Just like a live sales representative, a brochure must have the right sales strategy to get results.

You can use the following seven principles to build a strong strategy right into your brochure copy and design.

1. Most readers are not interested in your brochures.

Take a moment to clap your hands five times. That's roughly how long you have to grab attention and persuade your prospects to continue reading.

You can hook your prospects in three basic ways:

* Present a benefit so compelling and believable that your prospects want the product immediately.

* Make an offer that is too good to resist.

* Say something vague that is so intriguing your prospects have to find out what you're talking about. Of course, this statement has to be related to your product or service.

2. There are three types of brochure readers.

Your aim is to convert casual readers to interested readers, and interested readers to serious readers. This is the single most important requirement for effective brochure design.

When prospects open your brochure, there should be a clear pathway for the eye, from the most important to the least important elements. To attract attention, use "call-out" boxes, with excerpts from the text that are run in large type. Boldfaced subheadlines, sprinkled throughout the text, are another tool for converting casual readers to interested readers or serious readers.

3. You need a strategy before you start working on copy and design.

You have to decide where your brochure fits in the sales cycle, what comes before and after it, if it will stand on its own, or if it will it be part of a larger package.

You also have to determine what prospects have to know to move to the next step in the cycle. And most important, you have to decide what action you want prospects to take next - and how you will motivate them to take that action.

4. Typography is critical in brochures.

There are a number of simple typographical techniques that will make brochures look easy to read. Use boldface type only in small amounts for emphasis. Don't use all caps - even in headlines. Lowercase type is easier to read. Very narrow or very wide columns are hard to read. Mixing typefaces and sizes slows readers down. Simple typefaces with limited variations work best.

5. Your photos must support your sales presentation.

Your brochure's headline and picture should work as a team to illustrate the product's main benefit. The photo should be conceptualized to support the headline. You can often use creative work from a strong conceptual advertising campaign on your brochure covers. When considering adapting a conceptual ad for brochure use, ask yourself if the ad's photo and headline will stand alone. If they will, they're likely material for a brochure cover.

6. Brochures must be written in plain English.

The average American reads at a fourth grade level. If you want to communicate with your marketplace, you must use the four main ingredients of plain English: Lots of personal pronouns, short sentences, short paragraphs, and ordinary words. Fancy language and jargon is harder to understand. There's an easy way to determine if you're writing plain English. If you use Microsoft Word, run a spell check, and make sure the "check grammar" box is checked. You'll get a report at the end of the spell check session that tells you the grade level of your copy.

7. Brochures need a close.

The action you want prospects to take when they finish reading your brochure seems obvious to you. But it isn't always to them. You need to direct your prospect just like a good salesperson does. You must ask for the sale, and then close.

From "Make Brochures Work For You," by David R. Yale, (David@ControlBeaters.Com) a direct marketer based in Bayside, NY. For information, go to http://www.ControlBeaters.Com/brochures.