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Brochure testing: the ultimate guide to test value propositions

Brochure testing: the ultimate guide to test value propositions

Templates, examples & practical tips

In this article:

  • What is a brochure test?

  • Why not a landing page?

  • When to do a brochure test?

  • The Brochure Test Guide (4 steps)

  • Do’s, don’ts and extra tips

What is a brochure test?

A brochure test is a low-fidelity experiment. You make a brochure/flyer and bring that to an interview. By letting your interviewees respond to your ideas, you will learn more than just interviewing.

Why brochure test, and not landing page?

  • Brochures are created faster (first-time founders can do it in ±1 hour), so this allows for quicker iterations

  • Focus on content and language rather than technology

  • Weeds out the bad ideas for landing page design

  • Brochures force you to be brief

  • They do not need to be pretty (see below)

When to brochure test

  • You are not learning anything new in problem interviews

  • It’s too early to start building an MVP

  • Before you build a landing page

  • You know what you want to learn

The Guide to make a brochure test

1. What do you want to learn

Ask yourself: What do I want to learn? before doing any experiment. This will help you to check if you’ve designed the right experiment.


Home of Progress is a startup I’m currently mentoring. During the interviews with recruitment companies, we learned something important. All companies were fast growing and had issues around employee retainment and juniors that suddenly needed to manage. The causes of these issues had three common themes: mental health, educational growth paths and personal feedback/evaluation.

What did we want to learn? Where can we add most value? I thought it would be a good idea to learn which of these problem areas seemed most pressing. To learn that, we set designed three value propositions.

2. Designing 3 value propositions

For each of these problem areas, we needed a solution. You can use the value proposition canvas for this or just a simple box like below.

What do you need to know for each solution?

  • Ideal customer profile

  • Product category: platform, chair, coffee mug, mobile app, sensor

  • Benefits / value you create

  • Features that realise this value

Home of Progress example case

  1. A tool that assists evaluation between manager and employee

  2. A tool that supports mental health by stimulating a healthy lifestyle and offering mental health services

  3. A platform with educational videos and learning content to improve the employees skillsets

💡 Minimum of three variations helps you to compare how potential customers respond. If you just give 1, you don’t what Meh means. But if you have Meh and Yeah next to each other, you can better interpret the data.

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3. Creating the brochure: It’s all about copy!

Now it’s time to create the brochures. It doesn’t need to be pretty. Get the Google Doc template here.

Just four elements

  1. Have a captivating title that explains what is most important to grasp

  2. In your subtitle, you can add a little extra

    1. Your solution should be clear from the title + subtitle

  3. Summarise the benefits/outcomes/values

  4. Explain how your features achieve those benefits

💡 Make each brochure a caricature. It’s better to have three extremes than to have three things that overlap for 90%. You are creating these brochures to learn what is important to your customer, not to design your final solution. Give this person something to choose between.

Don’t make me think, keep it simple

Writing good copy is a craft. If you’ve never done this before, you suck at it. That’s okay. I recommend reading this guide on writing copy for landing pages by Julian Shapiro.

It comes down to skipping fluffy language such as ‘ground-breaking’ or ‘innovative’. Be concrete about what you do for your customer. See his example on DuoLingo:

He has countless examples on how to turn benefits into powerful language.

Make a dump of all copy ideas

It can be tempting to make the brochure straight away. Sometimes it helps to start in Miro or somewhere else, to fully focus on the copy.

Understand how people use your brochure

People are not machines. Their eyes will be all over the place. But, most likely, they will follow this pattern. Therefore, make sure that this is the order in which you explain things.

Your solution (type) should be clear from the title + subtitle. Are you an app, a lawnmower or a hairdresser? Narrow it down for them.

4. How to use the brochure

Brochure tests are great at the end of problem interviews. You can do this in face-to-face meetings and on Zoom Calls

  1. Put it on the table

  2. At the end of the problem interview

  3. Help them to think out loud “What do you think it is?”

  4. Show them 1 by 1

  5. Ask for a favourite brochure

Example: Home of Progress

Menno brought these brochures to interviews. At first, he felt awkward because they don’t look very sharp. But in all 15 interviews, it really helped to understand our customers. Ultimately, the evaluation concept was the winner.

This allowed us to downscope the feature set. Subsequently, we build an MVP in Bubble. Right now, we’ve got 1 paid pilot live and 4 pilots queued on this value proposition.

🔥 Extra tips

Don’t explain your brochure

You should resist the urge to explain your brochure. If they ask you a question, such as ‘is this X or Y’, make them explain their current idea of what it is: “What do you think it is”. “It is unclear” Okay, perfect, your copy sucks. Go fix it.

Let them rank the brochures

Instead of asking for a favourite, you can also ask them to rank the brochures. This gives you an extra dimension to the results.

Let them rank benefits/features

Within a brochure, you can ask which benefits and features are most important to them. Gives you an extra understanding of your potential customer.

Prepare an interview guide

An interview guide can help you to know what you want to ask specifically. You don’t need to follow it religiously, but this is a great extra step if you aren’t a very experienced interviewer.

Don’t do a group interview

A food startup I’m currently mentoring had four potential customers to which they showed the brochures. This created a very chaotic conversation.

It’s hard to go deep in such a situation. Four people talking together will try to synchronise their opinions and doesn’t allow you to understand each person.

Should I add a price to the brochure?

Putting a price on there will give you different results. Therefore, I advise to

  • First show brochures without prices

  • Then show brochures with prices

This will give you more detail. You can also play with revenue models, such as testing subscription vs. one-time payment.

Iterate. Make updates.

If you see a sentence that confuses your interviewees, you can easily change it. You don’t need to make it weird for the next five. This is the great thing about brochures: you can tweak them as you go, based on your latest inputs.

Most important: You are here to learn the reasoning

Brochure A is my favourite. That’s not your most interesting piece of information. You want to know why A is best.

You say you liked benefit X? Why?

If they say for Brochure B the price is too expensive, that’s not your most interesting piece of information. You want to know what makes it too expensive.

Help yourself: ask why.

How was this one?

For every vote, I will burn an NFT.

Great - Good - Meh

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I Want Product-Market Fit
I Want Product-Market Fit Podcast
Actionable insights for founders poured in stories, straight from my experience mentoring 150+ startups and my PhD research on early-stage startups.