Nine Ways to Improve Your Direct Mail Brochure
Sure, the letter is the most important element in any direct mail package. But don't forget the brochure; it's important, too! Whether you call it a brochure, flyer or circular, make sure the package component is doing its job: laying out all the features and benefits of your product or service and giving the prospect compelling reasons to order immediately.
Here are nine ways to improve the pulling power of your next brochure:
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," "dedicated to meeting your needs," etc.
2. Tell the whole story.
The brochure is the place to do a total selling job. You simply can't do it in the letter; there just isn't room unless you're willing to go with a really long letter, and these days letters rarely exceed two pages. The brochure is the place to explain/show the product in detail, overcome objections and ask for the sale.
3. Restate the offer.
Don't worry about being repetitious. You can't be certain which piece will be read first no matter how everything is nested and comes out of the envelope. That's why you want to tell the whole story on each and every piece in the packageeven on the BRC. (In fact, you especially want to be complete on the BRC. Readers often grab the BRC first because they figure they'll get to the punch line fast and not have to wade through your entire letter. If the offer is of interest, they'll go on and read what you've got to say.)
4. Make certain your headline, subhead or snipe refers to the offer you're making. Don't get cute.
Make your offer crystal clear, and you'll laugh all the way to the bank. Presumably, you're making a terrific offer that will benefit the prospect. Then don't hide it. Put it up in front where it will get noticed.
5. Don't forget the subheads.
Subheads are a great way to break up copy and give the reader a chance to see where you're headed if he doesn't want to read every single word of body copy. A subhead can make an emphatic statement, ask a question, or be playful or serious as the situation requires.
6. You can use a box for added impact.
Everything doesn't have to flow in long columns of type. It's often nice to drop some important information, such as a Q-and-A section or testimonials, into a fine-ruled box. It gives the piece some extra visual interest and highlights material.
7. Make sure the look is a match for the target audience.
This is an obvious point, but one that often is overlooked. If you're selling a low-end drawing program to a casual computer user, your brochure will look different than if you're selling a high-priced diagnostic tool to an MIS manager. The important point: Each brochure must capture the personality of the product.
8. Use graphics the right way.
Make sure photography shows the product to its best advantage. If you're selling software, don't settle for images of the package or the screen shot. Humanize your piece with some photos of people using the product. Another thing you can do to enliven your brochure is have a talented illustrator or cartoonist brighten things up with graphics, which can add a lot of punch and pizzazz to the package. If you're looking for an experienced, affordable cartoonist/illustrator, here's a terrific recommendation: Mary Ross, email@example.com; (415) 661-2930.
9. Don't forget the "extras" that make brochures interesting.
Why not add a testimonial section, a rave reviews/awards section, or a Q-and-A unit that deals with the prospects' concerns? Copy research proves that customers love Q and As and read them with a great deal of interest.
The take-away message? Don't forget that although your sales letter is the most important part of any direct mail package, your brochure is a close second. Don't rush it through production or settle for a tired version just because you have four boxes of it sitting on your shelf. Do a solid, comprehensive job that really explains and sells your product, and you'll dramatically improve response rates.
Ivan Levison is a freelance direct response copywriter who works for companies like Bank of America, Fireman's Fund, Intel, Microsoft and many others. Levison writes direct mail sales letters, e-mail letters and ads. For a free subscription to his monthly e-mail newsletter for software marketers, visit his Web site at http://www.levison.com. He can be reached at (415) 461-0672 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.