Bring Back the Brochure: A Marketer’s Manifesto


Our pledge to revive a powerful, long-overlooked marketing tool.

1999 was a bad year for the brochure.

In May, Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing hit the shelves. The book argued that marketers had gone too far; that the volume of messages marketers were blindly firing had reached a tipping point and that people had become permanently disengaged. To get attention, marketers would need to turn to digital.

Disillusioned marketers agreed with Godin. More to the point, their clients agreed, too.

8 years and an abundance of me-too publications on, would-be brochures are now e-brochures and Godin and other digi-gurus are heralded as the geniuses that changed marketing forever.

The problem is, of course, the pundits were wrong.

The flaw in the digital pundit’s theory

Back in the 90’s, Seth Godin labelled bad execution as a broken discipline.

Print wasn’t working. So it was time to ditch print altogether.

And whilst the first half of his argument was true, the second most certainly was not.

Printed book sales rose to £2.76bn in 2015. Meanwhile ebook sales fell – to £554m.

Take a second look at those figures and you’ll notice:

Consumers’ appetite for digital perhaps isn’t as relentless as it seems.

Brochures reimagined for the 21st century

With consumer tastes apparently U-turning, a humble, printed brochure could well secure B2Bs an edge in 2017. But the drab and dreary brochures of the 90s are unlikely to hit the mark.

The best 21st century brochures – even in the B2B world – dare to be different.

They provoke readers with abrupt, surprising headlines. They include out-of-the-ordinary visuals. They draw people in through engaging storytelling and powerful creative.

Think of a brochure…

… and the chances are a picture of a mundane, corporate sales tool comes to mind. It’s precisely this image that gives brochures their bum rap.

But no-one is forcing you to create an in-your-face sales tool. Here at Content Coms, we’ve worked alongside our creative friend and collaborator, Mike Garlick, to define our Bring Back the Brochure Manifesto – a set of guidelines we offer to anyone who strives to think outside of the box when it comes to hard copy comms…

1. A brochure should not be a soulless sales tool.

As opposed to wrestling a reader’s resistance, a brochure should coax co-operation.

2. A brochure should not look like a brochure.

Or, at least, it shouldn’t look like the brochures we’ve become used to seeing. By daring to be different, a brochure commands its target’s attention.

3. A brochure should be unique.

In more ways than one. It should aim to present your brand’s story in an innovative way. (Our own series of micro-brochures are perfect examples of a format that delights, informs and engages.)

4. A brochure should be printed.

There is a growing rejection of digital communications. Adding another e-brochure to the pile is no way to treat your prospects.

5. A brochure should aim for longevity.

Brochures shouldn’t be a short-term fix. Use great messaging and strong visuals to tell a story that lasts.

6. A brochure should show your personality.

Templated emails usually strip brand personalities away. A brochure is a chance to show your human side.

7. A brochure should be memorable.

The sheer volume of e-communications that are fired out ensures each new e-message is but fleeting. A brochure should be notable – or even extraordinary.

If you want 2017 to be the year your brochure collateral makes a bounce-back, give us a call.