Ravenswood Doorknob Hanger-ing: An Experiment in Grassroots Marketing

Today I flyered a select region of the Ravenswood neighborhood in Chicago. Here’s my report:

  • Coverage area is a few square blocks
  • Began at 9:20AM with circa 500 flyers.
  • Cullom from Ravenswood to Hermitage– 1/2 block
  • Hermitage from Cullom to Irving Park Rd, even side: 56 flyers delivered (mostly single family; two 6-flats)
  • Hermitage from Irving Park Rd to Montrose, odd side, 100th flyer delivered to 4233 North Hermitage
  • Lots of courtyard buildings
  • At Montrose and Hermitage I had done 5 city blocks, 10 sides of the street, 151 flyers, 50 minutes total time (10:10AM)
  • Montrose from Hermitage to Winchester (low volume, commercial with little walk-in traffic)
  • Wolcott to Berteau– 2 blocks, 4 sides of the street
  • 200th flyer delivered to 4223 North Wolcott
  • Berteau from Wolcott to Honore — 1 block, 2 sides of street
  • Back up Wolcott, notch into Cullom– lots of six flats in a half-block
  • 300th flyer delivered to 1908 Cullom
  • South on Winchester from Montrose, starting at 10:47 AM
  • 400th left at 4211 N.Winchester
  • At this point I had 92 left (I may have slightly miscounted, but it’s natural for there to be “overs” in a print run)
  • I circled back to some six flats on Berteau and some more strays, then got in car and went to the area’s main commercial area at Lincoln and Wilson
  • Got in my car with 55 flyers at 11:06
  • Left a stack at Old Town School of Folk Music, Grind Cafe, and Laurie’s Music
  • I kept 10 for the archive and for the VH1 “Behind the Music” Special

Some notes:

  • If got some good video on technique, and some images of signs people make re: hating flyer– will be delivered upon download
  • I respected the wishes of every sign, even the generic NO SOLICITATION
  • We were competing with RCN– I put our stuff on top of their stuff often
  • Courtyard buildings with no access to the six separate vestibules– placed one per door. Seemed overkill to leave one per tenant
  • Buildings with access to vestibule– leave one per mailbox
  • Non-courtyard six flats with no access to vestibule– leave one for every two tenants, just to make the flyers stretch to a larger geographic area while still covering
  • I encountered no humans and had no conversations with anyone
  • Dogs like to bark
  • Concrete steps are good for stealthiness, but hard on the legs
  • Mailmen deserve every penny we pay them
  • I placed on the doorknob in every case possible, often bypassing the lazy work of professional doorknob hanger dudes you placed in the fence
  • If it was a single-family home with a closed fence, I endeavored to place the flyer on the doorknob of the fence
  • If that wasn’t possible, I bypassed
  • If the flyer fell off the door, I picked it up and put it back on
  • The single-arm operation is key here– muffing with the thing while holding the other flyers leads to repetitive motion injury issues


  • 500 flyers
  • 2.2. mile coverage area
  • (that map just loaded the points rather than points + street extents in Chrome, but you get the point. Try FF– worx better)
  • 15 blocks, 30 sides of the street
  • That’s an average of 34 flyers per block, or 17 per side of the street, which makes sense for this population density model (this includes the 55 left over for the three commercial venues, which I think is appropriate for estimating (spoilage, commercial venue/ residential, etc)
  • 1 hour, 45 minutes to do 15 blocks = 7 minutes per block. This is skewed by the short blocks, but I was flying, doods.
  • 6 of the 15 blocks were short (east/ west) blocks, 9 were regular city blocks (north/ south)
  • There were perhaps 15 six-flats, mainly clustered in the short blocks
  • 3 of the 9 long blocks were predominantly 2-flats
  • 6 of the 9 long blocks were single-family homes (slow going, mentally challenging) 🙂
  • Dropped at 3 commercial venues, approximately 15 per
More resources

EveryBlock hyperlocal strategy and government data

I lead the effort to obtain government data at EveryBlock. Here’s msnbc.com President Charlie Tillinghast talking about our local strategy:

Tillinghast says that demand can be met by EveryBlock, which is attempting to become a hyperlocal resource by gathering and organizing info from government agencies, and then tasking local users to provide block-by-block news. “We’re going after the truly local stuff, the messy part of local. The potholes.”