Leafleting: How to Kick-Start a Gardening Business

Leafleting. The word makes me cringe. But if you are to be a micro-local business, it is perhaps the best marketing strategy. 

Indeed, my business is very geographically targeted, down to specific streets where I would like to work. All these streets have large houses with front and back gardens, and they are within walking distance to me. Looking at satellite view in Google Maps, I could perfectly see the huge number of residential streets all around me. I decided which streets I’d like to target because I walk down them every time I go gardening, and my hands itch to help out with their sometimes very overgrown gardens. 

I was really nervous about walking up to people’s front doors with my leaflets and sticking what some would describe as “junk mail” into their houses. It felt as daft as spreading pizza leaflets, but I knew I had a good service and could really help a lot of people struggling with their rampant gardens. Luckily, I also had my partner with me to help, and he had delivered newspapers as a kid. His expertise would be really essential as I would soon find out. 

How on earth do you do this?

The first house I put a leaflet in had something really stiff on the internal side of the letterbox. I thought I could just open the outer flap and throw it in, but in reality, it was surprisingly hard to even open the letterbox, much less stick a flimsy leaflet in. To me, it felt like fate itself was blocking my leafleting hand. I ended up crumpling the leaflet so much that it probably did look like junk as it fell quietly to the floor on the other side of the door. And then I turned and walked away from the house as quickly as I could!

What the hell are those?? I asked my partner and quickly learned about the woe that would become draft-excluders for me that day. He had already devised a method of folding the leaflets in half to create a hard corner that would slip through. 

Thinking of it now, to be honest, I’ve never actually lived in a house where the letterbox was cut right into the front door. In the US (at least where I lived), the postbox was always a separate contraption to the house and stood facing the street, so the postman would never have to walk up the sometimes exceedingly long driveway to hand over your post. 

Walking up to the houses today, through their whole front gardens, right up to the door, felt a bit like a violation to me, which is probably why I was nervous. It’s not though. Rationally speaking, you do not need permission to distribute leaflets in the UK as long as they go directly into the letterbox and don’t create litter. I didn’t leaflet the houses which said “No Ads” or “No junk mail”, although you strictly don’t have to listen to them. But I did. Even though some of those houses could have really done well with a gardener!

Printed Leaflets or Social Media?

We ended up walking past a cake shop called “Cat Food” that’s only open on Saturday mornings, so we were just lucky enough to catch the cake-maker and her assistant inside. They had beautiful cakes and cupcakes on display, but more importantly they wanted to help me as a local business when my partner showed them the leaflets. They recommended targeting Facebook groups. I knew it!

For all that can be said for leaflets and their targeting, I really prefer for people to come to me. When I offer them something they haven’t asked for, it’s all back to front. So I really believe that ads on social media/community groups would produce a better outcome because they are a better filter. Those who don’t want the service will ignore the post, and those who need it can respond immediately. 

I’ll monitor the results anyways. I will be tracking the turnout on my site via Google Analytics and then compare whether leaflets or social media posts are more effective.

Going local, a step further

In a brilliant strike of confident genius, my partner also managed to leave some leaflets in local shops. We put them right at the till in two main high-street supermarkets. An excellent move! I don’t think I would have approached them had I been on my own. 

Two hours into this, I had developed my own technique for leafleting — using one hand to open the draft excluder internally and the other to fold and slip in the leaflet. 

We also met a few pizza flyer guys along the way, marching up to the same houses. They seemed super fast and ruthless. In sheer seconds, they leafleted even the houses that had obvious signs put up against it. My approach was much slower and more deliberate. I even assessed the gardens preliminarily to see if I could add value to them.

In any case, the wait begins now. Let’s see if anyone does go to the website and enquire. 

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