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How to Create a Sales Brochure

Digital Library > Defining and Serving a Market > Brochures “How to Create a Sales Brochure”

In order to be an effective tool, a brochure must be read and get the intended action you desire. This guide takes you through a step-by-step development of a sales brochure highlighting the essentials for an effective brochure, alerting you to the pitfalls to avoid, and designing the brochure to hold a customer’s attentionq

WHAT TO EXPECT

Brochures are an important sales tool for any business — large or small. However, in order to be an effective tool, a brochure must be read and get the intended action you desire. This Business Builder will take you through a step-by-step development of a sales brochure highlighting the essentials for an effective brochure, alerting you of pitfalls to avoid, and, most important, walking you through the design of that perfect brochure with just the right message that will be read by your customers.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE GETTING STARTED [top]

Why Do You Need a Brochure?

  • It keeps your product or service in the forefront of your customer’s mind.
  • It distinguishes your firm from your competition.
  • It presents new information or updates your firm’s capabilities.
  • It reinforces your marketing message and image.

The Makings of a Successful Brochure

An effective brochure must

  • be read by your target market and
  • make the reader respond as you desire.

To do this, the brochure must be well-designed so it is visually appealing; well-written so it sparks the reader’s curiosity, satisfies a need and sends a specific message; and well-planned so it hits your target market while meeting your budget goals.

What constitutes a well-designed brochure? It is uniquely different from all other brochures. It makes the reader want to open the brochure and read inside. The design and paper stock mimic the tone of the written material and the image of the firm. There is a sensible mix of type styles (fonts), not an "anything goes" mess. There is symmetry and balance in the presentation of the material.

What makes up a well-written brochure? It intrigues the reader enough to read further. The headline clearly appeals to why the prospect needs to know this information. This theme is carried through and backed up with supporting material. Sentences are clear, crisp and grammatically correct. There are absolutely no typos! The tone is appropriate to the content. The reader understands immediately what is in it for him/her.

A brochure is well-planned when you have defined your target market and have a thorough understanding of your customer profile…your intended customer receives the brochure at the appropriate time…the information is pertinent to the targeted audience…the format fits the industry standard (if any) and effectively walks the reader through the reading material. Your clients tell you they want to know more about what they read in the brochure and the cost for writing, designing and printing your brochure is within your proposed budget.

Case Study… Brochures are expensive and should be designed for a long shelf life so beware of dated information. This includes names, dates, certain pictures, organization charts, pricing and other items that are likely to change. Brochures outlining a line of products or services can be used over a long period of time if their details are described in product sheets. This saves money, since product sheets can be reprinted as updates are needed, with the more expensive, full-line brochure lasting much longer.

There is no such thing as an all-purpose brochure. You must target your audience and decide on the specific message you want to send. A broadly focused brochure appeals to no one and rarely stirs any kind of response.

Brochures are a passive means of marketing. Alone, they will not sell your product or service. They are intended to inform and should be used as the tool they are meant to be. Brochures should not be used as a substitute for an aggressive sales effort such as a sales call. After all, it is very easy to dispose of a brochure but a little harder to throw out a person.

When several brochures are used for an organization, they should have a similar "look." This includes similar type styles and sizes, as well as a common design. Margins, graphs and borders should be consistent. To differentiate among brochures, you may want to vary the color — either choose a different color (but same type) stock, or change the color of your print or graphs.

THE PROCESS OF CREATING YOUR BROCHURE [top]

Brochure development follows four stages:

  • Plan
  • Write
  • Design
  • Print

Plan

Plan in advance. Brochures are not a simple task. You need on average at least a month to produce a brochure if you hire outside resources. This timing can be compressed, but plan on paying for it. Following are some development and production rules-of-thumb to consider:

  • Writer — 3 to 7 days
  • Designer — 7 to 14 days
  • Printer — 7 to 14 days
  • Distribution — varies

Determine your message or the results you desire from your brochure. Some examples might be:

  • I want to inform prospects about the full range of my services to gain additional sales.
  • I want to inform prospects about my cutting edge technology.
  • I want to persuade prospects to change their brand loyalty to my firm.
  • I want to sell an overstocked item.
  • I want to position my firm as a socially responsible community leader.
  • I want money for a fund raiser that we are sponsoring.

