MARKETING COLLATERAL: OVERVIEW
Today, you, me and whom we will henceforth refer to as the “modern customer” is a lot different from the one who existed just ten years ago. We expect products to be delivered faster, tailored to our expectations, with flawless user experience and more.
This expectation now is no longer a luxury but table stakes for businesses to retain customers.
The question is: Which team within a business is responsible for building a strategy that appeals to different segments of the target audience, their varied interests and executes them to perfection?
The answer is marketers of course.
From lead generation to revenue generation and more – marketers are expected to take on newer roles than ever before. They are now responsible for actions and outcomes that have arisen only in the last decade or so.
The emergence of gig economy, explosion of the SaaS product landscape, upsurge in social media platforms and entry of workforce millennials have changed the modern marketer’s role.
Compare this with 4Ps of marketing – price, product, promotion, and place. They meant that if your customer gets your product at the right price, time and place, you will be successful.
It still holds good, but not restricted to four elements anymore. As a result, marketers have had to come up with novel ideas to generate sales.
For example, in 2012, IKEA distributed boxes to Montreal residents, who moved to a different location each year on July 1. People who picked up these boxes were offered discount coupons to decorate their home. IKEA experienced a 2% growth in same-store sales due to its innovative marketing.
Today, marketers are experiencing an upheaval like never before. Every layer of a company's customer base is segmented into tinier niches. Hence, marketers are rethinking their strategy about marketing their product to the modern-day customer.
However, what enables modern marketers to market their products to current customers effectively? What helps them stand apart from their competition? What makes prospects choose their product/service?
The answer is custom messaging that each unique buyer can comprehend and the backbone to getting that right is MARKETING COLLATERAL.
In this Introduction to Marketing Collateral, we will talk in depth on all that you need to know about marketing collateral including:
Marketing collateral definition.
What does it take to build a practical marketing collateral strategy?
Understanding marketing collateral types.
How do you come up with ideas for marketing collateral?
Distributing marketing collateral.
Measuring marketing collateral effectiveness.
WHAT IS MARKETING COLLATERAL?
“Marketing Collateral” is a much used (and abused) term in businesses today. Unfortunately, its widespread use has not gone hand in hand with a clear understanding of what it means leading to confusion.
There are so many versions and connotations that are lurking around that we wanted to do our part to help light the way through this fog, and clearly, define not only what it is, but also why we need it (still).
Marketing collateral is a collection of media used to educate prospects and customers about how their challenges can be solved. It is designed to deliver actionable value and ensures that it occupies top-of-mind real estate with your buyers.
As implied, marketing collateral is created by marketing teams to:
Enable sales teams to sell effectively.
Inform.educate customers about a product/solution/service's benefits.
Reinforce a brand’s core message
It is usually given away for free, as it's business value is higher than it's intrinsic value.
Traditionally, this media was in physical form (such as printed brochures, or product data sheets) and handed over to clients or placed in locations that clients could access.
Today, it can just as easily be applied to digital material (such as videos, podcasts, websites and similar media) as well. Customers have access to this media via multiple channels and are actively seeking it, thereby making marketing collateral more critical than ever before.
With ubiquitous availability of software tools, it’s easier than ever for teams to generate high-quality marketing collateral in short bursts, resulting in what one might consider a golden age of marketing collateral.
PRODUCING ENGAGING MARKETING COLLATERAL IS A CONCERN
There is no doubt that marketing collateral can help a company grow revenues. Every company is jostling around for consumer attention in a crowded marketplace, and amazingly enough, attention spans are coming down.
“The attention economy is not growing, which means we have to grab attention that someone else has today” – Brent Leary, Owner, CRM Essentials.
According to Zazzle Media’s “The State of Content Marketing Survey 2017,” 65% of businesses find it a challenge to produce engaging marketing collateral, while 60% said they could not deliver it consistently. What was further disconcerting was that only 6% of marketers said they knew marketing collateral best practices, meaning 94% didn’t know about it.
WHY DO YOU NEED MARKETING COLLATERAL?
About two decades back, businesses realized that sales teams needed to share vital information with clients. Rather than forcing them to memorize technical details they didn’t understand, they figured it might be easier to provide handouts with these product-specifications that sales teams could use.
If used effectively, marketing collateral can not only help empower your sales team with all the information needed to handle client interactions but also help convince your client about the merits of your offering. Every aspect of it adds to this impression – its design, layout, text, and even its distribution channel can help.
Marketing collateral represents your business.
In industries where there is little to differentiate your product, customer relationships matter a lot – and marketing collateral can help create that favorable first impression. It is especially true for technical documents and product data sheets. Imagine customers analyzing marketing collateral from different vendors and deciding – how your marketing collateral stands out will impact their decision.
Marketing collateral is also an extension of a company's content marketing efforts. Content marketing today is an essential part of marketing, with both B2B and B2C companies focusing on it. While B2B companies tend to focus on content marketing to generate more quality leads, B2C companies measure effectiveness through sales and customer engagement.
Before we delve into details, let us understand why marketing collateral is significant. Here are six reasons.
