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Don't Cut Corners with Brochures

10 Jan, 2006 By: Ian Crockett imageSource

Don't Cut Corners with Brochures

In the past, the standard
vehicle that helped a salesperson sell their product or service generally came
in the form of a brochure. They came in all shapes and sizes. Some were 16-page,
four-color works of art while others were a few pieces of paper stuffed in a
flimsy proposal folder.

Almost every sales rep and owner has envisioned their brochure sitting on a
purchasing agent’s desk alongside three or four of their competitors’ brochures.
The direction I always received from those people was, “I want my brochure to
jump off the desk.” They felt if their brochure received the most attention,
they would win the order.

Even though this was typically the case, it was remarkable how many of my
clients wanted to cut corners to keep costs down, which wasn’t necessarily a
sentiment limited to the people I worked with. In the days Alco Standard was
still on a roll, one of my clients purchased a competitor who had a four-color
glossy brochure.

We later discovered that the former owner had a trade with a photographer to
keep his development costs to a minimum and the photographer had used dancers
from the local nightclub as models for the brochure.

I was baffled at this penny-pinching for many reasons. In the office technology
industry, a sales rep is asking the prospect to commit a lot of dollars for the
equipment and service. Additionally, they’re usually asking them to commit to a
relationship that will last several years.

When you consider the profit margins available, you start scratching your head
when a dealer reduces the number of colors involved or chooses to have a buddy
print sales material to save a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars.

If you are going to depend on the old reliable brochure, make sure it is top
quality. The initial money you save on production expenses could cost you
thousands in revenue in the long run.

The New Tools

Nowadays, sales collateral can mean much more than the traditional corporate
brochure. Other options now include:

• Laptops for power point presentations

• CDs that look like business cards, which have become popular due to the
perceived novelty

• Other interactive CDs that mirror the company website

within the office technology arena, hardware and software being sold by the
dealers can be used to output sales materials when they are needed. Plus, with
print-on-demand technology, information can be updated before being printed so
that the material isn’t dated.

Of course, when you use technology that you also sell, the piece of paper
becomes a marketing vehicle by placing down at the bottom, “This was printed on
…” It’s no different than “This is a photocopy” that was used when plain paper
copiers hit the market.

But in spite of the various technologies available, along with the different
vehicles, the objectives need to remain the same. The reason sales marketing
materials exist is to tell the company story in a convincing manner.

Many like to use paragraphs of copy and beautiful pictures to get across the
message while others prefer bullet points that provide the sales rep with a road
map, allowing them to fill in the blanks and be more creative with their pitch.

Before you spend any money on sales materials, however, talk to your
salespeople. Ask them what they need to be more effective. If they’re a part of
the development, they will take ownership and their success will become a
self-fulfilling prophecy. The reverse is true if you ignore them in the process.

If you have a large sales force, get the managers involved. Once again, they
will feel almost obligated to make it work.

But you need to spend some money and use outside assistance, even if it’s just a
local printer with a backroom graphics department. Any sales pitch requires a
payoff for the prospect. An outside vendor will help determine that payoff and
assist in developing a graphic look that positively positions your business in
whatever segment of the market you’re attacking.

Even if you’re printing on your internal systems, get help for artwork design
and copy refinement. Usually all it takes are one or two additional deals to
receive a positive return on your investment.

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