Choose your target market

Who are the potential buyers for your product or service? These customers will have certain distinguishing characteristics which identify them as prospective customers. Beware of targeting too broad a market. If your potential customers have several distinguishing characteristics, try dividing them into (market) segments. That way you’ll only consider one group of customers at a time. Different groups may require different messages. If you develop too broad a message, it may not attract any prospective customers.

For example, a gas station may identify its target market as anyone who owns a car. The resulting message may be, "I want to inform prospective customers of the services my gas station offers." Decent message but too broad. Now consider this. The same gas station segments its target market by demographics and purchaser characteristics. By doing this one of its market segments becomes women drivers with full-time jobs and families to manage. The message to this market segment might be, "I want to inform you hardworking women of the services we provide that make your lives easier and more enjoyable." This message will most likely get a better response and more favorable outcome than the general message.

Following are some characteristics you may use to segment your target market:

  • Size of the potential market — Can be based on revenues or number of possible customers.

  • Geographic location — Develop messages with consumer preferences in mind. They must reflect the buying behavior of a particular location.

  • Demographics — Age, race, religion, nationality, gender, marital status, occupation, education level, socioeconomic status, number of people per household, job title, job requirements, etc.

  • Psychographics — Attitudes, beliefs and values.

  • Purchaser/user characteristics — What are the characteristics of the purchaser or user?

  • Purchaser influences — Those people, places and things that influence customers’ decisions.

  • Buyer behavior — Other reasons why customers may purchase a product or service.

(Adapted from Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses)

Do some free and simple research. As time permits, save as many brochures as you can — even the awful ones. See what you have to compete against? After you have accumulated an impressive pile, separate the brochures into two piles — good and bad. Incorporate the good characteristics into your brochure, and beware of the bad.

Decide on your format. Your prospects need a snapshot of your capabilities within the confines of your brochure. There is no standard format for brochures — they can be prepared in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Some considerations for choosing a certain format may be:

  • The number and complexity of products and services — Will the brochure focus on a single item or accommodate a variety of products and services?

  • The protocol or standard for the industry — Are competitive brochures formal and professional or light and innovative? Do they follow a standard format?

  • The size of your budget — What can you afford to pay?

  • Whether to appeal to the buyer’s emotions — Is the brochure purely functional or will it be perceived as an enhancement to the buyer’s lifestyle or self-image?

  • Production time and relative longevity — How much time is involved in producing it, and how long will the brochure last?

  • The stage in the purchase process — Is the brochure intended to simply inform or to encourage a sale?

  • Using 8-1/2 x 11 inch paper will certainly make life easier for you. This is a standard size so most paper stocks are available in this size. Standard folding machines at printers easily handle this size stock. Another advantage to this size stock is that you can easily slip the folded brochure into a standard #10 envelope. Even if you do not intend to use the brochure as a direct mail piece, you will no doubt need to mail it to someone at some time. Custom-sized brochures may have additional printing and postage costs.

  • "Teasers" are brochures targeted to prospective buyers early in the buying process. They are single sheets of paper that are folded to fit into a #10 envelope. They are not filled with details. Their goal is to get the reader to take the next course of action, such as making a phone call. They are distributed to many prospective customers and should be fairly inexpensive.

  • "Tell-all" brochures are targeted to qualified buyers who are close to a purchase decision. The information is usually more detailed with descriptions and specifications of products and services. A majority of these brochures are usually printed on 8-1/2 x 11 inch stock although any size or style can be used. If your industry has a standard, it may be best to stick with it. However, if anything goes, a unique size, shape, or paper stock may set your brochure apart from the competition.

  • "Impressers" rival the quality of booklets in design sophistication. They follow-up and reinforce the message just prior to the purchasing decision. "Impressers" are used when the products or services are emotionally important or the benefits can’t be realized until after the purchase. Examples of these are luxury items or intangibles such as management consulting or financial services. This brochure is an extension of the product it describes — a premium brochure is meant to imply high quality in the product or service. (Adapted from Looking Good in Print)

Develop your budget. Decide what you can spend and apportion it accordingly into writing, designing and printing. Also, don’t forget your distribution costs! These can be sizable. If you are using outside resources, independent writers and designers can be hired for $35 to $75. If you have in-house writing and design talent, or just a very small budget, you may choose to lay out the brochure yourself. For printing costs, it is best to call a few printers for estimates. Finally, mock up a prototype of your brochure along with its method of distribution, and get estimates for that (e.g., post office, mailing houses, etc.).

