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DIRECT MARKETING: Better buy brochure

Research commissioned by the Association of Business-to-Business Agencies (ABBA) states that 33 per cent of business decision makers consider printed brochures to be the marketing communication channel that influences them most. Two hundred people (working mainly in IT, sales, business development, finance, office management and marketing) were contacted during April by the British Market Research Bureau (BMRB) on behalf of ABBA. The aim was to ascertain which channels influenced business decision makers the most. The results were good news for brochures, but not such good news for the sales call.

Brochures are the longest established form of marketing communication in the B2B sector. Their impact and use has been eroded by the Internet, but they can still do what a webpage cannot. Traditionally, brochures have been sent out in response to phone calls, left as a reminder by sales reps and distributed at gatherings such as exhibitions and conferences. They are particularly valuable when there is a long sales cycle ñ as there often is in the B2B arena ñ and they can also be used as after-sales reassurance that the customer has made the right choice. They can even make a difference to a recruitment campaign. In fact, the average brochure tries to meet so many needs that it can be in danger of meeting none.

Brochures are ubiquitous. Every decent company has one. That is part of the problem. Decision makers often agree that they must have a company brochure without first deciding on the brochure purpose and its target audience. One size does not fit all. Richard Bush, MD at Base One, says, ìB2B companies often use brochures as crutches. Many are produced without proper thought about what's needed, how they are to be used and most importantly, what value they add.î