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Douglas McPherson

Director, 10 ½ Boots

Five steps to better brochures

Five steps to better brochures


Don't overlook the importance of designing a brochure that is clear, easy to read, and ties in with the other touchpoints a client might have with your firm, advises Douglas McPherson

As we are a business development agency, it often surprises people that we don't have hard copy brochures. We have a suite of guides, special reports, best practice tips, and articles, but all of them are in pdf. This is because (unless you're Reader's Digest) brochures don't sell, people do.

However, having worked alongside all branches of the legal sector for more years than I care to remember, I know better than to argue with the partner who rails against any point of view that threatens to take away the security only a brand-new brochure can provide.

Sometimes compromise is the best route to progress, so I will share five steps to ensure those in the 'no brochure, no BD' camp can at least produce something decent.

1. Clear calls-to-action

All too often this is an afterthought, but I put it at the top of the list for a reason - if
you do not make it obvious to the reader what they need to do next and, more importantly, why they should do it, your brochure will not deliver a return.

Clearly list the relevant contact details and tell people why they need to use them. It may be:

  • A free initial face-to-face consultation;

  • A free copy of a white
    paper you've written;

  • A request to join your emailing list for future updates; or

  • To register interest in a seminar or webinar that
    will provide more detail
    on the subject at hand.

It really doesn't matter. What matters is that it's obvious and
it's easy.

2. Objective

Before you put finger to
keypad, work out what you
want your brochure to do.
Is it an introduction to your
firm or practice group? Is it to demonstrate your credentials
and expertise within a particular sector? Is it to promote a fixed price or fixed scope-style product?

As a solicitor, people want
to know that you are clear in
your line of thought and able
to pay attention to detail while articulating your thoughts and methodology clearly. If your brochure is a hotchpotch of various ideas mixed in together, you will fall at the first hurdle.

3. Relevance

Once you know your objective, stick to it. Explain the points you need to make to achieve your objective: provide relevant supporting examples, case studies, testimonials, or client examples.

Don't fall into the trap of waffling on about your firm's history, the wider partnership,
or 20 other fee earners in
entirely different practice areas (and that's not me dismissing cross-selling - quite the reverse - it's just that successful cross-selling requires a little more guile and a lot more interaction).

And don't worry if you don't have enough copy to fill four sides: a little white space is easier on the reader's eye.

4. Language

Some may think that language and design should top this list, but you need to put the plumbing in place before you think about the taps and tiling.

Moreover, having a clear objective and a list of the areas you need to cover will both
make the writing quicker and
the choice of 'voice' easier -
and remember your voice is
as important as your content
if your brochure is going to
be successful.

For example, a private client brochure trying to attract
elderly clients from a moneyed background will have a very different voice to a corporate brochure articulating how
your keen financial minds and deal-making experience will
help a seasoned business owner bag the best result. Similarly, the voices of an agricultural sector team and a technology sector team will be different, even if
the services they're promoting are probably largely the same.

5. Design

Although it may be the last
point on this list, I am in no way playing down the importance of design and there are two reasons for that.

First, if your design is poor,
you look poor and, more worryingly, poor in comparison to competitors who will have invested more in the way they present themselves. If your brochure is to achieve its ultimate aim - to make you look like
the attractive option in your market - the design must be professional, clean, and contemporary, and wholly congruent with the other touchpoints a client might
have with your firm during
the decision-making process (your website, your social media platforms, and even your offices).

Second, your design gives you the chance to back up what the copy is saying. If you are a fresh modern team with a fresh modern outlook and your presentation is clumsy and ill aligned, you lose credibility.
If you are a traditional firm with traditional values and you are using blacks, silvers, and whizzy fonts, your message will not be congruent to what the readers are seeing and will sow seeds
of doubt.

Above all, always use plenty
of white space and plenty of images to break up the text, and make the finished product easier to read - not to mention more likely to attract and impress the recipients.

Douglas McPherson is a director at 10 ½ Boots @BDinLaw

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