Creating brochures

Designing brochures to win business

Brochure designs that help win business require an appreciation of the various types and functions of brochure that are available.

Below is a simple introduction to the process of creating a brochure that will justify all the effort in creating one.

creating brochures

The literature you create will often represent your business when you are not around to support or defend it. It is your sales representative.

Whether the piece is eagerly read, glanced or simply discarded will depend on how well it is designed and the message you have chosen to provoke the next action from the reader.

Literature can be in print or digital format.

Literature types

Determining the purpose of the literature

At its most basic level, literature has one of two objectives.

1. Proposition literature

To communicate to prospects the reasons why they should buy from you. This could be a product or service differentiation (a distinct product or service benefit) or a monetary proposition such as a discount or special offer. Either way, it is a moment of value for your potential customer.


2. Information literature

Information that is required for the prospect to make an informed purchase or to enable the customer to simply use the product: reassuring and simple product information.

Mixing these two functions into the same piece can compromise the effectiveness of the literature.

Determining the role of the literature

Proposition literature

Think why you need the literature. Is it to generate leads, aid conversion or bind the prospect into the next sell?

For example: What role will the brochure play in winning customers for your new business?

  • Will it be a first contact brochure.
  • Something to leave with a customer following another method of contact (Sales call following, a leave behind following a meeting).
  • A follow up brochure to an enquiry.
  • A brochure to bind a second order or develop a relationship following an order.
  • How will your customers see the brochure?
  • What next action do you want the reader to take?

Information literature

This is about two things: ergonomics and reassurance.

It is amazing how even well known blue-chip companies perceptibly consider information literature as an afterthought. Instruction leaflets are often produced in black and white – literally photocopies in many instances or written in multiple languages (likely for logistical reasons as regards moving stock around the world).

The subliminal message to the customer is, we have closed the sale, we have your money and now we do the bear minimum – you are on your own. In this and for you is an opportunity to do better.

Information literature does not have to be produced to the same level as proposition literature but it should still be well designed, logical and be perceived as treating the customer with respect.

Remember two things:

Always treat the closed sale as the enquiry to your the next sale.
Word of mouth recommendations are the salesmen you don’t have to pay commission to.

How to get literature produced

Designing literature

Scamp layout for printer

You can pencil a layout on paper (known as a scamp) then give it to a printer to design, create the artwork and print the literature. This is how most people on limited budgets and tight time scales get started.

Own artwork production

Some people with more expertise in such as Adobe InDesign will produce their own literature artwork. You have to be careful taking this route because opportunity cost (the cost of not doing something else with a resource – i.e. you) may make this an unwise option. In other words, the time spent in designing the brochure yourself (or even getting to know InDesign then designing the brochure) could have been much better spent getting on with developing the business or making money doing what you are really good at – unless, of course you are setting up a design company.

Using a designer

Another option is to find and brief a local designer to take the brief from you and produce the artwork. Designers are not as expensive as you might think and most will also gladly liaise with the printer. Developing a good and long-term relationship with a designer or design company will add a potency to your business that perhaps your competition may not have.

There are a few rules to be aware of when working with designers.

  1. Make sure you are clear with your brief both with yourself and with the designer. Designers have many talents but telepathy isn’t one of them. Always write down the brief. You can even present the brief to the designer and ask their advice before both agreeing on the version of brief to be acted upon.
  2. Get an estimated price for the brochure. The price should include “to second sight amendments”, which means you will have two rounds of amendments to artwork before extra costs are incurred.
  3. Avoid constantly making fine-tuning amendments to a design. Each amendment costs money and you do not want to fall out with a good designer that could have helped you develop your business due to the shock of the first invoice.
  4. Respect the designer’s views. They have produced many more brochures than you and they should know good and effective design; if not then you are with the wrong designer. Rather than wrestle with them, simply try another designer that understands more of what you are getting at. Otherwise, trust their judgement and release yourself from the project so that you can get on with developing the business. If put under pressure, some designers will give you what you want not what you need: so be careful.

Printing literature

Using digital printing rather than litho means you can have a limited print run produced; perhaps 100. A small run is recommended because this enables you to test and evolve your literature without the risk of having boxes containing thousands of brochures sitting around your office or home due to an ineffectually designed piece that never worked and will never be used.

Low print runs, particularly in the early days are therefore highly recommended as this will keep the risk of wasted money to a minimum. Small print runs also allow you options to experiment with different approaches and to target different parts of your market.

What not to do

Avoid knocking up a design in Word on your PC and printing out a batch of leaflets on your colour printer. This can have the exact opposite effect to what you are trying to achieve. Being seen as professional and not amateur is vital in achieving business success. A bad piece of work has a long memory.

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