Brochure Help: Design Your Brochure So More People Will Read It

Following these six tips can dramatically increase the number of people who read your brochure.

Book Excerpt:
Steal These Ideas!

Marketing Secrets That Will Make You a Star

by Steve Cone
Published by Bloomberg;
September 2005;
1-57660-191-9 Copyright © 2005 Steve Cone

Excerpted from Chapter Six of Steal These Ideas!

Brochures, which take the most time to create, also have the least likelihood of ever being read by their targeted audience. You can dramatically increase readership by following the four tips in the last chapter [of Steal These Ideas!] plus these six suggestions:

1. Put a picture of a person on the brochure cover along with what are called knock outs. Knock outs are quick, one- or two- line highlights of the contents within. The person on your cover can be your spokesperson, your boss, a customer, or an expert in your company’s field. Whomever you choose should be highlighted within the brochure as well, perhaps in an interview format.

2. On the front inside cover, summarize the key takeaways of the brochure in bold and easy-to-read copy. After all, why force the readers to go through the whole document to determine their interest? Give them the basic pitch right up front. This way you stand a much better chance of their reading enough to make a decision, as opposed to putting the brochure aside “for when they have more time” — a time that often never happens.

3. Tell the readers what you want them to do — on every page. Call us at this toll-free number and/or visit us at the following website…

4. Regularly use a question and answer format within your brochures. For a century, psychologists have said that people see questions and subconsciously want to read the answers. Who are we to argue with the human psyche?

5. Have a real contact name and return address prominently displayed, preferably on the back cover.

6. When potential readers grab your brochure, they will make split-second decisions about whether to read or toss it. How do you stop them in their tracks and prevent that trash can lob? Always keep this thought at the top of your mind when designing a brochure. Think and act like you are the weekly layout editor of People magazine. And while you are at it, subscribe to People so that you get a weekly reminder of what “the folks out there” really like to read.

A word about photography and artwork. Most brochures contain abstract art or pictures of people, places, or things that have no bearing on the topic at hand. This stuff is often just filler that supposedly generates enough interest for the reader to thumb through the brochure to its conclusion. AVOID this approach. It has the opposite effect.

As a general rule, do not fill your brochure with random artwork unless you are in the fine arts business. And make sure your photography focuses only on people or surroundings that are part of the story.

Consider a brochure as a short magazine and do what great journalists and news photographers do. Copy these professionals faithfully in the creation and execution of your promotional materials. The pictures you use have to be an integral part of your story. Think what will make a potential reader pick it up with the same curiosity and anticipation that popular magazines generate with their fans.

Copyright © 2005 Steve Cone

Steve Cone is managing director and head of advertising and brand management at Citigroup Global Wealth Management. Along with five other senior executives, he coordinates worldwide brand management for all of Citigroup’s businesses in more than one hundred countries, encompassing 200 million customers. For more information, visit

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