The Great Leaflet Epiphany

My Genius IdeaAs I was making my way around an estate delivering my dog walking flyers a couple of days ago I was slightly troubled. I knew that I was putting in the work now to hopefully reap the reward in the future, but I couldn’t help but feel I was wasting time to some extent. I was trying my best to maximise my use of time by listening to an audiobook as I went (Currently ‘The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason – review to follow) which went some way to allaying my worry. As such I attributed the feeling to mere doubt and discouragement attempting to creep in and carried on. However, I couldn’t shake this niggling feeling as I went, so eventually made the conscious decision to engage my brain and assess whether there was anything I could do to get a better return on this time. Shortly thereafter the simplest of ideas struck me – there must be plenty of people who would like leaflets delivering to houses, and many would surely be willing to pay. It is such a simple concept but also one that was not immediately obvious. If I am already doing the legwork of going from door to door posting leaflets, it would be virtually no more effort to post two leaflets through each door. If I could convince someone to pay me to do so I had certainly found a solution to my problem. Excited with my new idea I hurriedly completed the street I was on and returned home to set about my plans.

I found a directory of local business and went about preparing a mail shot to send via email to a group of them. I was pretty open and candid in my email as I felt this was the right way to do things. Essentially it read along these lines “I am going to be spending some time over the next week delivering leaflets through doors of homes in the local area. I have around 1,000 to do. As such, I would be willing to combine my time and post leaflets for your business at the same time for a small fee. As I am already undertaking the work I can offer favourable rates and do it on an informal, one-off basis. Clearly this offers a great low-cost advertising opportunity to your business. If this is of interest please contact me…” Obviously there was a little padding and a bit more information but that was the general gist. I knew my biggest obstacle was going to be convincing people that this wasn’t some scam and that I would genuinely deliver each leaflet rather than dump them in a ditch somewhere. I decided to attach my CV in the hope that it would go some way to proving I was a genuine, capable and honest guy. I sent the message out to each of the A’s listed in the directory. Later that day I received a reply asking for more details, but nothing came of it in the end.

A little discouraged, I nonetheless moved on to the B’s and sent a message out to all of them just before turning in for the night. Nothing at all came back from the B’s! I was convinced this was a good opportunity and so moved on to the C’s later the next day. Within minutes of sending the email my phone began ringing. Surely not, could this be the moment I’d been waiting for? I composed myself and answered in as casual a manner as I could muster to hear: “Hi mate, I saw your email, I might have some you could do for me.” Bingo! We discussed a bit further back and forth and he came across as I really nice guy. I had done some searching for the going rate on leaflet drops, but it was very hard to find much information. As such I was fairly unsure about what a reasonable price might be. When the question I knew was coming any minute finally surfaced and he asked how much I would be looking for to deliver 1,o00, I settled in my head at that moment for £30. He seemed to take this in his stride and showed no signs of any surprise so perhaps I pitched it about right. We came to an agreement and arranged a few details. With hindsight I reckon I probably could have gone slightly higher, but that’s all part of the learning experience. The key thing is that whilst it might be a relatively small sum, I’m now being paid to do something I would have been doing regardless. The further beauty of it is that the transaction makes everyone involved better off. In my mind this is one of the fundamental principles to successful business dealings. This also sets a precedent for future opportunities, he even gave me some recommendations on good value local printers worth looking at.

There are many reasons I’m pleased about what arose from this simple moment of clarity. One is that I’m being paid to advertise my own interests. Another is the value of networking in the local area in such a way. By me doing him a favour, and vice-versa, it opens the door to further mutually beneficial prospects. There is another anecdote that arose from this idea that further illustrates this, but I think I’ll save that one for another day. However by far the most pleasing thing to me is the thought process I went through. I honestly think 8 weeks ago I never would have arrived at this solution. Not because I didn’t have the intellect or ability, but because this project is moulding the way I think and approach matters. I was naturally given to thinking ‘am I getting the maximum return from the effort I am expending?’ When the answer was no I automatically began to engage myself in the process of determining what I could do to redress the situation. This is the reason I view this as such a triumph, all things considered £30 is unlikely to make much of a difference. In what it represents however, perhaps I will find myself looking back on this as something of a turning point.

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  1. This is your best post I’ve read so far. It’s exciting as I think you’re learning some lessons that 99.9% of the people out there are never going to get. Reckon we could all enjoy a taking stock post after 3 months or so with a collection of lessons youve learned from this journey.

  2. Catherine says:

    I am amazed at what your are learning and congratulate you on your innovative thinking and your writing style! Will be following with great interest; well done!

  3. I found your blog last week as I read your comment on MMM. Your posts are inspiring and I wish you the best of luck in hitting your target. I might even nad some of your ideas if I get a chance and if you wouldn’t object.

    • Thank you very much, I hope that it makes for an interesting and thought provoking concept, so appreciate you saying that. Please feel free to use any of the ideas I write about, that’s part of the reason for sharing my experiment, so the lessons I learn can perhaps help others. I’d love to hear how it goes if you do try any of the ideas! Feel free to get in touch with me to tell me how you get on.

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