Elements of a good brochure or web site_1

Ever notice that some brochures are good resources for you while some make you wonder why they even bothered? A website, too, can be either exciting and informative or a real dud. While there are additional, interactive properties of web sites that don’t apply to brochures, first let’s take a look at the basic elements that are contained in both.

Over the next few posts, I’ll be giving you a dozen plus elements of a good brochure or web site.

1. The words should work hard. So should the design.
There should be some meat on those bones. Designing a visually dramatic brochure that contains nothing but a few vague catch phrases may look nice, but it’s not going to compel a serious buyer to consider using your company.

If a potential customer goes to all the trouble of reading your brochure or website, the least you can do is provide them with the information they need to strongly consider you. Your message should be clear and concise and have enough substance to compel a serious buyer to consider using your company. Otherwise they might as well be looking at a business card.

The design should work hard, too. While your company’s message is the most important element of your marketing piece, it may never get read if it’s not well-designed. A brochure or website is the first–and perhaps only–point of contact with your company, so it had better make a good impression. Good design will get you noticed, make it interesting to read, and help you be remembered.

Dress your business smartly

A company logo is not only an identifier to your prospective audience, it’s also a credibility builder. Just as the clothes you wear broadcast your sense of style, your logo speaks volumes about your company’s professionalism.

For example, would you go to visit a banker or other important client dressed in shorts and a t-shirt? Chances are you wouldn’t because it’s too casual. They might not take you as seriously as if you were dressed in a nice slacks and shirt. That’s not to say you have to be dressed up, just dressed well.

The same goes for your business identity. A customer is like a banker in the sense that their first impression with your company is valuable and lasting. A haphazard or casual attitude toward identity design reduces your initial impact, creates no emotional impression and may even detract from your credibility.

There are two ‘costs’ to producing a brochure.

Upfront fixed expenses may include copywriting, design, photography, illustration and printing, to name a few. These are the investments a company makes to create a promotional piece for business development.

In contrast, lost sales opportunities might be considered variable costs or opportunities not realized. You’ll never know how profitable a new client can be if you don’t land them first. You may avoid spending money, yet what is the cost of not being prepared? Having to tell a prospect who asks for a brochure that “we’re working on it” isn’t the best way to build confidence.

Some prospects appreciate getting actual samples.

We recently sent out a mailing of two sample brochures that we produced. Some prospects have reported that they enjoyed getting the sample rather than just a letter. It lets them see the quality for themselves. Saying we can produce a brochure for an industrial company is one thing. Actually seeing samples is much more effective. The cost of sending out an envelope first class especially to several hundred prospects is  substantial, but if it gets the phone to ring and turns into meetings and business, it’s worth it.

Web site redesign took more time than I thought.

It’s taken a long time to get this new site up. I think there were two reasons why it took longer than it should have. The first is that I did not set a specific deadline to have it completed by. I’ve been thinking about the project seriously for almost two years. But I never penciled in that due date. Once I set a deadline to have up by year’s end, it became more urgent. The second is that I kept putting it off because it seemed like there were so many options. Who should help with it, how should it look and what should I include are just some of the many questions that kept me from moving forward. Once I made decisions, the project moved forward. So my suggestion to others is to write down your deadline, and make decisions more quickly.