THE ART OF PERSUASION
'Let me send you our brochure' is probably the most commonly used phrase in business. But all too often, it can spell the end of a customer enquiry because many brochures appear to be produced not to clarify and to excite but to confuse. So what goes wrong and how can it be put right? Too often, businesses fail to ask themselves critical questions like, 'Who will the brochure be sent to?' 'What do we want to achieve with it?' The truth is that a brochure has usually been produced for no other reason than that the competition has one.
However, with a little research, it often transpires that what the client wants is a mixture: part mail shot, part glossy corporate brochure and part product catalogue - a combination rarely found. Having said that, the budget is likely to be finite. There may not be enough money to meet all three marketing needs, so the first task is to plan the brochure, taking into account the most significant of these. The other requirements will have to be met in a different way. After all, introducing the company's product range to new customers by mail is a different task from selling a new season's collection to existing customers.
The second task is to get the content right. In 95 per cent of cases, a company will hire a designer to oversee the layout, so the final product looks stylish, interesting and professional; but they don't get a copywriter or someone with the right expertise to produce the text, or at least tidy it up - and this shows. A bigger failing is to produce a brochure that is not customer focused. Your brochure should cover areas of interest to the customer, concentrating on the benefits of buying from you.
Instead, thousands of brochures start with a history lesson, 'Founded in 1987, we have been selling our products .. I can assure you that customers are never going to say to themselves, 'They've been around for 20 years - I'll buy from them.' It's not how long you've been in business that counts, it's what you've done in that time. The important point to get across at the beginning is that you have a good track record. Once this has been established, the rest of the brochure should aim to convince customers that your products are the best on the market.
It is helpful with content to get inside the customer's head. If your audience is young and trendy, be creative and colourful. As always, create a list of the benefits that potential customers would gain from doing business with you, for example, product quality, breadth of range, expertise of staff and so on. But remember that it is not enough just to state these; in order to persuade, they need to be spelt out. One possibility is to quote recommendations from existing customers. This also makes the brochure personal to you, rather than it simply being a set of suppliers' photographs with your name on the front.
At the design stage, there are many production features that can distinguish your brochure from the run of the mill. You may think that things like cutouts or pop-ups will do this for you and thus make you stand out, or you may think they just look like designer whims that add cost. Go through all the options in detail. One of them might be that all-important magical ingredient.
13 What point does the writer make about brochures in the first paragraph?
A Customer expectations of them are too high.
B They ought to be more straightforward in design.
C Insufficient thought tends to go into producing them.
D Companies should ensure they use them more widely.
14 The writer's advice to companies in the second paragraph is to
A produce a brochure to advertise new product lines.
B use a brochure to extend the customer base.
C accept that a brochure cannot fulfil every objective.
D aim to get a bigger budget allocation for producing brochures.
15 In the third paragraph, which of the following does the writer say would improve the majority of brochures?
A better language and expression
B better overall appearance
C more up-to-date content
D more product information
16 In the introduction to a brochure, the writer advises companies to focus on
A their understanding of the business environment.
B the range of products they offer.
C their unique market position.
D the reputation they have built up.
17 When discussing brochure content in the fifth paragraph, the writer reminds companies to
A consider old customers as well as new ones.
B provide support for the claims they make.
C avoid using their own photographs.
D include details of quality certification.
18 What does 'run of the mill' in line 67 mean?