This is one question that I have been asked a number of times by my clients. It is a very difficult question to answer because the completion of a brochure depends on a number of factors. Some of the factors are under the control of the advertising agency while others are under the control of the client. For instance, how fast the advertising agency prepares the copy and design will depend on its workload at that point of time. On the other hand, advertising agencies are dependent on the clients in terms of how fast they can get approvals at various stages of the brochure development process to enable them to take the next step. We have taken weeks as well as months to develop a brochure. We have also done it in a couple of days. A few times we have even developed the brochure in 4-5 hours. There are too many variables involved in the development of a brochure for anyone to predict the time required to design and print a brochure. I feel that you should allow at least 4-5 weeks to develop a brochure. However, in this book I have tried to suggest a procedure for the different steps involved in the development of the advertising and promotional material, which if adopted, will reduce the time involved in the development of the advertising and promotional material including brochures. For instance, in the chapter titled “Body Copy,” I have suggested how to get the copy developed and approved in the shortest possible time.
Some Tips 1. Don’t expect the moon: Have you ever heard the expression, “Don’t send a boy to do a man’s job?” Well, don’t expect your brochure alone to make the sale for you. The purpose of a brochure is to educate the customer about your company and products. It’s objective is also to encourage the customer to get in contact with you if he has interest in doing business with you. There are some small ticket items that can be sold with a direct mail brochure. However, don’t try to achieve everything with the brochure.
2. Make it simple and direct: I have mentioned a number of times in this book that keeping the communication with the target audience simple and direct is critical as time is in short supply. If the brochure is too long or it is not clear, the prospective customer will avoid reading it.
3. Use positive words: Always assume that the customer will eventually buy the product or service. Don’t use the words “if” and “maybe” which invite the possibility of a negative response from the customer.
4. Use “You” often: Use the word “you” rather than “our customers.” You have to assume that the brochure is being read by your prospective customer. It is better to address him in a personal manner.
5. No open-ended questions: Never ask open-ended questions in a brochure. Make sure you phrase all questions in such a way that the answer can only be “YES”.
6. Use friendly tone: You want your brochure to sound and look professional. You can accomplish this without using “stiff phrasing” or a formal tone. While developing your brochure, pretend that you are talking to your customer as his friend. The copy in your brochure should represent a dialogue between friends. Your brochure shouldn’t read like a textbook.
7. Keep the paragraphs short: The thumb rule if you are writing an essay or a book is that the height of the paragraph should not be more than the width of the paragraph. However, in a brochure the paragraphs should be as short as possible.
8. Do not indent paragraphs that have a space between them: You only need one design indicator to indicate the beginning of a new paragraph.
9.Do not start sentences with numbers: “20% of all policemen are from north India” is not the correct way. Correct way of stating the same thing would be, “Twenty percent of all policemen are from north India.”
10. Underline / Uppercase: Do not use underline or all caps as a way to stress a point. Use bold or italics instead.
11. Standalone document: Always prepare your brochures so that they contain enough information to function as a stand alone document. Even if you routinely mail your brochures with a covering letter, chances are that they will part company. So don’t rely on details in the letter to cover for details you’ve omitted from your brochure.
12. Contact details: Always, I repeat always, include your organisation’s name, telephone numbers, postal and email addresses prominently in your brochures so that people interested in your products and services can easily contact you.
13. A basic rule of design is repetition: Repeating elements throughout a brochure gives it strength and style. A quick way to use repetition is to reduce the number of fonts to one or two or use same column size throughout the document. Also, format every headings and sub-headings the same way.
14. Heading Space: Add some additional space before each heading and close up the space between the heading and the following paragraph. This makes a visual connection between the heading and the paragraph it relates to.
15. Ensure smooth flow: In general, people read left to right and top to bottom. So make sure that the information in your brochure follows this flow. In a typical two-fold brochure, the reader expects to view the cover first, and then the three inside panels. Finally, they’ll turn the brochure over and read the fifth and sixth panels. Include the basic information you want to get across to your reader on the first three panels inside the cover. Relegate contact information and other information to the two back panels.
16. Date: If you include time-sensitive data (prices, for example), make sure you let the reader know the applicable date(s).
17. Visuals: Visuals work wonderfully in brochures. Visuals should be related to the information inside and/or to your concept or idea. Make sure that your visuals are clear and really convey the meaning you are trying to get across. The type of visuals you use will be influenced by the way the brochure is going to be distributed. Visuals need to be bold and eye-catching to attract the attention of the reader if the brochure is going to be placed in a display rack as a Point-of-sale Brochure. On the other hand, a Leave Behind Brochure can use subtle visuals.
18. Logo: Your company logo should appear on the brochure at the appropriate places. Apart from the back page where the name and address of the company appears, most brochures have the company logo on the cover page also.
19. Proofing: Check, double-check and triple-check your brochure for any errors-be it fonts, grammar or punctuation before sending it for printing.
20. Bullets: Use bullets to convey the most important information. Long wordy descriptions bore people and they will stop reading your brochure.
21. Contents: Include only relevant information.
22. Special Offers: It is better to assign the task of making the actual offer to the “salesperson” or the covering letter. Otherwise, if the offer changes, you will have to make changes to the brochure resulting in unnecessary additional expense.
23. Quick Read: The brochure should be easy to read. This can be achieved by keeping the written matter to the minimum to effectively convey your story. Include only absolutely essential technical information.
24. Captions: Always use captions under the photographs in your brochure. Research has shown that after the headlines, readers like reading the captions first before going on to read or scan the rest of the brochure.