Creating a Brochure That Works

June 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

The company brochure — every company needs one, and most companies have one.  But is it doing what you need it to do?

Before designing (or redesigning) your brochure, it is important to answer several questions:
1.  What is the main purpose of this brochure?  There are many functions a brochure can serve.  It can:

  • Give a general overview of your company
  • Relay information about a specific product or service
  • Serve as an introductory sales tool
  • Provide additional information after a sales call
  • Be used to promote ancillary products or services at the point of sale

Defining the purpose is the first step in creating a brochure that will
really work for you.

2.  Does the design work where will the brochure be used?

  • In a brochure rack – Keep the title on the top 1/3 of the page and make sure you’re designing the correct width.
  • For direct mail – Be sure to leave a panel free for address and postage or you’ll be using a lot of envelopes.
  • As a leave-behind for sales personnel – Make certain your design complements the design of the sales presentation.
  • At the point of sale – Create a title that lets the customer know there is  useful information inside.  While standing in line to rent a trailer, wouldn’t you pick up a brochure entitled “Tips for Easy Packing?”  Of course, all the tools it recommends – boxes, tape, markers, bubble wrap – are in the display by the counter.

3.  Who is my audience?  Is it a group of technical folks who need details or tourists who want to see beautiful photos or teens who want to be “cool?” Every audience needs its message packaged differently.

  • Consider your tone.  Do you need to be formal and authoritative or casual and friendly?
  • Consider the speaker.  Writing on behalf of the company, using “we,” works well when trying to promote your customer service or welcome someone to your destination. (“Fulfilling your vacation dreams is the reason we created Élan Cruise Line.”).  Writing from a third party’s perspective, using “they,” “it,” or the company’s name lends objectivity, so the reader feels less like he is being sold.  (“Super Duper Cleaners has earned a four star rating for customer satisfaction.  It is a company you can trust.”)
  • Consider the graphics.  Does your teenage market prefer gritty images with bold fonts?  Do your engineers prefer everything neatly boxed?  Do your female readers like a bright and cheerful look?

These are just a few of the considerations to be addressed when creating a brochure.  The process is one that should be carefully considered.  Do you have creative ideas or lessons learned that you want to share?  We’d like to hear from you.

Kathy Kenne, Partner
Quest Group

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Put Some Sense into Your Writing

June 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve become embroiled in a running argument with my 8- and 9-year-old niece and nephew, who recently discovered Harry Potter.  (Don’t argue with kids – you may be right, but you won’t win.)  I keep telling them to read the books first, but they want to rush ahead of their reading and watch all the movies.

What they’re missing out on is the chance to let the written words inspire their imaginations.  To allow the pages to help them conjure their own ideas of the sound of Parseltongue or the excitement, speed and danger of a quidditch match.

With the written word, we can invite readers into an experience by stirring their imaginations, capturing their attention in a world where hundreds of messages are flung at them daily.

One way to do this is by focusing on the five senses.  For instance, I might describe a day last week like this:

It wasn’t the best day to go fishing.  Not a breath of breeze stirred, and the air held so much moisture that the fish might have survived on land as well as we did.  To it clung the mossy scents of still water, fresh worm-dirt and fish in a live-bucket. 

The worms barely wriggled in our hands.  Fortunately, the mosquitos couldn’t be bothered to rouse themselves either, and though the day was winding down, the crickets didn’t have it in them to sing their twilight refrain.  The only creatures that seemed to want to move were the fish; more than one managed to fling itself from the bucket on the dock back into the cooler lake depths. 

We didn’t expend much energy talking.  In fact, the only sounds were an occasional splash and cry of victory as a bream was pulled from the water.  And ice hitting the bottom of a red plastic cup, condensation forming instantly on the outside.  We drank quickly before it could melt, the beads dripping off the cup offering a moment of relief to the skin even as the mint in the tea worked on our insides.

Eventually, the smell of fried chicken beckoned us indoors to a table also laden with pimiento cheese, chilled fresh tomatoes and chocolate muffins.  The chatter and laughter picked up, and soon we were debating who’d caught the most fish, and the biggest.

Come to think of it, there’s really not a bad day to go fishing.

I could have written, “We went fishing the other day, and it was really hot.”  But describing the sights, sounds, smells, feel and tastes provide a better sense of what it was like.

Those kinds of details probably tapped into your own experiences – be it with fishing or hot days or lakes or Southern food.  You may have read the same words as the guy next to you, but you’ll imagine it differently from him because you’re bringing something of yourself to it.

Give it a try.  In a sentence or two, how would you describe a hot day using sense-related detail?   It was so hot that….

– Kirsten Shaw

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