In Design Tips, Direct Mail Boot Camp, Direct Mail Copywriting

How to Design a Classic Trifold Brochure

Why should you produce a trifold brochure for your mailing? The answer is simple. A brochure can be an important part of your lead nurturing marketing strategy because it gives to interested prospects more valuable information to learn about your company, your products or services. A well-designed brochure and high-quality print can generate thousands in sales for your company!

But producing creative brochures isn’t simple and neither cheap. To fulfill its purpose, the brochure should be visually engaging and informative without being overwhelming and stand out from the competition. We can help you manage the entire process. Let’s get started.

Before designing

Start your project with a creative brief that will set up your project for success. Clarify at this stage:

Goals of your brochure. Not having a clear purpose will result in a vague message, having too many goals will confuse your readers. What response do you expect and what actions do you want the audience to take? How do you want the ad to be perceived by your audience? What should your ad make them think, feel and do? Here are some examples:

  • Remind your old customers about you and entice them to come back with an irresistible offer;
  • Drive them to your website where they can learn more about your products and services (show demos, tutorials, samples, tell success stories, showcase testimonials or reviews, etc.)
  • Build a buzz around a new product launch and support a personal selling effort adding credibility and helping to overcome objections.

Whatever your goals are, write them down and limit them up to three specific goals. Your brochure can’t accomplish effectively more than three.

Set the budget limits and constraints

For a friendly budget brochure marketing you need to:

  • Estimate a reasonable price for the copywriting. If you’re not comfortable writing it by yourself, consider hiring a professional writer. Expect to spend from $100 to $300 for a professional copywriting.
  • Consider your options for design: free templates, freelancers/agencies, or design your own brochure. If you use a template, free layout or a premium theme, help yourself with the guidelines about dimensions, layout, border requirements, folding and specific mailing requirements.

If you aren’t a professional designer, don’t overestimate your graphic design skills. Your business will rather lose than win with an ineffective brochure design. By the way, our design services start at $55 per hour.

Brand identity

Choose design elements that fit your overall branding, the tone and content of your brochure. The tone must transpire not only through the copy but in all design elements too.

Do you have a Visual Style Guide? What color scheme is intended for the project? Do you have some color preferences? It might be not a bad idea to refresh your knowledge about the Psychology of Color and symbolism of colors and color meanings. The colors of your brochure should reflect the tone of your brand.

Credit: The Logo Company

Targeted Audience

When you’re creating a piece of content for your customers, keep them in mind. Who are they? Specify the gender, age, stage of life of your audience, add if needed location. Refine the targeting with lifestyle criteria: their daily activities and routines, interests and hobbies, opinions, values, and beliefs, goals, and challenges, if they are relevant to the message and design of your project.

”The better you know your audience, the more effectively you can create appealing content ideas, make formats decisions, handle positioning and placement, and promote the content,” 


Designing your brochure

Step 1 Writing

Write your copy and gather images, prior to starting your design. Having your copy first will help you make important decisions about the layout, fonts, size, color scheme, etc.

On the other hand, having your layout first will help you adjust the text to fit it into a given format and design. What idea is more appealing to you?

Make your main point with headline and subheadings, so your readers can understand your brochure by simply glancing at it.

Build a solid structure, by using subheadings to group ideas and help readers focus only on the information of interest to them.

Include attention-grabbing questions. Make sure after grabbing your readers’ attention, the second line is a worthwhile information.

Avoid clever inside language or images, inside jokes or industry jargons.

What information to put in a brochure?

  • An attention-grabbing headline
  • Product / Services Benefits
  • Your special offer and your unique selling proposition.
  • Event or sales dates and location.
  • Contact information.
  • Website and social URLs.
  • A call to action.

Mistakes to avoid:

#1 Too much text: don’t include everything you do in one brochure! Put there one-two products or services. If you want to showcase more than two, choose other brochure types that are more suitable for this purpose.

