Are you thinking about bringing out a generic brochure? A word of advice: Don’t!

21 Aug

It hard, it’s cruel, but the No. 1 destination of most generic brochures is – I’ll say it out loud – the dustbin.

A generic brochure – also called an information brochure – is usually an A4/A5 sized brochure spilling over with information and stamp-sized photos. These are handed out by the armsful at conferences and workshops, and they are left behind – except by the most inveterate brochure collector – in the hotel room. (They’d have left it behind at the breakfast table, except that you had your beady eye on them!)

And that’s because it’s a generic brochure.

The dictionary defines generic as thus:

generic /dʒɪˈnɛrɪk/

adjective: characteristic of or relating to a class or group of things; not specific.

The noun is even more damning: a consumer product having no brand name or registered trademark (as in generic drugs).

Oops – did you see what just happened? The brochure, that very thing that you thought would sear your brand into the minds and hearts of people – could end up doing the very opposite.

You could have your logo on it in the biggest size possible, but it will still be unread and unloved.

And that’s because we sent it out into the world without an audience, a purpose, a message or an ask.

CoverLetterCartoon

How to solve the problem of generic brochures

  1. Every brochure must have an audience in mind.

Who is the brochure for? And it has to be specific – individual donors who give up to Rs 5,000, large donors who give upwards of Rs 25,000, companies, and so on. It cannot be “the public at large.” If we wanted to address the public at large, we would call a rally and not print a brochure.

The target audience of the brochure determines the case for support that you make. It dictates the kind of language you use. And it determines the ask you make.

  1. Every brochure must have a purpose and message.

Why are you producing this brochure? What is your main message? And how will it be used?

You could say something like,

“The purpose of this brochure is to attract the attention of the 15 donors who fund reproductive health and rights, among the 100 who will be at the conference.

I want to let them know that we have pioneered an innovative way of engaging local religious leaders in family planning. I plan to talk to each of them face to face for five minutes, and leave this brochure behind as a reminder of the key points of our conversation.”

Ah-ha! Here’s a clue to planning the content of your brochure.

Instead of looking at it as the definitive A-Z guide to everything that you do, look at the brochure as a reminder to the reader of key points. And if that grabs their attention, they will go to your website for more information – or better still – call you!

The more well defined your target audience segment is, the more effective your brochure will be.

  1. Every brochure must tell the reader what to do.

So now that the reader has read your beautifully designed brochure with just the right amount of content, what do you want her to do? “Hmm. Nice” is not an acceptable answer. That’s the equivalent of “Whatever!” with the accompanying shoulder shrug.

You want the reader to do something for you, while they are basking in the afterglow of your awesome brochure. Something like:

  • Like our page on Facebook
  • Visit our website and check out this campaign
  • Fill in this response coupon and write out a cheque
  • Call the office to volunteer or drop of school supplies

A lot of small not-for-profit organisations might say, “We don’t have the money to produce different brochures for different audiences.” Then produce just one, for your most important target segment. For the others, use your annual report!

I remember years ago, Tribal Health Initiative in Sittilingi using copies of an article on them that appeared in The Reader’s Digest as a brochure for the longest time.

Tell us about the challenges you face when bringing out your brochure. Till tomorrow, then.

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