Print Brochure Debate Heated


To do a print brochure, or not to do a print brochure, was a hot and heated question at the recordbrochure story LERN conference in San Francisco. Several outside speakers dissed the print brochure, and several attendees announced or pronounced the abandoning of the print brochure.

On the other side were other attendees, LERN consultants, and LERN staff, who continue to warn of huge declines in registrations and income by dropping the print brochure.  So far, the evidence and data weigh in on the side of doing print brochures.  So far, programs that have dropped the print brochure have not provided sufficient evidence and data to make their case.

The question of print brochures was posted in LERN’s LinkedIn group after the conference and got a barrage of comments. All supported the print brochure. Here’s a selection of comments

Bob Dove said, “I belong to a number of Linkedin groups and have been know to delete notices without reading them when I get too busy, which is happening a lot lately. I could easily delete an online brochure intentionally or unintentionally a regret it later, but never see it. A mailed brochure has a much better chance at getting read and filed for later use, if not responded to immediately.”

Laurie Drolson, Forest Lake, Minn., noted, “ Several years ago we stopped sending a summer brochure and combined summer with spring. Enrollments dropped SIGNIFICANTLY (>50 percent) in the adult program. I’m still looking for a way to get summer enrollment back to where it was.”

Judy Martin, Spartanburg, S.C., added to Drolson’s experience, “The same happened in Spartanburg, S.C. a few years back.”

Jeff Adams, Fort Smith, Ark., noted, “ Experiencing income declines this last semester even with maintaining a brochure and expanding its distribution….there were several interconnected events in our area…had illness/catastrophes with instructors and had to cancel their classes several of which were our usual cash cows (and highlights having no backup instructors) , several new classes went well where old favorites never got enough enrollment….last minute cancellations were up, the region economy was just OK. The positive for keeping a brochure…we are getting our usual calls wondering when it will be available!

Marc Antosch, Maui, Hawaii, reported, “ Our class evaluations show that nearly 80% of students indicate the brochure as being the way they heard about the class. Coworkers expressed that our brochure is too costly and symbolic of a ball and chain around our ankles. I agreed with them, but added that our ball and chain is made out of gold. One of the downsides is that the brochure requires much preparation and becomes dated with no way to edit real-time changes. But without it, we’d see a large drop in enrollments for sure.”

Lavonne Gatlin, Florence, Ala., noted, “We have tried both and with over 18 years experience in CE programming, I am convinced that the print brochure has always been the driving force for boosting enrollments and keeping our name in front of people. As an auxiliary unit, it does look like a way to cut costs, but I feel that it is an area where we need to spend more money. I agree with Marc, that it does take some time to produce and distribute, however, I have learned that it has proved valuable in the long run. It is going to be interesting to see what new marketing techniques will be used in the future. I am a true fan of LERN! Thank you, Mr. Draves, for your wisdom and guidance in helping CE organizations prosper!”

Linda Martinak, Anne Arundel, MD, said, “We have been keeping track of how our noncredit students are getting their information about the courses we offer. In our department, we use both large schedules of the courses throughout the college, and some very specifically targetted brochures for such topic areas as health care, social work and counseling, and physical, occupational and massage therapy. Our stats show that at least 1/3 of our students find their courses in the larger course schedule, 1/3 find them on the website and the rest are a mix of the brochures, word-of-mouth and social media.”

Ken Hudiak, Cuyahoga, Ohio, says what works for his program, “Mostly print brochures, then word of mouth and internet. These are the big three. After that, it is a spattering of different ways.“

Pam Nellen,Milwaukee, Wis. says, “While it is true that print is declining for B2B, it is still important for promoting education programs. Our students also agree that direct mail is the best way to get information about our programs. However, mailings need to be very targeted and supported by digital marketing efforts. It’s rarely the one thing you do, it’s almost always the sum of all marketing efforts that make the difference.”

Greg Marshall, Bellevue, Wash., wrote, “It’s not only the schedule, It’s how that schedule looks. It’s the cover, the descriptions, titles and placement in the schedule. All of those things have impact on the success of the registration process. If your schedule isn’t generating as much registration, make sure it’s not the content “visuals” causing the problem.”

Cathy Newell, Executive Director, Maine Adult Education Association, noted, “LERN’s presentation last year in Maine definitely led to improvements in the look of the print brochure, and in programs taking a new look at the methods of distribution based on the LERN models.”

Tony Veroeven noted, “A few years ago, our client (OH Assn for the Ed of Young Children) stopped sending their advance brochure for their annual meeting and saw a dramatic decline in early registration. Fortunately there was still time to sent out a direct mail piece which salvaged attendance that year.”

Tell us your thoughts on the print brochure.


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