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The Beginner’s Guide to Effective Brochure Design

When searching for ways to promote a business, you’ll find endless suggestions about digital marketing methods. These may include search engine optimization (SEO), paid search ads, website design, email marketing and a host of others. As vital as online advertising is to the survival, let alone growth, of your business in today’s world, you still need to remember those older marketing methods that still have their place. One of these is being sure to have at least one excellent brochure that promotes your business.

While most people will search for your business on their phone, when they get there, they wouldn’t mind having a brochure they can take with them to remind them of you. A powerful printed sales brochure is also an excellent tool to have if you’re the type of business that attends trade shows, and you want to have something memorable that attendees can walk away with to keep you in their thoughts. All of this begs the question of what elements are required for the creation of a truly effective printed brochure. The following are 10 pointers that you should be sure your brochure includes.

Design It Around the AIDA Principle

AIDA is an acronym in marketing that stands for attention, interest, desire and action. This term literally reflects the process of making a sale. You first have to get someone’s attention, then pique their interest and follow through with creating a desire in them to want to take action. Always have this acronym in the back of your mind when designing your sales brochure or when creating any marketing content for your business.

Use Graphics Your Customer Will Care About

You may be very proud of the fact that your company just bought a new headquarters building, but this fact probably doesn’t mean much to the daily lives of your potential customers. You need to use images that reflect what your company’s products or services will do for the person reading the brochure. This is what will make them want to do business with you rather than simply showing off your new office building or paraphernalia in your offices that mean nothing to those who may need your services. Also, you obviously want to make sure to use high-quality images, and images that evoke a positive emotional response will be even more powerful.

Know Your Customer

The purpose of your sales brochure is to get potential customers who are reading it to become actual customers. This begs the question, who are your actual customers? You need to figure this out first in order to be able to gear your brochure’s content toward them. If you’ve been in business for over a year or two, you must have had plenty of customers by now. What concerns or interests have they conveyed to you over the years about how your products or services can solve their problems? It’s kind of hard to write any sales message when you haven’t figured out your target market first.

Spend a Lot of Time on the Headline

It’s an old maxim in advertising that the words in your headline are the most important ones out of the entire marketing message. The headline at the top of the brochure and any subheadlines within it that they may see when scanning the brochure will determine whether or not they’ll continue reading the rest of it. This means all those other words inside the brochure are, essentially, irrelevant if those in the headline aren’t good enough. Also, realize that your business name is not a headline. Powerful headlines typically state a benefit for the reader.

Don’t Miss This Opportunity to Sell

Some businesses don’t take full advantage of their brochure design to ensure it’s working hard to sell potential customers on becoming actual customers or to sell existing customers on becoming repeat customers. Just as with your website, online ads, or an email to subscribers, you need to carefully consider design elements and your content to ensure it’s selling the reader on doing business with you. You could argue that this is even more important with a print brochure since it doesn’t cost you anything to send an email or upload a page of content that you’ve written to your website. A brochure, in contrast, needs to be printed, and a quality brochure on high-quality paper will cost a pretty penny. If you’re mailing it to anyone, then add postage to the cost.

Make It Readable

No one wants to read a wall of text whether they’re reading content on your website or on a sales brochure. Be sure to have the text on your brochure broken into parts and sections with the use of subheadlines and images. Nothing will turn off a reader faster than if your text flows poorly either in its content or appearance. Your sales brochure is also not the place to show off your impressive vocabulary. If they run into a word that throws them for a loop, they may just toss the brochure in the trash instead of taking the trouble to look it up.

Have a Call to Action at the End

You don’t want to have all of your brochure design “ducks in a row” only to forget to ask them to do what you want them to do at the end. After all, you’re writing a brochure with a purpose in mind. What is this purpose? It’s usually to get the reader to call to set an appointment or to get more information or to come by your coffee shop or other retail business. The exact purpose will vary depending on your type of business and what it is you are actually trying to accomplish with the brochure. Just be sure not to forget to take that last step, and ask them to do what you want them to do.

Give Them an Incentive to Engage in This Call to Action

This could be considered a part B to the immediately previous step of including a call to action. Motivate them to act on this call to action. If it’s a retail product business, perhaps you could include an “X dollars off your first purchase” coupon at the bottom and end of the brochure. If it’s some type of consulting business, this may take the form of “one free consultation” or your “first hour of consultation is free.” Your competitors are advertising too, so sweeten the pot a little to get people to call or come to you instead.

Choose Good Color Combinations and fonts

You may be proud of how many fonts and color themes the desktop publishing software you just purchased includes, but don’t let this make you go overkill. In keeping with the “making it readable” tip, try to keep fonts fairly basic to ensure no one has trouble reading them. You may really like some fancy calligraphy typeface, but these can be harder to read than more basic fonts such as Helvetica, Times Roman and other classics. You also don’t want to go overboard on the colors. A little color can draw attention and be a good thing, but you don’t want it to become a distraction from the overall message of the brochure.

Don’t Go Cheap on the Paper

The second someone picks up a brochure from your retail store counter or trade show booth table, they’ll instantly get an idea of how much money you spent on it. Cheap and thin paper feels cheap and thin, and it makes just the kind of impression on someone that you’d expect it to. Show that you care for your brand by paying a little more for high-quality paper, and in doing so, avoid this print equivalent of a weak handshake between you and potential customers or clients.


All of the above pointers simply add up to the general advice of making sure you have a professional brochure. These tips should be included in any professional brochure and will be points in your company’s favor every time someone reads one of them. Though not mentioned in the above tips for a powerful brochure, you’ll have to decide what to make brochures about.

Do you simply want to make one for your company overall? If you have a fairly simple business with a few offerings, this may be sufficient. If you have a company that sells rather unique products, you may benefit from creating a brochure for each product as well as one for your company overall. Each brochure for each product or service gives an additional point of potential contact between your company and a would-be customer.

As important as web design and digital marketing are today, don’t neglect reliable print marketing methods that are a necessary complement to these equally essential new methods. If you do, you’ll be putting yourself at a disadvantage to competitors who don’t neglect to create the optimal mix of new and old marketing to sell their goods and services.