Please, For the Love of God: Stop Making Brochures

Dinner was over.  We were outside the restaurant.  We were about to hug goodbye.  And my friend Doug says, “Hey can you look something over for me?”

Inside, I freeze.

Occasionally, Doug asks me to “look things over.”  That’s fine. It’s not the looking over part that’s the problem.  I’m good at this stuff.

The problem is that Doug is lost in the land of the printed brochure.  Trapped in the illusion that brochures, pamphlets and mailers are the way to build your business and get people to hire you.

This evening, I learn that Doug has made a new brochure to send out to cold contacts who he got from a list of blah blah blah… and who might want to blah blah blah…

It’s the eternal friend-clash in my head:

When I love someone and want to do the thing they’re requesting of me…

…but when the thing they’re requesting is not going to work no matter how great I edit or create a good angle for a cover letter.  (And in this case, it’s already printed and paid for.  The brochure has been made.  We’re now an Air Supply song away from being jettisoned back to the 1980’s.)

If you send out brochures, I’m betting you envision the life-span of your painstakingly produced 6-panel spread like this…

Step 1 – You tuck your brochure into the mailer, and send it out.

Step 2 – The contact receives the mailer and is instantly taken.  Flipping it over, she will think: “Beautiful!  What great colors and what a kind well-meaning look this person has in his eyes. I wonder what sort of work this nice human does and how he can help me?”

Step 3 – The contact will then read every single word on all six panels, working her way, line-by-line, down to the contact information. (Exactly as you planned it! Mwahahahahaha!)

Step 4 – She will make the phone call instantly – and you’ll get a new client, customer or gig.

Now, let’s consider a more likely scenario for your brochure…

Step 1 – The mailer hits the desk of your contact with a giant stack of other mail from people who also want things from her.

Step 2 –  Later in the day, when she has no energy for anything else, she starts to go through the stack. The phone rings.

Step 3 – Cradling the phone with her neck, she opens your mailer and stares at it while listening to her teenage son asking to go to a football game tonight with his friends.  (He’s forgotten that he promised to mow the freakin’ lawn this evening.)

Step 4 – She flips your brochure over while lecturing her son, feeling like a total mom-failure.   She tosses your brochure into an inbox beside her desk. No bandwidth right now.  Your well-meaning eyes are left staring at the ceiling as the shrill voice of a harried mom fills the room.

Step 5 – Three weeks later, your contact slacks her assistant asking for help with her office. There are too many decisions to make, and the clutter is killing her.  In the organizing efforts, the assistant looks at your brochure, flips it over and back. She tosses it into the trash, feeling mildly guilty for the wasted trees and the fact that you look like a pretty nice person.

Presentation vs Conversation

Here’s the #1 problem:  You think marketing is about presentation.

It’s not.

Marketing is about conversation.

A brochure is a presentation. It says, “Ta-dah! Here I am! Me me me me me!”  And, unless it is a part of a meticulously strategic campaign, it’s a waste of money.

You know this. I know this. And yet, you’re still caught in the Presentation Trap, ignoring strategy in favor of hope. You keep trying to  “get your name out there.”

Cut it out.  Let’s ditch the energy of “me me me me me.”  Your work is better than that.  Now that you’re great at what you do, let’s get you great at how you put it out there.

Here are 12 ideas to get you started…

  •  What if you spent a good solid hour a day for one week getting clarity on who this person is (the one who hires you/pays you)? Know her challenges, fears and dreams. Get to know her even better than she knows herself.
  •  What if you recorded a short video about a topic you’re an expert in and post it on your Facebook page?  Do this every week.  Take a popular misconception or question about what you do and distill it into a 3 minute video.
  •  What if you created a podcast about the issues that your ideal client or your industry deals with and position yourself as an expert?
  •  What if you started a contest on Facebook that captures the attention of the people who would normally be hiring you?
  •  What if you took the time to mine for and collect testimonials and success stories?  Get your peeps to talk about themselves and the impact you made on them.  (Video is best.)
  •  What if you became a LinkedIn publisher and posted shareable articles right there where your ideal client hangs out?
  •  What if you grabbed sections from that book you wrote two years ago and repurposed them into a cool little eBook to send to people for free?  (Don’t forget to add in a few of those testimonials you got.)
  •  What if your next talk is a specific topic that’s timely and relevant to the audience of that person who might hire you? (Like, “The New Practice of Inner Peace in Tumultuous Times.” Not, “Hey I’m a speaker and I’d love to come to your event/institution to do my thing.”)
  • What if you made sure you always articulate your clear call to action when it comes time for the ask?  Know exactly what you want your peeps to do. “Hey, I’m here. Contact me,” is about as compelling as the aforementioned Air Supply song.
  •  What if you searched the names of the “warmer” people on your cold list on Facebook to see what they post about, and what matters to them?   Then, find a way to genuinely connect with them on common ground. (Hey, they hike with their dog and kids on the weekends – and you have a pass to the one of the synchronous firefly events in the Smokies that you can’t use.  Send it to them!)  Be conversational.
  •  What if you took photos of you with the promoters/peeps you work with and post them on social media to build credibility and create a consistent stream of social proof?
  •  What if you created your own Facebook Group around your business? A place where others can find their tribe, ask questions, collaborate.  You build your authority in that niche as well as having access to potential clients.


