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Telling Your Story

Why printed brochures are relevant in an electronic age.

Telling Your Story

Jan 5, 2010 12:00 PM,
By Don Kreski

Why printed brochures are relevant in an electronic age.

Visionary Solutions found value using its brochure in a number of ways: as a handout, a mailer, and a PDF as well as distributing it during presentations and tradeshows. View the company’s brochure at

As important as electronic media have become to most companies, there’s still a lot of value in a printed brochure.

“People look at our brochure and they instantly get all kinds of things about our company that would have taken half an hour of conversation to convey without it,” says Will Bakewell, president of Internet protocol television (IPTV) equipment manufacturer Visionary Solutions (VSI). “Of course, that’s hugely valuable to the sales process, as you can imagine.”

Visionary Solutions uses its new brochure in a number of ways: as a handout, a mailer, at presentations, at tradeshows, and even as a PDF on the company’s website. “It helps our customers make a leap of understanding in how our products can fit their needs,” Bakewell says. One of the problems that VSI faces is the fact that many potential buyers have trouble understanding what IPTV is all about. It’s not unlike what prospective clients ask AV contractors: ‘What is it you offer? How can it help us? Why would we buy it from you?’

“The truth is, we do offer something unique and valuable in a market that isn’t really addressed by other companies,” Bakewell says. “We went into this project needing a way to crystallize what we have and explain it clearly and concisely.”

A process of focusing priorities

When Bakewell and I began talking about this brochure in the summer of 2008, our challenge was a little deeper than just describing their offerings. “The dialog with you became a good a way to focus ourselves in terms of our strategy,” Bakewell says. “We had to be coherent in what we were presenting, and you had to push us here and there to kind of nail us down on what we were trying to do in the marketplace.”

Visionary Solutions is best at producing relatively low-cost encoders that take full-resolution analog or digital video and convert it to an MPEG stream in realtime. Similar encoders are available for use by big telcos and Internet content providers, but they’re many times more expensive. VSI products, to use telco terms, are for “edge acquisition” and “edge distribution.” They are for the use of organizations capturing and delivering content across private IP networks and the World Wide Web.

For an AV contractor, the strategy questions are similar: Who are your main markets? What is it you do that’s unique? It doesn’t help to say that you’re good at everything. Not only will no one believe it, but it doesn’t help your best prospects recognize what you can do for them. “I was reluctant to get nailed down because I like to keep my options open,” Bakewell says. “But on other hand, without being very specific about what we have, I can’t reach anyone.”

The VSI brochure began to evolve into three main sections: We devoted two pages to an explanation of IPTV technology, two pages to VSI customers, and two pages to the VSI products. Throughout these pages, I worked hard to be as specific as possible about the company, the technology, and its applications so as to prove rather than just describe Visionary Solutions’ advantages.

In addition to these sections, we needed a front cover that would catch peoples’ attention and convey something of what the company was offering. We devoted the back cover to a schematic of how VSI’s products fit into the network environment, graphically summarizing what six pages of text attempted to explain.

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Telling Your Story

Jan 5, 2010 12:00 PM,
By Don Kreski

Why printed brochures are relevant in an electronic age.

Why a printed piece?

I asked Bakewell why he decided to do a printed brochure rather than just add this material to his website.

“I love that question because, for years, I resisted doing anything in print,” he says. “I tried to stay digital, because we are a technology company, because of green factors, and because printed materials are costly and they’re hard to change. But my customers, dealers, and reps taught me that they needed something that can quickly tell a story.

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“The brochure is like that two-minute elevator speech that every entrepreneur is supposed to have down pat. And it’s in a form that anyone can master.”

Bakewell and I originally talked about two four-page brochures: one to explain the concept of IPTV and one to contain product information. “We combined them,” he explains, “because I wanted one simple thing to keep track of and hand out, one piece that gave everyone the full story every time.”

We both felt strongly that the piece had to be highly visual. People will not read a lot of text until you’ve captured their interest through headlines, photos, and other graphics. So we said this was “Video at the Edge” and talked about and showed a single scalable network handling data, sound, and video.

“It’s not enough to give something like this a contemporary look or a high tech look, because you can do that in a generic way,” says Tony Bonilla, who created the graphic design for this brochure. “We needed a look that differentiates Visionary Solutions from others on the market—a look that conveys, at a glance, something of the depth and quality of this company.”

Was it worth it?

“We got [the brochures] into all of our reps’ hands, we did some mass mailings, and we got a nice pop of quality inquiries when we did the mailings,” Bakewell says. “We got one guy so interested in our products that he started asking if we had any openings, and he ended up interviewing with us.

“But it’s also nice in a day-to-day sense because you don’t have to open up your laptop when you meet a potential customer. You’ve got the brochure right there and it tells the whole story. You can just narrate that story as you flip through the pages, which is also quite useful.

“I’ve been getting a lot of great feedback from everyone who has seen it.”

Don Kreski is the president of Kreski Marketing Consultants, which offers marketing services to the AV industry. You can reach him at

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