Learn the 5 W’s of effective brochures

Learn the 5 W’s of effective brochures

A brochure shouldn’t just look good, it should be effective at communicating your message to your target audience.

You’ll want to learn the Who, What, Why, Where & When of compelling brochures.

Five-Ws-coverThe Five W’s uses a “left brain” approach to communication (left brain = verbal, analytical, logical). While we often think of writing and design as a “right brain” function (right brain = visual, intuitive, creative), the best communication comes out of combining both approaches.

For many years I designed brochures with the goal of selling tickets to the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra concert seasons. These were complex pieces mailed before the season started that needed to include concert descriptions, musician photos, subscriber benefits, and a user-friendly order form, among other things. Hopefully, they would ultimately engage the reader enough to buy concert tickets. Early on in the process of creating a season brochure, the marketing director and I would spend a great deal of time answering the questions below to come up with the best brochure solution for our mission.

All brochures, whether complex or simple, benefit by a discussion directed at answering these questions:

1. WHO will be your audience?

  • What are their common denominators (age/sex/income/interests/etc.)
  • What benefits would they derive
  • Do they already know anything about the product/service
  • Is the reader likely to be a “skimmer”

2. WHAT format would be best?

  • Size and proportion of the finished piece
  • Number of pages or folds needed
  • Photos vs. illustrations (with or without captions)
  • How many photos would be appropriate
  • Will it be a self-mailer (label/indicia/return address). If so, what size best fits current postal requirements or realizes economical postage rates?

3. WHY do you need a brochure?

  • To make a sale, build awareness or introduce a product
  • To assist salespersons in their presentations
  • To introduce the product before a sales call
  • As a leave-behind to reinforce the presentation

4. WHERE will it be used?

  • Direct mail (mass market or target market)
  • Passed out at trade shows, expos, meetings, etc.
  • As a product package insert
  • Enclosed with other materials as part of a sales campaign
  • As a sales tool for sales personnel

5. WHEN will it be used?

  • To support an ad campaign
  • As part of a larger marketing effort
  • During a personal sales call
  • Around special dates, seasons or holidays

I’ll ask you questions like this when we start your brochure project. Then I’ll work with my right brain, focusing my creativity on your project’s purpose and target audience.

So to create a successful brochure, you start with the left brain and I’ll finish with the right brain. Together, we’ll make it look good and tell the best story.