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Despite the prominence of digital marketing, print collateral still has an important role to play in a balanced marketing strategy. A professionally produced brochure suggests a high budget and an established reputation.

Related: How to make a travel brochure that looks stunning

Not only that, but brochures are versatile marketing tools. You can distribute them at trade shows, put them in brochure racks, send them via direct mail, and even publish them on your company website.

(They're also very portable. Many people would prefer to grab a brochure and read it at their convenience rather than engage with a salesperson.)

Most brochures are just a few hundred words in length, so you don't have a lot of space to get your message across. It's important to make every word count. Here are eight tips for writing a brochure that signals professionalism and competence—and spurs your readers to action.

1. Plan first

Brochures vary in content and length, but most follow a standard format. The front panel displays the company logo & headline, the inner panels make a case for the product/service using supporting facts & details, and the final panel contains contact info and a call-to-action. (At the end of this post, I've included a cheat sheet of content types you can put in your inner panels.)

Before you start writing, identify your target persona for the brochure including age, gender, location, role, income, interests and challenges.

This information will guide the tone, language and content of your brochure. It'll also help you choose a call-to-action that appeals to your readers. (For instance, an offer for a free white paper would likely be of interest to an executive, whereas a mobile app download would be more fitting for a college student.)

Make note of where your target audience is in the buying cycle. Don't waste space going on about the history of your organization if your readers have done business with you before.

Also consider the level of understanding your prospects already have about the topic. Are they experts, novices or somewhere in between? Keeping this in mind will help you avoid alienating readers by talking down to them or confusing them.

2. Write a compelling headline

Your headline will determine whether a prospect picks up and reads your brochure or tosses it aside.

Avoid using headlines that don't tell the reader anything about the contents of the brochure—for example, "Make a Good Impression." (A good impression on whom? For what purpose?)

You can provoke a reader's curiosity without being vague. These example headlines spark interest while also telling readers exactly what they'll get from reading the brochure:

  • Scared of the Dentist? Learn How Sedation Dentistry Can Help
  • The Ultimate College Prep Checklist: A Four-Year Plan for High School Freshmen
  • 4 Reasons to Think Again Before Buying a Foreclosed Home

Don't be afraid to use "power" words like free, quick, easy, results, exclusive, proven, etc. What they lack in originality, they make up for in effectiveness.

3. Write concisely

Your brochure should focus on one product or service. A trifold brochure only has space for about 350-450 words, so keep words, sentences and paragraphs short. Edit ruthlessly and include only the most relevant information, leaving room for white space and images.

Big walls of unbroken text look intimidating to readers, so use subheads liberally. Try not to put more than a couple of paragraphs in a row without introducing something else to break up the monotony, such as a subhead, bullet-point list or image.

With the help of Lucidpress's online drag-and-drop editor, you can quickly design a professional-looking brochure with elements like callouts, pull quotes and tables.

4. Limit the copy to 1-2 typefaces

The typefaces you choose should be easy to read and consistent with your branding. Often, if the subhead copy is in a serif face, the body copy will use a sans-serif face, and vice versa. (There are some great free tools available to help you select a complementary font pairing.)

Select font size, spacing and color with readability in mind so your prospects don't have to work to read the brochure.

5. Make the brochure a keeper

If you can, include a handy reference of some kind in your brochure to dissuade readers from throwing it away—for example:

  • a map of a town marked with top attractions
  • a "normal body weight" chart based on the reader's height
  • a list of program-specific student scholarships
  • a cheat sheet for first-time home buyers in a specific city

Also consider printing the brochure on high-quality glossy paper to boost its perceived value.

6. Include next steps for your reader

The goal of your sales brochure should be to persuade your readers to take a specific action.

This call-to-action is usually placed on the last panel of the brochure, along with the contact info. To boost response rates, offer an incentive, such as a promo code or free product.

The following are some example actions you might want your readers to take:

  • Sign up to your email list for a free white paper
  • Visit your website to make a purchase or sign up for a program
  • Call to book a free consultation
  • Scan a QR code to download an app
  • Enter for a chance to win
  • Visit your store for an upcoming sale

7. Proofread the brochure

No matter how much effort you put into your messaging and design, errors and inconsistencies in your printed literature can kill your credibility.

Verify that the tone of your brochure matches the rest of your brand messaging. Unlike informational brochures (which may take the third-person point-of-view), sales brochures usually use second-person to build rapport with the reader.

Refer to your brand style guide for how to handle things like numerals, dates and titles in the text. (If you don't have a brand style guide, use an established style reference like AP Stylebook.) And of course, look everything over for correct spelling, punctuation and grammar.

8. Don't miss anything

Before the brochure goes to print, check that your logo and contact information are present and error-free. Also look for details you may have forgotten to include, such as:

  • Purchasing info—how to place an order, accepted payment types, guarantees, warranties, refunds, shipping, etc.
  •  
  • Visitor info—accessibility for people with disabilities, hours of operation, seasonal times, admission rates, group sizes, pets, directions, etc.
  •  
  • Legal info—copyrights, trademarks, registration marks, disclaimers, etc.

You can also create branded templates for your brochures so you don't miss anything important when you start a new project—Lucidpress handles printing as well.

Bonus: What should I put in my brochure?

For inspiration, here's a cheat sheet of content types often found in sales brochures:

  • Descriptions of products, services, exhibits or attractions
  • Features & benefits
  • Product specs
  • Pricing charts
  • Pros & cons
  • Itinerary (e.g. winery tours)
  • Narrative (e.g. history of a winery)
  • How a product works
  • How a service is delivered
  • How to do something
  • Checklists & questionnaires
  • Images, illustrations, charts, graphs & maps
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Company blurb
  • Social proof: case studies, testimonials or media quotes, client list, executive bios, etc.

Experiment with a few of these items and see where it takes you. You might be surprised at how quickly you run out of space!

Ready to get started? Choose one of our free brochure templates and dive in!

Author Bio

Chloe Brittain is a freelance writer. She also provides VA and transcription services for academic, media & corporate clients. Follow her on Twitter: @opaltranscripts