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Why Brochures Kill Profits

by Doug Davidoff | Jun 2, 2009 7:10:51 AM

sales-conversationI hear it all the time:  “I just need a brochure that explains what we do better,” or  “If we could just create a piece that gets people to see how we’re different,” or "Hey, let's mail our brochure to prospects and then they'll be more likely to meet with us."   While I’m not (necessarily) against brochures or corporate collateral, the vast majority of them (like 95+%) are not only bad – they kill profits.

How?  They completely commoditize you and your company.  They’re like watching a home slide show, without the entertainment.  High gloss and filled with we-do’s and pictures – here’s our warehouse, here’s our headquarters, here’s a stock photo designed to look like a client collaborating with one of our engaged employees, etc.  They not only bore your audience, they make you completely indistinguishable from your competition (remember they have access to stock photos too).

I’ve said it before – and I’ll say it again (and again) – your buyer’s don’t have the time, the desire, or the inclination to care about you.  What they care about is what you can do for them.  What you need to provide is context.  Stop telling them about what you do, and start enabling them to understand how what you do impacts them in relation to the results they want at this moment in time.

To do this, you must stop thinking of the world from your perspective and start thinking about the world from your client’s perspective.  It means that you must know and understand you customer better than they understand themselves.  It means start creating demand, rather than merely fulfilling it; and creating value in all (and I mean all) aspects of your business development efforts.

Now, if you want a brochure that drives profits, make it a book; albeit a mini-book.  Think about the business books that you’ve read (and enjoyed).  What did they all do?  They created value by addressing your issues, rather than talking about themselves.  They diagnosed issues and helped you design solutions.  They stood on their own.

Think about your favorite business book for a moment. What do you think of the author?  In the vast majority of circumstances, I know three things about your answer:

    1. You have no personal knowledge of the author or their abilities.

    1. You view the author as an expert and you trust what the author has to say.

    1. The author did not provide you a brochure to “prove” their abilities or establish credibility.   (The closest an author comes to providing a brochure is a bio and there’s a reason the bio is usually at the end of the book – it’s the least valuable part.)

This is why content and a content development strategy is so important.  It packages your wisdom and capabilities in such a way that buyer’s desire it and it makes you more attractive.  It forces you to create value – whether the prospect buys from  you or not.  It also drives better performance from your employees because they better understand their importance.

Most importantly, a good content strategy separates you from your competition and allows you to grow your profits.