AdVENTising – We Need a Brochure

AdVENTising – A new series of posts from guest bloggers. The thoughts expressed in this column are the sole opinions of our volunteer guest writers.

We Need a Brochure
Written by member Blair Boone, Ph.D.

Back in the day, clients would come to ad agencies and say, “We need a brochure.”

Some agencies gave their clients a brochure. The good ones asked, “What do you want to accomplish? We’ll tell you if you need a brochure.”

Then the account folks and creative types would develop a strategy and a campaign that might — or might not — include a brochure.

Today, clients come to agencies and say, “We need to be on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.”

You’d think the good ad agencies would say, “Tell us what you want to accomplish and we’ll develop a strategy that includes social media. Maybe we’ll recommend a blog instead of Pinterest.”

But no. Too often, they’re saying, “Oh, sure. Right after we design a nice brochure for you. And produce a TV spot or three.”

Now, I’m not talking about the bad old Web 1.0 days when agencies just took the client’s brochure and put it up on the website. Or slapped up last year’s :30 TV spot. That phenomenon was about agencies not understanding the interactive capability of the new medium of the Internet (yep, it was capitalized back then).

No, I’m talking about agencies today not getting that social media is about (a) content, and (b) engagement. That it’s a process, not a project, a process that relies on having people who can generate engaging content and manage continuous engagement. I’m talking about the mentality that still wants to sneak a brochure in there somewhere. Even though you can’t tweet a brochure. And no one has ever “Liked” a brochure on Facebook.

There’s nothing wrong with a brochure if your client needs one. But who does? Most business is conducted electronically in one form or another. Even restaurants can send a copy of their menu to your smartphone. Do they really need a brochure?

Part of the problem is the agency business model still hasn’t accommodated unpaid media and low-cost production. Under the old model, media commissions and markup on printing and broadcast production were where the money came from. That model’s been dead for a while, yet we still haven’t figured out how to make money selling engagement.

We’d damn well better. If clients have finally gotten over brochures, isn’t it time we did?

Blair Boone, Ph.D. has been writing advertising copy for a long time. Most of it has not appeared in brochures. He is president of OneWriter. You can find him at and @blairboone on Twitter. ©Blair Boone 2012