Adverts in local news papers would only be seen by people who wanted to buy the news paper, meaning the majority of potential customers would not see your advert no matter how much you were willing to pay.
Telephone Books would only show adverts to people who specifically wanted to make a phone call to a business, meaning there was no point advertising a promotional deal at the corner shop, since no one is likely to call a corner shop before shopping there.
Flyers through letter boxes would reach people without them needing to show an interest in the business or make another purchase to begin with. But endless leaflets being dropped through a letter box can become irksome and even build a negative relationship between businesses and their target customers.
Large businesses with more funding could afford to advertise in national news papers, although these reached a lot more people, they have a similar problem to national newspapers in that their adverts will only be shown to people who have decided to pay for the paper. In fact they also have the disadvantage of being less well targeted. For example, with local newspapers a retail chain could advertise in local papers only in towns with their stores, but if they decided to advertise in the national press, they are also paying to show their advert to people who would not live close enough to one of their stores to make use of what is being promoted, therefore a portion of their advertising fee is effectively wasted.
Finally businesses with large enough marketing budgets could get their goods shown to the largest possible audience by advertising on TV. Until the 1990s, there were very few TV channels and some programs regularly had 20% of the entire population watching them. These types of adverts could reach a very large audience but it was a very expansive and untargeted form of marketing.
One of the most effective ways of promoting a business to a local audience is through a free magazine or newspaper. These are usually delivered around a local area in a similar way to leaflet distribution, however they are not fronded upon in the same way as “junk mail”, since all advertising is complied into a single booklet or paper, rather than having dozens of pamphlets posted through people’s doors. Also these types of publications include original articles along with advertising which may be of interest to the people receiving the publications.