By Julia Hyde
Every year, thousands of online businesses fail. No business owner plans to fail, but they fail all the same. One of the main reasons for the high failure rate is an overreliance on one marketing channel: the Internet.
Marketing isn’t about the medium; it’s about getting and keeping customers. Internet marketing can help, but only if you use it in conjunction with other tools. In order to succeed, every online company must have brochures and other forms of printed sales literature to hand out to customers and prospects.
An online company needs printed marketing literature for two reasons:
Credibility. People expect a “real” company to have printed sales literature. Anyone can spend $60 on business cards and letterhead and call themselves a company. But if you want people to know you mean business, you need a brochure. Read more about the Importance of a Logo and Marketing Materials.
Time. People want printed material to take home and read at their leisure. Brochures also support other advertising, direct mail, and online promotions. In short, a good brochure sells.
Here are 12 tips on writing a brochure that will support your online marketing efforts and increase your sales.
1. Know what your reader wants. Write your brochure or leaflet from the reader’s point of view. What are your readers’ concerns? What do they need to know before they make a purchase? Try writing down all the questions you hear from your customers and try and answer them in your collateral.
2. Motivate your reader to look inside. The first page your reader will see is the front cover. Get it wrong and you will likely lose the sale. Start with the benefits of your product, or use thought-provoking statements that motivate the reader to pick up the brochure and open it. Tell the reader there’s something inside just for them — an exclusive invitation, a free report, a special discount, or advance notice of sales. Don’t put just your company logo or product name on the front. That will not work.
3. List the contents. In brochures of eight pages or more, a table of contents is essential. Design it so that the table of contents stands out from the rest of the text. Use the contents to sell the brochure. Don’t use mind-numbing words like “Introduction” or “Model No. A848DHGT.” Use your key sales points in your headings.
4. List your product’s benefits. Purchasers care about benefits, not features. To develop a list of benefits, draw up a list of product features and add the words “which means that…” after each point. For example, “The cake is made from an original recipe, which means that…it tastes better.” Or, “The car has a 300 horse-power engine, which means that…it goes faster.” Benefits are what sells products.
5. Make the brochure a keeper. Putting helpful information in your brochure will encourage the reader to keep it, refer to it often, or pass it on to other people. If you are selling paint, you can provide hints on color schemes, painting how-to information, tips from the pros, or other information. If you are selling skin care products, you can give your readers tips on how to combat pimples, dry skin, fine lines, and wrinkles.
6. Alter the shape. Who says a brochure has to be 8 ½ by 11? If you are selling sandwiches, design a brochure in the shape of a sandwich. Season tickets to soccer matches? Design it in the shape of a soccer ball. Use your imagination to come up with an original, eye-catching piece.
According to Direct Magazine, a recent mailing by CSi, a company that conducts customer satisfaction surveys for automobile insurance firms and repair shops, got a 15 percent response rate with a brochure delivered in a 32-ounce squeeze sport water bottle. The headline read, “Thirsty for more repair orders?”
Try tall and slim, square, oblong, whatever you like. The only limitation is your imagination, and, of course, your budget.
7. Make it personal. An experienced speaker talking to a large audience will pick out someone in the crowd, and talk directly to him or her. This connection allows the speaker to make the talk more personal. In a similar fashion, write your brochure with an imaginary person in mind. Why? Because writing in a direct “I’m-talking-only-to-you” style will increase response.
8. Add atmosphere. You don’t want your brochure to sound aloof. Let your reader share your feelings. A brochure about a wood-burning stove does not need to go into the ins and outs of how the stove works. Tell your reader about rainswept winter evenings and snowbound afternoons. Let your words show them how warm and snug and they’ll be when they purchase one of your stoves.
9. Start selling right away. Not everyone needs to know about every aspect of your product or service. Don’t waste their time telling them about things that don’t convey a benefit.
10. Address your reader’s needs. Don’t get carried away with your own interests. Talk about your reader, not yourself.
11. Give directions. Organize your brochure so readers can flip through the pages and easily find what they want. Provide clear signposts or headlines throughout the brochure and make sure each one says “Hey, pay attention to me!”
12. Ask for action. Regardless of how you organize your brochure, there’s only one way to end it. Ask for action. If you want your reader to respond, include an 800 number, reply card, or some form of response mechanism. In fact, to increase your brochure’s selling power, include your offer and a response mechanism on every page.
Julia Hyde is an independent copywriter and consultant specializing in advertising, search engine optimization, and search engine marketing services. To learn more, visit her Web site at juliahyde.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.