Have you ever stood at the glass-encased directory in the lobby of an office building and, while scanning it for the firm you're visiting, come across nondescript company names that made you think, "I wonder what they do?" What kind of business is Niemeyer & Associates? What do they make at Fisher Technologies? What do they do at O'Connor Industries? And what the heck is The Campbell Connection? Chances are, you'll go to your grave never knowing that Niemeyer is a terrific home and office interior design firm, Fisher makes a device that automatically controls the chemical balance in your hot tub, O'Connor builds prefab sheds for the backyard and Campbell can get you a great deal on a used PC.
My point is not really that your amorphously named company should also have a description in its building's directory (although that might get you an accidental customer or two), but that a company name alone, particularly an unremarkable one, won't sell beans. I find, however, that a surprising number of entrepreneurs still use the most important panel of their company brochure--the front page--to introduce the name of their enterprise and not much else. That decision always gets my Golden Noogie Award.
The newest honoree is Matt Boggan of Knoxville, Tennessee, who wrote recently. Boggan runs a company called Team Paragon, which designs custom overhead lift-and-transfer systems for people with physical disabilities and for those who take care of these individuals. Boggan wrote to ask, "What can I do better to ensure that my mailing will be opened and read and will inspire the customer to call for further information?"
My short answer is: Don't use Team Paragon's name as the centerpiece of the brochure/mailer cover. Although for a nondescript company name Team Paragon is somewhat intriguing, it still can't hold a candle to some sort of benefit statement about what the company offers. So let's get down to creating one.
This brochure cover assumes the company's name will grab people and usher them inside.
1. The company name is somewhat intriguing, but there's no selling message to attract the target audience.
2. This logo has some good thought behind it, but there needs to be more of a tie-in to the actual product.
The symbolism created by the headline and the background image dramatically alludes to the benefit.
1. This headline conjures up imagery that might appeal to a disabled person's desire for independence.
2. The subhead follows with an explanation of just what the headline is alluding to.
Jerry Fisher is a freelance advertising copywriter in the San Francisco Bay area and author of Creating Successful Small Business Advertising, available from Bookmasters by calling (800) 247-6553. If you'd like Jerry to consider your materials for a makeover in this column, please write to him c/o "Ad Workshop," Entrepreneur, 2392 Morse Ave., Irvine, CA 92614. Or you can reach him at Jerry228@aol.com