I’ve helped hundreds and hundreds of people start businesses from nothing, hit the $100K mark, and then go on to create empires.  There’s a moment that happens for each of them when they’ve worked with me for a few months. They’re shifting out of presentation and into conversation.

And the miraculous happens…

They get a client effortlessly. They are invited to do something they’ve been coveting forever.  Their response is always the same. A big long, “Oooooohhhhhhhhhh. I get it!”  The lightbulb flicks on – and they’re now addicted to being great marketers and conversation starters.  Marketing becomes a part of who they are, not something to present.

Now, it’s your turn. Any of these ideas look like something you could use?  Tell me…

  • Michael LaRocca

    They all look like better, more useful ideas than making brochures.

  • Daniel Barber

    Whew! So glad to not have that on my list. For years venues wanted to have a brochure or a flyer that they could “file” in the (however unlikely) event that they -might- need to hire a band at some undermined point down the road. Sheesh!! Wish I had a nickel for every hour spent on putting those media packages together! The gigs we got were almost always from online sources where end-clients could watch videos and read testimonials.

    Frikkin. Love. The clarity. Here.

  • Rennette

    This article really blessed us today. I used it for a discussion topic during our mastermind session. Thanks for sharing such rich information. Static presentations whether they are brochures, websites, business cards, and etc are not engaging or effective. Engaging in conversations is the way to build relationships!

  • Sally Evans

    Thanks for reminding me of this! It is so easy to fall into the mentality of “If you build it, they will come” instead of creating conversations.

    The ideas that resonate most with me are the videos and the Facebook contest.

  • Gail Ross


    These were some awesome suggestions! Thanks so much for sharing! I truly believe people want to see you and your world.

  • Gina

    I both agree and disagree with the article. Agree, because of the path that communication by means of technology such as social media, etc. is positioned as the major forerunner of modern marketing. However, I disagree when it comes to assuming that the mass majority are fully devoted to the impersonal solicited invitation of a generic digitally produced cliche to appeal to them in decision making on choosing the best or appropriate product or service for their specific needs. It is a fact that many things point to dawning of a paperless society. But, considering many people are working harder to live longer you still have baby boomers and older generations who have adapted to the best of both worlds. With that, you will lose a great deal of potential customers in certain markets by appealing to the masses. And example would be a “Baby Boomer”, seeking an adequate assisted living facility for their elderly parents. The parents, who by the way, are in great condition both mentally and physically. They have opted to relieve the responsibility of their care to the children, while seeking to continue living comfortably without forfeiting the lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to. So they insist on being a part of the process. Though the children are searching and finding various options and locations at the click of a button, the parents may feel rushed or even suspicious of the glitz and glamour on the monitor. On the contrary, a personal warm greeting addressed to them may spark more of an interest and gain more trust with what they consider the future precious days of their life. How do I know, many of my friends including I myself, have both parents, though elderly, are able bodied and only require minor assistance with major issues. I for one personally flip flop between the two positions, based on my need. Thanks for sharing such informative and thought provoking dialogue!

    • Rennette

      I understand your point. In your example it was a conversation that you described. Convos can be on or offline.

  • Camilla G

    What a great wake-up call! Right on! I am a graphic designer, and I was just looking at the prices of making a brochure when your article arrived. You made me look at it differently. It *IS* about conversation. Your 12 suggestions are much more to the point than if I were to make a brochure of work-samples and send it out.

  • Yolanda Gray

    Well, you just saved me a bunch of time and money. Marketing is not presentation–it’s conversation. I need to start listening to my intuitive voice (and you). Thank you.

  • Jenna

    Annoyingly on point. Fabulous. Damn Felicia!

  • Mary Frances Fitzgerald

    Hello Christine:
    I enjoyed the energy of this article and I will be sharing it with a volunteer group. You are your own example!

  • Jeanne Michele

    Christine, oh my goodness, what an awesome article. You are so right, we get stuck in ways of doing things, and forget that the most important thing these days is human contact. Whether that be through a video, podcast, or an article that gets play on the internet. Offering relevant information is what it’s all about. Thank you so much for your article, and beautiful reminders. I can see that I have some work to do! ☺
    You Rock!
    Dr. Jeanne Michele

  • kate

    This makes my day! Great advice. Thank You Kristine you are awesome.