How to Write a Brochure, If You Must

by | Marketing Strategy

how to write a brochure

I try to avoid spending marketing time and resources on perfunctory, haughty, worthless marketing collateral. One of my greatest pet peeves is using marketing brochures as crutches in lieu of purposeful discussions and trust-building client interactions.

HOWEVER, if Marketing is going to produce a “brochure,” here is how to write a brochure correctly.

Step 1 – Begin with the proper mindset.

The job of the brochure is not to convince a prospect that your firm is flawless and your solution perfect for their problem. The brochures’ job is to help the prospect make the right decision for THEM. Even if that means your firm is not the right choice–this time.

Step 2 – Write a compelling headline.

Capture the pain or desire of your ideal client/buyer/audience. As David Ogilvy said, “When you sell fire extinguishers, open with fire.” Questions are fine, statements of urgent fact are better. Seven words or less.

Step 3 –  Define the issue in tangible business terms.

Tangible terms mean costs, time, revenue, risk, competitive advantage, reputation, market share, etc. It does not mean writing idiocy like:  “In our dynamic, ever-changing, hyper-competitive, global economy, blah, blah, blah…” Illustrate the problem with powerful statements of fact or a quote from credible, recognized thought leaders–even if they are not your firm’s own.

Step 4 – Articulate your firm’s POV on the issue.

Don’t drag it out; get to the point in 2-3 sentences MAX. What is your firm’s take on the issue at hand? Prospects demand to hear a POV, even if they do not agree with it. It’s a starting point for a deeper, more robust discussion. If you don’t have a point of view on the issue, you have a bigger dilemma to address first. Stop writing and go produce a salient perspective on the issue. Leave whitespace to write notes, draw models, etc. to illustrate in real-time.

READ: Using Intellectual Capital to Drive Growth In a Digitized World

Step 5 – Define your firm’s value to the client.

What does client get from your firm that is different from ALL other potential vendors? Don’t write glittering generalities around expertise, results, or trusted relationships. Prospects don’t care about your number of offices/employees, that you’re a great place to work, your awards, your diversity or community support. Demonstrate relevant results like market share, product leadership, impeccable client lists, big cases won, high-visibility buildings constructed, etc. that demonstrate market leadership and authority strength.

READ: Choose Your Value Proposition Words Carefully

Step 6 – Provide Social proof.

Prospects do NOT believe what you tell them. They believe what people like them say about you. There is a reason Amazon and Netflix use those stars and thumbs. Provide multiple, strong, relevant testimonials from clients, channel partners or industry influencers’ endorsements for your work/solutions. All you need is 1-2 lines, include but limit long-winded endorsements. Post no testimonials without a name, title, company, and photo of said testimonial provider. Prospects know when you’re fudging.

Step 7 – Define your offer.

What do you do in a typical engagement, solution, product or workshop? Provide a BASIC framework to make the intangible tangible in terms of time, resources, prospect commitment, and deliverables. Keep it tight. Most brochures spend way too much time and space here. Sales should be adapting and communicating this information in a client-centric way, not in a brochure. (See my opening paragraph above.)

READ: The Fallacy of Professional Service Productization

Step 8 – Quantify the benefits associated with your offer.

Benefits address the headline issue in terms of REAL and QUANTIFIABLE cost savings, time savings, revenue increases, risk mitigation, competitive advantage, enhanced reputation, augmented market share, etc.  If your firm cannot quantify its track record, it’s time to build a mechanism into your client delivery that captures your results for clients. Move that to the top of Marketing’s priority list.

Step 9 – Add a Call-to-Action “link” to the prospects next step in buyer’s journey.

Show the prospect the way to the next logical step in his/her decision-making journey. Remember the purpose of this “brochure” is to help them make the right decision for them. Possible next steps could include a case study, self-evaluation tool, a related POV document, a vendor comparison, a phone call with a thought leader or business developer, event registration, etc.

Step 10 – Measure the effectiveness of the brochure.

In addition to helping the prospect make the right decision, Call-to-Actions play a vital role in measuring marketing effectiveness. Each CTA should be measurable either through clicks, downloads, phone calls, etc. Without measurement, Marketing has no way to assess the effectiveness of its efforts. High-performance marketing organizations are not built that way.

READ: Aligning Marketing’s Goals with Your Partner’s Goals


If you combine these hierarchical elements with a sincere understanding and helpful tone in all your client communication, you will be amazed at the results.

If you did not catch it on your way through my post, let me tell you now. These ten steps reflect a buyer’s journey microcosm.

  1. Building awareness and understanding of my issue or need
  2. Familiarizing myself with possible solutions and vendors
  3. Narrowing my consideration of vendors to those that understand me and meet my needs
  4. Choosing a firm that I FEEL meets my needs better than all others
  5. Assessing if the firm lives up to the promises it makes to me

Most professional services brochures are crutches for partners who cannot sell. However, when written properly and placed in the hands of a competent consultant, they can enhance a prospect’s perception of the firm because prospects understand that “How you sell me is how you serve me.”

Be prudent.

About the Author

Jeff McKay
Founder & CEO
Prudent Pedal

As a strategist and fractional CMO, Jeff helps firms set smart growth strategies in motion. He was the SVP of Marketing at Genworth Financial, the Global Marketing Leader at Hewitt Associates, and held senior roles at Towers Perrin and Andersen. Learn more.

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