1. BUYERS HAVE NEEDS
People have needs and challenges. It is because they have unfulfilled needs that businesses exist to fulfill them.
Imagine yourself walking down the street on a cold, rainy evening. It is very damp with puddles of water everywhere, and you're longing for a hot cup of coffee. Out of nowhere, you see a signboard that says:
Hot Coffee and Doughnut – Always a great combo!
Free Wi-Fi as well.
Turn Right & Walk 50 Meters.
You come across a brewing joint where people are sipping coffee and peering at their mobile phones. You order a latte for yourself and settle down.
In this case, the signboard acted as marketing collateral.
It had a clear offer – coffee is served along with stuff that you’d love to have.
It had a clear call to action – turn right and walk 50 meters.
That is what marketing collateral does – they attract a customer's attention to a product to fulfill his needs. It persuades customers to make a move by informing and educating them.
2. MARKETING COLLATERAL IS A MUST FOR EVERY BUSINESS
According to experts, a 30-second Super Bowl ad costs $5 million. However, there are firms whose marketing budget for an entire year is less than $5,000. Super Bowl ads are not for everyone, but every business can pick its niche.
Marketing collateral lets every business speak for themselves. Every company, big or small can get word of their business out easily. All that they need is an internet connection and digital content that will speak for itself. The marketing material could be anything – case studies, customer credentials, videos, brochures, e-books, websites, landing pages, and similar media.
Remember in the late ’90s or early 2000s when having a website or an email was a rarity? Today, no matter what you sell, a website is like a storefront and acts as marketing collateral. A discerning customer will stop by it, evaluate his options and take a decision – to either step in and try your product or walk ahead to assess other options.
It means anybody could set up a website. Any business could explain how their clients have benefited from using their products. Anyone can speak about how excellent their customer support.
3. MARKETING COLLATERAL WILL LIVE FOR LONG
Anything that you create in today’s digital era has a long life. Imagine Vito Corleone’s (Marlon Brando's) dialogue in 'The Godfather,' “I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse.” The line is part of folklore and continues to evoke emotions even today.
Marketing collateral is powerful enough to sway target audiences your way irrespective of its age. A blog that you wrote several years back could still be getting you traffic.
Similarly, any marketing collateral that you have created as part of your marketing strategy has a long shelf life and will keep delivering positive ROI for your business.
4. IT CONNECTS YOUR AUDIENCE WITH YOUR BUSINESS
Think about ‘The Avengers’ franchise and how successful its merchandise has become. To produce a movie is one thing, but to spin off a new toy business with its superheroes as central themes is business genius. What need are Avengers' toys solving? It is helping fans grow closer to their favorite action heroes.
How many times have you made a mental note of looking up for a product in the local supermarket just because you’ve seen their hoarding? Alternatively, how many times have you scanned a QR code to take a look at a website that promised you something in return?
Why do we do that? It is human psychology to trust someone to solve our problems. To believe someone based on our intuition and evidence is called cognitive trust.
Think about B2C companies – is it possible for them to reach out to every customer that they serve? Alternatively, take SaaS companies for that matter. They sign up so many customers who’re represented just by their email ids. Many of their customers are across borders. Marketing collateral is vital because it builds a bridge of trust between a business and its audience.
5. MARKETING COLLATERAL LENDS TO WORD-OF-MOUTH MARKETING
Imagine yourself shopping for a pair of jogging shoes. You fix up a budget for it and then scout online or local stores for different options. However, invariably, you want to check user reviews.
Alternatively, imagine yourself attending a business conference where you bump into your college pals who tell you about excellent an email automation software that they’ve been using.
These are various forms of word-of-mouth marketing. A Nielsen study revealed that 92% of consumers believed what their family and friends told them than advertising.
By nature, human beings are wired to share stuff. Peter Blackshaw, head of digital and social media at Nestlé explains it in his book “Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000.” Blackshaw had been appointed in 2011 when Nestlé was facing a social media backlash over accusations that they’d been destroying Indonesian rainforests to extract palm oil. He taught his team how to listen to social media commentary and build trust. In today’s digital age, consumers can make or break a company.
The psychology behind ‘I’ll vouch for it’ is dramatically different from the disappointment of an unhappy customer. Marketing collateral enables word of mouth marketing. When word of mouth marketing is backed by marketing collateral, your prospects become more familiar with it. Creating effective marketing is not expensive, but when used wisely, it can reap brilliant results.
6. MARKETING COLLATERAL INSPIRES PEOPLE TO ACT
In May 2017, Nike attempted what no human had ever tried before – get athletes to run a marathon in less than 2 hours. Three elite athletes were chosen for it (including world champion Eliud Kipchoge), and after six months of advanced scientific training and preparation, they were ready to run.
In a race where every second matters, no runner could break the sub-2 hour barrier, Eliud came within a whisker of achieving it and finished it at 2 hours and 25 seconds.
Nike won several accolades for its efforts. It became Twitter’s biggest brand-driven live-streaming event with about 13 million people watching it. Till date, 19 million people have seen it. Nike even roped in leading running influencers to add their aura to what they were creating..
