The copy you write for brochures is a bit different to what you might have on a website. The English you use can be, for one thing, a bit fuller than that of your website, which has to grab the reader's attention in seconds. You can afford to have less sentence fragments and slogans hanging in the air. When a potential customer has taken the trouble to pick up your brochure, you already have their attention... Well, initially, at least (so don't blow it).
Unlike with a website, there is a bit more room in a brochure to talk about your company and the history of service you have, but it's still very important that you write something punchy that gets to the point. I think we're just going to have to accept that the profile you want to include of the Managing Director's pet chihuahua might not make the cut.
I'm always concerned with giving the customer what they want up front, which means defining, as they'd see it: What can you do for me?
Customers want to know what they can get out of a relationship with you; information on your number of employees and your year of incorporation is, at best, secondary.
What you should try to do when you communicate with your potential customers is make them imagine the time after they've used you. Make them imagine looking back at what a fantastic job you've done for them.
It makes a stronger case than saying "If you use us, this is what we would give you" if you take away the element of chance. Make them think of when it's already happened and tell them how great it was.
Yeah, fine, Dan. Can't you give me anything specific, though? Perhaps a few, short sentences that have a number in front of them?
Thank you for asking. Yes, yes I can! How about a cheeky little checklist to refer to as you write your lovely brochure copy?
See how many of them you can tick off:
- Decide: What it's being written for (informational? Promoting sales?)
- Decide: Who it's aimed at (what kinds of companies, profile of people reading the brochure)
- Decide: How many pages it has
- Find Out: Where to get the information to write the new brochure (marketing division? Interviews with R&D staff? Engineers?)
- Find Out: When the last brochure came out (is it out of date now? Can anything be repurposed?)
- Find Out: When the new one is due to be replaced (in other words, what's its life-cycle?)
- Clarify: When you need the copy to be finished (hey, don't laugh. A tight deadline can have a big effect - positive and negative - on the quality of what you write)
- Work Out: The design (has the new brochure already been designed? This would affect the word count and the style of how you write it)
- Check With: Your house style (many companies have a certain vocabulary and a certain way of describing things; you need to be consistent)
- Steal From: Competitors' brochures (why not see if there's anything you can model for your brochure? At the very least you can find out what you're up against)
- At all times you should be thinking of your customers. What do they want? What don't they want? What can you do to make their lives easier? What can you help them avoid?