Eight Ideas For Better Brochures
If you're going to produce a brochure to help market your product or service, you'd better know what you're doing. Unlike a humble flyer that doesn't cost very much and can easily be reprinted, a full-blown brochure represents a bigger investment. Even if you're going two- or three-color, you'll pay plenty after you're finished with photography, illustration, type, printing, binding and so on.
In order to help you get the most for your money, here are some practical brochure tips and techniques that you can put to work next time around:
1. Keep the Cover Simple
Forget about trying to do too much on the front cover. All you need on that surface is one clean, clear concept that positions the material that's about to follow. Stay away from the clichés that everybody else is cranking out. Please, no more "committed to service," or "dedicated to meeting your needs," etc.
2. Keep the Cover Empty
Consider keeping the inside front cover empty. It gives a brochure a nice, open look. White space never killed anybody. You don't have to jam in a message every chance you get. Besides, since the reader holds that easily-curved cover page at an angle when reading, it's not the place to go into excruciating detail about your product's or service's many benefits.
If you do keep the inside cover clean, the facing page (page three) is a great place to write some introductory, lead-in copy. It's the perfect spot to do a welcoming message, or provide a brief overview of what lies ahead in the piece. Keep the copy here short. No one reading your introduction wants to dive into Moby Dick.
3. Deal in Spreads, Not Individual Pages
Why organize your piece around individual pages when you've got visual impact built into the medium? With a nice-sized piece you can run your graphics across two pages and make use of the sweeping scale a brochure spread provides. Again, don't be afraid of white space. Your designer will love you!
4. Don't Forget the Subheadlines
They're a great way to break up copy and give the reader a chance to see where you're headed, should they not want to read every single word of body copy. A subheadline can make an emphatic statement, ask a question, or be as playful or as dead serious as the situation requires.
5. Use A Johnson Box
You can use a box for added impact. Everything doesn't have to flow in long columns of type. It often makes sense to drop some information into a one-point fine-ruled box. It gives the piece some extra visual interest.
6. Offer a Q & A
As I've mentioned in past issues, a questions-and-answers section is an excellent way to handle the issues that really trouble the reader. It's a way to deal with their concerns or resistance points "head on."
What's the right length for a Q & A section? Here's the exception that proves the rule. One page is almost always enough. And five to eight questions ought to do it nicely.
7. Conclude With a Summary
It's the same old story ... "Tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em, tell 'em, tell 'em that you've told 'em." It is very important to summarize the points you've been trying to make—otherwise, your brochure just sort of trails off, leaving the piece without a sense of structure. You want to control your reader and score solid points. A summary can drive your major points home.
8. Remember the Call to Action
Shocking to say, but many copywriters forget to tell the reader what to do! Do you want people to call a sales center, schedule an appointment, fill out and return a postage-paid business reply card, make a phone call, or place an order? You can't make them guess. You have to tell them and provide them with motivating reasons that will get them moving. This is where you have to (tastefully) apply direct selling techniques in a corporate identity environment.
Ivan Levison is a freelance direct response copywriter who works for such companies as Bank of America, Fireman's Fund, Intel and Microsoft. Levison writes direct mail sales letters, e-mails and ads. For a free subscription to his monthly e-mail newsletter for marketers, visit his website at www.levison.com. He can be reached at (415) 461-0672 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.