How to Shock the Junk Mail System

With envelopes, A5 flyers, colors, contents, and strategic distribution

Ian Fan
Ian Fan
Sep 26 · 6 min read
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Photo by Jonne Huotari on Unsplash

Often, when we open our (physical) mailbox, we enter into a warzone. It’s ruffled with mixtures of letters, flyers, and postcards. The first thing we tend to do is sort out the genuine from the junk mail. What is junk mail?

Junk mail is unwanted or unsolicited advertising or promotional material received through the post or sent as email — Definition from Oxford Languages

More than 40% of junk mail gets thrown away. Knowing this high rejection rate and wastage cost, salespeople often face a dilemma: to continue with or without flyer distribution? Is flyer advertising worth the cost, time, and effort?

These are the strategies and recommendations on how to package flyers to circumnavigate the junk mail system.

Enveloped Flyers

Whenever a person receives an envelope, there’s always an air of mystery surrounding it. Furthermore, envelopes connote that the contents are private and confidential to the recipient.

There are a variety of envelope sizes in the market. The standard size is the 4" x 9". This size is also the best fit when doing distribution.

The first batch for my flyer distribution project was 1,000 envelopes. The next question to answer, What type of envelope?

A window envelope gives a teaser to the contents of the flyer. The cost to manufacture a window envelope is cheaper than a windowless envelope. You can merely purchase a box of window envelopes from the stationery store and then immediately package the flyers into the envelopes.

A windowless envelope completely seals the flyer from the outside. To give a teaser, custom-design your envelopes to differentiate from the tons of standard, white envelopes from banks, insurance agencies, and direct marketing companies.

Strategic Factory presents 8 tips to ensure that your envelope gets opened. Do not be afraid to display your company’s name and logo prominently. People will know it’s from a reputable source and its previous customers can easily recognize. Make use of colored envelopes or colors on the envelope to stand out and attract attention.

Add questionnaires or QR codes on the envelopes for people to interact with them. QR codes are more efficient than links. One just needs to take out the camera app and scan the QR code. The QR codes can be links to a series of games, quizzes, and sites.

These help lower the chances of people discarding the (enveloped) flyers as junk mail into the trash.

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Windowless and window envelopes. Photos by Tiffany Tertipes on Unsplash, and Pixabay on Pexels

An envelope protects the flyer from getting wet by the rain. Even though wet, an enveloped flyer is less wet than an unenveloped one.

For an added layer of protection, package the envelope in a transparent plastic bag to shield it from the rain. Of course, this extra layer of weather protection comes at higher costs of purchasing plastic bags.

People receiving plastic packages will be even more curious to open the packaging. They will also notice the extra effort that went into it. They’ll be less inclined to throw the package away.

A5 Flyers

You have to compromise on the readability and the number of contents inserted into an A5 flyer. As an A5 flyer is half the size of an A4 flyer, the A5 can take in 50% lesser content than the A4. Instead of advertising 16 products on an A4 flyer, you can probably advertise eight products on an A5 flyer.

When working on a budget, A5 flyers are considerably cheaper than A4 flyers and not inserted into envelopes. It may cost $60 to print 1,000 A4 flyers at $0.06 per piece. On the other hand, it can cost $60 to print 2,000 A5 flyers at $0.03 per piece. You can print more for the same price.

A5 flyers are postcard sizes. Not too big and not too small in hand. Unlike A4 flyers and envelopes, people will be able to see the contents immediately. Without taking up too much space, A5 flyers can conveniently slide under the door, posted on notice boards, and put on fridges at home.

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A5 flyer photo by the author

Color Marketing

Colors also play an important role when disrupting the junk mail system, especially paper colors. Colors bring out the emotions in people and can increase sales. Instead of always using white, make use of other bright colors to stand out: yellow, green, orange, and aqua blue.

For example, if your flyer gets printed on a yellow paper, it’ll immediately be noticeable. Yellow is an attention-grabbing color.

Before even ending in the trash, people might eventually have a quick glance at the contents. They might have second-thoughts of throwing the flyer away.

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Photo by Matt Ridley on Unsplash

Design and Contents of Flyers

In addition to having an appealing envelope or not, the flyer also should be attractive and engaging.

James Birch from Colour Graphics notes 10 tips for writing effective flyers. Content-wise, refrain from writing essays on flyers. Flyers are not newspapers. Write to the point and relevant information.

When I design my flyers, I make sure the heading, the company’s name, and logo receive a prominent placement. The heading is catchy and shortly to the point.

Striking and sharp shapes like a star draw attention to the call-to-action messages. Insert high-quality images, as pictures speak a thousand words, they immerse the viewer. Do not be afraid to add an image of yourself as it helps to personify your brand and gives it a personality.

Often, flyers are best viewed in bright conditions or under the light. Add glitters and glow-in-the-dark texts to light up the message in the dark.

Strategic Distribution

It is tempting to finish the distribution as fast as possible. Instead of doing all the distribution in a day, spread out the distribution over a period.

You can distribute the flyers fortnightly, monthly, or quarterly. Over a period, people will notice your flyers. Consistency is key to performance.

There is no right time for flyer distribution. A saleslady, while on her morning walks, she’ll drop the flyers in the mailboxes. Others distribute flyers in their evening walks and at night when it’s cool.

When I was distributing flyers, whether in the morning or at night, people will still chit-chat with me and collect the flyers. When you personally hand over an envelope or flyer, there’s less chance of it becoming junk mail.

To penetrate gated and guarded communities and to cover wider areas, engage flyer distribution services. Once, it cost me $300 to engage a flyer distributor to distribute 9,800 flyers. Even though it comes at extra costs; however, it saves time and effort.

Imagine having to distribute flyers to over 3,000 houses by yourself. Weigh the opportunity cost between self-distribution and engaging flyer distribution services. Flyer distributors can also distribute flyers over a period.


Surprisingly, I’ve received calls from the flyers.

My first batch of flyers was enveloped flyers. I distributed 200 enveloped flyers and received three inquiries. A much later batch of 1,000 A5 flyers earned me 10 inquiries.

Even more surprising is that some people collected flyers as a hobby. Once, it was more than a year after a round of flyer distribution that a person contacted me on that same flyer.

Even though the response rate looks low, but it still shows that flyer advertisement is still relevant today. Not all flyers end up as junk mail.

Helping you market more ethically, authentically, and effectively.

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Thanks to Brittany Jezouit

Ian Fan

Written by

Textbook editor turned real estate agent. Writer @ Better Marketing, The Innovation. Editor of Writers Square. Newsletter:

Better Marketing

Marketing advice and case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and effectively.

Ian Fan

Written by

Textbook editor turned real estate agent. Writer @ Better Marketing, The Innovation. Editor of Writers Square. Newsletter:

Better Marketing

Marketing advice and case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and effectively.

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