Nike's attempt was audacious and a much-needed antidote to a sport that was losing its credibility over drug abuse. It probably changed the future of sports marketing and how consumers can be inspired. Powerful marketing collateral can help achieve this – encourage consumers to do great stuff.
MARKETING COLLATERAL: Objectives
Marketing collateral is consumed not by marketing or sales teams. It is meant for customers. It is vital to realize this early on, as it helps define what you create, and how you design it.
Now, we know what you’re thinking – we’ve only been talking about marketing collateral in the context of marketing and sales teams so far, so why switch suddenly? Let us explain.
As we’ve mentioned already, marketing collateral helps your sales teams. What we didn’t delve into, though, is how does it help. Yes, it’s true that marketing teams are most likely to create marketing collateral, and sales teams will use it – but only as a distribution channel. The purpose of marketing collateral is to help sales teams add value to their sales pitches (by informing/educating customers). So, if it doesn’t add value, it’s just wasted money and effort.
MARKETING COLLATERAL: EXAMPLES
Let us now look at a few marketing collateral examples to understand how leading companies are enticing their target audience.
Take a look at Dell Technologies’ Perspectives website. The content housed in it can fill an entire office building! From Formula One racing to urban farming to robotics, pick your favorite topic. A common theme that binds them is technology. Using this website, Dell Technologies is positioning as an expert in new technologies.
So, how do they drive traffic to this website? They enlist everybody from small guys to the big kahunas – influencers, small-business experts, YouTube mavens and entrepreneurs to share their stories.
Similarly, Marriott is taking an innovative approach to content creation. They set up an in-house creative and marketing collateral studio in September 2014. Since then, they boast of many successful TV shows such as 'The Navigator Live', 'The Two Bellmen' and 'French Kiss' (which garnered over 6.2 million views on YouTube).
“We are a media company now,” says David Beebe, Marriott’s Emmy-winning vice-president of global creative who was hired from Disney. The French Kiss, created to drive revenues, gave the company $500k worth of bookings inside 60 days.
Zipcar has mapped its target audience personas very well. They have a very active YouTube channel that hosts videos ranging from 'How to use Zipcar to parallel park,’ and actively blog on topics such as “Top 10 Weekend Road Trips for the Time-Strapped and Adventurous.”
These blogs are on themes that resonate with their target audiences such as city living, fashion, hiking locations, sustainable living, and travel inspiration stories. Zipcar has managed to hold onto its own and become even more popular amongst its target audience despite being acquired by Avis, a monolith in car rental in 2013.
Equinox, a US-based upscale fitness company that operates several fitness brands, has a dedicated website named Furthermore. It is a famous online fashion, fitness, lifestyle and travel magazine that engages readers with absorbing content.
Led by publishing veterans, this online magazine churns content that was initially a Question Blog. Equinox assembled triathletes, photographers, stylists, directors, and writers from The New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, etc. to make it a complete package.
Companies are also using their target audience to generate authentic content. For example, First Republic's travel gallery compiles stories by its customers who have traveled to holiday destinations and share their tips and experiences. They even feature stories of how their clients are bringing a positive change in their communities.
Starbucks’s My Starbucks Idea is another example of innovative community-based marketing. Their transparent yet straightforward site allows participants to submit ideas, express opinions on other people’s ideas and share feedback. Favorite additions to their menu such as Cake Pops, Hazelnut Macchiato, and even the free Wi-Fi are outcomes of this campaign. Besides, Starbucks can also scan for patterns in user submissions to discover customer intent.
MARKETING COLLATERAL: KEY NUMBERS
According to PQ Media’s forecast published in July 2015, spending on marketing collateral is expected to touch $313 billion by 2019.
Furthermore, Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 trends, budgets, and benchmarks report for North America showed that 56% of organizations displayed high levels of commitment to creating marketing collateral.
It comes as no surprise that companies such as MindBody, Salesforce, Bottomline Technologies, Tableau, Oracle and Johnson & Johnson, all had marketing & sales budgets more than 20% of their revenues in 2016-17 which coincided with year-over-year revenue growth for them.
So, what do these numbers tell us?
There is going to be more and more marketing collateral created and distributed in the future. However, in all of this cacophony, ask yourself these three key questions:
1. How do you know what your target audience likes?
2. How can you spend your budget on marketing collateral more productively?
3. How do you measure marketing collateral ROI?
“If You Can't Measure It, You Can't Improve It.” - Peter Drucker
MARKETING COLLATERAL: BENEFITS
Developing good marketing collateral with a clear strategy has many benefits, both internally and externally. Here are just five benefits for why you should be investing in strong collateral:
1. COMMUNICATING STANDARD INFORMATION
In every industry, there’s usually some specific information that customers need. These could be as straightforward as the terms and conditions of a product, pricing information, or even technical product-specification information.
It makes much more sense, then, to have this information already prepared and ready to share, rather than having sales teams learn it by rote and recite it each time a client asks for it. Marketing collateral can then become a FAQs section on a website; the key difference is that you can proactively share it with a customer as a link.
