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Creating Effective Brochures

In a technology-savvy society that has grown more reliant upon the Internet to disseminate a wide range of information, it would seem that printed brochures would have little value. But there's something about a printed piece that can't be duplicated in an email or on a website.

However, many AV integrators and consultants don't have that luxury. “I'm a one-woman show,” DeMond says, who typically writes her own copy, uses a staffer for photography, and then outsources the graphic design. “I know my expertise and where those boundaries are.”

An integrator's budget will vary, depending on the size, quantity, and quality of the finished piece. At the low end, Oswald typically pays about 40 cents apiece (pre-press and printing only) for an 8 1/2- by 11-inch tri-fold brochure.

Premium productions typically cost more. Schuett says his 28-page piece ran about $1.15 each for 15,000 copies, plus creative costs. On the higher end, Gorter says Kirkegaard paid more than $16 each — including writing, design, production, and printing with matching letterhead and envelopes — for its 48-page brochure, although it produced only 5,000 copies.

Integrators should determine what they want to accomplish before trying to set a figure for a project. Because Kirkegaard wanted to position itself as a premium designer of million-dollar rooms, an investment of $16 per prospect made sense. However, in AVI's case, a lower-cost piece was more appropriate because it targeted a less profitable client.

Measuring results

One problem pro AV firms often face is finding ways to measure the effectiveness of these brochures. Horlbeck says Liberty Wire & Cable spends a great deal of time on this issue. It codes all of its printed products and requires its inside salespeople to record that code when they get a call.

It also periodically tests variations of its brochures, mailing different versions to different market segments. “Sometimes we change the shape and size of the brochure, or vary the message,” Horlbeck says.

This type of research is difficult for a smaller firm, which may have trouble paying for a single version of a given piece, let alone the variations for a test. But basing decisions on limited information is better than none. For example, you can put different 800 numbers on each marketing piece to get an idea of their effectiveness by simply counting the incoming calls listed on your phone bills.

Another option is using informal focus groups, which are typically easy and inexpensive to arrange. Schuett tried this approach with his brochure. He put an electronic version on his website, and asked dealers and end-users for feedback. “We probably would have had to print it two or three times by now if we hadn't taken the time to get comments and tune it,” he says.

However they gather feedback, each of these AV pros says that brochures are an important part of their firm's marketing mix. “It's your face to the public,” Schuett says. “So it's worth a substantial investment of time and money.”

Don Kreski is an independent marketing consultant with more than 25 years of experience in the pro AV industry. He holds an MBA in marketing and finance and can be reached at or

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