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"Do You Have a Brochure?"

We live in a digital world. That’s clear. Video, podcasts, social media, blogs, online content, email, SEO. All are critical pieces in the arsenal of today’s marketer. “Real” marketing collateral like signage and direct mail are viewed by many as archaic, the symbols of a past era. We disagree and would argue that some collateral pieces are as important today as ever.

For many organizations, brochures and tear sheets, the foundational components of a “marketing kit” are still meaningful. Prospective customers often want information they can hold onto. Maybe as a reminder of the business contact information, maybe to save for the future. Trade show attendees return home with more than business cards and pens. They bring home brochures and information sheets. Some get discarded, but many others are saved and pulled out for review when a project makes that product or service necessary.

Most important, brochures offer the opportunity for interaction. Handing out a brochure provides a brief opportunity for connection, increasingly rare in our “contact-free” world. With so few chances to interact with a potential client, brochure design is critical. Good brochures capture attention. Great brochures capture attention and create a lasting impression.

We’ve included a few insights on creating a useful, effective brochure. Next time someone asks, "Do you have a brochure?" you'll be ready.

For simplicity’s sake, we are going to focus on the basic three-panel brochure. It’s very budget-friendly, easy to create using available templates, easy to display in a rack, easy to mail, and can be printed in-house on a quality laser printer. (But we suggest working with a pro.)

Use a template. Specialty paper companies like Avery provide basic templates for creating brochures. Microsoft Word offers many templates for basic brochure design. We like Canva, an online design suite that has templates, graphic elements, photos, and fonts to help you create a visually appealing brochure. The templates are easy to work with and already incorporate sound design principles like spacing, use of color and white space. Start with one of the suggested designs - we've include a sample in this post - then edit the photos and text to fit your organization. Free and Pro Canva versions are available. Snappa is another good option. It, too, has free and paid options.

Know your “real estate.” Tri-fold brochures have six different spots for content; we recommend integrating two of the panels to reduce the likelihood of a choppy, too-busy layout. We've detailed a layout that combines two of the inner panels to create a larger visual and content field.

  1. Front Panel: This is obviously the most visible, most noticed portion of the brochure. It should contain your organization’s name, logo, and value statement or tag line.

  2. Back Panel: Contact information – phone number, address (if you’re a brick-and-mortar business), website, email, social channels, hours.

  3. Inside Front Panel: This panel is critical. Give the content careful thought. This is your opportunity to connect with the reader by acknowledging the problem your service solves. For example, “Worried about Mom living alone?” is a way to connect with adult children looking for in-home services for aging parents. Demonstrate that you understand the customer’s challenges. Testimonials are effective here.

  4. Outside Back Panel: Should complement the content on the Inside Front Panel. List the services that address the problem presented there.

  5. Inside Middle and Inside Back Panels: These panels should work together. Use this entire spread to provide more information on your organization, products, and services, and how you work with customers. You can use the entire field for copy, or unify the field with a photograph or band of color, as seen below.

Photographs and Graphics: Yes! Use high-res photos that showcase your business. If possible, use photos from your own business. If that isn’t an option, stock photos can be found on sites like Shutterstock or Getty Images. Or visit one of the free image sites listed in this blog post from Snappa. There are many affordable options for using visually compelling images in your brochure. Design tip: Even if your design includes photos or graphics that bleed off the edge of a page, most printers found in an office setting do not support that feature. When you print the document, it will likely have a white margin all around the edge. This is a good reason to work with a professional printer.

Fonts: No matter what design software you use, it includes dozens if not hundreds of fonts. Resist the temptation to use them all. If your company has a signature font, use it and one, perhaps two others. The design above uses two fonts. Design tip: Use black, grey, and blue for font body copy, or white/light colors on a dark background. Readability is your first priority.

Copy: Talk to the reader the way you would talk to a prospective customer standing in front of you. Get right to the point. Write your copy, review it, and then edit to reduce the word count by at least one-third. Resist the urge to fill the brochure with copy. White space gives the reader time to read thoughtfully.

Call to Action: It doesn’t matter how appealing a brochure is visually if it fails to call the reader to act. Include phrases like, “Call us to learn more,” “Set up an appointment," “Visit our website to take a virtual tour.” A good spot for a call to action is on the back panel or the bottom right corner of the inside of the brochure.

Print collateral still has a place in every organization’s marketing kit. Creating a brochure that gets and keeps attention is a matter of understanding what matters to your customers, knowing how your organization helps them address what matters to them, and telling that story in a meaningful way.

If you aren’t confident that the story of your organization is being told in a compelling way, get help from an expert. Do you have a mission statement? A value statement? How well do you understand what your customers are looking for and the degree to which your solutions meet their needs? Have you documented the customer interaction cycle for your organization? If you’re unsure of the answers to those questions, contact us to set up an appointment. We’re happy to help take your marketing efforts to new heights. (See what we did there?)

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