Produce Your Own Documents

 

Linda Vining

 

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Putting together your own brochures is an inexpensive and effective way to improve the print communication part of your school's marketing program.

A guest speaker is coming... You have a new program to announce... It's time to re-write your enrolment brochure. There's a special event on the horizon...

You need a brochure to inform people; something they can take away, think about and discuss.

With a little know-how you can produce professional brochures using in-house resources. Do-it-yourself brochures save you money and eliminate piles of out-dated material because you run off just as many as you need, when you need them. You can play around with the design and the wording until you get it just right and when it comes time to up-date your information you simple change the brochure yourself.

Equipment You'll Need

A desktop publishing program is the starting point. Training and practice will teach staff some tricks of the publishing trade; page layout, drop caps, word wrapping and how to use scanners and clip art to jazz up your pages. Staff training in these skills is a good investment.

A photograph enhances any publication so a scanner is useful. This technology allows you to place your photo directly into your brochure. You'll want to put your school crest on all your brochures so you will need a scanned image of it. A computer bureau will scan images for you if you don't have this equipment.

Computer art adds vitality to a brochure and it is not expensive to buy. It provides visual interest and a clever way to organise information and it allows the reader to quickly understand your message. You'll need a small library of clip art to start.

When it comes time to print your brochures you can use the school's ink jet or a laser printer or you can run them off on your photocopier. If you want a large quantity, you simply take your camera-ready sheets to the quick copy printer.

Saving Ideas

Everywhere you go people offer you brochures. They come in the mail and hide in the bottom of shopping bags. Instead of throwing them away, collect them for your ideas folder - the one labelled BROCHURES.

Next time you're thinking about an in-house brochure pull out your file. Analyse the ones that appeal and borrow a heading style from here and a colour combination from there, until you get the look you want. You'll also discover that there are many creative ways to fold a sheet of paper into a brochure to produce different looks. One of the simplest and most cost effective brochures to put together is the A4 sheet of paper folded into three. Then there are horizontal and vertical formats. You can also try a four fold.

Paper Makes a Difference

Add interest and style to your brochure by using patterned, coloured or textured paper. Paper choices also concern the thickness of the sheets and the finish, such as glossy, matt or recycled papers. When choosing paper, always check that it can be used in your printer and photocopier.

Many paper houses have display rooms where you can inspect their range and find stock beyond the common photocopy sheet. Look them up in the phone book and pay a visit to collect your paper samples. You can achieve large savings and have a lot of fun selecting your own paper. Specialty papers are more expensive but they are perfect for that special occasion.

Specialist suppliers sell paper that comes with attractive pre-printed designs. The paper is pre-creased so it folds easily into brochures. You simply put the paper through your printer or photocopier to achieve a stunning effect. The supplier will even provide you with a software program (template) specially designed to work with their papers. This is an easy, cost-saving way to create high quality, inexpensive marketing material using your own resources.

Design and Layout

Good design predisposes people to view your message favourably. Watch out for these pointers:

Don't cram everything together. Leave plenty of white space around the edges of the brochure and around photographs and graphics.

Use captions. People tend to look at photos and read captions.

If your brochure must go into an envelope check the dimensions before you start.

To encourage a return action, design a tear-off slip at the end of the brochure or tuck an addressed return envelope inside.

Maintain Corporate Consistency

While each brochure tells a different story, the reader must quickly recognise that it is your school who is sending the message. Therefore you need to maintain a consistent identity or corporate image which is conveyed by a standard style. Your corporate style should apply to all publications, including your school letterhead.

To create a standard style, always position the school name and crest/logo in the same way, using the same style of lettering. Add further weight to corporate identity by using colours (ink and paper) that are your distinctive school tones.

By using desktop publishing to make your own brochures you can create a template or a permanent master of your work so that your standard style and your design efforts can be transferred from one project to the next. You can marry consistency with creativity and produce brochures that demand attention.

Cut Through the Clutter

To be effective your brochure has to be simple yet striking. Don't try to say too much in one brochure. Start by asking yourself 'what message do I want to get across and what response do I want?' Clarity, simplicity and organisation are the secret to a good brochure.

Aim to:

Attract attention with eye catching design

State the benefits for the reader; tell them what's in it for them

Provide a call to action (for example, buy a ticket, make an appointment)

Here are some tips to maintain reader interest:

Tell it like you would in a face-to-face meeting and avoid jargon.

Break up the text with headings and sub heads to entice the reader onwards.

Show ways to contact you by placing your address, phone and fax numbers in large, bold print close to your school crest/logo.

Always get someone else to proof read your brochure for errors and to make sure they understand your message.

Linda Vining is the Director of the Centre for Marketing Schools. She conducts a series of school seminars on Marketing The Modern School. Phone (02) 9683 6725.

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