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Writing A Brochure For Your Business

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Writing A Brochure For Your Business
"Send me something."

Dreaded words to hear, if you’re an embroiderer who’s more comfortable with needle and thread than the written word. In fact, some commercial embroiderers would rather face a horrendous stitching job than write marketing materials that will help them sell more embroidery.

Talk about burying your head in the thread. Writing, however, is an emotional process. Some of us claim to not know verb clauses from Santa Clauses, let alone how to write effective marketing brochures. The secret is simplicity, plain speaking (e.g. writing) that communicates what you can do and why your skills and products are important. If you can say it aloud, you can write it. Let loose of the emotion, and you’ll unlock the logic of good writing.

First, though, let’s look at the lesson within the lesson. Writing a brochure really starts with writing general marketing language. You must be able to clearly communicate your business’s products, services, specialties and excellence not only in brochures, but in every form of business communication that goes out your door or comes off your computer, including advertisements, flyers, letters, presentations, Web sites, product hang tags and even e-mail signature lines.

General marketing language starts with concise, one-sentence answers to these questions:

  • What does your company do?
  • What are technical or artistic specialties that distinguish your company from its competitors?
  • What benefits do your services or products provide for customers?

Save these written answers and refer to them any time you need to draft a specific written marketing tool. You may not be able to use the exact wording, but it can jump-start your brain when you’re confronted with a blank screen and a brochure deadline. Don’t forget to periodically fine-tune your general marketing language as your market changes and your skills and expertise grow.

Back To Brochures

Do a little planning before you start to write. Why do you need a brochure? Who is the target audience? It is entirely possible that you may need numerous brochure versions that explain your service to specific markets. Different niches can co-exist in your production shop, because the embroidery process for each is highly similar, but not so for marketing materials. Prospects will scan your brochure to see the benefits that apply to them. If it takes someone more than 20 seconds to find the "hook," the brochure is likely to end up in the trash. If you produce and print your brochures in-house using one of the many easy-to-use graphic applications, such as Publisher 2000, it’s easy and economical to have highly specific brochures.

As you begin to hammer out your brochure copy, remember these cardinal rules of writing:

  • You write it down so you can re-write it.
  • Everyone needs an editor.

Suppose you have written some brochure copy and slapped it into a Wizard layout. Resist hitting "print" for at least 24 hours. Save the file and sleep on it. Have someone else read it, preferably someone who is not intimately familiar with your business. Ask your "editor" to comment on the brochure copy’s clarity and completeness. Read your copy again in a few days, along with the edits, and I guarantee you’ll find some things that need sharpening, changing, tweaking.

Stress Benefits, Not Features

Your prospects will not care, frankly, if you have the latest equipment and enough sewing heads to embroider corporate apparel for all of North America. Your prospects want to know what you can do for them and what distinguishes you from everyone else who claims the same skills. So, write to highlight the benefits of your services and products, not the mechanics.

Here are two examples of language that might be used in a brochure advertising embroidery to corporate apparel prospects. Which version would a prospect find more interesting?

  • We create embroidery that is colorful, precise and eye-catching.
  • Motivate your employees and increase your visibility in the marketplace with embroidered business apparel we can create especially for you.

The first sentence is feature-oriented. It describes what a company can do. The second sentence, however, tells a prospect why he should be interested in what a company can do. It’s all about benefits, and that’s what sells someone on your services.

Brochure Blueprint

The format you choose for your brochure will determine how much copy you need to write, how many pictures or graphics you can include and how it’s distributed. Most brochures are created as self-mailers, meaning there’s a blank area where postage and mailing labels can be affixed. This eliminates the need for a cover letter.

For most formats, the basic copy formula is the same: headline, explanation, bulleted benefits or points of information and pictures or graphic examples. Here’s one version of a "copy blueprint" for a standard bi-fold, or three-panel, brochure:

Panel 1
  • Headline
  • Main explanatory and benefit-oriented sentence
  • Picture or graphic
  • Your company logo
Panel 2,3,4,5
  • Expanded sentences describing services/products
  • Repeated and expanded benefits
  • Picture(s)
  • Company background
  • Contact details
Panel 6
  • Mailing label area
  • Postage
  • Corporate logo
  • Company motto or repeated marketing phrase
  • Contact details

That’s just one version. There are many other bits of information and variations that can be included:

Special offers:Typically, these are not included in a general company brochure, but in highly targeted brochure versions.

Company motto: Spend some time on this, and post likely candidates around the shop so you can see and evaluate them over a few days’ time. This should eventually be used on every bit of paper that goes out of your office, and definitely in a brochure.

Terms & policies: Knowing basically how you work with clients can sometimes help a prospect to decide whether their needs mesh with your capabilities. This can include payment terms.

Customer testimonials: Ask your customers if they will give you a recommendation, or a comment about how your embroidery has helped their business. You’ll be surprised at how many will say "yes."

Professional affiliations or certifications: Include these to show that your company cares about ongoing education and does not exist in a business vacuum, but is active in the community.

Apparel brand names: Only include these if the brand names will mean something to your prospects. If you are frequently asked during appointments about what brands you use, then it obviously means something to the prospects you are targeting.

Repeat Yourself: Our memories are limited. You’ve probably heard that we only remember 30% of what we read and 10 % of what we hear. (Or is that 10% of what we read….you get my point.)

Repeat your product’s benefits throughout the brochure--on every panel or page, if you can. It will ensure that your message sticks with your reader and gets him interested enough to respond.

Here’s an example: An embroiderer working with a national prospect base has created a bi-fold brochure that advertises a business-to-business special on embroidered denim shirts. In six panels, the copy mentions the company’s corporate identity benefits nearly three times per panel, each time with different wording:

  • Promoting your image
  • Motivating employees
  • Identity builder
  • Increase visibility in the marketplace
  • Building your business
  • Positive statement about your company
  • Stand out in the marketplace
  • Making good businesses look great
  • Some brochures may also repeat contact details, or at least a telephone number, on 50% of a brochure’s panels.
A Word About Writing Professionals

If you’re having trouble finding time to write your marketing materials, or you just can’t turn out the sophisticated brochure you really want, look for some help. You can find literally hundreds of sources of professional marketing writing on the Internet. They will range from full-fledged agencies that handle anything from ad copy to corporate videos, to the independent freelancer who specializes in written projects. Just remember that the bigger the team, the bigger the price tag. If all you need is some skillful editing and creative language for a brochure you intend to self-publish, an agency is probably overkill. Call on provided references and closely examine writing samples. Choose someone who listens well and asks good questions, because the writer must communicate your business’s vision.

Whether you opt for a professional or decide to write your own brochures and promotional business materials, just remember that good marketing writing is not mysterious and painful. It’s simplicity. If you can say it aloud, you can write it.

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