Monthly Archives: June 2014

In This Electronic Age, Do You Really Need a Brochure for Your Business?

sample_brochureDo you really need a brochure?

Yes, if you ever attend a business networking event with more than 10 people attending and you are not the only one in your business category. You don’t necessarily need to carry them with you, though. As you exchange business cards, ask if the person would like to know more about your business. You can then mail them a brochure when you return to your office, which has the added benefit of bringing you to mind in a couple more days. Use this opportunity to put a post-it note on the brochure with a quick note, saying you enjoyed meeting them and look forward to working with them soon.

You also need a brochure if your company name is like mine, Strohm Consulting. I need a brochure to list all the things we do. The branch manager at a local bank, probably has less need for a brochure.

Brochure Basics

Here are some things to consider when creating your brochure, whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or you are having someone else help you.

What type of brochure fits your needs the best?

If you are going to mail them, they will need to fit the envelope. If they are going to be in a display tray, they need to be sized for that as well. If they are going to be mailed without an envelope, you’ll need to design a place to put the address on one side. If your intention is to include a premium or sample, then you can use the entire space available.

When possible, keep the brochure to one sheet of paper. Anything more than that is likely to not be read. Work at being concise with your words. Here’s where a professional can be of the most value. Also make sure you are writing to your audience, which means you’ll want to use little, if any, jargon and abbreviations that are not generally recognized. by the general public, your audience.

What should you include in your brochure?

First of all, don’t be afraid of white space. You don’t need to fill up every nook and cranny with text. Find a couple of pictures, use your logo, a picture of yourself or your facility are great things to include.

Write brief paragraphs about your business: Who you are, what you do, where you are located, when you are open for business, why should someone use you and how do people contact you. Also include any licenses you hold that are essential to your business and industry awards or certifications that you have earned, if there is room.

Now that you have all of that, organize it so it fits the brochure in an eye-appealing manner. Try not to have too much information overlapping columns. Your potential customer will appreciate the organization of your information.

Glossy paper or Matte?

That’s a matter of personal preference. However, if your brochure has a picture of YOU, go for the glossy. It just looks better. Which ever you decide, use a professional printer to get the best quality. You’ll be surprised at the quality of the cheaper “big box” office stores. If you have a color printer, print off one copy, then take the electronic file (on a thumb drive) to the store and see if they do a better job.

Now you have a great marketing piece. Check back here next week for the last piece: Websites!

Writing a Great Newsletter

newsletterFor someone uncomfortable with writing, newsletters can be challenging. Here are some tips to make it a little easier for you.

Plan out what you want to cover and how often. Usually, once a month is maximum. If you want to reach out to your customers more often, consider a blog or Facebook post instead. Once a quarter is minimum. This fits in nicely with the seasons. If you are new to the idea of newsletters, quarterly is a great way to start. It makes more sense to start out quarterly, then if you decide you have more to say, you can change to monthly or bi-monthly. Doing that in reverse order doesn’t work as well.

Write out an outline of what articles you want to include in each issue so you are not staring blankly at your computer when it’s time to compose the piece. Work at least 6 months out. Be flexible with your content, though, so if something noteworthy happens in your industry or company, you can prioritize and decide what makes the final cut. Having too much info for each issue is better than too little.

Keep them to one sheet of paper. If it is more than that, be sure the most important information is on the first page or two. After that, it might not get read. If it is a self-mailer (fold, stamp and send) put a call-out on the address portion to bring attention to a special event or offer. A call-out can be a star burst with “20% off, see page 2” or a box with “Open House July 6, 3-9 PM”. Keep this call-out extremely short and to the point.

Make sure the bulk of your newsletter is newsworthy. Items to include would be recent awards your company or employees have won, brief bios on your employees, new product launch, tips on how to use your product or service, etc. I also like to include a joke or two, especially if it pokes fun at your industry. Only 10-15% should be “buy my great stuff”.

Your number one goal is to make your newsletter something your customers will look forward to receiving each month. Write the kind of newsletter YOU would like to get.

Getting Started with Great Marketing Pieces

marketing_puzzleNow that you have your logo and are establishing your brand, here are some tips for your marketing pieces.

Marketing Pieces are brochures, flyers, email and print ads, etc.

Use just two fonts: one plain and one fancy; or one serif and one non-serif. Any more than that and it starts to look non-professional.

If you are not sure what colors work well with your logo/brand, do an internet search to help you decide. Or hire a graphic designer.

Don’t be afraid of white space. If there are too many words, they won’t get read. Edit your piece, so you are using as few words as possible.

Proofread, then proofread again. If it’s an article, read it backwards: read the last paragraph, then the next to the last and so forth. Reading it backwards keeps you focused and helps you really concentrate on finding errors. Don’t rely 100% on your spell check.

Photos and graphics for print and website are not the same. For a good printed image, you need at least 600 dpi. When viewing it on your favorite electronic device, from desktop monitor to phone, you only need 72 dpi. Be sure you have both sizes, if the image you are using is to be used in your printed and electronic marketing. A 600 dpi image can pretty easily be scaled down, but you can rarely scale up for a good print image from a web image.

Content

There is nothing wrong with duplicating content among your pieces, as long as it makes sense for the particular application.

Make sure you include a Call to Action. This can simply be “Call today for your free estimate.” Don’t just give information and assume people will call you.

When possible make sure the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How Much are included.

Gear the content to your customers. What’s in it for them? Avoid jargon they might not understand.

One last tip: to track how effective your efforts are, select a unique contact method for each marketing piece. For example, use a specific person’s name as a contact: “Contact Bill today” even if there is no Bill in your company, you simply say, “I’m sorry Bill is not in now, but how might I help you?”  That way you know which of your marketing pieces is working.

What is Branding?

brandingIn addition to the services listed on this website, I also do marketing and promotional pieces:  brochures, e-ads, fliers and newsletters.

In the next few weeks, I’ll share some tips that I’ve learned along the way to help you with your next project.

Branding

You’ve heard about branding, but what is it? When you see a series of red rings, arranged like an archery target, you know immediately who that belongs to. A green mermaid-like figure in a circle quickly identifies a coffee brand.

But you don’t have to be one of the giant merchandisers to use branding. It is simply carrying a specific color, font type and logo (if you have one) through to all of your marketing pieces, including business cards, brochures, mailings, website, letterhead, etc. That way, when someone sees your specific set of colors, fonts, and logo, they can quickly identify it as you. If you use something different on all your marketing items, it can create a lot of confusion for your customers. You want to make sure they know, for sure, it is you.

So this week, let’s look at logo design considerations.

When you hire a graphic designer, be prepared to share information about your business like how you got started, how long you’ve been in business, where you’d like to see your business in the next 5 to 10 years, etc. That way a logo can be developed that is uniquely you!

If you are going to have your logo printed on clothing, be aware that circles can very easily become ovals when embroidered. The cloth can pull unevenly. Be sure to mention this to your vendor. Ask to see samples of similar work.

Printing on clothes other than white or very pale pastels often requires a base coat to make sure the imprint color stays true. For example, printing red on a blue shirt may produce a strange purple color.

Printed color is defined by four colors. Electronic versions have only three. You will never have a perfect match when you go from printed paper to website or vice versa.

If your logo is going to be used on small items as well as large ones, pay your graphic designer to give you different sizes. Artwork rarely resizes well – details can be lost when shrunk, and distorted when enlarged.

Next week, we’ll take a look at marketing pieces.