Avoiding “Collateral” Damage:
Creating brochures that work
Are brochures a necessary investment? Seems like an obvious question, doesn’t it? After all, nearly every company has some sort of brochure, so they must be beneficial…right?
Well, too often the answer is “no.” Too many brochures aren’t worth much more than the paper they’re printed on. They do little to educate prospects, build credibility, or advance sales efforts. And when poorly designed, a brochure can actually do more to kill a sale than close one.
Want to make your brochures more effective? In this issue of the Idea Club, we offer you a few quick thoughts on brochures, and most importantly, a few ideas to make them into a powerful tool that can make sales easier.
“We need a brochure.”
Actually, no you don’t. No business needs a brochure. What you really need is to sell something. The question is: can a brochure help you close more sales? And if so, how?
If you have a company brochure, go grab a copy. As you flip through it, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does your brochure clearly identify what you do?
- Does it differentiate you from the competition?
- Does it portray your company the way you want to be seen?
- Is your brochure effectively used in your sales process?
- Has your brochure helped close sales?
Too often, brochures are designed in a vacuum with little thought to how they’ll be integrated into the overall sales and marketing strategy. As a result, they end up doing little more than collecting dust on storeroom shelves or lining the wastebaskets of prospective clients.
1. Have a plan.
Make your brochure an integral part of your sales and marketing process. Before starting a brochure project, ask yourself these questions:
Why are we creating a brochure?
- to educate people
- to close deals
- to build trust and credibility
- to lead a sales presentation
- as a vehicle for presenting a proposal
- to cross-sell services
What will the brochure promote?
- Your company as a whole
- A specific product or service (or range of products or services)
- An event
- The people in your organization
How will the brochure be used?
- in direct mail campaigns
- as a follow-up to a meeting (If so, will delivery be by mail, e-mail or in person?)
- as a drop-off or leave behind
- as a sales aid during an appointment
2. Consider multiple versions
You may find that it’s cost-effective to create more than one version of your brochure. For example, you may want a detailed corporate capabilities overview that can be used as a follow-up to a meeting, while creating a smaller and less expensive “teaser” for direct mail or a trade show handout.
You may also find it beneficial to create more than one version of your brochure copy, for example if you sell to more than one industry or if you want to create special emphasis on different products.
3. Create a content plan
Content is the key to an effective brochure; however, there are many ways to approach content. For starters, will you be better served by long copy or short? Long copy is best when explaining concepts. Short copy may be better when the reader already has a clear understanding of what you do.
When it comes to content, always, always, always remember to write from the reader’s perspective. Why would someone be interested in reading your brochure? What’s in it for them? What problem are you helping them to solve? Why is in the reader’s best interest to work with you instead of the competition?
Of course, you also have to consider the positioning message (image) you want the text to convey. When positioning yourself, you are likely to make claims about the quality and value of your services. Be sure to include proof to support any claims you make, such as testimonials, performance statistics, side-by-side comparisons, process descriptions, and anything else that helps prove your points.
4. Don’t cheap out
You’re better off with no brochure than one that is poorly done. Your brochure is a selling document, make sure it portrays you the way you want to be seen. If you’re not comfortable with your writing skills, invest in a professional copywriter or a marketing firm that specializes in your industry–we know of one that can help! :-).
Be sure to take advantage of the talents of a professional graphic designer. While you can do amazing things with tools you have in your office, nothing replaces the value of a talented designer.
On the other hand, quality doesn’t have to be expensive. Consider these ideas to help control the budget:
- If most of your delivery will be by e-mail, create a PDF version of your brochure and then print in small quantities using the capabilities of a short-run color printer.
- Two color printing can be as (and sometimes more) dramatic than four colors.
- Provide clear direction to your copywriter and graphic designer, including examples of other materials you like.
- Look at the cost per piece as well as the total cost. Sometimes printing more is more cost-effective than limiting the budget.
- Use remnant space wisely (the left over area on the press sheet that normally gets tossed in the garbage). Sometimes you can get one or more additional marketing pieces at no extra cost.
- Plan multiple versions up front.
And remember, just one sale will justify a first-class brochure!