# 2 Not having a clear target. When you want to target everyone, you end up losing everyone’s interests. Choose one, maximum two products/services and target them to one type of customers.

So, one product, one customer. Maximum fit!

Step 2 Gather good images

High-quality photos are compulsory for a compelling marketing material. The images you select should complement the text. Do not sacrifice the quality with cheap photos. Best for print purposes are photos with the highest resolution and size possible. For prints, the photo should be 300 dpi (dots per inch).  If you want to take your own photos for your design project here are some tips: How to Take a High-Quality Photo for Your Website or Brochure

Step 3 Choose the brochure size

Your brochure type choice should depend on the content. A commonly used by small business size that has when it’s opened or flat   8.5″ x 11″, and when it’s folded creates 3 panels on each side. It’s the most popular because it can fit easily in a standard envelope. Also, it has the advantage of being cheaper than other unusual fold patterns. Other popular sizes are 8.5″ x 14″, 11″ x 17″ and 11″ x 25.5″.

Step 4 Filling your template

The front cover sells your product or service, the back cover provides contact information and the inside tells the story.

Front Cover is the most visually appealing to the eye, invites the reader to grab the brochure, open it and read more. What to put there? Your logo, the company name, a tagline that summarizes your offer.

Back Cover is the right place to display only your contact information: phone, fax number, website, social media, physical address, email address, your free toll. This is also a great location for a QR code.

Inside panels of your brochure are the most important. What to put there:

  • Reasons why your prospect should choose you a relevant and powerful testimonial.
  • Description of your company in one-two sentences.
  • List your product and services and their main benefits
  • One paragraph about your competitive advantage.
  • Explain how you usually work with your clients.
  • Give an insight into how to get started.
  • Direct your reader to your website for detailed information.
  • And the most important: your Call to Action, “Contact us for a free consultation” or Visit and learn more.

Free Template Customization

Step 5 Tweaking your design

Use easy to read fonts (Helvetica, Times New Roman, Garamond, etc)

Use sans serif fonts for body text and serif fonts for headlines and subheading. Choose complementary fonts that are different enough to look deliberate.

Limit your font choice to maximum three. Using too many types of fonts can make your brochure to look messy.

Underline important key messages with highlighting techniques – bold, italic, bigger size fonts.

Use big fonts for headlines and Call to Action. Adjust the font size to the importance of the information.

Break longer block texts into bullet points that can be read easier.

Align design elements properly for a clear and neat layout.

Balance block texts with white space and give your reader enough breathing space.

There are several online resources that can help you to pick up your color scheme. Adobe Color CC is a great generator that helps you to create palettes based on color rules (analogous, complementary, etc.) or you can just explore endless color palettes to get some inspiration.

Step 5 Choosing a printer / Printing Options

Your marketing materials quality will affect the perception of your audience about your products and services!  A brochure printed on thin paper stocks will make your company look cheap and flimsy. While a matte thick premium paper and vivid ink colors will suggest high-quality products and services. Selecting a good paperweight and finishes will make a good impression on your readers. What options do you have for printing?

Short run printing

Use digital printing to deliver quickly or small orders. Digital printing is also suitable for metallic colors, and a wide variety of glossy, matte and textured coatings that may be printed in-line or added in post-processing.

Offset Printing

Traditional offset printing is more appropriate for high-quality prints, accurate color reproduction and large (over 1,000 pieces) runs. Also, it supports a large variety of paper type with custom finishes.

While digital printing is more advantageous for short runs, with offset printing, the more you print, the cheaper is the price per piece. As a general rule, if it’s under 1,000 pieces it will be cheaper to produce on a digital printer.

Read more about Cheap Direct Mail Formats and Sizes & Cheap Direct Mail Printing Options


We hope the information above will help you to make decisions related to your brochure design and printing. If you would like your brochure designed by a professional designer, give us a call. We have creative professionals to design any direct mail piece that will look great on someone’s mailbox. We have offset and digital full-color printers for a professional feel and look of your marketing materials.

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