One of the most effective and long-standing methods of advertising is the use of a brochure. This miniature corporate profile is an excellent way to convey a good deal of information and bring in sales... IF done properly.

I must say, I've seen hundreds of brochures over my 20 years in the advertising business. The good ones have many of the same things in common ~ and so do the bad ones. Let's take a look at what the pros do, and don't do, in order to create a brochure that brings in sales.

What Not To Do

Several things usually give away the fact that a brochure was written by an amateur. Let me point out several "don'ts" and then we'll discuss how to correct them.

The most common mistake made in brochures (in copywriting in general) is focusing on your company. I know ~ it sounds strange. The point of a brochure, and of every other advertising piece, is to convince the customer that they need your product or service, right? Simply listing all the things YOU consider important about
your company will not convince anyone but you.

The inclusion of over-used clip art is probably the second most popular mistake. Microsoft puts the exact same clip art in every version of Word. If you have it on your computer, chances are almost everyone else with Word software has it, too. It's a dead giveaway that you've used freebie photos and graphics. That does not display a professional image.

The third clue that a brochure is homemade is lack of focus on the target audience. I can't say it enough... KNOW YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE. My famous example is to remember your mental process when you sit down to write a letter.

You don't write a letter and then think, "Gee, I wonder who I can mail this to." Instead, you first decide who you'd like to write and then you compose the letter. Even if you give the exact same facts when you write several people, the letters will all be different. Why? Because you've altered your writing style to fit the recipient. A letter written to your mom about your new car would sound completely
different than a letter written to your girlfriend. The same applies to copywriting.

Correcting the Mistakes & Looking Professional

First and foremost, take the focus off how wonderful your company is. And put it where? On how your customer will benefit from buying from you. Let me give you an example.

One brochure I recently edited read this way: "We offer the most innovative methods of ____ to date. We are known for our dedication and long-standing commitment to quality. We create strategies and policies that stand the test of
time." Well, are YOU convinced to buy from this company? Me either.

The entire focus is on the company. Nowhere does it state how the customer will benefit or why they should do business with this firm. Let's re-write it and put the focus where it belongs.

"You will benefit from using our most innovative methods of _____. Our dedication and long-standing commitment to quality ensure you that a long-term project will be completed on time and to your full satisfaction. Because we work with you to
create strategies and policies that stand the test of time, the future of your firm is secure." Better? I think so, too! Now onto the next challenge.

When it comes to using photos and graphics for professional work, stay away from any clip art that is included within a software program.

Rather, go to sources like who offer a "photo gallery." While these are not free, they certainly are cheap. I believe only $3.00 per photo. The assortment is enormous. You can also borrow a friend's digital camera and shoot your own photos.

As far as graphics... visit places like who offer a free subscription to their graphics section. You may also get a paid subscription (which allows an even greater assortment). Problem number two is solved. Let's move onto our last - and most important - challenge.

If you have a multifaceted target audience (say professionals in the medical field) you will need to accommodate each of them in one way or another. If the brochure seems generic, and doesn't meet their needs, it will not hold much persuasive power.

In order to "segment" a portion of that audience (say dentists) I recommend saving your money from reprinting the entire brochure. Instead, just insert one separate panel.

It's easy really, just print a short piece (one panel) that's the same height and same stock as your regular brochure. Since it's one panel, you'll have two sides to print on. Insert he appropriate panel in with your regular brochure before you give it out or mail it. Viola! Instant segmentation at a fraction of printing five or six different, whole brochures.

To summarize, take the focus off you and put it onto your customers where it belongs. Avoid clip art that comes with software programs. It is sorely overused. And lastly, speak your customer's language. Target (or segment) your audience by being specific to them and their needs.

Keeping these tips in mind when you create or edit your brochure will allow you to present a professional piece of advertising. More importantly, you'll remain within your budget.