Let's say you've got a product that appeals to a number of different audiences and you want to target each audience's needs individually in your advertising. What's your strategy?
If you're running a giant company like Microsoft, it's blitzkrieg. You can do a media fan-out that includes ads in 50 different industries' publications, from printing to paving to plumbing, from florists to furniture to freight. No problem.
But what if you're still a mogul-in-the-making, working out of your garage and looking for your first dozen sales? What's your strategy then?
If you say you're sending out industry-specific sales letters and brochures that talk about how your product can meet potential customers' needs, you get a high-five. But if you say that, for budgetary reasons, you are including a generic brochure with that letter, that gets a thumbs-down. That's because nowadays, "versioning" a brochure--that is, creating different versions of it to appeal to different audiences--can be quite affordable, even on a small budget.
That's my message to Jo Ann and Craig Hockinson of Palm Coast, Florida, who own Corporate Video Services. Their business produces promotional, training and event videos, and they wrote to ask if I'd critique their promotional materials. The short version of my critique is this: They get a good solid "B" on the sales letter they sent me (not shown), but on their brochure, an "Unsatisfactory."
Here's why. First, the Hockinsons are capable, even on a pea-sized budget, of versioning their brochures to better attract a specific audience. All it takes--and they've actually done this already--is to use fill-in-the-blank brochure forms that only need to be word-processed and output. Although these pre-designed forms will never win any awards for art direction, they really are a godsend for the cost-conscious entrepreneur who's not ready to spend major bucks for advertising materials.
The front of the brochure can then, at the very least, have a headline and subhead that talks to the targeted audience. Sorry to say that the Hockinsons not only didn't version their cover but also decided to hoist up the name of their company as the headline. This is always a no-no in my book, unless the name is used along with other words as part of a benefit-oriented headline.
You've got a half-second's worth of time to blab something compelling and motivating to your audience, and, at least for me, a company name gets in the way. Once you've got their attention and interest, don't worry, they'll be happy to drop their eyes to find your name elsewhere in the ad. So let's talk about what a new, versioned brochure cover would say.