friday, 23 june of 2006

WARNING: Attractive brochures often fail to persuade

By Trey Ryder

Things seem to come in groups. Lately I've seen several law firm brochures, some very short, others many pages long. They contain a sad consistency. They all look relatively attractive, yet when I read the words, they say almost nothing.

Nearly anyone can create a law firm brochure. And that's the problem. The term "brochure" is so loose, it can refer to almost anything on paper about your firm.

Many people (including artists and consultants) use this brochure recipe: Start with a pile of photographs in a bowl. Add lawyers' biographies. Stir in the firm's areas of practice. Print in full color. Bake until the ink dries. And presto: You have a law firm brochure.

The cost? It can be anywhere from several hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on how big and colorful you want it to be.

But -- here's the key question -- does it say anything? How well does it communicate your marketing message?

Your marketing message should have a specific beginning, middle and end. When you create your law firm brochure, you should start with a competent marketing message. Then you spread that message throughout your brochure so when someone reads it, they digest your message from beginning to end.

Some people think a brochure is simply bits and snippets about your firm -- in no particular order, other than what looks good on paper. The result? A brochure that is made up of bits of information in no particular order about no particular subject. After all, it doesn't have to be about anything, it's simply your firm brochure.

What a waste!

If you are fortunate enough to have your prospective client's attention, you want to deliver your marketing message. A complete, competent and persuasive marketing message. You want your prospect to hire your firm and not even consider hiring anybody else. Yet when your prospect picks up your brochure, he gets a few random facts that form no clear impression in his mind.

What a waste!

Most brochures are pitiful examples of a marketing document. They look great because many are in full color. They may be wonderful coffee table pieces that impress prospects and clients because they look attractive and expensive. But when you get down to brass tacks, you usually find no substance, no marketing message, no compelling reason to hire your firm.

Here's another trap: Your artist may create a wonderful brochure that doesn't look like anything you've ever seen. As a result, you may wrongly conclude that because it's different, it's a powerful marketing document. Not true.

You want your brochure to look good and provide information about your firm. But keep your priorities straight. Written content is everything. It makes no difference how the brochure looks if it doesn't immediately communicate your competitive advantages -- the reasons clients and prospects choose your firm over all others. If you don't convey that message -- immediately and completely -- nothing else matters.

Advice: Don't be quick to hire a person or communications firm to create a brochure based on what you see they have done for other law firms. Instead, take time to read brochures they have created for others. Does the brochure persuade you to do business with that firm? Is it compelling? Does it provide enough information for you to make a decision to meet with members of the firm?

Beware: Anybody will offer to create a brochure. But unless the brochure contains a powerful marketing argument that clearly explains why prospects should hire you, you've wasted your money.

Copy always comes first. Because without powerful, persuasive copy, your brochure won't work.

© Trey Ryder

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