Friday, July 29, 2016

"Brochures Aren't As Necessary As They Once Were"

Today, everyone has a website. Drive by a vacant piece of land and see a sign on it for what type of business is coming. In addition to any other information on the sign, there is a website listed. It wasn't always this way, of course, but it is now.

In the days before websites were so prevalent, people relied on brochures to make connections, sell their services, and reinforce an in-person presentation. Some companies did very simple brochures, and some spent well over $30 per brochure. Actually, it was pretty easy to spend a lot of money on a brochure - with the jacket, the type of paper, the pockets and cutouts on the inside, the specially cut pieces of paper for the inserts, and the number of items included. Often a DVD or CD (and before those existed, a cassette tape or VHS tape) is included also.

As consumers, we felt that brochures explained products, detailed features, illustrated various uses for the product, provided background on the company and the principals, provided testimonials, and helped us to compare two or more similar products from different companies. We used them to help make buying decisions.

Now, websites largely do the work that we once expected and relied on brochures to do. Brochures used to open the door with a potential consumer, generate interest in what we offer or provide, describe what we do, remind people of what we’ve already told them, and give people another opportunity to familiarize themselves with us and our product.

People expected to receive a brochure from us when they came to our office, requested one by mail or over the phone (in pre-email days), or came to a home show or similar event where we had a display or booth. Now, they expect us to have a website, but they didn't and don’t currently make a decision based solely on either one.

They may eliminate several aging-in-place providers and contractors from further consideration based on what they see as appealing to them in a brochure or on a website, and they may create a “short list” of companies they want to know more about or engage in conversation, but the purpose of having a website or a brochure is not to make a sale – it’s to create the contact to or to stimulate the contact or keep them involved with us.

We must generate the personal contact in order to make a sale. People need to meet us and see or hear about what we’re offering firsthand. Home modifications and renovations is very relational.

We can put enough information in our brochure or website to show what we offer and indicate our expertise. We can use it to stand out from our competition, but we shouldn't count on our brochure or website as being a surrogate salesperson.

If brochures were such a great sales tool, we should just mail one to everyone in in our marketplace and be done with it. Then people who were interested in what we offer could simply make a decision from the brochure and invite us to stop by their home to do the paperwork as a formality.

Obviously it doesn’t work that way, so why are we so concerned with giving out brochures or having them available for download on the website?

Let’s focus on meeting people and addressing their needs. The website can generate the initial interest and brochures can remind them of what they experienced and help maintain their level of interest. Either way, it’s up to us to take it from there and make the sale.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.