To print or not to print: Is the brochure obsolete or still useful?

Customers ask us all the time: does it still make sense to print that brochure? After all, we have communication migrating online – and a near unlimited range of tools to do so. Plus, personalized, one-on-one communication is increasingly crowding out the traditional one-to-many tools. And then there are the printing costs…. Still, the answer can be a definite “yes”. Brochures, flyers or fact sheets remain a great way for organizations to communicate with their customers … in the right circumstances.


Still, it is a question worth asking. Brochures, for example, are often a legacy tool. Companies produce  them because they have always done so when rolling out a new product. Or simply because that’s what everybody in the industry does. That alone is obviously not a good reason to continue the practice, and companies have to assess whether print is still worth the cost.

The benefits of print

A well-made brochure is a thing of beauty. Copy, images, format and paper work together to inform and seduce. They are handy to pass around, for example by salespeople starting a conversation, and are useful tools for comparison. Paper is a physical presence that has some benefits a website can’t match. When looking at a brochure, a reader’s attention isn’t diverted by incoming chat messages or the other distractions a computer offers. In addition, they last longer than a shared link and are often easier to find.


An email with a link to a website will get lost in the flood of incoming messages, even if it is marked as “Important” or “High Priority.” A brochure handed from one colleague or another or from a salesperson to a potential customer won’t.


Different Audiences, Different Preferences

Still, brochures are probably the wrong tool for a hip online startup  trying to sell a new product to millennials across the globe. In that case, anything on paper will probably be ineffective.


But not everybody is an Internet-savvy computer wizard who appreciates all of the bells and whistles of an amazing website or social media platform. There are still a lot of people who are much more old school. Due to their age and seniority, they are often in decision-making positions. They still like to use brochures in their decision-making process and appreciate a handy, well-made print product.


Geographic and cultural differences come into play too. Some countries, or even regions, have gone fast and far in the digital conversion. Other have held on to the tools they know and trust.


Brochures and branding

“Touch” is an important keyword when building a brand. Sure, appealing to customers with audiovisuals is important, but brands become richer if they involve all the senses. Haptics matter.


Just think back to a time you picked up a wooden or metal object and were surprised because it weighed more than you anticipated. You could immediately sense that the materials were of a higher quality than you expected.


That’s why a good brochure still works. It tells people something more than the information it contains right from the moment they pick it up. And it’s not just the paper that is used but also the quality of the print, the images and its contents.


Brochures done right

As with everything, getting it right is key. A poorly made brochure filled with factual or grammatical errors is going to leave a terrible impression. Authenticity is one of our six criteria of outstanding communication and that is a key factor here. To do a great brochure, everything has to fit. Even something as seemingly minor as a stock photo can make the entire product appear “off” somehow. Relevance also matters. Readers want to see themselves, their needs, their aspirations and goals in a brochure. A self-indulgent long read will be discarded in 20 seconds.


So does it still make sense to use old school paper products? Sure, but only if you are willing to do it right – and we can help you with that.

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