What do you do with brochures that come in the mail? Toss them into File 13, or “the circular file?” Yep. That’s what most people do. So they’re in the trash before they’re read.
Is your brochure in here?
If your business creates brochures, you know they cost a pretty penny to produce. There’s the fee for the writer, fee for the designer, printing, the mail list, postage, personnel to handle getting them ready to mail, and so on. That’s a lot of cost for what then amounts to recyclable material.
But there are secrets to how you can grab your potential customers’ attention long enough to get your brochure read – and acted on. Here are a few:
• Know thy customer.
It seems obvious, but don’t ever buy a mail list without sizing up your current customers and looking for other potential customers like them. Know their characteristics, what businesses they’re in, what size they are, and finally, what problem you help those customers solve. If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you’re not ready to do any type of advertising, including brochures.
• Make your brochure action-oriented.
To save your brochure from the recycle bin, first grab the recipient’s attention with a cover design and headline that he or she can relate to; something his or her business needs. Once you’ve twanged their “need” string, they’ll probably read the copy inside, understand you’ve got what they need, and take the action you ask them to take to get on-board with you. Maybe that’s calling a toll-free number, returning a card for more information, or going to a certain page on your website or a splash page with information about your service that they need.
See, it’s not enough to get them to read your brochure or save it for later. You want them to take action right now! It’s now or never with direct mail.
• Focus on “you,” not “we.”
Don’t “we” on your prospective customers. In other words, they don’t care about your statement that “we” have 234 trucks and a 34,000-foot warehouse. They care about themselves, and how you can help their business. Bragging about yourself in a brochure is a big no-no. You’re asking the reader to connect the dots between what you have to what he or she needs. Too much work. Do the work for them. Tell them how you can help their business right now! And make sure to tell them how to reach you right now.
• Talk about benefits, not features.
Your company may have a lot of admirable features, like warehouse floors so clean you could eat off them, or a cadre of sales people ready to help you 24/7. But how do you translate those into benefits for the customer? If a customer is looking for a completely rat-free warehouse, maybe the clean floors are appealing. And having sales people available 24/7 is okay, but what if you positioned it as a team of problem-solvers who can respond to any emergency situation you have, any time of night or day? For instance, if you have a building maintenance company, and a water heater blows at 2:00 in the morning, isn’t it great to know your customer can call your company for emergency service? That’s a benefit.
• Create a compelling brochure cover.
Did you know you only have about five seconds to save your brochure from the recycle bin? Yup. We’re all busy, and we get a lot of mail. Make sure that headline goes right to the heart of a big concern your reader has and offers a solution to it.
By the way, please don’t write or design any of your sales materials, including your website, yourself (or let your computer-savvy teenager do it) to save money. Hire a professional writer and designer. When your materials look professional, so does your company.
• Let subheads tell the story in brief.
Most people scan headlines and subheads before deciding whether they want to read the text in between. Short, pithy subheads that tell enough of the story to draw the reader in are good. So are bullet points. Keep body text to a minimum. You don’t want to tell them absolutely everything you do in this brochure. That’s a sales person’s job. You only want them to know you can solve a specific problem they have, and then make it easy for them to call, visit your website, or send in a postcard for more information.
• Build in a ticking clock.
Do it now!
Why should your prospect call or send in that card or go to that website right NOW? Because the longer they wait, the smaller the chance they’ll respond to you. Emphasize they need to act NOW. Offer a time-limited discount on a service, a free demonstration of your service in the next week, a free gift to the first 25 people who call to meet with a sales person, a notice that prior to raising your fees next week, you’re letting them in on your old prices this week.
• Make contact information impossible to miss.
Your phone number, website address, and physical address (if relevant) should be easy to find, rendered in large type, in a different color, or done in any way that will allow people to find it easily. In the Western world, we read from left to right and top to bottom. So the lower right-hand corner is a fine place to put this information. But ask the designer for a couple of different versions, and see which seems to pop best.
• Include a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
If your prospect has any qualms about hiring you because she or he doesn’t know you, put them at ease by saying, “Look, try us out, and if you’re not completely satisfied, we will return 100% of your money.” Then there’s no harm in trying you, is there? When you visit with them, have with you a contract that says you also will pay for any damages to their facility, lost work time, or whatever is appropriate for your business.
• Keep up the good work.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Once it was said that a person had to see an ad in the newspaper 10 times before he or she actually read it. I’d say that was a poor ad, since it obviously didn’t address the reader’s (or non-reader’s, in this case) urgent problems.
But even if your brochure is a strong piece, you don’t just mail it and sit by the phone, waiting for the calls to come flooding in. You continue to send your carefully selected prospects different, on-strategy brochures or post cards on a regular basis, maybe once every four to six weeks. Then, after a few have been mailed, you follow up with phone calls. You’ll find out if the brochure hit the mark with potential customers or not. If so, you may have some new customers. If not, you may either want to delete some customers from your mail list or hone your message to make a greater impact.
• Don’t be discouraged.
They say a 2% response to a direct mail campaign is good. I think you can up the odds by being relevant, using creative design and cogent headlines and subheads, and repeating mailings at regular intervals, then following up with phone calls. After all, these customers will need to give their business to someone, so why not you?