Writing & Design$______________
Printing$______________
Distribution$______________
Total$______________

Write

Identify the tone you are seeking. The tone must be compatible with your marketing image. The tone can give a warm feeling to a threatening topic or it can be helpful, exciting, shocking, emotional and intellectual. The appropriateness of a certain tone varies according to the industry, customer profile, and the message you are sending. For instance, a brochure describing a Mercedes luxury sedan will be quite different from that of a Mazda Miata sports coupe. The Mercedes tone will be sophisticated and reserved while the Miata will be fun and light. Similarly, the tone of a financial services brochure will be entirely different from one that is announcing a neighborhood craft fair.

Write the brochure. A brochure’s design may vary, but its components are usually the same. They are:

  1. Front cover headline
  2. Inside subheads
  3. Body of the brochure
    • Introductory paragraph
    • Identification of your product/service
    • Benefits of your product/service
    • Your competitive edge
    • Optional: testimonials, client lists, awards and honors
  4. Back cover company information

Results-oriented brochures start with a great headline. The headline needs to scream a benefit to your target customer. The headline is one of the most important parts of your brochure. If it is enticing, the customer will read on. If it’s lackluster, you’ve wasted your money and maybe lost a prospective customer. Your headline needs to catch the interest of the reader by providing the answer to their question of "What’s in it for me?"

A headline can either address a solution to a problem.

For example, "Reduce Your Financial Worries," or promote a benefit, "Live Longer and Healthier." However, you must immediately and specifically target your audience to clearly identify the benefit or solution you are offering. Headlines can ask a question, "Do You Want to Gain Financial Freedom?", or, "Would You Like to Lose 10 Pounds?" Questions will immediately target your audience (if the answer is "no," the reader is not a valid prospect, and, in turn, will not open the brochure).

Now list the top four benefits your business offers:

You might try using one of the most desirable benefits or a statement summarizing your benefits as your front cover headline.

Write the Inside Subheads

The inside subheads must get the prospect’s attention and reinforce your cover headline. Frequently, the subheads describe the components of the body copy — your products/services, benefits, competitive edge. For instance, if you own Green’s Landscaping, your subheads might be, "Don’t Be Green With Envy" (followed by your product/service description), "We Save You Greenbacks" (which heads a list of benefits), and "We’re Greening America" (which describes your natural, environmentally friendly competitive edge). Subheads should be kept concise and, when appropriate, interesting.

Write the Body

Your introductory paragraph should address the issue presented on the cover. If you asked a question "Would You Like to Lose 10 Pounds?", you must answer it, "You Bet!". Entice your prospects, but don’t overwhelm them with thesis-length sentences. Most important, the introductory paragraph should establish the need for your product or service. If your product or service does not fulfill some type of need, then it has no value, and you have no customers. You must be able to describe in your introductory paragraph why customers cannot live without your product/service. You can’t bury this in the body copy. If you don’t tell them immediately, few will read on.

Going back to Green’s Landscaping, the introductory paragraph might begin,

"Have you ever longed for the day when your lawn rivals that of a golf course, but you haven’t even disposed of last year’s leaves? Most of us don’t have the time anymore to do the things we like much less do those chores we detest. At Green’s Landscaping, we…"

Your body copy must include a description of your products and services, their features and major benefits, and that which sets you apart from your competition. Again, when writing the body copy remember your target market and the message you’re trying to get across. Be selective — you do not want to be exhaustive when developing your benefits and competitive edge. List only those that are relevant to the prospective customers you are trying to reach. If you try to list everything, the most important features may get lost.

FeaturesBenefits

If you have trouble getting started, on a separate sheet of paper make an outline of your products and services, your benefits and your competitive edge. Then, go back and fill in the words later. Keep your sentences short and concise. The inside panels of the brochure should promote your competitive edge, the benefits of doing business with your company and a description of your products or services.

Your Products/Services

Are you a target market for a specific company and industry? How do they reach you? What words or graphics do they use? Now think of the words that will "speak" to your market. Describe your product or service in those words.

Be creative. Use adjectives that best describe your business. Are your products one-of-a-kind, exciting, innovative, high quality, cutting edge, results-oriented, creative, dynamic or distinguishable?

List and/or describe only your primary products and services. Don’t provide a laundry list of all the things you do. State what you do and why you do it best. Sell yourself and your business.

Benefits

People buy a product or service because they either need or want to. In order to create a need or a want, you must promote the benefits of using your product or service. Many business owners advertise the features of their business and neglect to promote how the product or service will benefit the customer. Features enable the product or service to perform its function. Benefits are the results a person receives from using the product or service.

