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Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few years, you realize that online marketing strategies are essential to growing your business. So-called “inbound marketing”—attracting potential customers through methods such as blog posts, a strong media presence, and targeted emails—has been gathering steam and shows no sign of slowing down. But does all of this digital marketing success mean that old-school marketing tactics, such as good-old-fashioned paper brochures are dead?

It doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition.

Direct Marketing Association found that companies that employed a marketing strategy that combined Internet advertising with printed direct mailers had a 25% higher response rate than those that used digital advertising alone. That’s something to think about.

There is room for more than one marketing strategy. Online marketing tactics and brochures are not mutually exclusive and can be used together to help get the word out about your company and its products and services.

Some people prefer brochures.

These days, people are constantly inundated with digital information on their smartphones, computers, and televisions. A brochure is a refreshing change from getting information from a screen. You don’t have to worry about technological glitches, and it may even be more memorable.

A Norwegian study found that our comprehension is better when we read information from a physical piece of paper, rather than from a screen. Additional research even found that people form more of an emotional connection with content on paper, rather than on a screen.

A well-designed brochure can make your company look professional, lend your business an air of permanence, and help you stand out from the crowd.

Plus, brochures are tangible. People can take them home and absorb the information on their own terms. If done right, your potential customer may keep it and refer to it. And they’re easy for someone to pass on when they’re done!

What should you include in your brochure?

art-89198_640You can use brochures to let people know about your company, tailor them to promote specific products, or offer coupons. Many include a company logo, divulge a little history of the business, and describe services. As with your other marketing materials, you need to capture your potential customer’s attention quickly and hold it.

You’re probably most familiar with the tri-fold brochure, but don’t be afraid to use some creativity and experiment with different shapes. Use your brochure to tell a story, and be sure to end with a call-to-action, whether it’s a promotional offer, a form you want your customer to fill out, a phone number you want them to call, or suggestion that they check out your website.

Get the most from your brochures.

Brochures are cheaper than many forms of advertising, but at around a dollar a piece, they can’t compete with the low cost of most online marketing strategies. This doesn’t mean you can’t get a good return on your investment from your brochures; it just means you need to disseminate them wisely.

It’s usually not cost-effective to mail out your brochures in bulk in hopes of responses. That will likely end up being a waste of money. Instead, target people who may have an interest in what you offer.

How you hand out your brochures depends on your business. If you run a retail business or have an office that gets a lot of customer traffic, display them, so people are inclined to grab one. Some companies use brochures in media kits, which are sent out to news media outlets to alert them of new product or make them aware of businesses.

For businesses, it makes sense to hand brochures out at trade shows or presentations. Try using them in promotional giveaways. If you’re giving out a bag of goodies, throw in a brochure. Keep a couple in your briefcase or bag; that way, if you get chatting to a prospective customer, you can hand one away. You never know when a brochure will help you make a sale.

Of course, brochures aren’t limited to face-to-face interactions. If you’re not willing to pay the upfront costs to have your brochures professionally printed on quality paper, offer an electronic version as a PDF on your website. You can do this even if you have a physical brochure, for further reach.

Connect to your digital presence.

Your brochure should be in harmony with how you represent yourself online. You want to have a consistent brand message and feel across all of your marketing channels, so make sure your brochures match the personality of your website.

Brochures need to point people to your online presence. Therefore, always include your website URL, and direct people to your social media profiles. But be careful: Don’t just include a Twitter or Facebook icon, as a paper brochure obviously won’t automatically connect to your profiles. Write out the full URLs for your social media accounts.

Another way to incorporate your brochure with your online marketing efforts is to use QR (quick response) codes. You’ve no doubt seen QR codes on all kinds of physical marketing materials, whether they’re signs on storefronts or giant billboards. QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes that contain information, such as a URL or video, and can even be used to send people texts about your product. They’re a great way to pique curiosity in your company. A potential customer can use their smartphone as a QR code scanner to read the information that’s stored in the code. Instead of having to manually type in a long URL to access information about your company, they just swipe the code, and up pops your website!

If you’d like to add a QR code to your brochure, it’s easy to do. You can set up QR codes for free and within minutes with the help of companies like Kaywa QR Code.

There is room for both!

You shouldn’t think of brochures as replacements or competition for your digital marketing strategy. Rather, they should be used in conjunction with your online marketing strategies to enhance your overall marketing approach. Not everyone wants to make a large online purchase from a company they know little about. A brochure is a relatively affordable marketing option that makes you look credible and professional and demonstrates that you plan on being around for a long time to come.

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Daryl Johnson

Daryl Johnson is the owner of Frontier Marketing, a boutique online marketing agency in Dallas, Texas.

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