2. REFERENCE MATERIAL FOR SALES
When there is a lot of technical information to remember, it is generally a better practice not to rely on sales teams remember it verbatim – especially when a wrong specification could drastically impact product performance.
Having a technical sheet or other collateral that a sales rep could refer to during a meeting, and then sharing it with customers, both as an easy way to avoid any confusion and as a handy conversation memento.
3. SUPPORTING MATERIAL FOR CONVERSATIONS
Good collateral should be able to add value even when it doesn’t have a team member there to explain it. It should be something that either communicates a specific value to the customer and should work to reinforce the prior conversations. By doing so, it empowers the customer to have the information needed to answer some of the standard questions, and be able to make a fair comparison with other services.
4. BRANDING TOOL
A company's customers will engage with good marketing collateral repeatedly, either directly or indirectly. It can be useful then to ensure that they communicate your brand identity clearly, and help to distinguish your values and principles from others.
That way, each time your client sees it, they will be able to associate your values better with your brand. The more often they see it, the more likely it is that your brand will stay at the top-of-their-mind.
5. CAMPAIGN PROMOTIONS
Marketing collateral is also extremely useful as supporting tools for sales campaigns. They provide a method for businesses to communicate their products/services/solutions with their existing brand identity and help to flesh out a more cohesive understanding of their brand personality.
Campaigns are known to be very effective at creating a sense of importance to a short-term event and can be a great way to garner customer attention. Developing suitable marketing collateral can, therefore, be an effective way of letting your client rediscover you.
MARKETING COLLATERAL: USES
Marketing collateral is an extremely versatile tool. Due to its nature, it can be used in virtually any channel, depending on what your objective is and how you hope to achieve it. Learn where your clients hang out. For instance, if your client is likely to frequent online forums, then it may be a good idea to see how you can make your content accessible there. Or, if your client is expected to attend a tradeshow, it makes sense to hand out leaflets or brochures at the venue.
Today, many modern companies are leveraging digital solutions (such as Paperflite) to share content during events; this is mostly because of their superior tracking and engagement data available. We’ll discuss the channels more in detail later on in this post. The better you understand your customer and his behavior, the more avenues you will have to use your marketing collateral and can adapt your collateral accordingly.
MARKETING COLLATERAL STRATEGY
Creating the best marketing collateral needs flawless planning. It’s so much more than a transactional blog post one week and an e-book later that week. That is setting yourself up for disappointment even before you’ve published a collateral piece.
What is needed is a well-thought approach to build a marketing collateral strategy that can flow to a marketing calendar and later for execution.
Here are six things to keep in mind to create a top-notch marketing collateral strategy:
1. CreatING Goals for Marketing Collateral
Identify what you want to achieve with your marketing collateral strategy. Think about what you hope to accomplish by creating a marketing collateral strategy – more revenues, more sign-ups, more traffic, more referrals. Which of these suits your business or are there other metrics specific? Make sure you have that metric pinned up on the wall, as a constant reminder towards achieving it.
Marketing collaterals are created to serve a purpose – which could vary extensively such as informing/educating a customer, SEO/SEM, position your product competitively, branding, and social media posts. Marketing collateral can be created based on:
For example, Sephora, launched Beauty Board, a Pinterest-type social platform where users can upload pictures of their makeup looks. Customers who are unsure how they’d look if they were to apply makeup can get inspired by the image and make an informed purchase – this is called user-generated content.
Make your customers create content for you – isn’t that a smart way of promoting your brand without breaking a sweat? Think about the time you had a great meal, and you took a picture of it and shared it on Instagram or Twitter tagging the restaurant in your post.
The restaurant then responds to it with a discount coupon – isn’t that cool? You’re most likely to further share your joy on social media and with your friends that act as word-of-mouth marketing.
Marketers at Land Rover, produced a video series of a couple’s journey along with their baby in one of their cars to showcase a spirit of easy outdoor travel.
Buyers can know how safe a Land Rover is before they test drive it. Land Rover smartly published the video series on YouTube and made it accessible to anyone who wants to check out their vehicle. It is about showing your customers your product in action. It illustrates why the conventional route to creating marketing collaterals may not be relevant.
Marketing collaterals can be created to address a specific customer need. For example, GE’s white paper on gender equality explains different ways of improving gender balance across a company’s business units. This white paper is purported for a particular need – enhancing gender equality.
Similarly, UK’s largest technology company Sage has put out a suitably titled blog called Sage Advice that hosts content on a variety of topics for businesses such as initial funding, payments, growth regulations and a lot more. Content ideas on this platform come from the many calls that its call centers receive each day.
Similarly, there are clear demarcation lines between marketing collateral created by different companies in different industries. A company like Netflix that thrives in serving up authentic content may go big on social media, but a company like IBM may not be very active on social media.
That is because marketing strategies vary between companies, and industries. Netflix chooses to take an aggressive social media route because that directs traffic to their website which contributes to its revenues.
IBM might rely on customer relationships and partners/resellers to secure hardware/software deals.
