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Monday, 11 October 2010

Brochures that Generate Sales Leads (and How to Write Them)

One rule in direct mail is that your letter sells your offer and your brochure sells what you're selling. For example, let's say you mail a classic direct mail package to generate sales leads for your enterprise software product. Your classic package will consist of a #10 mailing envelope, a sales letter, a brochure (perhaps an 8 1/2×11 sheet folded twice), a reply device and a #9 return envelope.

In this package, your letter sells your offer (which might be anything from a white paper to a complimentary audit to a discount) and your brochure sells your product (describing in detail the tech features that are too cumbersome to include in a letter). Here's how to organize and write that brochure.

1. Create a compelling and memorable theme

Don't just name your product on the front cover, or simply feature a photo of your manufacturing plant taken from the air. Instead, craft a theme that captures your prospects attention and stimulates interest. Turn this theme into a headline for your front cover. Include a customer benefit, clearly stated or implied, whenever possible. Here are some examples:

(a) Committed to Memory (manufacturer of computer RAM)

(b) Now you're Talking (Voice Over IP service)

(c) We go the Distance (distance learning software)

(d) Get Online Without a Line (wireless email service)

2. Carry your cover theme throughout the brochure

Use images, subheads, captions and body copy that continue your front cover theme throughout the brochure. If your cover theme is "Now you're Talking," for example, a subhead inside the brochure might be, "Talk about a great deal." Your call to action might be, "We need to talk."

3. Start your selling message with your prospect

Inside the brochure, the first image and headline that your prospects see should speak directly to them and the problem they face. Don't start with you or your product. Start with the prospect.

4. Grab attention immediately

Arrest your prospect's attention and show that you understand their problem (the one that your product or service solves). For example, a software vendor sells an application that manages enterprise storage from a single management console. Here is how they grab their prospect's attention:

[Cover theme]

Get more storage without buying more storage.

[Inside headline]

Adding storage solves your storage problems. True or false?

[First line of copy]

Is your distributed storage ballooning by 75% a year? If all you do is add more storage, all you do is compound your problems.

5. Describe your top benefits first

List the top five features of your product or service, and the benefits that customers get from these features. Remember that a feature is something that your product does, while a benefit is what that feature does for your prospect.

Now rank these top five features and benefits in order of their importance to your prospect. Then write your copy so that you mention the top benefit first, the second-most-important benefit second, and so on.

In the above example, for instance (point 4), you would list the following benefits, in this order, and flesh out each one with persuasive copy:

(a) reclaim up to 30% of your storage space enterprise-wide

(b) prevent premature and costly storage purchases by predicting when your servers will run out of space

(c) reduce data access problems and storage-related failures before they threaten your mission-critical data

6. Present proof

Back every claim you make with the kind of proof that resonates with your prospective buyer. In business-to-business mailings, some of the most compelling proofs are testimonials, comparisons with competing products, test results, case histories, industry awards, and names of well-known companies who are your clients.

7. Ask for the order

Treat your brochure as a salesperson who has to give your entire sales pitch. That way, if your brochure gets separated from your sales letter in the prospect's office, the brochure stands alone as a sales tool that can generate a sales enquiry. So ask for the order, usually at the end of the brochure. Tell the prospect exactly what to do take things to the next level (call your 1-800 number, call you, return the reply card, visit your website, download a demo, and so on).

Alan is a business-to-business direct mail copywriter and lead generation consultant. As President of Sharpe Copy Inc. (, Alan specializes in helping businesses generate leads, close sales and retain customers, using cost-effective, compelling direct mail and email marketing. Alan also uses his direct mail advertising services to help charities raise funds and raise awareness of their causes, using fundraising letters.


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