Five ways to improve the effectiveness of your leaflets


Date: 4 March 2011

Whether you have boxes of professionally printed leaflets stacked under your desk, or just run off a few copies on your home printer in time for a networking event or exhibition, the chances are that you’ll have at least one leaflet for your business.

The question is, how do you create a leaflet that works for you? You know, one that actually gets people to pick up the phone and book in a consultation? Or one that drives them to your website to buy? It’s certainly easier said than done.

When I started out in the print industry more than ten years ago, everyone starting a business got themselves a logo, some business cards and either a leaflet or brochure. Times have changed, and that mix tends to be a logo, a website and a business card nowadays. But despite the medium changing, attitudes to how you get your promotional piece to work for you don’t seem to have changed.

Over the years, I must have spoken to thousands of business owners with the same laissez-faire attitude to creating promotional literature. The idea seems to be: get the word out and the people will come. So it wasn’t (and still isn’t) uncommon to see a leaflet with a logo pride of place at the top, followed by reams of text (or perhaps bullet points) on why XYZ Company is great. Unsurprisingly, these types of leaflet don’t tend to win their owners much business.

Fast forward ten years and things aren’t much different on the web. There are numerous examples of great websites, but there are also an uncomfortable number of sites that follow the same format – focusing all on the company and very little about the intended reader. If you’d like your leaflets (or your website) to win you more business, here are five things you must do before you get them out there…

1. Set Goals: What do you want this piece of collateral to do for you? (Hint: for websites treat each page separately as well as looking at it as a whole piece — it’s more work, but I promise it will pay off!). I know this doesn’t sound like rocket science, but you’d be amazed at how many people don’t sit down and have a good hard think about what they’re trying to achieve. Starting here makes it much easier to get people to do what you want them to.

2. Understand what would compel your reader to do what you want them to do. Why does your (potential) customer need or want what you’re offering? What happens if they don’t do what you want them to do? What’s the downside?

3. Write action-focused words that persuade people to do what you want: don’t talk about your business — talk about what’s on offer, why people need it, what’s in it for them and what the downside is if they don’t do it.

4. Create a piece of design that doesn’t just look gorgeous — it makes all the right things stand out and grabs the attention of the reader as well as reinforcing your branding. Much, much easier said than done — I recommend you leave this bit to the pros!

5. Deliver with a flourish: if it’s a piece of printed literature, get it in all the right places and deliver it more than once — three times in three months is my standard rule of thumb, but it’ll depend on what you’re doing. If it’s a website, you also need to promote its existence — think social media and offline promotion as well as traditional search engine optimisation and ad words.

Go on, give it a try! And let me know how you get on.

Fiona Humberstone is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and runs her own creative consultancy.


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