How to make a brochure

Watch the video to learn how to use brochures for your business

Creating your own brochure doesn’t need to be difficult or time-consuming! The Vistaprint Guide to Brochures will walk you through these powerful marketing tools and show you just how easy it can be to create a great-looking print asset that can get the job done at a trade show, at your business’s location, in the mail or on the road.

Even though it’s made from a single piece of paper, a brochure is one of the most flexible marketing tools a small business owner can use.

You can use it as a complete sales pitch, or to supplement the pitch you’re verbally telling your prospects. You can use it to talk about a single product or to sell your company as a whole. You can leave one behind, place it in a display, hand it directly to your customer, or send it to them through a direct marketing campaign.

Brochures can even be segmented for specific audiences, giving you the chance to offer every potential customer a message that speaks to them.

Brochures can do all that – with a small price tag to boot. So why don’t more people use them? Because they think they’re difficult to create.

But they’re not, as long as you’re prepared.

Getting started with your brochure

When creating a brochure, the first thing you should do is establish its purpose. Doing this allows you to create a roadmap for everything from the choice of fold to the text you write and the images you use on the final product.

Watch the video for helpful tips for creating your brochure

Creating your own brochure doesn’t need to be difficult or time-consuming! The Vistaprint Guide to Brochures will walk you through these powerful marketing tools and show you just how easy it can be to create a great-looking print asset that can get the job done at a trade show, at your business’s location, in the mail or on the road.

So, why are you making this brochure? Is it to…

  • Introduce your potential customer to your business as a whole?
  • Give information about a specific product?
  • Follow up on a sales visit, trade show or other event?

First, answer that, and then consider how you want to get that message across. Some value propositions are more complex than others, especially when if they’re technically oriented or involve certain industries while others benefit from an approach that appeals to the audience’s emotions. Figuring this out provides a path for picking the brochure fold you should work with and how you’ll sell your business to the customer.

You should use bi-fold brochures when:

  • The value proposition to your customer is relatively simple
  • You’re using large graphics to illustrate your benefits
  • You have high-quality photography that you want to spotlight

An example of a business that can benefit from a bi-fold brochure might be a landscape company that focuses on residential properties in an upper-class neighborhood. While the tasks they perform are likely fairly standard – mowing, trimming and planting, for example – it’s the way their final product looks that helps them stand out from the competition. A bi-fold brochure allows this business to use eye-catching photography and text that focuses on how they’ve helped homeowners get the most out of their property.

Tri-fold brochures are ideal when:

  • You want to cover multiple aspects of your business’s products and services
  • You’re outlining a single product’s specifications and benefits in detail
  • There are specific steps or processes involved
  • You’re performing a direct mail campaign

A daycare center specializing in pre-K education would likely benefit from a tri-fold brochure. They'll probably be handing this brochure to parents as an introduction or after a visit to their facility, so large photography is not the selling point as much as factors best expressed in writing. This might include classes offered, certifications, benefits of their program and testimonials from satisfied parents.

Z-fold brochures are ideal when:

  • You want to feature larger graphs or images, since z-fold brochures fold out into a full page with one move
  • You want to split up your message by panel or tell one larger story – this use case makes z-fold brochures the most flexible fold

How to write a brochure

Multiple studies have shown that businesses have less than five seconds to get a reader’s attention with a brochure. This is why you should determine your key messaging from the very beginning. Furthermore, to effectively write a brochure, you need to consider its layout and how to best take advantage of it.

This sounds much harder than it actually is. You just have to break things down properly.

Each section of a brochure created by a fold is called a “panel.” A bi-fold brochure has four panels; tri-fold and z-fold brochures have six. Each panel is an opportunity to answer a question, explain a benefit or address a customer’s need, and these should be sketched out before you write a single sentence.

Too many brochures feature the same thing on the front panel: a sterile photo of a building and a business logo. Think about how you can directly address a prospect’s needs and intrigue them with words and imagery.

In the case of the daycare center mentioned above, something like this immediately sets the tone and offers a value proposition:

Parents want their kids to succeed and this daycare center is telling them that they help children do just that.

