Are you thinking about making a school brochure or maybe freshening up your current one but are concerned about the cost? It's a fact that print advertising is something many Christian schools shy away from. After all, print advertising can be expensive, a major "ouch" for your budget. The truth is that using print advertising doesn't have to be painful. With a few tricks of the trade, fundamental principles, and helpful hints, you can create a successful print brochure without all the dollar figures.

If the task to create a school brochure has historically been passed off to your school's administrative staff or receptionist, you might want to rethink this step. Although you can save a bundle by creating your own tri-fold brochure in Microsoft® Word®, sometimes that isn't what is best for your school. Sure, you have a brochure, but does it really reflect your school? More importantly, does your brochure make parents want to enroll their children at your school?

In today's day and age, your Christian school is competing with ever-growing alternative options of private education, especially online learning programs. You can't really afford not to have a quality brochure in both printed or digital versions. Find out how to get all the "bang" from a print brochure without all the "bucks" of print advertising with our handy 11 steps!

Step #1 - Decide whether to go with homemade or professional.

This is the most important decision regarding your school brochure, and only you can answer this question. Often this comes down to budget and time. If potential parents see you put attention and detail into information, it will help give them a more favorable impression toward your school. Pray about it and consider fundraising efforts devoted to marketing materials. Decide if your school can afford a brochure designed professionally by a marketing agency or a freelancer or if it's better to use in-house personnel. Also be sure to set time tables or deadlines in the beginning. Open ended projects have a way of never getting finished!

Tip: Remember that volunteer help is also an option, especially if you have talented students or teachers.

Step #2 - Think about content quantity.

How much information do you want to include, and how much of that do you really need? Decide on the basics: an introduction to your school, your mission statement, your approach to education, curriculum and teachers, cost, benefits, and enrollment information. It might take up more room than you think! An important note: write what you want to include; and then pick a design template to accommodate your desires, not the other way around. If you pick design layout first, you'll force yourself to fit the space, and that will cause you to eliminate important information.

Tip: Make sure the information you include is generic and not too time sensitive, or your brochure will become quickly out of date and unhelpful to parents!

Step #3 - Research templates and layouts.

Now that you know how much content you will have, have fun looking up design layout possibilities! The traditional brochure layouts are one page with two folds, one page with three folds, or multiple pages with two folds (like a book). Online you can find multitudes of articles about fun, interesting brochure designs. Sometimes you can find brochure templates for free; often the more elaborate, eye-catching designs cost money. If you're making your brochure in-house, choose carefully what design best reflects your school and suits your brochure's needs. Make sure you have the correct desktop publishing software to make the design you choose.

Tip: If your brochure is being designed by an agency or non-staff individual, give the creator examples of templates you like so he has samples to refer to.

Step #4 - Consider artwork and photos.

Forget borders with flowers. We're talking about real, customer-catching artwork that will make parents want to pick up or download your brochure. Of course, the most meaningful graphics are going to be actual photos of your school, teachers, and students. Try to find a way to incorporate these if possible. Stock photos (priced photos available for use online) should only be used if no quality pictures of your school are available. Consider the number of photos and amount of text in your layout. Do photos show parents important information? Too many photos can crowd brochures, and the result is that not enough text is included. Find the right balance by looking at other company or ministry brochures as examples.

Tip: Always, always make sure you have permission to use images no matter whether they are from online or personal pictures!

Step #5 - Follow design fundamentals.

Since you're an educator and not a graphic designer, you need to teach yourself the basics of brochure design if you are going to create something striking on your own. Research articles online that outline design principles such as text layout and fonts, alignments, organization, colors, and much more. Investing a few minutes to teach yourself can help create a better design and a more appealing piece. Learning a little about design can make a big difference in your brochure's success. The bottom line is that you want people to be attracted to your brochure; not cringe when they see it. Make sure it looks like something people will want to pick up or browse.

Step #6 - Make a "what to include" checklist.

To make sure you don't forget to put vital information in your brochure, make a checklist of everything you want to include. As you write and incorporate pictures, keep this checklist in mind. Also reference this list before you finish your brochure to be sure everything is included!

Tip: Don't forget common-sense items like your website address, contact information, a map to your school, testimonials, awards, and enrollment details!

Step #7 - Write your own text.

We know you don't have extra time, but it's important to make time to write your own personal copy if you want your brochure to reflect your school. Premade copy suggestions in which you just add your school's name may be fast and tempting since you don't have a staff member to spare to write your brochure. However, using premade text can lessen the quality and impact of your message. Certainly you can use premade text or another brochure's text for ideas to start with, but make your copy your own. Get the help of your English department teachers if you can.

Tip: Consider your audience when writing. Put yourself in their shoes. What would potential parents want to know about your school?

Step #8 - Edit the brochure more than once.

The saying, "It's not over until it's over" is true of brochures too. Once you think you are finished and everything is perfect, let your masterpiece sit a few days or even a week or two. Don't think about it. Then go back to it and read it over with a fresh pair of eyes. Let others read it too. You'll be amazed how you'll get a whole new perspective on your brochure. You'll see things that you never considered before, like whether photo really make sense in its context or whether a sentence confuses people. Letting time pass also helps you catch more errors to correct. Spell check doesn't catch everything.

Tip: Limit the number of people who review your brochure. Assign a final authority on creativity and content so disagreements don't hinder your success.

Step #9 - Put your brochure online.

Creating a brochure doesn't automatically mean you have to print it! Especially in today's digital age, placing your school's brochure on your website to download in PDF format is a quick, economical way to get your message out. Refer interested parents to your website and tell them to look up your brochure for information about your school. Place your brochure download in a prominent location, such as your website's homepage or welcome page, so it's easy to find. Downloadable brochures save on printing costs, removing the need for paper and ink. Plus, attaching your electronic brochure to emails or your website is more convenient for your audience.

Step #10 - Track your brochure's success.

Are you wondering if all the time you invested in a school brochure is worth it? In order to find out, add some type of tracking ability to your brochure. How? Add a unique offer to your brochure for potential parents to reference when they contact you. For example, add a code word for readers to say, a specific telephone number to call, or a discount special specific to the brochure to reference. Then you'll know they've seen your brochure if they use any of these specific measures. Another simple tracking method is to ask parents how they heard about you! Perhaps you'll find you are getting responses to your brochure, but parents aren't enrolling. You'll need to find out why. You may find that more people look at your website than at your brochure. Tracking the results of your brochure can help you make more informed decisions in the future.

Tip: To be good stewards of the resources God gives us, ensure you know the effectiveness or have tracking methods in place for all your marketing efforts.

Step #11 - Remember to revise.

Don't be afraid to change your brochure. One of the biggest mistakes possible is to let your brochure become out of date. Your brochure isn't helpful at all if the information inside is incorrect. Remember to periodically revisit your brochure to see if changes need to be made. Updates might need to be made with curriculum, new facilities, tuition, times, dates, places, maps, contact information, and so forth. Keeping your school brochure fresh with up-to-date information makes life easier for you and parents!

School brochures are a great way to reach potential parents. As we have examined, brochures don't need to be expensive or even printed to be an effective tool for your Christian school. Remember: only by reaching out and investing in spreading your message to others will your school grow and touch more lives for the Lord. As the God's Word teaches us says, "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). Put a school brochure work for your Christian school by following the simple 11 steps above. Get started today!

Do you have a Christian school brochure? Do you have questions or need help creating your own? Talk to us!