Why create collateral?

With collateral in hand, you can reach audiences online and offline; you’re not limited to one realm or the other.  Whether in hard copy form or electronic format, collateral can be printed and shared as opposed to a webpage, which may be printed or not.   Printing and sharing means your stand alone piece of collateral needs to have enough information to provide context for the user regardless of how they received it.

Multiple uses

Collateral can be created for an organization’s internal or external audiences and be used for a variety of sales and marketing objectives.  Whether you’re goal is to increase sales, educate prospects about your goods or services, or share company specific information, you’ll want an electronic version for prospects to be able to download from the web (small file size) and another version that can be printed in large quantity using a 4 color press for those times when you need to hand out a copy of something they can read on the spot.

Maintain flexibility

Having an ability to customize collateral for events or specific audiences will help you get the best return on your collateral investment. Once printed, collateral has a shelf life. Over time, key benefits change, product features are updated, and important information is missing. If you can tweak the collateral’s messaging for the audience you’re targeting and print on-demand, you’ll be able to maximize your marketing efforts.

Define your audience and message

  • Collateral can target internal or external audiences to your organization.  For example, an external audience would include customers and government personnel.  An internal audience would be your company employees and may include third party suppliers, or partners, if working closely on a process, operation, or joint offering.
  • The collateral you create should also resonate with the receiver.  You’ll want to be cognizant of where the prospect is in the buying cycle if the piece is designed for external audiences.  If the collateral is intended for internal audience, consider the objective for the piece – whether it’s for educational purposes or to encourage action – and include messaging that reflects your objective.

Different types of collateral to consider

  • Brochure
  • Sales Sheet or Cheat Sheet
  • Data Sheet
  • White Paper
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
  • Analyst Report
  • Customer Testimonials/Success Stories
  • Customer Satisfaction Survey Results
  • Competitive Comparison
  • Newsletter

Because collateral can be treated as a standalone piece, be sure it includes…

  • Consistent branding and messaging that’s aligned with other company/product/service related sales tools to limit confusion and increase recall. Think of each collateral piece as part of a family or marketing arsenal of deliverables that prospects will see.  The messaging should reflect where the customer is in the buying cycle.
  • Enough information – or background – on features, benefits, and/or solutions since your reader can’t ‘link’ to additional insights and references when printed. Be sure to proofread materials to eliminate unintended typographical or grammatical errors.
  • A sharp focus on meeting the needs of your target audience’s interests, which means using headlines or messages that resonate with the target customer along with appealing and relevant graphics. For help with messaging, consider where your target customer is in the buying cycle.  Generally speaking:
    • The most important messages – at a high-level – should be at the top and more detailed information lower in the piece.
    • Be creative. Use sidebars for customer quotes and other points of interest. Entice readers to read the piece and click on images if they view it electronically.
    • Don’t be afraid to use white space to balance out messaging and graphics.
    • For lengthy newsletters and reports, add an index and include hyperlinks to the topic if in electronic form.
  • A font or typeface that’s clear and legible. Depending upon the piece you are producing, limiting the number of typefaces may be warranted because too many fonts or typefaces may distract the reader. Use underline, bold, and italics sparingly, but appropriate to the context to maximize effectiveness.
  • A sense of quality if the piece is printed because it subtly conveys a message about your company. A heavy stock may provide a nicer and richer appearance while a lighter stock with a sheen may imply agility and less expense. Also, colors and graphics are impacted by the type of paper used, so don’t forget to take those elements into consideration as well.
  • Contact information, social media connections, order information, a call-to-action, website URL, trademark and copyright information should be included.
  • Add QR codes to any hard copy business related deliverable – brochures, newsletter, invitations, thank you cards, presentations, company give-aways (t-shirts, gift cards, cups, etc.), advertisements, direct mail pieces, and almost any item that has your logo on it to drive people to your website or online video for more information.
  • Add document security to electronic version if concerned about plagiarism or copyright infringement.
  • Add a document control number or unique identifier to the piece to track when the collateral was produced and for whom.  As your business grows, having multiple types of collateral will be common, so being able to identify which piece of collateral needs to be updated, printed, or distributed will add to your efficiency.  This tracking number can also be used by sales personnel to verify those pieces that were helpful in shortening the sales cycle or for correcting misleading information.
  • A version that’s in electronic format, which is easy to access and readily available online like Adobe® Acrobat® PDF.  Electronic versions can be available on your website or made available via email campaigns.

