Tuesday, 17 February 2009

A Guide to Writing Effective Leaflet and Brochure Copy

This article will cover:

•    The goals of a leaflet

•    Writing the right content for your readers

•    How to write your content

What is the purpose of your brochure? Is your brochure an advertisement? Is it a detailed product description marketing piece? Or to put it another way, what kind of customers will be getting your brochure?

What are you trying to accomplish? Do you want new customers to come into your shop?  Then create interest and excitement with an advertisement type brochure designed to bring them in. 

Or are your customers looking for information? Or in the true sense of the word, are you requiring your brochure for propaganda purposes? Then you want to create a brochure packed with information specifically for them.

It is better to create different brochures to accomplish these different goals. Detailed product information will not entice a new customer to call. A lightweight sales brochure will not satisfy a demand for more information. Define your objective clearly, and use your brochure design to accomplish your goal.

This rule should be followed each time you want to target a different type of audience. If they are important, then you want to tailor your message, and your brochure design, especially for them. 

Unless you have a prominent position in the market place and have a brand guideline in place then generally your logo or company name should be the last thing that is mentioned. Your message should be strong enough to give a call to action (motivate the reader to make the next step, e.g. pick up the phone and make an enquiry).

With every medium of marketing, publicity or for the spread of propaganda, it must be kept in mind that three things use to spread the message:

•    Words

•    Pictures

•    Graphics

The first step involved in the process of writing a leaflet is to be clear in your mind about the message you want to convey to your target audience. You need to write in a clear, concise and persuasive manner, giving all the necessary details. The text must not only be persuasive, but it should also be interesting, punchy, catchy and memorable, all at the same time.

The main points should be highlighted to make them stand out amidst the rest of the body copy. Pictures and layout are two crucial decisions to be taken in order to make the leaflet more aesthetically appealing and visually attractive.

What is interesting about brochures and leaflets is that they're seldom read in the right order. Like we read magazines in dentists' waiting rooms, your readers will flick through brochures and leaflets and stop to take a longer look at bits that grab their attention.

Alternatively, they'll flick all the way through and then go back to bits they've noticed and that have interested them. They're just as likely to flick through from back to front as they are from front to back.

What all this teaches us, is that despite seeming logical, writing for brochures and leaflets in the form of a story that starts at the beginning, goes through the middle and finishes at the end, is not necessarily the best way forward.

There are some tricks you can use to get this random reading pattern to work a bit more effectively for you.

Many people do absorb brochures in the usual order. Even if they don't they still expect to find the introduction at the beginning, the substantiations in the middle and the conclusion at the end.

The trick here is to put the main points in as sub-headings in bold type. Someone scanning the document will get the gist of your message, even if they don't have time to read the body text.

You should also ensure that the sub-headings make sense in their own right and that understanding them is not wholly dependent on their being read in any particular order. Body text should support and expand on each sub-heading and lead the reader towards the next one.

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