Disclosure: The Green Geek and author, Joe Sweeney, is the developer of the labeling and signage solution TyTags DIY. However, he is not involved in brochure production.

Some people say the advent of technology is making print media obsolete. Smartphones, tablets, and computers make it easy to get information in just a few keystrokes. But even with the sum of human knowledge in pocket, print brochures and catalogs remain.

The truth is printed promotions work. But why? Because brochures are often in the right place at the right time.

When people glance at a conveniently placed brochure, they automatically think:  “What’s good and cheap today?” A good brochure cover page gives people a rapid glimpse of what’s inside the store, the specials, the prices, and what comes most recommended. When done right, your brochure’s cover – the teaser – satisfies peoples’ inherent curiosity, at just the right time and with just enough information to make them want more.

Once your brochure catches a person’s interest and is picked up, the inside pages give the  reader instant answers. It will overview products and prices,  and tout benefits.  Some brochures, especially in hardware and gardening stores, contain frequently asked questions about products, their uses and even how to get around the store. In short, your brochure should take on the role of a salesperson.

Thus, while the cover is all about marketing (getting people’s attention) the inside is all about sales (convincing people to impulse buy.)

The Importance of Graphics & Design

The cover of your brochure is all about getting a person’s attention fast, and holding it for the 7 seconds needed for them to pick it up and begin reading. Thus, it has to be highly visual and convey a strong emotional connection. A simple product shot just won’t do it. The most effective brochures carry images that resonate with shoppers: luxurious locations, stunning plants and landscapes, mouth-watering foods, lifestyle shots, etc.  Likewise, the wording on the cover needs to appeal to the user personally. It’s not all about pricing and discounts… though those messages are important too! It is more important to create an emotional bond with the customers, and the fastest way to do that is through images.

Calls to Action

Most of the hard work is done once your brochure is picked up. What you now need to do is create calls to action which are statements that encourage the customer to buy. The call to action can be very blunt and immediate (“Buy now!”) or it can be more complex and forward-looking (“Get ready for Mother’s Day!”)  However, the best calls to action contain not only a request for the person to do something, but also a time limit. For example, it is not enough to simply say that a line of stock is on special… you need to let people know that it’s on special only for today. Likewise, is not enough to tell somebody to get ready for Mother’s Day… You’ve got to tell them that they need to be ready by next Sunday. It is well known within the advertising industry that placing a call to action with a deadline is far more effective than just asking someone to buy your product.


Of course, you want to maximise the value from your brochure. The ideal is for people to pick up the brochure, act upon the specials, and then take the brochure home to continue reading. The brochure should be a constant reminder of your company, its products and services.

In the horticulture industry, a great way of doing this is to include short how-to articles on gardening , landscaping or plant care. The more niche your business, the more targeted your articles can be. You don’t need a lot of articles – you’re not trying to create a magazine. What you’re trying to do is create long-lasting value for the customer. This is why Coles and Woolworths both publish monthly cooking “magazines,” which are really just long-term brochures.

Of course, you should also include your company’s  contact details, hours of operation, and online presence “including the social media links.” Also, you may wish to include QRCodes that will link the customer directly to your website.

I’m ready to create my very own brochure, what do I need?

The good news is, you can create brochures quickly and effectively using inexpensive software and a quality color laser printer. Before you start, you need to identify the following things:

Concept:  What is your brochure about? Who is it intended for? What information do you want it to contain? Details you might want to include are:

·         How long the brochure last? Will you be creating a new brochure every week, or every month? The good thing with printing your own brochures is that you can create very small batches of them, meaning that you can create weekly or even daily specials!

·         Information about your company.  Be sure to include your phone number boldly throughout the brochure, as well is your address. If you have a website, how will you draw people’s attention to it?

·         Map. Potential customers should be able to find you immediately.

·         What short articles would be of interest to your customers?

Remember to use appropriate, simple and clear wording. Exciting words are great for your call to Action, but you don’t want to overdo it. You may be tempted to overload the brochure with information but short and sweet is the way to go. Avoid industry jargon and make sure the information will be easily understood by everyone.

Design:  Creating a brochure is not  difficult. Of course, having a good graphics designer work on your brochure is terrific, and I strongly recommend using one if you have the budget. But alas, in the horticulture industry, many of us need to pinch our pennies.  So if you do plan to produce your own design, keep the following in mind:

·         Include attractive and pertinent images to entice customers to pick up your brochure.  You may be tempted to grab photos or images from the Internet and reuse them. But keep in mind this may be a breach of copyright! A great source for stock marketing images is You can buy individual high-resolution images from the service for as little as five bucks, or subscribe to them for a month at $79 and download five images of your choice a day. (A miser’s tip:  I subscribed to big stock for four months, downloaded five images each day, and ended up with several hundred images for future use.  It’s a really cheap way of buying great artwork.)

·         Use a vividly written call to action. Add a catchy tagline that showcases your brand, along with awesome copy in a great, clear font.

·         As with informational text, don’t be tempted to put a lot of pictures on your brochure. It is a brochure, not a catalog. Too much visual clutter can overwhelm the reader.

Layout & Software: If you’re getting your brochure prepared by a graphic designer, they will most likely produce the brochure using Adobe InDesign, which is a very powerful and very expensive publishing tool. However, if you want to create a brochure yourself you can try using Microsoft Publisher. While Publisher is nowhere near as powerful as InDesign, it certainly has more than enough features for you to create a brochure quickly.  Microsoft publisher is included with the Microsoft Office Pro.

It’s also a good idea to spend some time creating a brochure template which can use to create new brochures in the future. This is particularly important if you plan to publish a new brochure each week. All you need to do is change the images, and adjust the text, without substantially changing the layout or design elements. A template not only saves you heaps of time, but also creates consistent branding for your business.

Printing:  If you’re planning to distribute thousands of brochures each month, you will almost certainly wish to have your brochures professionally printed. Online printing, sometimes called e-printing, digital printing, or print on demand, is when you send off your brochure design to a virtual store printing service (e.g. Digital Print Australia or KwikKopy) for printing.  Sometimes they help with the design and layout process, but ultimately you have the last say on the proofs before the brochures go to print. They ship the final product back to you. This is the same process for offline printing services, with the main difference of having to go to a brick and mortar store.

However, if you plan only to distribute several hundred brochures over a short period, it is better to print the brochures yourself. You will need a quality color laser printer that has a duplex (double-sided ) printing feature.

Once your brochures are done you can leave a few behind with clients after a meeting or a site visit, leave them at accessible locations such as storefronts, waiting areas or booths, distribute them  after shows, classes, workshops, meetings, conventions and seminars, or insert them into press kits, proposals or reports.

In Summary

Let’s face it, not everyone responds to aggressive marketing and honestly, it’s kind of annoying. For example, who has the patience to stand around and listen to a five-minute product pitch or demo when you’re supposed to be just enjoying your shopping? A brochure is a non-aggressive, low-pressure way of asking customers to check out your business in their own time. Potential customers will check out your brochure because they want to, when they’re ready, and not because you hijacked their time.  Even with smartphone and tablets, the trusty ol’ printed brochure will be with us for a long time to come.