In this chapter, we discuss various places where you can distribute your flyers and brochures free. Again, all of the examples we include from our affiliates and chapters are places where they were able to leave copies of their materials free of charge.
Throughout your state, in every city and town of any size at all, you should have lots of doctors' offices and medical centers. They are all potential locations for the placement of your promotional materials, flyers, brochures, and special announcements. Ophthalmologists' and optometrists' offices are, of course, the best locations since they specifically target people with eye-related diseases, problems, and concerns.
You need to research your state or local area to identify the medical facilities you want to target. This can be done by using online search programs like Google or the old-fashioned way by consulting the phone directory or directories that cover the desired geographic areas. Many kinds of directories are also accessible online. For instance, by putting the following into Google, exactly as we have it written here with the quotes and commas, you can find tons of such facilities in the state of Texas, directories for every city, and by just replacing the state in this search algorithm, you can do the same thing for every state. You can replace the state in this algorithm with a specific city and get just results for a given city: "ophthalmologists","optometrists","Texas","directory".
Ideally, it is always best to hand-deliver your material to each doctor’s office or to each medical center, but when that is not feasible, you can write a cover letter that briefly tells who you are, e.g., “My name is Carol Edwards, and I am president of the American Council of the Blind of Texas. Enclosed are 100 brochures describing what our organization can do for your patients that are blind or losing their eyesight or if they are the parents of a blind child or have a relative or friend in such a situation …” The cost for mailing the materials is the cost of postage, the cost of the enclosures, and envelopes. This method will generate responses from your targeted audiences, as well as inform the public of your existence, and help recruit new members. Of course, you have to keep replenishing the supplies; otherwise, they run out, and like an empty shelf in a store, that just doesn’t get the job done!
The South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind (SCKCB) distributes informational brochures to all of the eye doctors’ offices, both ophthalmologists and optometrists, in the greater Bowling Green, Kentucky area. A representative of the SCKCB called each office before delivering or mailing the brochures to identify the office manager or key person to whom to send the materials. Some of them were hand-delivered, but most were mailed via the U.S. post office. A one-page cover letter was sent along with 25 brochures in each envelope. The results were quite good, generating several phone inquiries and several new members for the SCKCB.
The North Dakota Association of the Blind (NDAB) has a unique way of disseminating information to the offices of physicians and ophthalmologists. It, together with State Rehabilitation Services, creates a packet of information, advising the public how each organization can be beneficial to those losing vision or family members dealing with vision loss in loved ones. At their summer convention, these packets are distributed to the attendees who, in turn, upon returning to their own communities, distribute the packets to their local physicians and ophthalmologists.
The Arizona Council of the Blind and its southern Arizona chapter have created separate brochures, each outlining and combining available services because of the distance encompassed. Each member is encouraged to carry these brochures to their various physicians’, ocularists’ and ophthalmologists’ offices. Contact information is given for both the state officers as well as the chapter officers who are more familiar with the Tucson and southern Arizona blindness concerns.
State Services for the Blind
This is a good outreach source for most states. Developing a good working relationship with members of the state rehabilitation offices gives you an in-road for the distribution of your brochures so those seeking services can also be made aware of your organization and what it has to offer.
The Michigan Council of the Blind (MCB) works closely with the Michigan Commission for the Blind to distribute packets of information to their clients.
The Arizona Council of the Blind teams with Vocational Rehabilitation Services as well as the Governor’s Council on Blindness in a one-day seminar each fall where this information is distributed to diverse attendees.
Other Areas of Free Distribution
Many state libraries for the blind and physically handicapped put out newsletters anywhere from one to four times yearly. If the newsletter is distributed quarterly, this is a good place to insert information for your state affiliate’s upcoming events such as conventions or other upcoming events. Just be sure to keep in contact with the editor of these newsletters so that your information may be delivered in a timely manner.
There are many other types of places where you can leave a quantity of your affiliate’s brochures. These include such places as independent living centers, volunteer centers, dialysis centers, and even some government offices.
For instance, the South Plains Council of the Blind in Texas does a Walk for Independence each year. To help promote the event, they produce a flyer which is widely circulated. A local independent living center distributes it and includes the flyer in its newsletter. While the walk is a fundraiser, it also is a valuable public education and awareness event.
The Michigan Council of the Blind distributes some of its materials through the Michigan Commission for the Blind, including at the Michigan Commission for the Blind’s Training Center.
The North Dakota Association of the Blind also places its brochures in selected government offices such as the Motor Vehicle Department.
The South Central Kentucky Council of the Blind places its brochures and other promotional materials with a local volunteer center. This place is called the Alive Center; it is the focal point for non-profit organizations to interact, develop cooperative programs and to recruit volunteers. The SCKCB distributes its main brochure through the Alive Center, as well as other materials such as a piece expressing the need for volunteers and another piece describing its matching grant program available to blind people in a local, 10-county area.
This method of distributing your promotional materials definitely gets results. It is another method to include in your arsenal of weapons for promoting your affiliate or chapter.