For example, Nike and Reebok don’t advertise the actual features of their shoes. They don’t mention what the shoe is made of or how it is constructed. Instead, their commercials advocate that you will jump higher, run faster and play better. Similarly, Volvo advertises the safety of their cars, not necessarily the design features that make their car safe. Note from which companies you currently buy or would buy. If you were going to buy a computer, a mutual fund or a new pair of sneakers, who would you buy from and why? What message have you received from them that makes you want to buy their product or service?

Next, watch television advertisements. Which commercials attract your attention? Which make you want to buy the product? Ask yourself, "Why does this ad make me want to buy? What is the message to the customer? Why am I believing it?"

To begin writing the next section, identify the features of your product or service. Once again, features are what enable the product or service to perform its function.

The features of my product/service are:

Next, identify the benefits that a customer will receive from the features your business offers.

For example, if you have designed a software program, how will it benefit the customers? Will it make their offices more productive so it increases their bottom line? If so, you may want to position the product as a software program that will increase a company’s profitability.

The benefits of my product/service are:

Competitive Edge

What sets you apart from the competition? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What will make a customer choose my firm over a competitor’s?

  • What can I do that will make my business stand out from the rest?

Be careful not to use industry standards as your competitive edge. Each industry has a set of standards that customers expect from a business. For instance, when customers go to a restaurant, they expect the food to be fresh, the location to be clean, the wait staff to be friendly and the food to be tasty. These are not attributes; they are "givens."

For example, Mercedes, Saab and Volvo are all quality vehicles with similar appointments. However, each car manufacturer promotes its competitive edge. Saab promotes its reliability in all weather conditions; Volvo promotes its safety record; and Mercedes promotes its high customer-satisfaction levels. Each car has its own competitive edge, and customers will buy according to what they feel is most important.

You’ve now created the all-important body of your brochure. If space permits, try including testimonials (quotes from your clients). Before you do, however, be sure to get their permission. Testimonials are an endorsement of your business and will provide a type of reference. Prospects are influenced by them and will make comparisons of industries, job titles, services performed or products sold.

A good idea is to start saving a file of all of your thank-you letters. If the quotes don’t seem exactly right, you can call up the author and ask if he or she will change it slightly for you. Including your client list is also a valuable add-on to the brochure, especially if your list is extensive and contains prestigious firms. This offers the same benefits as the testimonials, in that prospective customers will judge your firm based on your past clients. You may also incorporate honors, awards and professional affiliations. In professions such as law, medicine, interior decoration, accounting and finance, this is typical protocol.

Write the back cover. Put company information on this page. You should include all of your pertinent company information including your logo, telephone and fax numbers, address and, when applicable, store hours, branch locations, parent company or subsidiaries, and your name. Some people prefer to make a phone call; others prefer to write. Just make sure you’ve provided the necessary contact information. This is also the place to mention the other products and services you provide that you didn’t mention in the body copy.

You are now ready to write your brochure! Take some time to draft the contents understanding that they may change a bit after you’ve settled on a design.

Design

Identify the look you are seeking. Many Fortune 500 companies spend enormous amounts of money on developing their look. All visuals — including your paper stock, colors, graphics and typography — reinforce your image. Your chosen design can look sophisticated, cartoonish, conservative, avant garde or whatever you’d like. Again, you must consider the market you are targeting, the products/services you are offering, the message you are sending, and the tone you are projecting. All must support one another.

Lay out the brochure. As mentioned earlier, brochure layouts run the gamut. Go back to your collection of brochures and select those that are most appealing to you. Incorporate those features into your own design. The most common size brochures fit into a #10 envelope — an 8-1/2 x 11 inch folded into thirds or an 8½ x 14 inch folded into fourths — but the use of unusual sizes and shapes is on the increase. The layout of your brochure should complement the image that you are projecting. However, keep in mind that your brochure will be competing against many others for your reader’s attention. You’ll want the design to be unique without distracting from the message.

Desktop publishing software programs have enabled amateurs with an eye for design to turn out pieces that rival those of professionals. In many of the software packages, you’ll find design templates included to help you with the layout of a piece. In addition, separate template design software can be purchased if you need more help or would like more choices. Combine this with some clip art, and you are on your way to designing a brochure of which you can be proud.

