What are Brochures and Do You Need Them?

Freelance, Marketing

Talking about brochures, in the world of the Internet, can seem quite archaic. Sure, you can promote your products – for free – on your super snazzy website, but brochures still have their place in the world of business marketing.

So, today we’re going to be looking at brochures, what they are and why you need them.

 What are Brochures?

Brochures are booklets that are typically designed to offer in-depth information into the products and/or services that a business has to offer. They are much more detailed than both pamphlets and leaflets.

In the age of the Internet, brochures can seem so out-of-date, as many of us come to the conclusion that we can just direct everyone to our websites. Websites are, of course, incredibly useful, however it’s important to remember that not everyone has the Internet, and even those who do might not feel comfortable using it.

Even the most ardent Internet user may decide that they prefer to have the information firmly in their hand, and there are a few reasons that this might be a preference:

  • Brochures offer ease of general browsing. It’s much easier to flip through or dip in-and-out of a brochure, than it is to flip through a website.
  • They allow for access to products 24/7, without the need for electricity or a piece of technology
  • Brochures can be taken pretty much everywhere: the bath, the toilet, the train. It could be argued that with the rise of tablets and accessibility on smart phones, this isn’t really a big deal. However, some people might not want to take their tablet into the bathroom (understandably), and not everyone “gets” the obsession with technology.

But Websites are Free, Brochures are Not

You’re right; websites are free, but the key to think about is that by not having brochures you could potentially be pushing out a considerable portion of your market. That is not good news, because that is potential money lost.

Look at producing brochures as an investment. The money put into them, will hopefully be returned by the customers who prefer them over your website.

Another key factor is to ensure that your brochures offer customers something that your website doesn’t, or even can’t: detailed information perhaps, or maybe even special offers and coupons that aren’t available on the website.

Do Brochures just Contain Everything from the Website?

They could do, yes, but that’s really up to you to decide. Personally, I have written brochures for clients using similar content from the website. The difference was that they wanted a little bit more depth in the brochures.

Case Study

One website that I worked on, was looking to launch a range of natural skin care products for teenage skin. Their idea was that they wanted the brochures to be more about offering advice to the teenagers who the products were being aimed at. The aim was to show the target audience what the problem was with their skin, what they could do about it (diet and skin care wise) and then how specific products could be used to target these problems.

This was advice that wasn’t used on the website, as the website was more aimed at the parents who were actually buying the product.

So should I have some brochures made up?

Only you can really answer this question, but it ultimately depends on your business. Many businesses would greatly benefit from the extra information that a brochure offers, but they do come at a price.  They’re probably not going to be part of your initial marketing plans, for this reason. However, the future investment is definitely worth thinking about.

 

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5 Ways to Conquer SEO

Diary of a Freelancer, Freelance, Marketing

In case you managed to miss the memo: SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, and the online world seems to be absolutely obsessed with it. And in my opinion, a little too obsessed with it. So the real question is: SEO: is it worth the hassle?

Initially, I want to say a huge, big, fat and resounding “NO”. However, despite my reservations about this obsession, SEO does have its benefits; as long as you get it right – and so many people, just don’t.

Therefore, here are my five ways to conquer SEO:

1. Content is Always King

Oh yes, it’s the old cliché that Content is King, but content really is the master of your success.

Problem:

Imagine the ideal scenario:

Image sourced here.

Image sourced here.

You’ve created lots of keywords, and the Search Engines are bringing traffic in by the bucket load. Yippee, you’re thinking – excellent, lots of business heading your way! But wait, you’re sat by your inbox, waiting ever so patiently for all those orders to come and hmm…nothing!

You check your website analytics (as you should be doing, on a regular basis), and barely anyone has remained on your site for longer than ten seconds.

Here is where the problem lies, just because you’ve brought traffic in, doesn’t mean that your job is over with. Your second job (after drawing people to your site) is to ensure that you keep them there, and tempt them with your amazing wares. Unfortunately, keyword-heavy content that is boring, full of jargon or doesn’t even make sense, is not going to do that for you.

