Brochures are inexpensive and super-effective marketing tools that can be used for sales lead generation as leave-behinds or direct mailers and in a host of other applications. Each panel can be used to separate a unique message; or, a single design can be spread across two or all three panels. More businesses use tri-fold brochures than any other kind; so how can you make yours stand out from the crowd?
Here’s your guide to creating tri-fold brochures that make a lasting impression on clients:
Planning your brochure
Before you even put pencil to paper, consider who the target audience is, what your message is, and what you want your audience to do when they view your tri-fold brochure. Your design should create a flow from a controlling idea (e.g., headline) through benefits, an offer and a call to action. Think about what supporting material you can use to back up your statements such as testimonials, charts, graphs and other visuals. Now, put your pencil to paper and sketch out some general layout ideas.
Don’t feel constrained by the three panels – as stated, your design can cross each panel, and you can actually use the folding mechanism of a tri-fold brochure to reveal your message, turn by turn. One device is to pose a question on the left back panel (which, when the tri-fold’s front flap is opened, will be the first inside right panel); then answer it when the brochure is completely opened.
Developing the theme
Develop a singular theme for your brochure and stick to it. If you’re promoting a product’s ease of use, a clever approach might be to call a reader’s attention with arrows: “Read this → Now look here → And you’ll want to know this → See how easy it is?” If you’re espousing the benefits of your support staff, have your tri-fold brochure printed on a sturdy paper stock such as 100-pound gloss cover (available from the online brochure printing company PsPrint). Use graphic and textual devices to highlight key information and support your theme throughout.
You should also consider printing an oversized brochure – an 11-inch by 17-inch or 8.5-inch by 14-inch brochure will always have more of an impression than a traditional 8.5-inch by 11-inch brochure.
Tips for designing your tri-fold brochure
Front panel: Lead off with a killer headline that grabs attention and intrigues the mind. You can accompany your headline with an image or pattern if you’d like, as long as you’re careful that your graphics don’t overshadow your message. You want your readers to open your brochure to see what’s inside. Appeal to your audience’s wants, needs or fears with your headline; and when possible combine that with an offer. For example: “How long until hackers steal your customers’ personal information? How about a quarter past never? Save 20 percent when you protect your website with NoHacker Security today!”
Back panel: Most businesses simply put contact information on the back panel of their tri-folds. Why waste the space? While you should include contact information, you can also use the back panel to reinforce your message: “Remember, the hackers are on their way … Stop the hacks in their tracks with NoHack Security. Look inside to save 20 percent!” Notice how we reinforced the message, and we also tell prospects what to do next?
The back panel adjacent to the center back panel can be a continuation of the back, or it can be used as a device to be viewed when the tri-fold brochure is first opened. Remember that your prospects have to first open the cover panel, then the inside back panel, before they see the full interior three-panel spread; so make use of this valuable real estate in a creative way. This can be a great place for big benefit bullet points, elaborating on your offer or including a perforated coupon, event ticket, VIP pass or other incentive.
Interior panels: The sky’s the limit here. Instead of splitting everything into three regular panels, try spreading your design across two panels, and listing features, benefits, testimonials or other important information on the last panel. Too many tri-folds are split in three even splices; if you want to stand out, take advantage of the entire layout space to craft truly creative and compelling designs that funnel readers’ eyes to your call to action.
Probably the best single piece of advice to consider when you want to make a tri-fold brochure stand out is to be innovative. Don’t be afraid to try something new! You could split your open spread in two horizontal panels, with the top panel being a flowchart layout and the bottom panel separated into three distinct areas: features/benefits, testimonials, and offer and call to action.
Finally, understand that it is the message of your brochure that will motivate response; the design is a facilitator. Work your design to that end, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful direct-marketing tri-fold brochure that gets great results.