Although desktop publishing software allows you to lay out your designs on your computer, it’s often best to sketch initial ideas and layouts with pencil and paper first. Try several ideas. You’ll find your ideas flow faster — and a design solution comes quicker — if you draft options for your text and graphics initially. Always strive for unity in appearance and content. For instance, important points should be more conspicuous than supporting facts and figures.

Now take your paper and pencil along with some other brochures for inspiration and develop some layout drafts.

Select the typography that best suits your piece. Type fonts, size, style and the way they are configured on a page influences the appearance of your brochure more than any other single visual element. The type you choose can either help or hinder your brochure’s readability. As a general rule, don’t use more than two typefaces for your brochure — one for the heading and subheads, and one for the body copy. Avoid the overuse of bolds, italics, underlines and all UPPER CASE words. They are intended for emphasis; however, when over-used, they lose their impact and can be very difficult to read.

Choose a typeface that "speaks" to your readers in the tone you’ve selected for your brochure. Some typefaces project authority, others are friendly, others look expensive, still others have a classy look. Typeface generally falls into two categories — serif and sans-serif.

  • Serif type has small strokes or feet at the ends of each letter. The strokes, or serifs, are both decorative and functional. Besides adding character to the letters, they also enable the reader to see words and sentences rather than individual letters. Serif typefaces are most often used for body text. Some of the more common serif typefaces are Times Roman, New Century Schoolbook, Bookman, Souvenir, and Palatino.

  • Sans-serif typefaces (as its name implies) have no feet on the letters. Sans-serif is most often used for display type — headlines, subheads, captions, etc. While sans-serif in small doses can add impact to a document, it’s difficult to read in long blocks of text. Sans-serif typefaces look best when surrounded by plenty of white space. Helvetica and Avant Garde are the most popular of the sans-serif typefaces.

  • You can also choose decorative or script typefaces in situations where type is more ornamental than informative. Decorative fonts include Hobo, Stencil, and University Roman. Script fonts include Zapf Chancery, Brush Script, and Zephyr Script. Dingbats, which are decorative marks such as bullets, check marks and boxes, can be used to call attention to lists or other areas of interest.

Take a look at your copy now and experiment with the typography. Remember, less is more.

Add effective visuals. The three major categories of visuals — photographs, illustrations and graphs — may enhance the effectiveness of your message and the overall attractiveness of your page.

  • Photographs can add a sense of familiarity by letting readers see with accuracy and detail who or what the brochure is written about. Often, however, the camera may capture material that you may not want to include in your brochure, so some type of photo manipulation may be necessary.
  • Illustrations, consisting of either hand or computer-generated drawings, can offer even more advantages than photos. Not only do they convey accuracy and detail, but they also add an aesthetic touch. If you are an adept artist, there are several graphics software programs that allow you to create original art. If you lack talent, there is an abundance of clip art available for your use.
  • Clip art adds pizzazz and professionalism to your brochures and can save you time and money by enhancing your brochure without the need for creating original artwork. It is now available for all types of categories and themes — from holiday to business art — and is relatively inexpensive. Your computer will most likely have a library of clip art from which you can select.
  • Graphs combine the communication power of charts, diagrams and tables with the artistic appeal of illustrations. You will be able to create graphs using clip art, a graphics software package or a spreadsheet program. While charts and diagrams show trends and comparisons, tables show details and options.

Whether you decide on photos, illustrations or graphs, visuals are an effective method for conveying a lot of information in a relatively small amount of space. Still, don’t overdo it. Exercise some restraint. As with anything, a little goes a long way.

Decide on the visuals you’d like to include in your brochure and incorporate them into your layout.

Allow for pockets of white space (White space is one of the most underutilized design tools.) White space provides contrast, as well as a place of rest for the reader’s eyes. Some areas where white space is most often used are:

    The area around a headline — The impact of a headline may be further enhanced by increasing the surrounding white space rather than increasing its size.

    Margins — Wide margins draw the reader’s eyes to the center of the page.

    Space between columns — The wider the columns, the wider the space between them.

    Ragged line endings of unjustified type — Opens up the piece and relieves the monotony caused by lots of even text.

    Indents and spaces between paragraphs — Small but effective in lightening up a piece.

    Horizontal spacing (leading) between lines of text — Dense lines of text darken a piece.

