Writing brochure copy versus website copy

Dog bowl hungry meal eat.

The lovely Kate Toon generously agreed to be my first guest blogger and share her thoughts on the difference between brochure and web copy. I hope it’s helpful – enjoy!

Can I reuse my brochure copy online?

Back in the old days, websites were just online brochures. Business would simply lift the copy and images directly from their print brochure and squidge it into a website.

But today websites are a whole different kettle of fish. With blogs, commenting, links to social media, video, live chat and more, it’s no longer a case of just cutting and pasting your brochure copy.  Try that and your website will end up looking like a dogs dinner.

And, no, I’m not trying to create more work for you! (Or for me either).

There are in fact heaps of good reasons why you need to repurpose your content for each medium. Here are just a few.

Timing is everything

When are your customers going to receive your brochure? If you’re going to hand it out at tradeshows, then it’s their first point of contact with your brand. If your brochure is available in-store or downloadable from your website, then it’s really the second exposure to your brand. How you word your brochure and website will depend on the order in which the pieces are read.

Starting the conversation

Assuming you’re distributing your brochure as a first point of contact, then it should act as a brief overview of your company and what it offers. Its job is to intrigue readers enough to pick up the phone, visit your store or check out your website. Unless you have an über budget, your brochure is likely to be limited to a few pages so there’s no way you can fit every detail of your company here. Keep it short and snappy.

Continuing the conversation

So you started a conversation with your customer in your brochure; now you can continue it on your website. You can expand on the points raised, give more detailed information and perhaps include an individual page to cover each selling point or product.

Obviously now is the time customers can also interact with your site, buying from your online store, contacting you, commenting on blog posts and so on. Your goal is to motivate your visitors to hand over their details (email, name, etc.), so that you can continue the conversation and convert them into customers. So ensure that you write copy that encourages all these actions.

Keep the connection

It’s important to ensure that your brochure and your website are similar in terms of branding, look and feel/design, tone of voice and phrasing/product names.

The customers don’t want to arrive at your website wondering if they’ve come to the right place. So there’s no point splashing out on a fancy new brochure if your website is stuck in a time warp, or vice versa!

Complement, not copy

While you need to ensure consistency from the brochure through to the website (and all other communications for that matter) it’s important not to just simply replicate the copy. While some potential customers may only see one, others will see both, and they don’t want to read the same copy. Often brochures are targeted at a particular demographic or audience, addressing their needs, whereas the website might perhaps need to be more general.

Forget cover to cover

Unlike brochures, websites are rarely read in a linear way. People visiting your website might enter from a sub page (especially if it ranks higher in Google for their chosen search term), so they might never see your ‘cover’ or home page. This means that every single page needs to act as its own piece of marketing. It must provide a reasonably complete ‘story’ with a means of contact and an encouragement to read more.

Counting keywords

Obviously when writing print material, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) requirements don’t affect the way you write. Online that’s a different story. While I wouldn’t suggest shoehorning your chosen keyword phrases into every line of copy, you need to at least attempt the following:

  • Optimise each page of your website to a single keyword phrase.
  • Write a 60-character page title that includes your keyword phrase.
  • Write a 160-character description tag that includes your keyword phrase.
  • Include your keyword phrase throughout the page in headers, sub headers, body copy, bold and hyper links.
  • Include your keyword phrase where appropriate in image file names and alt tags.

So in summary, whether you’re writing a brochure, a website, an email or a tweet, you must always consider who’s reading, when they’re reading, what they want to know and what you want them to do next. Only then can you write (or repurpose) your content to fit.

Over to you

So what do you think? Are their any tips I missed? How did you change your copy to fit your website?

Kate is an award-winning SEO and advertising copywriter with over 18 years’ experience. She’s also a well-respected SEO consultant, information architect, strategist, hula hooper and Creme Egg lover based in Sydney, Australia.

I'm an SEO copywriter and brand storyteller based in Sydney, who's besotted with words, good stories and hot chips. I'm currently studying a Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Macquarie University.

1 Comment

  • Reply March 3, 2015

    Jessica

    May I add that as the marketing industry today embraces online ways to get clients, its is now ever more important to ace the website’s copy but I’m not saying that brochures are obsolete. Brochures are still used in conferences, trade shows etc. So applying these 2 together will get you a higher chance of getting more clients, all in all this is a pretty informative post. Thank you for sharing this.

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