Last month, I wrote a brochure for a company that makes a health care tool. This month, they’ve decided that they need a rewrite at the website.
I’m so glad that they didn’t decide just to take the text I wrote for their brochure and tuck it into their website. I’ve seen people do that before, and it’s a mistake.
- People read differently online from the way they read paper. When I pick up a brochure, I can see at a glance what it consists of. If I’m interested in your goods and services, I’ll probably read it. Your brochure won’t suddenly turn out to contain a video or an interactive tool or to be 200 pages long; I don’t need to scope it out before I begin reading. So it makes sense for a brochure to begin with a good story or a telling metaphor. Your website, on the other hand, needs to answer my questions right away and let me know that I’m in the right place.
- The context is different. Your brochure may come to me in the mail or you may put it into my hands when I visit your showroom, but there almost certainly won’t be 5,436,723 other brochures there at the same time. Online, visitors are making a fast decision about whether to stay at your site or to go look at someone else’s very similar offerings. A brochure can be a lot more leisurely, and it can be mroe sales-oriented, too.
- Search engines are irrelevant to brochures. Your brochure gets into people’s hands in a lot of different ways, but search engines aren’t one of them. Your brochure doesn’t need to be written so that robots can understand it. It can be literary, it can rely heavily on pictures, or it can be mysterious. Your website can’t do any of those things if you want anyone to find it.
This is why a company with a good marketing department — or a marketing company — may still need a web copywriter. At the very least, remember the moral of the story: don’t use brochure copy on your website.