by “Wild Bill”
During the summer months my family and I do quite a bit a traveling. That’s what gave me the idea for this article. What’s the number one, most-read advertising medium on vacation? Yes, you’re correct, it’s the “Brochure”! Being an advertising fanatic in the purest sense and for the pure entertainment value, I started studying and comparing these Gems of the Advertising World. You can take the boy out of the marketing, but you can’t take the marketing out of the boy.
The cover is everything!
Whether it’s a magazine on the rack or the front of a box of cereal, the cover has a great deal to do with your conscience choice to look inside. The same holds true for your business brochure. It still shocks me to see how many business owners waster such a valuable piece of real estate as the front cover of their life’s blood. But still I see so many that adorn them with nothing more than a fancy graphic, a company logo or the product name, hoping that someone will read their message. In today’s competitive advertising world, that just doesn’t cut it.
The most popular (successful) approach is to treat your brochure cover like the headline of your ad copy. It can present a strong sales message, enticing the reader to look inside. Although, the ability to use fancy graphics definitely adds to the promotional value of the brochure, the key is the same as any other advertisement. It’s all in the “words” baby!
Another successful method is the “Once upon a time” approach. Meaning, use the cover with the first few “hard-hitting” lines of a story, with very graphic images of the message you are trying to get across. A real example I seen recently: The cover leads you in with an awful photo depicting a starving child, with only 6 words “You can help save a life”. In this instance, many will open the brochure out of sorrow, guilt or disgust. But no matter why, something about the photo with those few simple words drew me to open the brochure and look inside.
Get it all in there!
When designing your brochure, you must know ahead of time all the pertinent information you need to include. Don’t begin designing until you list all the facts that must be presented. I actually found a brochure for a petting zoo with no address. Great photo work, excellent ad copy, and no way to find it. I have to ask myself how much they flushed over this one. Well, here’s a checklist of things not to forget when you design yours.
Did you include your “Email Address”, “Website URL”, “Credit Cards You Accept”, “Phone & Fax Numbers”, “Address & Location”, “Days & Hours of Operation”, “Business Name”, “Logo or Trademark”, “Guarantee”, and “Copyrights & Disclaimers”. These hardly cover all the items that should be on your list, but enough to make you think about what you could be missing.
Like a river, your copy should flow…
Earlier, I made reference to opening the brochure with the method of opening lines leading into a story, when in fact all brochures should tell a story. Treat the making of a brochure like writing a short story. It needs a beginning, middle and an end. The brochure needs to proceed logically and smoothly from one sales point to the next. A good copywriter has an arsenal of “connection phrases” to jump from one subject to the next, while keeping the text brief. Do you have your arsenal ready? “For Example”, “Most importantly”, “For Instance”, “By Comparison”, “On the other hand”, “What’s more”, “Even better”, “Even Worse” and “In other words” are all great examples of connection phrases. These phrases are only one way to keep the flow going. Read, re-read and read again. Look for awkward sentences that disrupt the flow of your advertising story. Keep it smooooooooth…
Benefits & Details are important.
You’ve seen them, you’ve read them, but did you buy them? Two of the top copy mistakes I see in brochures are the problem some copywriters have of introducing and defining product benefits.
First, when you describe your product, show how the product will benefit the reader; don’t simply list the features. All products have features. Chances are there are several products, if not 100’s or 1000’s of them that have the same features. If you were given the choice between an amusement park with a “picnic area” or one with a “clean, relaxing, wooded area for dining”, which would you want?
When reading a brochure, or any other advertising for that matter, we need as much information as possible. When you have the availability of facts make use of them. Why say you have a “Great Roller Coaster”, when you can say “5000 feet of the fastest track in the world”. If you know the facts, use them to your benefit.
Personal, Positive and Alive!
When writing your copy direct your text at the reader. Keep it on a personal level in the first and sometimes second person. “Do you”, “have you”, or “will you” all make reference to you! That’s right “you” and those close to you are the people you worry about. Direct your information like a gun barrel aimed at the reader. Make sure there is no mistake that it is they of whom you speak. Your goal is to keep your copy in such conversational text that the reader is actually answering questions aloud. Yes, That’s Me!
The simple things are the most often missed. When proofing your copy make sure that you walk away with a positive feeling about the brochure and the product. If something strikes you negatively, even a little, fix it! If you see it in that light, imagine what the average reader will pick up from it!
Storytelling is a powerful aspect of the brochure. If offers you the chance to bring your product alive. You can do more than simply hit them with a few lines of attention grabbing words and phrases. Writing copy for a brochure gives you the chance to be personal and create images of thought. You don’t have the quick and limited barriers of other advertising, such as the 5- line ad or the 30-second commercial. You have time to bring your reader into your world and back again. On the other hand, the length can be a foe for those who can’t grasp the theory of the brochure.
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