To illustrate this point better, “The Ultimate Guide to Creating Marketing Collateral for Consulting Companies,” explains how consulting companies are creating marketing collateral suited for their target audience. Marketing collateral created for their target audience may not be apt for other customers in other industries.
Decathlon, a French sporting goods retailer has partnered with Sikana Education to motivate people to learn badminton basics. They have tied up with Miratus, a Brazilian NGO that is helping children get out of drug addiction and crime. All sporting paraphernalia used in these videos is by Decathlon brands.
By creating these videos, Decathlon has not just associated with a socially relevant theme but have also provided themselves with an excellent opportunity to market their franchise organically. These videos have been hosted on their website and distributed on YouTube as well to make them easily accessible to their target audience.
Every customer goes through a buyer’s journey before finally buying a suitable product/service that fulfills their need. As a customer goes through each stage, we expect customers to be closer to purchasing a product/service and be more knowledgeable about her need than before.
This journey starts from when the customer discovers more about their problems, possible solutions for it, learns how her peers are solving it, begins considering the possible solutions to her problem, decides on the best solution and then goes for implementation.
When the solution gives her benefits that she had not even hoped for, she becomes a brand loyalist. As a result, the type of marketing collateral used also differs between each stage.
For example, if a prospective customer reads your blog on choosing cloud-based marketing tools, then in the next stage, she might need a comparison document that lists features of marketing tools from different vendors and why your product is her best choice.
2. Getting Executive Buy-in
Ensure that even before you embark on creating marketing collateral pieces, you have your executive approvals for your ideas plus they’re ready to sponsor it too. Keep them posted about how your strategy is coming along and how it is starting to bear fruit.
Take their feedback from time-to-time so that: a) They don’t feel left out (which can ruffle a few feathers); b) You know from them what sort of marketing collateral pieces are needed to suit your company’s target audience, agenda, and objectives.
3. Aligning Marketing Collateral Strategy with Marketing Themes
Marketers often tend to get influenced away by immediate needs while crafting marketing collaterals. For example, they might have been asked by their CEO to help them with a roadshow or a customer conference that he/she is hosting. Fair enough, that is an excellent opportunity for marketers to head out and get some leads in the funnel.
However, don’t forget to go back to the market collateral strategy that you put together painstakingly and work towards it. If possible, align those one-off instances with your marketing collateral strategy.
Similarly, if you’re following a theme for your overall marketing, make sure you incorporate it in every aspect of your marketing collateral strategy. For example, The Economist focuses on global political and economic issues every day and sends out newsletters to their readers every day 6:30 pm London time. These newsletters carry their views on the day’s top global events. Everything that they do – social media posts, and mobile app notifications, reflect a common theme – current global events.
4. Designing Marketing Collateral
Every brand, big or small, has an image that they want to project to their outside world. Ensure that your marketing collaterals are designed according to your brand guidelines or more importantly reflect what your brand stands for. Nobody does it better than Google Chrome.
By cleverly designing doodles to celebrate birthdays of physicians, psychologists, social reformers, political leaders, Nobel laureates, athletes – in essence, people from all walks of life, they’ve made Google Chrome is more appealing than other browsers. Their doodles rekindle interest in personalities who might have been long forgotten. This is what they stand for - a brand that encompasses every aspect of life.
5. Peering into What Leaders Are Doing
As you build your marketing collateral strategy, don’t forget to look over your shoulder to know what leaders in your industry are doing. Distill the best aspects of their marketing strategies and incorporate them in yours.
For example, if you are a mid-sized consulting firm, take a look at McKinsey’s collection of Thought Leadership pieces. You need not necessarily replicate them in volume, but focus on what your consultants are good at and develop marketing collaterals leveraging it.
6. Using a Marketing Collateral Management System
When you have created a marketing collateral piece, it is time to make them count. Having a marketing collateral management system informs stakeholders when new collateral is available or when old collaterals get replaced. That way, salespeople always have access to the latest marketing collateral that they need for their meetings, and they avoid sending irrelevant content to your prospects.
Make sure you can grant access to people who will need them instead of giving access to everybody. A marketing collateral system that tells you key insights on your content (number of views, downloads, and re-shares) and can seamlessly sync with your workflow (i.e., CRM, and email) might work wonders for your marketing collateral creation team. Separately, having a marketing collateral system that hosts all your content, its various versions, keywords factored in it, and its metrics.
Now that we have seen how having an effective marketing collateral strategy in place is helpful, learn how you can activate using “The Secret to Effective Marketing Collateral.”
MARKETING COLLATERAL: TYPES
Marketing collateral varies in types, i.e., in its form, structure, distribution methods, and target audience. Why? Because each class has its purpose, utility, merit, and demerit. For example, collateral designed for a sales call varies from the one designed for YouTube. A sales call might have a competitor battle card created to empower salespeople to make more effective sales calls, while collateral designed for YouTube will be videos that convey a message to the target audience.
In this section, we will look at some of the most popular types of marketing collateral based on the buyer’s journey.
What is a buyer’s journey?
