by Bailey Stone
Some people used to say that the internet would mark the end of printed advertising and promotion. They don’t say that anymore.
True, having a presence on the web is certainly expected; virtually no company out there today can get by without a web site and email.
But the buyer of your products or services also expects a legitimate company to have printed sales material. Some new companies print up business cards, letterhead and envelopes and think they’re armed for business. But if you want real sales, you need a real sales brochure.
Apart from looking like a legitimate vendor to your existing – and prospective – clients, you want to give them something to take away and peruse at their leisure – which is something even the catchiest web address can’t do.
A brochure is like a presentation that you can carry around with you and leave with prospective clients.
When laying out your brochure, design and write it from the reader’s perspective. Before you start, make a list of what you think your prospective clients may want to know about your company and your product or service – and what you want them to know.
Don’t overdo it with verbiage. Everybody is busy, and just as with any kind of promotional effort, you have to get their attention fast. Be clear and concise; bullet points or other kinds of quick-reading lists are often helpful and easy for people to scan.
When listing your selling features, there are a couple of different ways to communicate. Some would counsel that you keep to the facts and not state opinions, while other copywriters think it’s perfectly all right to tell people what they will think of what you have to offer (“You’ll love it!”). In fact, most advertising is a mix of the two approaches.
No matter what approach you use, the best way to get to the point is to enumerate the benefits you offer, not the technicalities. Saying that your lawnmowers have 22? rather than 26? blades may be accurate, and the reader of your brochure may be able to work out the benefits of that himself.
But save him the trouble! Point out that your “longer blades mean a wider path and less time mowing,” or some such thing. The right copy – concise and clear about the benefits of your product or service – can let your brochure reader reach the right conclusions quickly.
Make sure your prospective client knows what sets you apart from other similar vendors, but without knocking the competition. This is one area where you want to let your reader draw his own conclusions.
The statement, “Our competitors stink!” may be accurate (and fun to point out! Don’t run down your competition; forget about them (maybe everyone else will, too!) and tell people about yourself and your business – besides, why waste valuable brochure space taking about them? It is better to talk about what is right about you, and let your reader imagine what is wrong about the other guys.
You want to do your best to make your brochure eye-catching and pleasing to look at. This makes it something someone is more likely to read, and even to keep.
Printing used to be expensive. First there was cut-and-paste, then desktop publishing. Printing companies had to keep a large prepress staff on hand. Now so many people do their own design and layout – and upload their results to a printer – that printers’ overhead, and your costs, have come down?) and faster presses, full color printing has become less expensive and better looking than ever.
Be sure to use full color, including photographs if possible, and print on premium paper stock. (Don’t let anybody talk you into using copier-grade paper to save money; it won’t, and it will make you, and your business, look third-rate.It no longer makes any sense to use poor quality paper to save money. Printing your brochure on copier-grade paper makes your whole business look cheap.
Remember that when something is well designed and presented in an attractive format, it is often passed on to others by your clients; and referrals are great sources of new business: they are the result of the best kind of advertising – a recommendation – and they cost you nothing extra to get.