Your goal is to make the brochure attractive. Don’t be afraid to allow room for white space — remember, elegance is found in simplicity. Also, as a test, hold your brochure a few feet away from you. If it looks too cluttered, busy or noisy, insert some white space. Too much copy makes a brochure look imposing, boring, monotonous. Don’t forget, your goal is to get your prospect to read the brochure and act accordingly.

(Adapted from Looking Good in Print)

Print

Choose your ink colors. If your budget allows, try some color. Studies have shown that colors evoke fairly universal emotions in people. There are three primary colors — yellow, red, and blue. Yellow is associated with light and warmth, red is emotional and active, and blue is passive and calming. In addition to these there are hundreds of other colors from which you can choose — all distinguishable by a color code. Again, you can check with your printer for a selection of color codes, or if you have desktop publishing software, these codes are frequently included. A word of caution — when using color, make sure there are distinct tonal contrasts, not just different colors. Your color selection (along with your typeface and visuals) should reinforce the image you want to project and the message you want to send.

Currently, there are two ways to add color to your brochure — spot-color and four-color printing.

  • Spot-color printing is applied as one ink and can be either a primary color or a mixed ink identified by its color code. Spot colors are most often used for accents in graphs, borders, headlines, and initial caps.

  • Four-color printing, on the other hand, is used to reproduce color photographs or complex illustrations. It is achieved by preparing a separate negative or color separation for each primary color used. Today’s desktop publishing software packages automatically separate these; however, because of the high-resolution output that is necessary, you should produce these on a high-resolution photo typesetter, not a laser printer.

Don’t underestimate the impact of black and white! Together with a nonstandard paper color and attractive visuals, black and white can produce a very professional brochure. Screens can also be used to give the illusion of a second ink color. The percentages are typically in increments of 20 percent. The larger the percentage, the darker the background. For instance, if you are using black ink on a light paper stock, screens give the appearance that you are using several light- and dark-gray inks. Screens can add contrast and readability to your brochure and dimension to your visuals. Screens are not only limited to black, either. You can get the same effect with any ink — a single color with the illusion of many.

Do you have the budget to add some color or will you try to get the most from black and white?

Color Black & White

Select your paper stock. The look and feel of your paper should reinforce your image, too. You can choose from a number of different paper colors. Hundreds of paper colors are available to you at only cents higher than the cost for standard colors. Texture will also enhance the look of your piece. You can choose from textures such as linen, laid, parchment, vellums, etc. You can also get the look of texture with the large selection of speckled, marble or granite design paper stock. A chemical finish such as a glossy coating may also add enough intrigue to your piece so that the reader reads on. For the environmentally conscious individual, there is now a large selection of recycled papers from which to choose. But be aware that paper quality directly affects the quality of the color and various paper stocks react differently to inks. For instance, coated papers reflect color resulting in brighter hues; matte finishes, on the other hand, tend to absorb the ink resulting in duller tones.

The weight of paper stock is measured in pounds. A typical brochure may use a 67-lb. light card stock or an 80-lb. cover stock. This compares to your everyday copy or laser paper which ranges from 20-lb. to 32-lb. stock.

Heavy or glossy stock, cotton fiber content (versus standard wood pulp), textured, colored or recycled papers will add to your printing costs, but may be well worth the extra expense if it gets your brochure read by your target market.

Investigate buying custom paper from paper specialty stores or mail order companies. With the proliferation of do-it-yourself desktop publishers, several suppliers have emerged to offer off-the-shelf, custom paper stock. This paper stock is laser- and copier-compatible and looks much more expensive than it actually is. Most of the paper is 8-1/2 x 11 inch stock with coordinating #10 envelopes (if needed). Your choices range from two- and four-colors with or without perforated Rolodex cards, and numerous designs and textures.

All you have to do is lay out your brochure, then print it on your laser printer or reproduce it on a copier. This option is perfect for the person who wants a unique brochure but lacks the money for a professionally designed piece. Out-of-pocket paper costs for 100 brochures will run you $15 to $20. This option is also suitable if you don’t need hundreds of brochures at a time. You can print your brochures as you need them without tying up excess funds in brochure inventory. To help you make your choice, full-size paper samples are available in the stores and mail-order houses.

Check the Resources section for a list of custom paper suppliers.

Secure quotes from a few different printers. Capabilities and costs vary widely among printers. With the popularity of the personal computer and the outsourcing of reproduction services by many companies, there is an enormous selection of printers available to you today. You may check your Yellow Pages for printers in your local area, but your best bet is to get referrals from satisfied customers. Check with friends and colleagues for suggestions. Also, don’t be timid in your negotiations — get the best deal you can. Printers are flexible, especially if you will be bringing more business their way.