From there, each of the inside panels will spotlight something about the Propeller Daycare Center and discuss how they contribute to a child’s success.

The back panel is where they’d place their call to action.

As you can see, each segment is short, to the point and features exactly the information somebody would need to make a decision about this business. Including contact information and social media platforms on the back panel is also helpful for your customers.

Once you know what’s going to go where, you need to write the actual words. This is where a lot of business owners feel a bit lost, and that’s completely understandable. After all, you’re normally too busy running your business to write about it! Here are some tips that can help make writing your brochure easier.

Keep your language clear and to-the-point. Short, direct sentences with a single idea can be scanned and understood easily.

Speak directly to the reader. Avoid speaking about your business in the third person and don’t refer to “customers” – that helps you make a connection to the audience.

Keep your paragraphs short. Don’t be afraid to use bullet points and lists to convey information clearly.

Read your brochure aloud and then ask a friend to do the same. This helps you catch typos, avoid awkward wording and eliminate difficult areas.

Creating an effective brochure design

You’ve got an idea of what you want to say. Now it’s time to make it pop. But before you start looking at brochure designs or considering color choices, there are two things that you need to have ready.

A high-resolution version of your logo. We recommend Adobe Reader (.pdf), Adobe Illustrator (.ai) or Adobe Photoshop (.psd) files for best results, but no matter what printer you use, your logo should be 300 DPI (dots per inch) at the final print dimensions. For example, a logo that will be 2" across in the final document should be 600 pixels wide.

High-quality photos that are print-ready. It can be tempting to use a photo taken on your phone because it’s easy, but those rarely look as good as one taken with a proper digital camera. If you don’t have any photos (or a camera), invest some money into a local photographer that can create a portfolio of images you can use for the next few years. Alternately, look at the many free and low-cost stock photography options that are available online.

Vistaprint offers thousands of brochure designs for users to personalize, but there are some basic design principles that that you should keep in mind if creating your own look.

Limit the number of fonts you use to three or less. You’ll want to select a heading, headline and body font and stick to them.

Simplicity is better. Complex layouts can confuse the customer and dilute your message. You’re selling your business, and clarity is more important than creativity.

Consider how they might be displayed. Are they going to be left lying flat on a desk or placed in a holder? Kept in a presentation folder or handed directly to a customer? Keep this in mind when creating your front panel.

Choosing the right paper for your brochure

A lot of people print their brochure on the first available paper without considering how the stock they choose can affect the design and message. Each paper has advantages and disadvantages that can either mute the effect you’re trying to create or make it bolder.

Glossy paper works best with designs featuring vibrant colors and large photographs. The high reflectivity of glossy paper can make it difficult to read in extremely bright light, but it’s generally a strong choice.

If you want to keep things black and white, matte paper is a great choice. Many people subconsciously feel that matte is a more “professional” paper compared to glossy.

Uncoated paper feels more natural and rustic. If you’re using a narrow range of earth tones, it makes a natural complement.

Those who want to lessen their environmental impact should look at the recycled paper stock that companies like Vistaprint offer. Much like uncoated, it’s easy to read and write on.

Getting the most out of your brochures

Here are some of the ways that people maximize the value they get from brochures.

Leave-behinds: By placing brochures on your premises or leaving them at businesses with which you might share common customers – an accountant may ask an attorney if they may leave brochures in their lobby, for example – you can create a passive outreach channel.

Handouts: Some campaigns will involve door-to-door delivery of brochures, but most distribute them at their office or when making sales calls. Many businesses include them in the packets they leave with customers after sales calls. You can also use them as sales support, while walking through a presentation or a pitch.

Trade shows: Make sure you have them available at your booth or table. Consider creating a brochure that’s specific for the event to capitalize on your audience’s interests.

Direct mail campaigns : The 8.5” x 11” tri-fold or z-fold brochures fit neatly in a business envelope, making them perfect for distribution through a targeted mailing list.

Remember: No matter how you find the audience for your brochure, make sure that it’s the best possible expression of your business, product or service, and shows off what makes you stand apart from the rest.

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