Marketing Brochure Breakdown: Guest Blog by Kyle Sexton
Information overload has caused your prospects to respond differently to your messages than they did just 10 years ago. This goes for your social media messages as well as your membership brochure or sell-sheets.
I have a background in graphic design and layout, yet even I have to fight the temptation to fill that white space with just a little more information. I find the greatest breakers of good brochures to be those in one of these categories:
- Designers and art directors who have never been sales people
- Sales managers and membership directors who don’t provide training for their sales team
- Sales people who are relegated to creating their own sales tools
Before I go any further, allow me to own up to each and every role I just listed. My goal is to teach you the fixes to the mistakes I’ve made – and that you might be making, too.
If your organization has a shot-gun approach to sales, it will certainly show up in your marketing materials – or lack of them. Associations and chambers of commerce who aren’t telling their story are having one made up about them by the public. Here are some very practical ways to improve your membership marketing materials.
Your Brochure Is Not Your Sales Person
I don’t believe your membership brochure should go out the door without a person attached to it unless specifically requested by mail. Fine restaurants have menus and servers to guide you through and make recommendations. You should too.
Let’s Not Be So Obvious
Assume your prospects are smarter than you. Humility is a good trait for nurturing a trusting relationship. Do this by eliminating redundancy and limiting your descriptions of benefits to just enough information to (a) get the point, and (b) inspire a question or two.
Too Many Bullets to the Head
As a consumer, I like bullet points, but let’s not overdo it. I had a great suggestion from a member (graphic designer) a decade ago: use empty check boxes instead of bullet points. This suggests to readers that you’re an interactive organization and you have a practical approach. I love it.
Make Membership More Tangible
Turn membership into something a bit more tangible by adding the cumulative quantified value of your benefits to your memberships. This takes some work, but it’s worth it. There’s a worksheet on my website to help you do this: kylesexton.com/resources
Use the Right Amount Of Space
It’s hard for me to imagine a scenario where I recommend multiple sell-sheets instead of a single multi-page menu. If your organization serves multiple business industries, there is a tendency to create multiple sheets. Your marketing collateral should reflect the story you tell as an organization while providing a value proposition to the reader. The best marketing brochures reinforce the story between the lines. I recommend a 4- or 8-page menu. Don’t waste space with your mission and vision statements. These just aren’t emotionally compelling for associations. (It’s different for charities.)
Images Can (And Should) Dominate
Choose a single graphic element for each page of your menu. This can be a photo-and- testimonial block, a visual illustration or graph. Make this element at least 25% of the space on this page. It should dominate.
People Trust Other People’s Opinions
Your testimonials should come from people who represent an audience of which you want more. And while we’re on the topic of targeting, make sure you’re not using a 10-point font while targeting a 55-year-old business owner who uses reading glasses.
If you are trying to convey that you are more than a “banquet organization,” make sure that the photos weren’t taken at one of your events. If you serve businesses, send a professional photographer to the poster-child business and get a great photo. No snapshots. Invest in your marketing elements if you expect members to invest in you.
BREAKING DOWN THE BROCHURE:
COVER // This cover has a style that matches the organization’s other publications more than it matches the logo.
It names the companies who invest at the very top levels. This creates gravity at the top instead of the bottom. It’s subtle, which is more powerful than obvious.
It also has photos of the faces and companies who are proud of their affiliation with the organization.
PAGES 2-3 // Open the brochure and the story unfolds. A dominant element on each page guides the reader. The fonts are consistent and large enough to read without a magnifying glass. Empty check boxes invite the user to note their favorite features.
The Pathways visual on the left page tells a story about the life cycle of a member as they are on-boarded to the organization. Make suggestions of “what good members do” even before they attend your main attractions.
These next pages have a more airy feel with good kerning and line spacing, and benefits grouped in a logical format. The less analytical your members have to be, the better. Purchases are made emotionally. The photo on the right is spot-on because it shows our target species in their natural habitat. Bonus points received for tying each of these memberships to a specific core function of the organization. Note the different core functions and pathways on the two pages that follow.
The testimonials disappear in favor of competitive validation on the left page image. A recognizable name brand from a competitive industry lends social proof to membership. Fewer benefits of significant value are more memorable on the left, and the whole toolbox of benefits on the right feels good if the answer to every other level is “no.”
// Kyle Sexton is an award-winning marketing strategist and international speaker on the topics of membership development, marketing and innovation. His social media accelerator has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, and his book, ReMembership – New Thinking for Tomorrow’s Membership Organization is fueling transformations in organizations throughout North America. His most recent book, Follow You Anywhere – 22 Little Lessons for Team Leaders, became an Amazon best-seller on the third day of its release.Kyle Sexton