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Writing a Brochure

A brochure is an efficient way to tell somebody about your company, product or service. Typically a brochure that tells about your organization is called a “capabilities” brochure while a brochure about a product or service is called a “product” or a “sales” brochure.

If it is well written, a brochure will tell a reader about your product or service in a way that stimulates further interest. A brochure will also point the way toward the next step in the sales cycle by emphasizing benefits and providing contact information.

While brochures need to be informative, their primary purpose is to sell. This means that the words in your brochures should not only tell about the features of your product or service, but should also focus on benefits – explaining how your prospect’s life will be improved if they buy your product or use your service.

Many brochures are now online

Not so long ago brochures were printed. Today that is no longer true. Many companies print their brochures and also publish and distribute electronic versions via their website. In other cases, company websites exist largely as online brochures.

Whether you need a brochure to hand out to prospects or whether you want to use your website, you still have to organize and write a brochure.

Here are a few suggestions for writing effective brochures:

Decide the primary job of your brochure.

A quart of milk is a product that doesn’t require a brochure. The prospect already knows about the product and is only concerned other issues such as availability and price. But many products require the prospective buyer to have additional information, before they are ready to make a decision. When you sit down to write your brochure, your first job is to decide what you want the brochure to accomplish.

For example, if you are selling a product that is new and requires explanation, your brochure may need to do nothing more than explain what it does and how it can benefit the buyer. On the other hand if you are in a competitive business, you may want your brochure to build credibility by talking about your credentials and how long you have been in business. The key point is that the way your brochure helps you to sell will vary from business to business. So what you need to do, as a first step is to analyze the way that you sell your product and determine where, and how a brochure would help.

Decide how you will use your brochure

Is a brochure going to be your primary sales literature? Or will your marketing efforts also include advertising, public relations, presentations, catalog sheets or other materials? This is important to know because it will determine the scope and detail in your brochure. Sometimes it pays to make a brochure as comprehensive as possible, but often it you can get more flexibility with a shorter brochure and more detailed, product-oriented literature.

Know your Audience

Anytime you are writing to sell something, it is important to clearly visualize the person who will be reading your words. If you are selling a technical product to a technical audience you could comfortably streamline your explanations and use technical terms to communicate with your audience. On the other hand, if your audience was not so specialized, your brochure may have to do more explaining. If you find it difficult to think about everybody who will be reading your brochure just think about one person who is representative of your audience. Ask yourself questions about this theoretical person. Education? Level of expertise? Needs? Make your list of characteristics as long as possible. Then write with the idea of communicating clearly and persuasively to that one person.

Mention Features but Sell Benefits

All products and services have features. Computers have fast processors and gigantic hard-drives, lawyers have special expertise, beefsteak has nutritional value. But you always need to remember that customers buy benefits: the convenience and time saved by using a computer, the victory earned by the experienced lawyer, the delicious sizzle of the beefsteak. A brochure that emphasizes only features will be boring; one that talks only about benefits will not be believable. What you need to do is include both in a credible and persuasive manner.

Start selling on the front cover

Far too many brochures break this rule. In fact many brochures don’t have any message on the front cover at all. Too many brochure writers confuse a brochure with an essay. This approach assumes that your audience will be interested in what you have to say. Most of the time you reader has to be sold, even to open your brochure and start reading. Bottom line, even if you are selling the great books, or raising money for the most politically correct cause on earth, the brochure that you will be using is a selling tool. And the best place to start selling is on the cover. Of course you don’t have to close your sale on the cover. All you are really trying to do on the cover is to sell the reader on the idea of opening your brochure and reading what you have to say.

Tell your story in subheads

People don’t read brochures the same way they read letters or newspapers. Most of the time they will look at the cover, dip inside and look for topics that are of particular interest. Organize your brochure in a way that is logical and walks your reader toward the goal of getting to the next step in the buying process. If you do it well, your “story” can actually be outlined by the sub-headlines you use in the body of your brochure. 

Make sections short and easy to read

Once you have your organization established and labeled through the use of sub-headlines, you are ready to write the sections of the brochure. Remember that with a brochure you are telling the overall story but you are also providing important detail. It is very important to fit your details into the overall context of a coherent story so that your brochure delivers a comfortable “flow” of information to the reader. Resist the temptation of overloading the reader with too much detail.  It’s okay to make your first draft as long as you like but then it is important to edit your final draft down to a section that is short and easy to read.

Have a strong call to action

It isn’t necessary to include an order form that your customer can fill out and mail in with a check but it is important to move the reader to the next step in the sales cycle. If your brochure was well written your prospect should have a good idea of the value to be gained by doing business with you. At this point you need to point the reader to the next step in the process: call for a free demo, ask for a free consultation, request more information, come visit us, put your name on our mailing list. Offer something to make it easy for the prospect to get to know you better.

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