Marketing Mojo

Whether you’re a small business or a huge corporation, a sole proprietor or a nonprofit organization, chances are you need a brochure, if not a whole bunch of them, to promote your products and services.

10 Easy Ways to Improve Your
Brochure Copy

By Bob Cargill

A brochure can serve many purposes. It can be a single, all-compassing piece about your organization in general that you hand out to customers and prospects at trade shows. It can be a sales tool that your account people take with them to client meetings or that gets included in your direct mail packages. It can focus on a special offer or be geared toward a particular target market. There are countless ways to use a brochure to get the word out about your business.

But what’s the best way to write a brochure? What tips and techniques are important to keep in mind when putting words to paper? Here are 10 easy ways to improve your brochure copy, whether you’re writing it yourself or working with a copywriter.

1. Have a road map in mind. There are so many questions you need to ask before you write your new brochure. Who is your audience? What is your objective? How will the brochure be used? What size is it? What is your unique selling proposition (USP), the one thing about your organization that makes it different – and better – than the competition?
2. Make sure it tracks. It doesn’t matter what format it is – tri fold, accordion fold, gate fold, etc. – when you’re writing your brochure, make sure your words flow in a logical sequence. This is called tracking. Make believe you’re the reader. Make sure it’s clear on the front cover what will be covered inside. Tell a compelling sales story with a beginning, middle and end.
3. Write headlines that command attention. Your headlines should grab readers from the get-go, convincing them to believe in what you have to offer and inspiring them to take action. Give them incentive to continue reading. Tell your audience what’s in it for them. Lead them through your brochure, panel by panel, by asking questions, making promises, previewing what’s to come next.
4. Avoid industry jargon. While it’s tempting to use big words to show off your knowledge, that’ll only turn off your audience, not impress them. Resist the urge to use words such as “scalable,” “robust” and “leverage.” Instead, write in plain, simple terms, as though you were having a conversation with someone.
5. Use bold subheads to break up long copy blocks. Don’t risk tiring the eyes of your readers. Break up long copy with short, bold subheads that either preview what they’re about to read or actually summarize the content. That way, with time – and attention spans – so short nowadays, they’ll be able to scan your brochure at-a-glance.
6. Include bullet points. Another smart way to break up your copy is to use bullet points or numbers (like I’ve used in this article). Not only does this make it easy for your audience to digest a lot of content in a short period of time, it calls attention to key copy points.
7. Write captions for your pictures. Whenever possible, provide context for your photographs, illustrations and any other imagery you’re using in your brochure in the form of short written captions. Pictures catch people’s eyes, of course, and these corresponding descriptions of what they’re looking at are an opportunity for you to say something clever and compelling.
8. Turn features into benefits. In your written descriptions, don’t just claim something is the biggest, fastest or best in its class. Tell your readers what that means to them. For instance, if you sell business cards, the features may include colors, paper stock and price. But the benefit to a prospective customer is that they’re so good they’ll stand out from all the rest, helping him or her to land a new job, win new business and enjoy a more successful career.
9. Include testimonials. What others have to say about you, your products and services speaks volumes. It’s social proof, the credibility you need to succeed in business. Ask your most satisfied customers to write a few sentences of praise for you. These testimonials will go a long way toward enhancing your reputation and backing up any claims you make about what you have to offer.
10. Don’t forget a call to action and contact information. Whatever you cover elsewhere, always close with a strong call to action, asking readers to take some form of action – call, write, click, etc. – in order to do business with you. And don’t forget to list your contact information on the back of the brochure, including where to find you on Facebook, Twitter and other social media properties, too.

About the Author: Bob Cargill is a professional Copywriter, Creative Director and Social Media Consultant who runs Cargill Creative and a popular blog. He’s won more than 40 copywriting and direct marketing awards, and was named "Direct Marketer of the Year" for 2009 by the New England Direct Marketing Association.