Door hangers. You can target your market this way. The time it takes to hang door hangers/brochures is well worth your while. When you get a call from a newspaper ad, and while the phone is still ringing, you have no idea what part of town the call is coming from ( the projects, the "i just wanna get by" side of town or, if you're lucky, the "rich" neighborhoods). I sent out my brochures door to door this year. When the phone starts ringing, i already know that i'm getting a call from a neighborhood that i want to work in. This indeed is comforting.
Also, when you go door to door, occasionally you will get the golden opportunity to speak with someone. This 15 minutes of your time is priceless! When you talk to them and they figure out how nice you are.... BAM!!! You get refereals, you get to give them an estimate, and you get money after it's all said and done.
I know the point of your question is for the answerers to pick one form or the other for advertising, but I think both are necessary to successfully advertise.
Newspapers allow you to reach more people more effeciently (time and cost effective). Don't spend much on an advertisment, though. Simple is good. Include something that will stick in the minds of those who read. Why should they pick you over the other lawn services.
Door hangers are easy, and a lot of times, you don't have 20 other advertisements for your competitors near by. Also, you can put more information on each advertisment.
local papers around here are as useless as a boot full of piss...doorhangers like said before you can target much better the area you want to advertise in.
Last spring i got 7% response rate and closed 2% of 3000 i put out...it was excellent return on 250$ worth of doorhangers.
And that aint counting one time aerations and other one time jobs in the close rate .
I do both but this year im debateing on even running a add with the dismal response rate.Other areas might be different ..but around here the newpapers just dont get much of a response.
Door hangers work much better for us, for reasons listed above. We also get calls in the middle of the summer or even fall from people who have held on to the doorhanger. It's the only way we advertise.
From past expierences, newspaper has worked better for me, for mainly "ont-time" jobs....dethatching, aerating and overseeding. Never did much for me mowing. Too many calls outside my route. I broke even on door hangers.