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The Brochure Is Dead

Why are companies still publishing brochures? Nobody reads them.

I'm amazed that so many companies are still publishing brochures.  From my perspective, brochures are a waste of paper, ink, time and money.  Here's why:

 1. They're redundant.

Every piece of information that's printed on the brochure is probably available on the website of the company that printed the brochure.  And with today's ultra-fast product cycles, chances are the printed version is out-of-date.

While I'm no fan of "brochure-ware" websites, they do have the advantage of providing depth (detailed case-studies, white papers, etc.) and can be updated to reflect product changes, news stories and other timely information.  Brochures... not so much.

2. They're expensive.

Brochures must be written, edited, reviewed, laid out, re-edited, re-reviewed, re-laid out, and then printed, generally in color on glossy paper.  Then they must be stocked, tracked, mailed and delivered.

Essentially a brochure, as a document, is exactly like a product itself, with all the overhead connected with designing and manufacturing a product.  However, it's a product that nobody wants to buy and which generates no revenue.

3. They prevent sales.

Many salespeople wrongly believe that when a prospect says "send me a brochure " the prospect actually intends to read the brochure. What the customer is actually saying is: "Buzz-off."

Unfortunately, that salesperson might assume that the prospect will call back after reading the brochure.  But that never happens.  Instead, the salesperson wastes mental energy waiting for fantasy customers to call back rather than pursuing real ones.

4. Nobody reads them.

When was the last time you actually read a brochure?  If you're like me, you either ignore them (if they're laid out someplace that you're sitting) or you throw them away the moment you get them in the mail.

And why not? Brochures usually feature product shots with people who are obviously paid models posing as if they actually like the product that's being described in the brochure. In other words, they're dreadfully cheesy.

5. They're wasteful.

I suppose there must be somebody who still feels that a fancy brochure means the company that produced it is showing that it's serious about the market.  However, I suspect that, for most people, brochures are just brand SPAM.

We live in a "prove it" world, where people barely even see product shots and where they never actually read marketing-speak.  All a fancy brochure means is that the company providing the brochure is wasting money on trivialities.

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Last updated: Oct 11, 2013

GEOFFREY JAMES

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.




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