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Brochures. Are yours helping or hurting your company?
by: J K Inwood
|Desk Top Publishing software does not solve your copywriting and professional design/layout problems any more than owning a wrench makes you a qualified mechanic.
Do you find yourself reluctant or even a tad apologetic when you hand out your company's brochure? Are you unhappy with it, but not sure why? If so, chances are you need a new brochure. But before you leap into that project, consider some of the points that follow. A little thought and planning now will go a long way in the creation of a brochure which both projects your corporate identity and image positively and is a brochure of which you can be proud.
Why Do You Even Need a Brochure?
First and foremost, a brochure is just as important and basic a tool as your business card. However, where your business card simply introduces you as an individual, your company brochure introduces your entire company. It is like an executive summary of your operation and offerings. It is an important marketing and sales tool, one in which you can do a little bragging and shamelessly present your credentials in the most favourable light. It is your opportunity to create a lasting impression. Make sure that it is a good one.
A Good Brochure
is essential to the success of your business. It must be brief. It must effectively communicate the most important fundamentals about your business and your products or services. It must communicate with, reach and move a prospective customer who, you must assume, knows nothing about your company. That is a tall order.
A Good Brochure
must leave the reader with the impression that yours is a solid, reliable company and therefore its products must be equally as good, solid and reliable. It is a corner stone in building trust with your prospective customers. It must leave the reader wanting to learn more about your company, but not necessarily today.
A Good Brochure
will introduce your company and give the prospect a visual feel for who you are and what you do. It should function well as both a door opener before a sales call and a reminder afterwards to which prospective clients may refer. While your brochure will seldom actually get you a sale, it will make getting the order so much easier
Does Your Current Brochure Do All That?
No? Well, Change It.
A Bad Brochure Is Like Bad Breath.
No one will tell you what is wrong, but they will avoid you, or in this case, your company. Your brochure, along with your phone number, will simply go right to the trash.
When that happens, you will find you have done more than just waste your money and time. You have turned a prospect into a permanent no sale without even getting a chance to get in the door. If you saved a few hundred dollars on producing your brochure, was it worth it?
A badly done or cheap looking brochure reflects badly on you, your company and your products. Do not scrimp. A company which economizes on a brochure may also be seen as scrimping on its products.
Your Brochure Should Not
attempt to be a comprehensive technical manual detailing all your product specs. It should not be a price sheet listing special sales items and the like. These are sales sheets and have completely different requirements in look, design, and purpose.
When companies try to combine these functions in a one piece all things to all people brochure, they often end up with a confusing, disorganized mess. You can be absolutely certain that if your brochure is difficult to read, it won't be. This could reflect a confused company to a prospect. Remember K.I.S.S.?
An acceptable combination of both types is often seen in a presentation folder. One pocket holds your corporate brochure, the other pocket holds special deals, sales sheets, price lists and the like.
Brochures Are Usually Used In Three Ways:
* Initially: as an introductory mailer. You may mass mail the brochure to sales leads and follow up later by phone.
* Secondarily: Your brochure should always be used as a leave behind at initial sales calls. Even when you have mailed out a copy in advance of a meeting, it is always a good idea to leave another copy as you finish up your sales call. It serves as a reminder that there is a solid, respectable company behind the sales rep who just left. And it certainly never hurts to have several copies of your brochure circulating in your prospect's office(s).
* Thirdly: A corporate brochure is essential to fulfil requests from potential clients for literature, either in response to an ad or a phone enquiry.
Do NOT Do This....
A major Canadian Bank produced a series of "Advice to Small Business" booklets to hand out to prospects. Each branch manager was supplied with a quantity of these brochures. However under the bank's accounting system they were only charged if they actually gave out the brochures. The result? You guessed it. Many of these branch managers stashed the brochures in the vaults and refused to give them out to avoid being charged.
Brochures and advertising material are wasted sitting in your mail room. Get this material into your prospects' hands.
CHECK THE TRUNKS OF YOUR SALES REPS' CARS
More then once we have seen expensive sales material only get as far as the sales rep's car trunk and no further. Make sure they are giving it out as intended.
How Do You Develop a Good Brochure?
The easiest way is to contact us today for a free discussion and proposal. No obligation. Telephone us at (519) 439-8884, Fax us at (519) 439-9491or EMAIL us right now. You probably get dozens of brochures, flyers and general junk every week. Pay attention to what you do with them and why. Some you probably scan quickly and file for later reference. Others, you toss straight in the garbage. A very few you will actually read. Why? Take a second look and see what attracts and sells you . . . and what repels you.
1. Learn from your competition. Before you start to develop a brochure for your company, review all your competitions' brochures. You'll be surprised at what you learn. Pick out the points and techniques that attract and sell you. It is easier to point to a brochure with the type of image you like than to verbalize it in briefing a creative person.
The best way to learn about your industry is from your competition. You do you have their brochures, price sheets, promotional material, samples of their products, don't you? This is the first step.
2. Involve your Creative person from the start. Bring in a creative services person for a preliminary chat. Show him your competitors' material. Give him an idea of what you are trying to accomplish and a little company background.
A skilled, creative person should be able to elicit from you all he needs to develop an initial rough concept, copy and layout. Work together to develop the brochure you need.
We usually (but not always) will develop a rough at no charge on the understanding that we produce the work if it is accepted. We find this is actually very productive for all concerned.
3. Determine how much you can spend on your brochure? It's no good just telling your designer to develop some ideas unless you provide a realistic budget within which to work. You do not want to waste money, but neither do you want to produce some schlock just to save a little. That's penny wise and pound foolish. A good bench mark you could use is that your brochure should match or better the quality of the best competitive brochures.
Set a budget that tends to hurt and than add 10%.Your brochure must reflect the quality your company sells. There is seldom profit in looking second rate.
4. Printing Budgets Setting up a reasonable printing budget is easy, if not painless. Call up a couple of printers and ask them, in general terms, what it will cost to print the type of brochure you have in mind, based on all artwork supplied. Usually they will be glad to assist. After all it could mean an order.
5. Pre-Press Budgets As a rule of thumb, use about 50% of the printing cost as a budget for your copy, design, type and final artwork. This percentage will be lower on larger printing jobs of course. Take heart. There is some consolation in the fact that your pre press costs are a one time item.
After you get over the initial shock, fire up your spread sheet and set a realistic budget.
For the best results, let your printer print but have your creative person do all the copy, design and related pre press work. Do NOT have your printer designing brochures. And no matter how good your receptionist is with her paint program, do not have amateurs creating your corporate material, unless of course you want to look amateur.
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About the author:
J Kirby Inwood at hwwp://www.kirwood.com is a superb but immodest copy writer with decades of experience
He weeps over the illiterates writing ads today