Developing Successful Sales Brochures¹

Developing Successful Sales Brochures

Unlike direct-response forms of advertising, like direct mail, sales brochures tend to be a more "gentle" marketing tool. The goal of a sales brochure is to generate sales, but secondary goals include building awareness of your products or services, setting you apart from competitors, and enhancing your overall brand image. To meet those goals, a great brochure is professional and visually appealing, draws the reader in, delivers a specific message, and meets the needs of your audience.

In short, think of a sales brochure as having two purposes, depending on customer needs:

  • A customer with an immediate need will review the brochure and contact your firm for goods or service; your brochure generates a relatively immediate response, or
  • A customer does not require your goods or services, but may in the future; your brochure creates market awareness and may be filed away for future use

Because a great sales brochure should satisfy the needs of both types of audience, developing your materials requires planning and thought. The key is to answer a few basic questions before you get started; the answers will help you develop your message:

  • Who is my audience? What are their needs? What problems can my business solve for them?
  • How can I best get my audience's attention? Are they more concerned about price, service, delivery, or other factors? What are their "hot buttons"?
  • What materials – especially in terms of brochures – do they typically receive? Are those materials high-quality and relatively sophisticated? How can I make sure my brochure stands out and enhances my professional image?

Then develop the basic elements of an effective brochure:

  • A great headline. The main message of your brochure should address the interests, needs, and problems of your audience and how you will address those needs. Focus on your customers, not on your company. Customers don't want to know what you "do," they want to know what they will "get."
  • Appealing visuals. A great brochure catches the eye. Make sure photos and graphic elements enhance your message and don't distract from that message. Generic photos are distracting; make sure the photos you include support the "story" you tell readers. For example, a photo of a person cutting grass may certainly explain what you do, but a photo of a delighted homeowner looking at an amazing lawn explains the benefits of what the customer receives.
  • Logical groupings. Make it easy for readers to scan your brochure. Provide service descriptions in one area, contact information in another area, background information on your company in another area. Your layout should be clean, simple, and easy to follow. Make it easy for readers to find the information they are interested in.
  • Simple descriptions. Unless you provide highly technical or sophisticated products or services, keep descriptions brief and to the point. Less is more, even in brochures. You may be tempted to squeeze in as many product and service descriptions as possible; don't. Focus on what interests your audience and provide that information in a concise way.
  • Clear call to action. Offer incentives for a particular action. Provide free quotes. Provide free samples. Entice your readers and give them a reason to take action. (Keep in mind some brochures may be filed away for months or even years; if you include a special offer, specify when that offer will expire.)

Once your content is ready, consider using a professional designer to create the actual brochure. Design, like any other skill, is a specialty. A good designer can make your text and photos "sing." After you've worked hard to identify your audience and speak to their needs, don't let a great message be diluted by a poor design.

Then use quality materials. Your brochure will also stand out, in a good or a bad way, depending on the quality of paper and printing. A high-quality brochure enhances your business image, enhances the appeal of your products and services and if nothing else is much harder to throw away. Think about your audience, create a clear message, and include a call to action.

As a final test, imagine yourself handing the brochure to a potential customer: will you be proud of the brochure? If not, head back to the drawing board. While you may distribute your brochures by mail, in your media kit, at trade shows, inside order packaging, or in other ways, make sure you are proud of what you create.