A buyer’s journey is a decision-making process buyers experience by exploring, examining, evaluating, comparing, deciding and finally purchasing a product/solution.
It begins with a challenge that a customer has and culminates with the product/solution to solve it. If he is satisfied, the buyer will keep coming back for more and may even suggest it to other buyers. However, if he is unsatisfied, the chances are that he will exhibit his disgruntlement to others.
Marketing collateral prompts buyers to take action at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Hence, it should be customized based on the needs of the stage the buyer in.
The different stages of the buyer’s journey and its stages are:
Stage in Buyer’s Journey
How to let your buyers know you exist?
How to create interest in your solution?
How to get your solution in the consideration set?
How to make the prospect take the buying decision?
How to ensure smooth implementation?
How to increase product adoption/usage?
How to reduce customer churn?
How to create customer advocates?
Let us examine the marketing collateral suitable for each stage of the buyer’s journey.
In the Awareness stage, the customer is facing a challenge and is looking for solutions. He is not aware of the existing solutions in the marketplace and is keen on exploring more about his problem. Marketing collaterals in this stage should educate the customer and not dump products on them. Here are the collaterals suitable for the awareness stage:
Creating articles with your audience in mind will reap rich rewards no matter what your business is. Take the example of Coke – have you ever wondered if you could bake a cake with Coca-Cola? Read it here. This is to show its loyalists that Coca-Cola is not just about proving everyone wrong that they aren’t ethical in their business, but a much larger brand than that. It shows that they are going to do everything to keep you engaged in unique ways than you ever imagined.
Blogs are must-have marketing collateral for any company, influencers, and entrepreneurs, etc. Blogs are content produced on the website for numerous reasons that vary from new product launch updates, mergers & acquisitions, executive recruitments, exceptional achievements and a lot more. They are a useful form of media content aimed at informing and educating the target audience. To pick the best example of a blog is difficult, but, we have been a fan of HubSpot’s blog for many years now. Their blog design is simple, replete with actionable content, and published regularly. Not just that, they have separate sections for marketing, sales, and service - this helps guide visitors to the right content that they want to read.
Assessments or reviews of your product is a smart way of getting yourself certified by an expert. People tend to value opinions from others of your product more. Digital Trends is an online magazine that reviews hardware products such as the latest VR Headsets, Netflix movies, earphones and much more. If you are a seller of hardware products, having your product featured in one of their blogs can yield you great results. If you are selling the choicest wines, then you should be featured in the Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Ultimately, it is about getting a double thumbs-up from an expert on your product.
Infographics are visual pieces of content condensed in the form of pictures and minimal text that convey a message. It is easily consumable and has good recall value. If you’ve invested in primary research for a white paper that you’re developing, then get a creative designer to publish the results of your survey can in the form of infographics. If you’re looking for ideas to create infographics, then look no further than Pinterest that houses infographic for every industry.
Podcasts are very popular amongst our audiences. They range from casual discussions to riveting crime series (remember Serial?). GE created a podcast series called “The Message” where investigators try to decipher strange alien transmissions. While marketers at GE added to their existing cache of collaterals, they also challenged themselves to produce stuff that their competition couldn’t care less. After all, how many manufacturing companies think of producing a podcast to engage with their audiences?
Point of Views
POVs are a captivating form of engagement within the Thought Leadership framework. POVs have a clear message in them such as McKinsey’s “10 imperatives for Europe in the age of AI and automation”. It lays out the ten things that European companies must do to scale digital.
Accenture’s yearly Tech Vision series is another prime example of staying at the forefront in the minds of your customers. This series is produced once at the beginning of the year and gets reused in many different forms such as videos, discussions, and industry-specific linkages. This series positions them as a Thought Leader in naming the most significant technology trends taking over humanity.
White Papers are long-form content that shows the author's authority of a subject. They form a crucial part of a company’s marketing collateral strategy as they have the potential to generate a large number of leads if used effectively.
Unarguably, videos are the best marketing collateral that holds promise. They rank as the third most preferred form of content with 72% content marketers preferring it after social media and case studies. If you can visually depict stuff, why spend effort on written material. Maersk’s video titled ‘Day of the Seafarer,’ that shows their impressive liners and how the company’s employees value working for them, is a powerful type of marketing collateral that is meant to attract the best talent to Maersk. Any aspirant looking to build a career with Maersk will surely want to look up the company’s careers section after watching the video.
Press releases are news articles about new developments in the company such as mergers & acquisitions, executive recruitments/departures, awards won, earnings reports, new products/features launched, etc. The company’s Media and Communications teams are responsible for any information distributed to media outlets (content aggregators) such as newspapers, magazines, and websites. When your target audience is interested in knowing more about your recent developments, press releases are the best source for it.
“A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself.” David Ogilvy
The website is the best advertisement that a business must have. A website is like a storefront that attracts a customer to step and make a purchase. The text on a website must be convincing that a customer is persuaded to purchase the product/solution from the company. For example, keywords such as process automation, real-time analytics, reduce costs, hassle-free travel, healthy eating, are all examples that nudge customers to explore more about your product. Your website should have these keywords embedded in it for a customer to evaluate your product/service. There is no ideal design for a website as it varies according to every company’s market positioning, requirement, appeal, etc.
