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A lot of today's aspiring young artists are designing their own video games, publishing their own graphic novels, and creating high-impact websites. In the 60's, however (showing my age), aspiring artists like that were creating posters and flyers for mom and pop stores, local events, theaters, and clubs (and for the bands that performed at those clubs). Desktop tools and digital printing have made it easy for almost anyone to cost-effectively produce a professional-looking flyer -- but for sheer impact, I've haven't seen anything that tops some of the truly artistic handbills from 40 or so years ago.
As far as an effective call-to-action, I think too many flyers today don't have one -- they are designed to simply say, "Hey, world, we exist!" A flyer is most effective when it either causes the person who receives it to DO something immediately (besides trash it), or when it has some intrinsic value that causes the recipient to keep it for future use/reference.
I also wonder about the effectiveness of simply blanketing a geographic area with flyers. I can see how that might be effective for some products and services, but for others, it seems like what I call the "blindfold hunter" approach to advertising (hunter puts on a blindfold, points his gun at the sky, shoots off a few hundred rounds, and hopes something flies in front of one them) . . . generally a waste of "ammo." What are your thoughts on that?