Solution:

  1. Create content that is interesting to read and packed with relevant information 
  2. Ditch the jargon – no one has a clue what you’re talking about, so seriously, don’t do it!
  3. Make your content easy to browse – remember, we’re lazy, so make things easy for us with headings and keywords and important phrases highlighted (although, don’t do overboard)

2. Do your Research

It’s really easy to fall into the trap of thinking “Oh, I can do that – it’s easy!” when it comes to SEO, but in reality, you can’t expect to get anywhere, without doing a little bit of research.

Research helps you to determine your market, and target it to perfection.

Research KeywordsProblem:

The real problem is distinguishing what keywords you should be using. If Search Engines are going to bring traffic to your website, you’re going to want to make sure that you use the best keywords. Using the wrong ones might draw in the wrong kinds of people. You should also be aware of using keywords that could be interpreted as misleading.

Solution:

  1. As the heading suggests: Do your homework. Check out the competition, find out what keywords they’re using and look into how you can adapt that into your website. However, don’t just copy all of the keywords that they use, because some of them might not be suitable for your brand.
  2. Think about your brand, and the types of keywords that people might search for, in order to reach that brand
  3. Put yourself into the shoes of your customers. What are they looking for? What are they likely to type into Google?

3. Stay Relevant

Why would someone buy a product or service from a website that contains content that isn’t relevant to the product or service? Honest answer: They wouldn’t. It’s as simple as that. Therefore, relevant content is just as important as good content.

The Problem:

What exactly is relevant? One of the mistakes that I have made, and a lot of other people make, is to write about the things that interest

Bananas

This image has no relevance to this post whatsoever.

you. If you’re writing a personal blog – that’s great. Nevertheless, in the world of business, writing about how hilarious your cat is, well, it’s hardly going to draw customers to your company that sells lipsticks, is it?

If someone comes to your website looking for a funny story about cats, then it’s likely that the website they are probably looking for is going to be something to do with cats; a vet, an animal charity, a retailer who sells animal toys for example.

Solution:

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • What are your customers interested in?
  • What information could you provide?
  • What could you teach?
  • What would customers find helpful?
  • How could you provide this information?

4. Imaging

The Problem:

I once read that you shouldn’t bother putting images onto websites, because Search Engines can’t read anything other than text, so why bother.

The problem is that images are useful when it comes to whether or not a person will read your content. Take me, for example, I’m your typical internet surfer, I want to be spoon fed information and I don’t want to have to work hard for it. Why? Because I’m Lazy, and because the internet is so full of information, it starts to get boring. If I come across a website that is just one big huge paragraph of content, I’m likely to yawn, and click away.

The Solution:

The critics might have been right, Search Engines can’t read the actual images, but they can read the ALT Tags and ALT tags are an incredibly valuable part of SEO. ALT Tags should be used to describe the image, allowing Search Engines to read what the image shows.

One way of approaching this, is to imagine that you are describing the image to a blind person, or someone who – for whatever reason – cannot see it. Ask yourself a few questions that a blind person might want / need to know:

  • What does the image depict?
  • What is it representing?
  • What is the images purpose?

5. Don’t Get Obsessed

Despite what we’re quite often told, keywords are not the centre of the universe. Yes, they’re important and yes, they can help your business, but they’re only one part of a very big puzzle.

The Problem:

For many businesses, it’s easy to become so obsessed with keywords that you lose sight of what you are actually hoping to achieve. Content becomes boring, stress levels sky-rocket and you don’t enjoy working on a part of your own company.

Solution:

Don’t allow yourself to be consumed by keywords.

The truth is that if you know your product/brand/service well (and you should) then it’s likely that keywords will flow into your text with absolute ease.

Concentrate on creating content that is interesting, and relevant, and you’ll find that your job is a lot easier. Just remember not to give up, and don’t allow yourself to forget to post regularly to your blog, because that’s a sure-fire way to notice a nose-dive in your blog’s statistics.

 

Jargon Busting Acronyms Part Two

Jargon

Carrying on with our guide to unravelling the world of confusing internet and business jargon, here are a few more:

AWOL – Absent Without Leave

CEO – Chief Executive Officer

NEET – Under-25’s who are Not in Education, Employment or Training

B2B – Business To Business

AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action

AWTF – Away With The Fairies

BOGOF – Buy One Get One Free

BTW – By The Way

PTO – Please Turn Over

PTA – Parents and Teachers Association

CAPTCHA – Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart (also known as – ANNOYING!!)