In the Interest stage, the buyer has become more aware of his problem. He has more or less figured what the problem and how it is impacting it. From his research, he realizes that there are others who are facing the same issue and there are solutions in the market for it. Marketing collateral for this stage should help build interest in the customer to look up for solutions. These could be in the form of brochures, data sheets (spec sheets), and short videos.
The ideal types of marketing collateral in this stage are:
Sell-in Solution Decks
Market Research Reports
During the consideration stage, the buyer has made up his mind on a few solutions. He has begun the evaluation process of various solutions that he has shortlisted. He has narrowed down a few products he'd like to buy but hasn't decided on any single one yet. Some of the solutions are feature-rich, some have good customer support, some have are pocket-friendly. In a B2C environment, the process might not last beyond a few hours because the transaction size is small and the need/challenge is not very complicated. However, in a B2B environment, the problems are complex, and the purchase value is high.
The most suitable marketing collateral during this stage are:
Brochures are small documents that contain the necessary information about a product/service, the features that it has, the benefits that a user can experience if he/she were to use it. The purpose of a brochure is to educate the customer ahead of buying the product/service. For example, Daikin’s 5-page brochure for air conditioners lists the features of their products, the product range available, specifications, etc. A customer looking to buy an air conditioner knows what exactly to expect from them. Some brochures also carry a short-form case study of how customers have used them and benefited from it.
Case studies are another form of high-impact marketing collateral that resonates well with the target audience. When you have helped your customer experience benefits by using your product/service, it is time to bloat about it a bit! Especially if the client is a marquee brand. Amazon Web Services’ US Department of State case study explains the challenge, the solution, and the benefits. This is a good example of creating a case study where a prospect learns about how the company’s solution has helped a client and relate to it better.
In the Decision stage, the consumer has shortlisted the products that he’d like to purchase. Within the product list, he is undecided about the best option that suits him. So, marketing collateral appropriate for this stage should be convincing enough to help them make an informed decision. For example, user reviews narrate how a user’s challenge was solved using the product.
Here are examples of marketing collaterals that are applicable during the decision stage.
Assessments - e.g., Quizzes, Surveys
Custom Sales Enablement
In the implementation stage, the customer has made his choice. The best marketing collateral for this stage could be user guides/product guides that help him understand how to use the product. Marketing collateral most suited for this stage are:
Quick reference guides
In this stage, the customer has begun using the product and has discovered the benefits. At this stage, the ideal marketing collaterals are new feature updates, tips and shortcuts while using the product, etc. Here are a few examples:
Tips & Tricks
Retention and Advocacy Stages
When the user is extremely satisfied using the product, he becomes an advocate for it and begins suggesting it to his friends and family. He might even review your product on online forums and platforms for others. He now feels the need to be a part of a community, so user-generated content is best suited. A monthly newsletter or upcoming offers can be good examples of marketing collateral. Here is the complete list for this stage:
Survey - Product Improvements & Road map prioritization
These examples are not an exhaustive list to create marketing collaterals, but we think they are ideal for getting you started on the path of creating great marketing collaterals for your company.
BEST PRACTICES OF MARKETING COLLATERAL
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you start planning for marketing collaterals for your business:
Mend your fences with salespeople (if broken) – Salespeople and marketing teams often don’t see each other eye-to-eye. As marketers, having a healthy relationship with the sales team will give you ample ideas to generate different types of marketing collateral. For example, creating competitor battle cards for salespeople can give them a good idea about their competition and equip them in unique ways to position their product/services to the customer.
Speak to Internal Teams – Make sure you speak to internal teams such as engineering, product design, customer support, etc. For example, the engineering team might tell you newer insights about how your product/service benefits customers. On the other hand, the product team may ask you to unexplored nuances about your product. These insights can later be used to build marketing collateral.
Venture Out as Often as You Can – One of the requirements of being a marketer is to keep searching for an opportunity to leave your desk (even if needs you to fib to your boss). Try and participate in webinars, conferences, gatherings, fireside chats, etc. as much as possible.
That is because when you go to these places, you’re sure to have interesting conversations with peers and learn how they’re doing it in their organizations. That will open a window of ideas for you to create new marketing collateral. Identify the list of best external forums that you’d like to participate at the beginning of the year and make your travel bookings early.
Meet Customers at Every Opportunity – Never let an opportunity to meet a customer pass by. They are the real judges of your product/service. Use the chance to get to the bottom of any trouble they’re facing while using your product/service. It's highly likely that others could be facing the same issue. Take notes and then convey your feedback to the respective teams when you get back to the office. Ask customers if they’re willing to be advocates of your product (if they’re extremely satisfied using it). There is rarely high-impact marketing collateral than a customer giving your product a thumbs-up via a video or an acknowledgment on your website.
Talk to the Bosses – If you can get executives in your company to open up about what they think of the industry, the operating environment, competition, etc., you might get undiscovered secrets.
