5 Tips for a Great Brochure for Your Home Business

How to Design and Print an Effective Brochure

Brochure Design Tips
•••  Credit: StarLineArts

Print brochures can be an effective tool for marketing your home business, but there are several things to consider before print your brochure. Factors such as size and resolution, can effect how prospects react to your brochure. More importantly, your brochure will become part of you brand identity, so design decisions and creative ideas should be made with that in mind.

With the abundance of available desktop design tools, such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Quark Xpress, and Microsoft Publisher, many home business owners decide to create their own brochures. However, there are a few things you should know about marketing and design to help your brochures look profession and give you the marketing results you want. 

What Goes on an Effective Marketing Brochure?

A good marketing brochure starts with deciding what information you'll put on it. Like all forms of marketing, the information and design should appeal to your target market. Things to consider include:

  • Who is your target market and what do they need that your product or service will fulfill? 
  • What are the main benefits (as opposed to features) to your product or service. In other words, how does your product or service help your client or customer? You want to write information that entices your prospect to take action.
  • What useful tips or tool can you provide on your brochure to entice people to keep it. More than just providing information about your business, you can make it a resource. For example, a Realtor can include a mortgage chart so potential buyers can determine what their monthly payment would be on a home. 
  • What graphics would be appealing to people. Yes you want your logo on your brochure, but other graphics should be less about you and more about what will attract potential clients and customers. 
  • Use quality graphics. Clip art and low quality photos can look unprofessional, so stick to quality graphics and design.
  • Don't overdo it. Too much text and graphics can overwhelm the brochure and the reader. Your brochure is about providing enough information to attract a prospect, so it doesn't have to have every bit of your business detail. It just has to have enough to have them pick up the phone, visit your website, or do whatever you want them to do.
  • Have a call to action. Tell people what they need to do next, whether it's to visit your website, call for a free consult, or email for a free gift. 

Preparing to Print Your Brochure

To get some perspective on what a brochure printing service looks for in a brochure design, I asked Shawn MacKinnon, director of Brochure Source to share his ideas on how to create a great brochure. His top 5 tips for creating a great brochure follow.

Brochure Tip 1: Know Your Print Size

Shawn told me that one of the most common errors made by those who create their own brochures, but one of the most challenging to correct, is an incorrect setup size for the brochure. He says that all too often, a print layout has to be returned to the customer because it wasn't setup for the proper output size. Don't use an 8.5 x 11 layout and submit it for printing on 8x10 paper. MacKinnon points out that when a print service has to stretch or shrink a brochure layout to fit the paper, the quality of the print resolution may be compromised.

Brochure Tip 2: Allow for Bleed

Print bleed refers to how far your design extends to the edges of the paper. Many brochures have color or graphics along the edges. To insure that those edges have color intead of falling short and having blank white showing through, it's recommended that you extent your design a little wider and longer than the page; otherwise known as bleed. MacKinnon says, "By expanding your brochure design slightly beyond the established page borders, when we cut each page you’ll have solid ink coverage from edge to edge.

This is imperative if you have a photo, color, or pattern that needs to be displayed to the extreme edge of your brochure layout." 

The amount of bleed can vary some, and if you're printing at home, you'll want to check your printer and/or the brochure paper for set up and help. In general, extra 1/8th inch or 3 mm of coverage beyond each edge is recommended.

Brochure Tip 3: Resolution is Key

Using high-resolution images in your layout is a critical step toward creating a professional looking final brochure. If you submit something for print that isn’t the proper resolution, your images will come out ‘soft’, blurry, or even pixilated.

The images you see on your computer monitor are only 72 dpi (dots-per-inch), which is fine for viewing on a monitor, but inadequate for a professional-looking printed brochure. Your images should be at least 300 dpi to print clearly with full sharpness.

There are a variety of stock image sites on the web where you can obtain inexpensive, high-resolution, royalty-free images to use in your brochure designs. Some stock image sites even offer free high-resolution pictures you can use for your brochure.

Brochure Tip 4: Select the Correct Paper

Most print shops that print brochures offer either an 80lb or 100lb stock paper, with a variety of gloss / matte finishes. It’s really your choice in the end, but a 100lb stock is surprisingly more substantial than 80lb stock paper without a huge cost difference. Using a heavier paper may convince a potential customer that you are more professional than your competitors.

Adding varnish will add an appealing gloss to your brochure, but if you have a lot of ink coverage your brochure will appear glossy anyway. However, if you use too many dark colors in your brochure design, using a varnish will prevent fingerprint smudges on your brochure.

If you're printing at home, you can buy brochure paper that has creases where the fold should occur. Again, choose a quality paper that fits the type of printer (ink or laser) you have.

Brochure Tip 5: Consider Your Fonts

The front of your brochure are the first thing people will see, so make sure that first panel is appealing and makes prospective customers want to pick it up. 

MacKinnon goes on to advise, "Don’t get stuck using the fonts that shipped with your software. Everybody has those fonts, and you don’t want your brochure to look like everyone else's." Look around the web for a variety of free, interesting fonts you can use to make your brochure stand out from the crowd and look very professional at the same time. Just be sure they fit the style and tone of your brand and business.

For help and ideas, look at competitors' brochures. What makes other brochure designs leap out at you?

A Brochure is Part of Your Business Identity

Creating a brochure is part of creating your business identity. A well-designed brochure that's professionally printed can be worth a great deal more than its cost. Knowing what printers are looking for when it comes time to print your brochure will save you considerable time and aggravation.