A WORD ABOUT DISTRIBUTION [top]

If you will be mailing your brochure, please see the Mailing Lists and Postage section of the How to Write a Direct Mail Piece Business Builder.

There are many distribution channels for your brochure. Consult your customer profile to determine the most effective means.

Potential methods may be:

  • Pack in merchandise orders
  • Hand to customers at the counter
  • Leave with customers after sales and service calls
  • Leave on networking tables at your professional association and business meetings
  • Distribute at trade shows
  • Include in your media kit
  • Display in your reception area
  • Send out as direct mail

P.S.… You can save printing costs if you design your brochure as a self-mailer (needs no envelope). In this case, reserve a back panel of your brochure for the return address and logo, mailing label, and postage meter stamp or printed permit number (indicia).

SOME THOUGHTS ON HOW TO SAVE MONEY [top]

  • Seek out a graphic arts or commercial design instructor and propose your brochure design as a class project. Other design possibilities could include your logo, letterhead, a line of brochures, etc. Alternatively, an instructor may be able to recommend a student to tackle this on an internship basis.

  • To reduce your typesetting costs and shorten your production timeline, submit your typed copy to the designer on a computer disk. Save your file in a format compatible with the typesetter’s. Submitting copy on disk eliminates the need for re-keying and then proofing the text. Most typesetters will also accept text via modem. If you’ve written and designed your brochure yourself, you may submit your disk directly to the printer. Make sure ahead of time that your printer uses the same desktop publishing software as you. Also, it is always sensible to include a hard copy with your computer disk in case there are any problems or questions.

  • To reduce your printing costs even further, you may want to use the custom paper stock available from paper specialty stores or mail order companies as mentioned before. This option can give you a very professional look at a fraction of what the cost may be for commercial printing. All you need is access to a computer, a laser printer and desktop publishing software. Then, in no time at all, you can have brochures you’ll be proud to distribute to your prospective customers. And when you need more, just print or copy the quantity you need.

CHECKLIST [top]

Plan

___ Have you made adequate timing allowances for all stages?

___ What is your message?

___ What is your target market?

___ Should you segment your market further?

___ What format is most conducive to your message and image?

___ What is your budget?

Write

___ What tone are you seeking?

___ Is your headline interesting? Does it offer a benefit or solution?

___ Have you established a need in the introductory paragraph?

___ Is the description for your products/services relevant to your target market?

___ Are your benefits compelling?

___ Do you set yourself apart from the competition?

___ Can you include testimonials, your client list, honors, awards or professional affiliations?

___ Have you included the necessary information on how to reach your company?

Design

___ What is the look that you want to convey?

___ If you have a series of brochures, do they have the same look?

___ What type of layout is best?

___ Have you used typography sensibly?

___ Do your visuals enhance the effectiveness of your message and the attractiveness of your brochure?

___ Do you have adequate white space, or is your brochure dense and cluttered?

___ Is your brochure designed for a long shelf life?

Print

___ Are you using color or black and white?

___ Does your paper stock reinforce your message? Your image?

___ Have you secured quotes from different printers? Any referrals?

___ Have you made adequate timing allowances for all stages?

RESOURCES [top]

Books

The Associated Press Style Book and Libel Manual by Norm Goldstein, ed. (Perseus Press, 1998).

The Best of Brochure Design 5, Rockport Publishers, ed. (Rockport Publishers, 1999).

The Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers, 14th ed., Chicago Editorial Staff, ed. (University of Chicago Press, 1993).

Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses by Richard F. Gerson. (Crisp Publications, 1996).

Looking Good in Print, 4th ed. by Roger C. Parker. (The Coriolis Group, 1998).

The Elements of Style, 4th ed. by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White. (Allyn & Bacon, 1999).

Custom Paper Suppliers

Paper Direct

Quill

Paper Showcase

Professional Groups or Trade Associations

Public Relations Society of America

Society for Technical Communication

Other Sources

Local writers, designers, advertising agencies, and printers

College professors and students of graphic arts, communications and marketing programs

Communications or marketing special interest group (SIG) within your specific industry’s professional organization

Local chambers of commerce

Local offices of the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) and affiliates: Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), and Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)

Writer: Susan Smith

All rights reserved. The text of this publication, or any part thereof, may not be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the publisher.

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