I sat in a meeting with the Communications team recently to share feedback about the first draft of the new annual brochure/magazine. Is Bragazine in the English lexicon yet? I’m not convinced the word has a positive vibe! I’m inspired by the fresh design though, capturing the spirit of the Findhorn Foundation and Community.
I included the voice of HCN. Discussion around the value of printed brochures comes up each year during our annual Centers Gathering and the general consensus is yes – in this digital era the printed format still has value. I’m sure I’m not alone in needing off screen time and there’s something reassuring about the feel and texture of paper. Especially when it’s 100% recycled.
Over the years the Findhorn Foundation (FF) brochure has changed in style, format and design. I remember a fold out poster, with all the events on the reverse printed twice annually, in addition to the brochure. The A4 workshop brochure evolved into A5 for a few years. More recently we returned to an A4 size focused more on who we are, with articles and interviews, rather than what we offer, the programs, retreats, events and conferences. Readers then missed the detailed listing of each program and this year the aim is to create the balance of content.
It’s great to keep fresh and innovative and keep exploring the best ways to communicate with the world and expand our reach. The graphic designer was playing devil’s advocate and asking, Why? Why are printed brochures still valuable? I didn’t have the energy to debate in detail, trusting in the personal experience of many gatherings and many centers.
I’m curious to hear your response and came up with a quick list:
- Reading printed material is a different experience to reading a backlit screen – we all need to extract ourselves from the digital world for our own sense of health and wellbeing.
- Having a printed brochure helps keep holistic centers – and the many educational and transformational programs and retreats on offer – in people’s awareness.
- It’s almost impossible to know how each brochure is shared or how many people will read a single copy. Although it’s hard to measure return on investment, bookings vs. printing/postal costs, our missions have never been solely about profit, although of course we aim to be sustainable.
- If the leading holistic centers all question the value of their brochure each year and choose to keep printing and circulating them – I trust in the collective intelligence.
- Everyone has different ways of learning and engaging with the world. Offering a range of mediums – print, social media, video, blogs, interviews, podcasts – helps us reach and inspire a wider audience.
I enjoy making decisions both rationally and intuitively and think it’s important to study analytics and trends. Prior research provided a comparative overview into print/postage costs and there was a need for more detail to be fully informed. These were some of the questions raised and action points from the meeting:
- What’s the most effective way to review how many brochures each of the thousands of people in the database receive in the annual mail out?
- Let’s generate a list of people who request 10 or more brochures and contact the people/organisations who receive substantial numbers (50 or more) eg. large centers, publishing companies and FF Resource People, (our global ambassadors), and check do they still want to receive as many in this digital era?
- Do we make a decision to reduce all requests of eg. 10-25 brochures each year to just 2 or 5 to reduce costs and encourage people to share the link to the e-brochure?
- What’s the data re the e-brochure page; views, clicks etc.?
- Our stats show the highest percentage of return bookings one year after their first program.
How can we increase returning guest numbers?
Can we automate a follow on letter to all first time guests?
On FF feedback forms most people select word of mouth when asked how they first heard about us. Can you imagine the myriad of threads connected to each person? Each conversation, each time the center was mentioned, via personal visit, blog post, book, or youtube clip, that somehow conspired to create that moment when the person felt it’s time for me to visit that place!
I’m curious how you explore this question around the value of printed brochures and invite you to complete this quick ten question survey. Estimated completion time 5 minutes.
Survey results received so far highlight the range of centers and also the similarities we share.
Printing and Circulation
1000 brochures | 3000+ participants | one brochure per year.
12,000 brochures | 900 participant weeks | two brochures per year.
2000 brochures | 2000 visitors | one brochure per year.
46,000 catalogues | 2050 guests per season | one brochure per year.
We also print about 400 of a smaller brochure targeting for local holidays.
What works best in your experience?
A rack card that focuses on the basics and drives people to the website.
Have gone smaller and more sleek, card style.
The style has shifted greatly over our 36 years, though for the past few we’ve settled on the same format size (8″ by 8.5″).
We’ve chatted about this a lot. We have an older audience and still receive regular requests for print catalogues to be direct mailed.
We also still have a few guests who have no digital connection and who always use the booking form in the brochures. Many others who are connected say that they enjoy reading the brochure and that it reminds them to book.
We also distribute our annual catalogue to new locations, through partnerships, and through neighbourhood drops – so having a print material is handy to help spread the word.
Why do you continue a print version?
Offering a range of mediums – print, social media, video, blogs, interviews, podcasts – helps us reach and inspire a wider audience. 100% of responses
Reading printed material is a different experience to reading a backlit screen – extracting ourselves from the digital world is important for health and wellbeing. 80% of responses
Having a printed brochure helps keep holistic centers – and the many educational and transformational programs and retreats on offer – in people’s awareness. 40% of responses