NIMBY – Not In My Back Yard

Read Part One of my Jargon Busting Guide.

Read Part Three of my Jargon Busting Guide.

Read Part Four of my Jargon Busting Guide.

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Debate: Does Spelling Matter?

Blogging, Debate, Marketing, Writing

As a writer, and a lover of books, I have always been a natural proofreader. I think I get it from my Mum, and neither of us are capable at looking at a menu or a sign in a street without subconsciously noticing spelling mistakes.

However, seeing things like this has opened up this big conflict inside me. On one side, I hate to see spelling errors, but then the other side of me is saying “yes, but we can still understand what it being said, so does it matter?”

Throughout history, the spelling of words has altered to fit current needs with the eventual growth of standardised spellings. So, it seems fairly logical that spellings will continue evolving. However, I don’t think any linguist could have predicted that we would revert back to such an unstandardised state.

So, here’s the question: Are there times when spelling does or doesn’t matter?

Here are my thoughts:

When it does matter:

Example: Recently we have spotted a cafe that spelt its own company name wrong, and a leading department store that had misspelt the name of a food product on a sign that was no doubt used in every single one of their shops, right across the country!

Why this is bad: It looks incredibly unprofessional, especially on a business with a strong reputation and a large collection of shops nationally. Whilst a small business could be excused for have more things to worry about, and not enough time in the sense that the signs were probably written in a rush, larger companies have no excuse.

Larger companies can typically afford to hire more staff than a small one, so surely they can expand someone’s duties to proofreading?

Example: Then there is the case of a certain series of books, that you might have heard of – or even read – called “Twilight”, which have become almost as notorious for their poor spelling, as they have for their absolute ridiculousness – I mean, c’mon sparkling vampires, where the females grow make-up?!

Why this is bad: I’ve done work experience in the Editorial Department of a Publishers, in the past, and I know how important the role of the Editor is. Most importantly, I know how important the role of the proofreader is, so the idea that a proofreader has missed these mistakes, not only once, but every single time that the books have been reprinted, is just astounding.

I think that if the mistakes were evident in the first prints, that would be acceptable, because sure mistakes are missed, especially when Editors might be a little less lenient on books that they are not sure will sell that well. However, surely reviews etc have highlighted the mistakes, so a big publishing house has no excuse but to correct them for further reprints, when they know that people are going to buy them!

When it doesn’t matter:

Example: Blogs and newspapers are rife with spelling and grammar errors, mainly because both are written at a past pace typically to a tight schedule. The problem really lies in the way that they are produced, because they are typed so quickly, meaning a slight flick of a finger towards the wrong key can alter spelling without even noticing.

Why is doesn’t matter: Blogs are typically a personal affair, as a single person shares their thoughts and opinions on something that they are passionate about. Most of the time, these people are writing for themselves, around their full-time jobs, so they don’t have the time to fret about mistakes. Plus, it isn’t the spelling or the grammar, but more what is actually being said that matters.

When it comes to newspapers, we’ve all heard the phrase “tomorrow’s chip paper” haven’t we? I personally don’t see the point of moaning about a spelling mistake in something that will be forgotten by the next day. Unlike magazines, who have longer to produce copy, a newspaper might only have an hour – or even less – to produce a crucial story, so spelling is again second best to the actual content.

Example: Social media and this need to share practically everything has led to a rise in spelling errors, either because people are attempting to shorten what they have to say, or because they are having to write things that in the past they would have predominantly used in spoken communication.

For me, this last point sparks the biggest problem for a lot of people, especially on Facebook. As they are used to speaking, more than writing, many tend to type as they speak, which has led to a rise in the rise of the word “of”, when the correct word is actually “have”.

Why this doesn’t matter: Despite often having to get out a translator to figure out what some people are saying, it is usually possible. And surely that was all the person was ever intending to do right? Share a thought or an opinion.

Conclusion:

Spelling matters when you are a company selling a product. Spelling does not matter when what you have to say far overpowers the spelling of it

What do you think? Do you think spelling still matters, or are we all just moaning about nothing? Do you think that it depends on the circumstances, and should there be different rules for different types of writing?

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