The ubiquitous brochure has been a staple of corporate communications for decades. I'm not sure who created the first one, but I'm sure more brochures have been written and designed than there are books in the world. And I mean in all languages. The esteemed brochure provides a company the opportunity to briefly describe its services and programs without scaring their public away with too much information. Its typical format is three panels, logo on front, information inside, and contact information on the back. It's handy, too—small, easy to give away and usually containing basic company information that doesn't change often.
It sounds like the perfect method of introduction. If it is designed well, it also lends legitimacy to the product, company or program it describes. The brochure is perfect for some things. It falls apart is when it is expected to stay current within a changing environment. Print is permanent. Companies try to escape that fact by squeezing extra life out of a brochure in the form of laser-printed inserts that accommodate a growing product line or incorporate new programs. Or cover-up stickers - I call them “brochure toupees. " Who are you fooling?
On the flip side of the brochure is the Website. It is one of the best ways to sell and market - always updateable, malleable, and flexible. With a few keystrokes and no printing bill you can change information, reorganize and delete all things old and irrelevant. It's great, but most companies still find standard marketing methods work best to get an audience to a website (direct mail, traditional advertising, etc. ). The problem with a website is it tends to put all the information out there at once. If you're trying to target a market, this might not be great at the beginning. Your market may get sidetracked and you'll never know. Another one of the most amusing (and occasionally effective) marketing methods is customized print advertising. The print world responded to the flexibility of the Internet by creating customizable digital printing. For example, a sweepstakes direct mail package customized with your name, a poster of a sexy car with your name on the vanity plate, a pound of paper telling you, by name, that you are fiscally irresponsible if you live without yet another credit card.
There's something else out there that very few companies take advantage of. If your market is targeted and you are looking for a new way to sell a product or service, consider a DVD. High tech, entertainment and edutainment have been taking advantage of this medium for a few years, but they have yet to make their way into the mainstream. A DVD with a self-running presentation can be an effective way to talk about what you do. The main benefit is that you can make changes without high production costs, and you can customize it for a particular audience. You can use it to sell, to teach or provide instructions. DVDs are also device-independent and will work on any computer.
I recently created a self-running DVD for our local United Way. They were looking to help local companies launch Internet campaigns, rather than using traditional donation methods that require too much time and paperwork. The Internet campaign allows a company's participants to go online to setup donations at their convenience. The presentation describes the benefits of going digital and shows how easy it is. The CD provides staff and volunteers with a great tool to sell companies on moving to the more efficient method. Aside from the fact that a DVD can be customized and updated easily, it makes you look like you know what you're doing (if done well). Everyone has a brochure, but providing a little movie that talks about your organization can lift your company high above the common brochure. These little movies can be burned on a CD along with other goodies like a free screen saver or wallpaper that relates to your product or geographical region. Free fonts are like chocolate to me, I'll load any CD with a free font. A digital coupon works too.
There are unlimited benefits to having a digital presentation in your cadre of marketing tools. They're flexible, editable, original and very cool. Think about the tools you currently use. A digital mini-movie might be just the thing you need to round out your marketing efforts.
Audrey Nezer is an award-winning graphic designer in Seattle, Washington. Her company, Artifex Design, creates playful, edgy and effective marketing and communication materials for companies and organizations throughout the United States. Visit http://www.artifex.net to learn more (and win a prize!)