High quality, professionally designed websites and marketing materials are a must for start-ups and small businesses in today's highly competitive marketplace. It's often the deciding factor in whether a prospective customer contacts you or your competitor. You may have the best products in the world or offer customer service that's light years ahead of the competition but unless you can connect with your target audience and present an image of a superior company, you may never get the chance to prove it.


Chances are your competitors are using professionally designed websites and printed materials. You want yours to look as good as - if not better than - your competitions.


Think for a minute...what goes through your mind when you receive a packet of printed materials that are obviously printed on a home or office printer? Where the paper is pretty flimsy and the printing is slightly off center? What's your initial reaction when you visit a website that looks homemade? One that's hard to navigate, find the information you're looking for and has a few typos? Does this effect your perception of how this company does business? Of maybe the type of customer service they offer or the type of products they sell? Do you wonder if the business is stable, if it will be around next month? If they're worth their asking price? If they take pride in their work? You don't want any of these sorts of thoughts going through a new prospect's mind. You want them to visit your website, get your marketing materials, be impressed, and then contact you - you don't want to create more questions in their minds.


Success in todays tough business climate means beating your competition, not staying up with them. Saving a few dollars now with a do-it-yourself website or using self-made marketing materials can have a negative impact on your business and end up costing you more in the long run.


Why every small business still needs a brochure.

The main focus of your marketing strategy is getting and keeping customers. Yes, internet marketing can help you do that but only if you use it in conjunction with other marketing tools. You have thousands of potential customers that are extremely cautious about placing important business with an unfamiliar company or buying an expensive item from an unknown online vendor. That’s one of the reasons why, in order to succeed, every small business must have brochures and other forms of printed sales literature to hand out to customers and prospects. A sucessful small business needs printed sales literature for two reasons:


Credibility: Perception is everything in marketing. People expect a "real" company to have printed sales literature. Because all successful companies do, those that don't are perceived as a low budget, second rate type business. It's assumed that they either can't afford them or made the choice not to have them which, in either case, creates a negative perception of the company. A successful marketing strategy will require more than a business card, stationary and a website. If you want to look like you're a credible business with a relevent message, you need a brochure of some sort.


Personal connection: People want printed material to take home and read at their leisure. Yes, you can direct them to your website, but a brochure adds a personal touch, gives them something that they can actually hold in their hands, tells them what the product or service can do for them and why they should buy it from you. The chances of a prospective customer contacting you versus your competitor increase dramatically with the support of a quality brochure. In short, a good brochure can be invaluable to your success.

Could your current brochure be costing you sales? See if it would pass the 8 point brochure trash test.

1. Does it appeal to emotions? The old adage in marketing is that consumers buy based on emotions and justify with logic. Does your brochure design strike an emotional chord with your target audience? Appeal to the heart of your markets emotion by connecting with their pains or desires.


2. Is the content of your brochure professional quality or cheap? Adding blurry, low resolution photos, poor quality graphics or generic clip art quickly downgrades your brochure and business image. High quality photos, images, and graphics are essential to avoid the trash.


3. Is it personal?  A winning brochure design connects personally with your audience. If your brochure spends more time talking about how great your small business is versus life from the customer's perspective, it will more than likely end up in the trash.


4. Is it readable? Your brochure design should be pleasing to the eye and logically layed out to lead the reader from point A to point B. It should be easily and quickly understood and generally include more headlines and bullet points than large blocks of text. Graphics and images should be strategically placed to improve readability and comprehension. There should be a sense of balance and flow throughout the design. If it's wordy, crowded and confusing it'll get trashed.


5. Does it speak the language?  An effective brochure design will speak in the customer's language. It's vital to remove any technical language your customer doesn't understand. The simpler your communications are, the easier to connect with your target market.


6. Does it lead with benefits?  A sure bet to have your brochure trashed is by feature dumping throughout the text or copy. Customers don't care if your series 700 widget has a multi-function control panel. Grab your target market's emotions by selling the benefits such as time savings, enhanced productivity, or any other powerful benefit.


7. Does it have a single message? It's tempting for the inexperienced brochure writer to want to include as much information as possible in the copy of the brochure. However, using your brochure to close the sale by packing it with a barge of messages can confuse your prospects and make the task of reading through your brochure seem daunting. Focus your brochure on delivering a clear, concise, compelling message.


8. Does it make an action call?  Your brochure should direct the customer to take a specific action such as make a phone call, send an email or visit your website. Adding a QR code that links the customer to your business instantly through their smartphone can be highly beneficial (learn more). If your brochure lacks a call to action, what's the purpose for even having one.

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