Pimp My Pamphlet


Marketing has its roots in advertising. Bland brochures, blah business cards, ambiguous messages don’t sell.

“I make all my clients put strong headlines on their brochures. It’s no different than any other ad. You’ve got to get people to open it and read it,” says Sanford Jay Barris, founder and president of Business Marketing Services in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Want a smashing sales brochure that brings you business? Consider these tips:

  • Focus. People are turned off by clutter. Use your brochure to offer reasons why people should do business with you. Emphasize not what you sell, but why you and your company are the best choice.
  • Time for Action. The most important part of a sales brochure is its call to action. Be sure yours provides essential contact information plus an explanation of why your product or service is important to your customer now.
  • Size matters. You can save postage by creating a tri-fold brochure that fits in a standard #10 envelope. But don’t send it alone; include a lead-in letter. It’s an opportunity to point out specific pages or items in the brochure that are relevant to particular customers.
  • Keep it simple. Eliminate clutter and don’t include too many pictures, says Scott. “Don’t junk it up with too much information. The less said, the better.”
  • Coordinate colors. Stick with the palette you’ve used in other marketing materials, advises Mary Scott, vice president of marketing for American Laser Centers, which has 150 clinics nationwide. Despite content differences, each clinic’s brochure uses the same glossy, tri-fold black-with-reverse-text format.
  • Use a three-column format. Common in newspapers, this design enables readers to get material quickly. “The narrower the column width, the easier for people to read,” Barris says.
  • Write captions. Readers often look at photos and ignore longer text. Use captions, and think of each one as an individual sales pitch.
  • Choose an easy-to-read typeface. Some typefaces are more readable than others. Don’t be afraid to experiment. When in doubt, choose readability over fancy.
  • Do it yourself. You don’t have to hire a graphic designer to produce a great brochure. With a little creativity, you can make professional-looking materials using Microsoft Word. But keep your end format in mind. Word files may not transfer well to other formats, Barris says.

Make it permanent

Now that you have invested a lot of time perfecting your brochure, take the time to convert it to Portable Document Format.

By converting your file to PDF you essentially freeze it. Let’s say you save your brochure as a Word file. When you attach that document to an e-mail, the fonts and typeface you used to create the brochure may not translate to another computer. PDF files maintain their integrity; what you send is what the recipient gets. And, perhaps most importantly, another person cannot make changes to your file.

Adobe Acrobat Reader is free software that reads PDF files; anyone can use it. Microsoft Office programs allow you to convert files to PDF, and there are a number of free PDF makers you can download online, including CutePDF Writer and PDF reDirect. Adobe Acrobat offers what computer savvy experts say is “the best, most sophisticated” PDF conversion program, but it’s expensive.

Last, continue to re-evaluate

After you’ve circulated your brochure and other marketing materials, don’t forget to re-evaluate. Just because you haven’t heard complaints, doesn’t mean they’re doing all they can.

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