since 1975”. I asked my father-in-law, who had been following our constituency politics for more than 40 years, about the dog. He told me “It has been proved that the original leader of the party is not an Indian citizen. The surname Gaadi has been the common thread of this party’s leaders since independence. Only if you have this surname, can you become this party’s leader. The country votes for this surname. This time, their dog Tommy Gaadi is contesting the elections. There is a high probability of this party coming to power as most people still have trust in the Gaadi surname. The party also is known for its consistency in campaigning. Since my childhood, Garibi hatao has been their campaign theme. I am sure your kids, when they vote, will also be seeing this theme”
Before I could react, a gust of wind blew over all of us and the third flyer fell on my lap. “Shop at PigBazaar today and get cashbacks of Rs. 5000*” These words screamed in bold. The * mark made me look at the bottom of the flyer. I had to take a magnifying glass to read the disclaimer. “The cashback for 5000 is valid for 30 days from purchase. For a cashback of 5000, you need to purchase 25000 worth material. This cashback cannot be redeemed in one go. For every purchase, a maximum of 1000 cashback only can be redeemed. Thanks for being our dummy. PigBazaar management has the final say in any legal dispute arising out of this. “
I wanted to turn over and read the back-page contents of the PigBazaar flyer but my mother-in-law interrupted me. She took all the three flyers and kept it in a cup-board. I opened the cup-board and was awestruck. There were multiple shelves full of flyers. The brands ranged from Hornimoz Pizza, Himesh Dum Biryani Centre newly opened, Crow-ma electronics and Baba Kamdev’s ayurvedic products
Before I could do any further study, my baby pooped and we all rushed to the cradle. Without battling an eye-lid, both the Nan Maga Sarkar and the Garibi Hatao flyers were used to wrap the used diapers and were promptly thrown in the dust-bin. Before I could weep at the demise of these two flyers, the Chwiggy delivery boy knocked. We had just ordered samosas online for snacks. She took the PigBazaar flyer and wrapped it to suck the excess oil. My mother-in-law explained me many other uses of the marketing flyers – base paper to cut your toe-nails, to put the wet waste in the dust bin, cut-outs for her grand-daughter’s “shop-shop” game.
Having learnt my lesson, I vowed that I will never print any more marketing flyers. I will also stop others from doing this as it’s a sheer waste. I stepped out of my house to buy milk and there was a young buy distributing flyers to everyone. It was a broadband internet company’s flyers.I didn’t want to take it but the boy insisted that I take the flyer. I asked him –“young man, why do you think flyers will work?’ He replied “Sir, flyers are a very effective way of marketing. More flyers = more eyeballs = more brand awareness = more brand recall = more sales”
I looked at my mother-in-law and handed over the flyer to her smilingly.