Form needs to follow function.  Decide how you’ll use the brochure and what you’ll be asking people to do before you start to consider what format (size, number of colors, etc.) it should take.

Say everything twice.  Once in the headlines, sub-headlines, bolded copy, bullets, etc., and once in the body copy.  That’s how people interact with brochures.  They scan the easily read parts first-the largest font size copy, bolded copy, etc.-and if they’re still interested, they’ll read the body copy.

Talk about what’s important to your customers, not you.  Ask them, they’ll tell you.

Present a call to action that’s reasonable; small, if possible.  Don’t expect people to buy from your brochure.  Then give them an incentive to act, to take a step toward you.

Invest at least 30% of your space convincing the reader you understand the problems your product is designed to solve.

Never send a brochure in an envelope without a letter.  And make sure the letter is addressed to the person you’re sending to (no Dear Customer).

Biggest mistakes I see with brochures:

The overall look of the brochure is not consistent with what’s being sold.  If you have a “Home Depot” product, don’t create a “Tiffany’s” brochure.  And vise versa.  If quality, precision and reliability are your key differentiators and you sell to process engineers, your brochure should look accordingly.  If you sell discount pricing, your brochure should look like you DIDN’T spend a lot of money on it.

Same ole, same ole stuff.  After much time and effort you bang out the key reasons why your product is better and your brochure proudly displays them: quality; selection; price; service!  The problem: that’s exactly what every competitors’ brochure touts.  Everybody looks and sounds the same.  What do you do better than everybody else?  What one or two key reasons account for the majority of your sales (ask your customers!)?  That’s what you should lead with.

The brochure form isn’t consistent with how the company needs to use it.  Too many companies end up with a 4-color, 12 page masterpiece that’s great as a leave-behind when they need a single-fold self-mailer they can send to 10,000 prospects.  Make sure you’re creating the type of brochure you need, not just something you really like.

What’s the definition of a great brochure?  One that gets response.  Period.

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