Keep in mind…

  • Introducing a new product or service requires educating internal and external audiences, which may require multiple sales tools to be created. Choose the option(s) that best align with your target audience’s customer touch points.
  • For collateral that will be shared electronically, be sure to embed links to help users access additional resources or information online. Be careful, however. Consider how that piece will be viewed in hard copy when it’s printed; embedded links won’t work. Can the reader obtain information by following the clues you have given  – i.e. are link descriptions self explanatory or should you spell out a URL?
  • Tasks involved: writer; graphic designer for layout, creating images and/or placing images in the layout; and a printer.
    • For layout and printing: front and back issues impact content placement and flow; be careful about color bleeding on printed materials (such as small white font on a red background); page sizes vary to accommodate different uses; and more colors (using a 4 color process – CMYK) typically increases costs for off-set printed materials.
    • A designer should know how to make the artwork or layout materials ready for 4 color process print jobs and ensure overprint sections for black only deliverables are appropriate.
    • To lower costs, collateral can be produced for electronic distribution or on-demand printing.

Discover more…

  1. Albro, Scott. “Sales Enablement: The Who, What, How, When, and Why of Sales Enablement.” Topo (blog). Accessed March 23, 2021. https://blog.topohq.com/sales-enablement-who-what-how-when-why/.
  2. Davies, Nick Beresford. “Which Color Mode Should Press-Ready Images Be Converted To?”  Graphic-Design-Employment.com. Accessed March 23, 2021.  http://www.graphic-design-employment.com/color-mode.html.
  3. deBara, Deanna. “6 Sales Collateral Tips to Take Your Business to the Next Level.” FreshBooksBlog (blog). Last updated November 2019. https://www.freshbooks.com/blog/successful-sales-collateral.
  4. Fuchs, Jay. “The 5 Kinds of Digital Marketing Collateral You Should Be Creating.”  Hubspot Inc. (blog). Last modified September 8, 2020. https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/effective-marketing-collateral-list.
  5. Gendelman, Vladimir. “Print’s Not Dead:  Print Marketing Will Thrive in 2014 and Beyond.”  MarketingProfs LLC. Last modified January 8, 2014. http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2014/24084/print-marketing-will-thrive-in-2014-and-beyond.
  6. Greer, Matthew. “Tips for Better Sales and Marketing Using Marketing Collateral.”  Digital Marketing Services, Inc. Last modified June 25, 2014. http://www.dmscolor.com/tips-better-sales-marketing-using-marketing-collateral/.
  7. “How to Create Marketing Collateral B-to-B Prospects Love (Plus Get Your Sales Force to Use It Well).”  MarketingSherpa, LLC. Last modified June 21, 2004. http://www.marketingsherpa.com/article/how-to/how-to-create-marketing-collateral#.
  8. Maver, Vikki. “11 Tips To Make Your Marketing Materials Sizzle.” Refresh Marketing. Last modified February 20, 2014. http://refreshmarketing.com.au/11-tips-make-marketing-materials-sizzle/.
  9. Sidley, Emily. “5 Do-It-Yourself Collateral Tips.” Three Girls Media & Marketing. Last modified October 7, 2010. http://www.threegirlsmedia.com/2010/10/07/5-do-it-yourself-collateral-tips/.
  10. “2020 Guide:  19 Types of Marketing Collateral You Need Now.”  Foleon.  Accessed March 23, 2021. https://www.foleon.com/topics/19-types-of-marketing-collateral-you-need-now.

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