Last Updated Dec 18, 2007 9:21 AM EST
- They're too product-oriented. Most B2B sales involve outsourcing a function, which means a combination of products and services customized to meet a particular customer's unique situation. A brochure, by it's nature, can only describe the products or services, and not the business impact of customized outsourcing, which is what the customer is actually buying.
- They're ridiculously cheesy. Brochures for B2B products are often full of pictures of grade-B photographer's models pretending that they're business people, along with strings of dopey buzzwords and biz blab. (I realize that these are attempts to sell "benefits" but they're usual so awful!) Much of the time the brochure is just at multi-page advertisement -- with no reason (like an accompanying article) to bother to open it.
- They're redundant or out-of-date. In most cases, the brochure is a subset of what's available on the website. While I'm no fan of "brochure-ware" websites they do have the advantage of providing depth (like detailed case-studies, white papers, etc.) and they can be updated to reflect product changes, news stories and other information that timely. In today's fast-moving world, a brochure, once printed, is generally out of date.
- Nobody reads them. Answer honestly. Have you ever read a brochure? I've probably received several hundred over the years and I've never, ever read a brochure. Maybe I glanced at the cover and read the headline, but nothing more. And remember, as somebody who writes about high tech, I actually have (theoretically at least) a reason to read the damn things. I'll be surprised if any admits to having read one.
- They're expensive. Brochures must be written, edited, reviewed, laid out, re-edited, re-reviewed, re-laid out, and then printed, generally in 4 color on glossy paper. It's not at all unusual for a brochure with a print run of 20,000 to cost $100,000 or more. That's a lot of money for a document that's out of date immediately, and which nobody is likely to actually read.
- They encourage lousy sales practices. There's this entire "I'll send you a brochure" thing that goes on in sales cycle. It's suppose to be a way to keep the prospect interested, but in my opinion, it's really just a way to make the sales rep think that a deal is still alive when in fact it's already dead as a dog. I simply don't believe that sending somebody a fancy piece of paper that's going directly into the circular file cabinet is going to do anything to move a sale forward.
Of course, a fancy brochure has the exact opposite effect on me. Whenever I see a fancy brochure, I figure that the company is inefficient, burdened by a marketing group that's wasting money. And my opinion of the company -- as reflected in what I write -- suffers. But that's just me. I suppose there must be some benighted souls out there who think that a fancy brochure bequeaths legitimacy. Otherwise they'd disappear from the face of the business world.
What do you think? Have you ever had a sales opportunity develop or close as the result of a brochure?
Seriously: if somebody out there thinks they're useful, I want to know.