Are Brochures Siphoning Away Your Precious Resources?

While marketing has changed dramatically since the arrival of the internet, some habits are hard to break. We repeat the same activities without ever stopping to question the purpose.

For example, do you still create brochures because that’s what has always been done? Even though they require a lot of effort and expense to produce, are often generic and go out of date quickly, they continue to be a conventional part of the marketing mix.

Based on my recent survey, most life science marketers struggle to produce enough content. Given those results, product brochures may not be the best use of your resources.

It’s time to rethink how we attract, convert, close and delight customers so we can make the best use of limited budgets and personnel.

Failure to plan wastes time, effort and money

Why is producing a brochure still a requirement? It could be the lack of a clear content marketing strategy or if there is a strategy, simply failure to consider where the brochure fits in the overall plan because “we always create a brochure”.

‘Because we have always done it that way’ may be the most dangerous words in business.

Content marketing boils down to this: figuring out how you will answer all the questions your prospect may have from the time she recognizes a problem or opportunity until you have closed a deal AND converted a buyer into a loyal customer.

Without a complete plan in place and an understanding of how each asset works as part of the whole, you can’t be efficient in the way you answer those questions.

A clear content strategy provides purpose to marketing activities

When you take the time to make a thorough plan, you’ll be able to allocate your resources where they are really needed – creating marketing materials that turn visitors to leads and leads into customers.

And you’ll save money and effort in the process.

There are many aspects to developing a comprehensive strategy including goal setting, persona development, content auditing, and alignment with the customer buying cycle and distribution planning.

For now, let’s look at our old friend, the brochure. Before the internet, a prospect had limited sources of information about a product: a brochure or catalog, colleagues, the sales rep and maybe a trade journal if one happened to look at the right month. It was up to the brochure and the salesperson to answer most of the customer’s questions.

For the salesperson, a brochure was a leave-behind to keep your product in the prospect’s mind. When the prospect was ready to buy, he picked up the handset of his rotary dial phone, untangled the long, twisted cord and called to place an order. Or something like that.

Today, a few web pages can deliver all the product information anyone would want. In many cases this makes a brochure an expensive duplication of effort and much less effective than a well thought out follow up plan. That effort could be directed toward building better nurturing programs and the content to support them.

The buying cycle has changed too. In the 21st century, customers will try to get as many questions as possible answered before they call or email you on their touch-screen, location-finding, music-playing, camera phone.

A good content strategy creates an experience

But product pages can’t possibly tell the whole story. To begin with, how do we know what the right product is? We just met this prospect. There are too many questions yet to be answered.

“Where is the industry heading? What technologies are appropriate? What do my colleagues use?” The list goes on and on.

Most of all, a web page alone can’t answer the question “What will my experience be if I buy it from you?” A successful content marketing plan doesn’t only answer their questions. It also helps them feel what it is like to do business with you. This is the real magic of content marketing.

Never say “never”

Are there still some reasons to create a brochure? My wife advises me to “Never say ‘never’.” If it fits your purpose, by all means, create one.

I think variations of a brochure can be useful, for example, where there are many products that are part of a solution. Depending on the context, it becomes a type of mini-catalog that customers would refer to frequently. Or it could tell a larger story about how many of your products work together for a particular industry.

You will only know what is right once you have a strategy in place. By defining a content strategy, you can avoid spending time on things you don’t need and direct your resources where they are needed to reach your goals.

Take a fresh look at your customers and the questions you need to answer. Make sure you have a clear strategy.

If you want a head start thinking about the questions they have, I’ve created an eBook “52 Questions Your Customers Ask Before Buying” to get you started. You can find it in the content library.

photo credit: Hugo90 via photopin cc

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