A Dozen Do’s. A Dozen Don’ts.

Start collecting corporate brochures, both inside and outside the industry. Most of them will come in handy when you can’t sleep at night. Here are two-dozen tips for making your brochure reader-friendly, inspiring and persuasive.

Do

  • Have an objective for the brochure.
  • Develop a creative brief – use it for buy-in as well as a roadmap.
  • Integrate your brochure within a larger communications strategy.
  • Demonstrate that you understand your audience.
  • Consider versioning for major markets – a brochure can’t be everything to everyone.
  • Position, position, position.
  • Talk about markets, products, services and solutions – show them in use whenever possible.
  • Be conversational – you’re building a relationship.
  • Say something specific – a 99% customer satisfaction rating means more than a corporate commitment to customer service.
  • Develop good captions – one of the most read and recalled copy elements.
  • Include contact information on the brochure – ditto for everything that accompanies it.
  • Hire a professional proofreader – they’re cheap and can save your butt.

Don’t

  • Assume that no one reads today – people don’t read lousy copy.
  • Use corporate-speak, jargon and over-used phrases.
  • Make third-person references to your company – this isn’t a term paper, be personal.
  • Write in the passive voice or use other complicated verb tenses (hint: helping verbs + past tense of action verb).
  • Bore readers with technical content – use charts, graphs and diagrams.
  • Assume readers will automatically turn the page – you have to earn their interest at every point in the brochure.
  • Overlook the cover as your first opportunity to creatively position your organization.
  • Write or design by committee – they’ll suck the life out of the brochure.
  • End with a table of contents or corporate overview – there are better uses for your closing page, like suggesting an action step.
  • Try to speak to everyone – focus on your key targets.
  • Use creative sources that know nothing about your market – you’ll spend all your time getting them up to speed.
  • Fail to develop a distribution plan – not everyone who makes an inquiry is a qualified candidate.

One final bit of advice. Develop a schedule and stick to it. Corporate brochures have a tendency to become never-ending projects. If you thought the brochure was important enough to do in the first place, then it’s important enough to do on time.

Be Your Own Case Study. Printers take pride in being able to counsel their clients on producing outstanding print. Take your own advice. Here’s your chance to demonstrate how to tastefully use print techniques to stand apart, to be environmentally responsible and to effectively sell products and services. Make a compelling point with your own brochure.

— by Larry Bauer

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