For example, speaking to the Chief Product Officer could tell you the product roadmap, the new features in the pipeline, etc. The CEO might be able to tell you what he/she thinks is the future of the industry. These are insights that customers will appreciate. Being alert to vibes from executives could give you newer ideas to create high-quality marketing collateral that is authentic.
MARKETING COLLATERAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
Until now, we spoke about creating the ideal marketing collateral for your business. We are now ready to look at the next stage, i.e., a marketing collateral management platform. As you scale your business, marketing collateral is bound to go up and so will the demands on the need for a unified collateral system.
This platform must be able to fulfill the needs of various stakeholders across the company including marketers, communications teams, Investor Relations, Salespeople, Designers, product engineers, and more. In this section, we will look at the reasons how a collaborative marketing collateral management system will be helpful for your business:
1. Enabling content discovery:
Let us look at a conversation between a John, a health insurance seller and Malcolm, a prospect looking to buy a health insurance pack for himself and his family.
John: Hello Malcolm. I hope I have not caught you in the middle of something.
Malcolm: No, I’m good.
John: Great then, just following up from our last week’s conversation, I thought I’ll quickly walk you through some of our newest insurance plans that we’ve launched. Is that okay?
John: Fantastic! Our newest policy is the most comprehensive in the market that covers a variety of illness, hospitalization, premium calculations, deductibles, provider networks and a lot more. Here's how it works…(voice trails off)
Malcolm: Hmmm, that’s good to hear. Do you have a video that can explain these concepts for me? It’ll be more comfortable for me to decide.
John (scratching his head): I’m sorry, we don’t have one right now. Can I get back to you next week on this?
Malcolm: Sure, I’m ready whenever you are!
This is a realistic sales conversation that happens daily across businesses and industries. John could have closed out a deal right there if he had a simple video that explains important health insurance concepts.
Today, salespeople are struggling to find original content – stuff that their target audiences want. On the contrary, B2B marketers are allocating 28% of their total marketing budget towards content marketing, while the most experienced and effective content marketers are earmarking 45%. Isn’t this scenario paradoxical by itself?
It calls for a marketing collateral platform where sales reps can easily find the content they need. The marketing collateral can host content when it is ready. It enables sales reps to discover and identify the right content to use for the right sales opportunity that will close deals.
2. A Seamless Distribution Mechanism:
Imagine the number of times salespeople end up not being able to deliver on their promises because they could not find the relevant content they were looking for (similar to the conversation between John and Malcolm above).
In 2011, EMI Strategic Marketing reported that on average, salespeople spend 8 hours a week working on client presentations, 5 hours looking for marketing collateral and 4 hours looking up information on their customers. That amounts to 100 days lost in a year.
In 2013, Sirius Decisions said that up to 70% of marketing collateral goes unused by salespeople. Companies spend millions of dollars on producing such marketing collateral.
That’s why a seamless distribution strategy must be adopted, but not through emails (as it is most likely to get buried under the sea of emails they get every day). Instead, a content management and distribution platform could be used to store content and update it whenever the need arises.
Salespeople should get automatic notifications about new content. That is how a robust platform works instead of clunky emails where you keep digging till you realize that you have deleted those emails long ago.
3. Curation Platform:
How odd will it be for teams to share marketing collateral that is stale? One of our colleagues who had worked at a large technology company tells us that despite the company undergoing a major rebranding exercise (and spending millions of dollars in that effort), internal teams continued to use old templates and sometimes it even made its way out of the organization into client email inboxes.
The clients were aware of it due to the massive publicity undertaken as part of the rebranding exercise. As a result, some of the clients were a little confused with the collateral they received.
Collaborative marketing collateral can help avoid such disasters from happening. You could send marketing collateral and still update it without the customer realizing it. With emails, it is always a one-way street, and once the content goes out, you have no control over it.
4. A Unified Business
We often talk about the rift between the Sales and Marketing teams. As content marketers, we have discovered that one way to create meaningful content is to design customer personas that tell us what our customers need. The same applies to our sales teams as well.
In the July-August 2006 issue of the Harvard Business Review, industry experts Philip Kotler, Neil Rackham, and Suj Krishnaswamy opine that “…when Sales and Marketing work well together, companies see substantial improvement on important performance metrics: Sales cycles are shorter, market-entry costs go down, and the cost of sales is lower.”
They have cited the example of IBM where sales teams were focused only on fulfilling product demand and not creating it, whereas marketing teams struggled to connect the ROI on advertising to the sales it generated.
When marketing teams announced new product launches that sales teams weren’t ready for, the problem worsened. This is a typical situation that can be avoided by way of a marketing collateral platform that lets marketing and sales educate each other and address the situation jointly.
5. An Audit Platform
Auditing marketing collateral is a must for all businesses – big or small. Think about the number of blog posts that you have, the Thought Leadership papers/White Papers that are housed under the Resources section on your website or the eBooks where you have spent a lot of money getting them in shape.
For that matter, your website may have numerous inner pages linked to your homepage. Added to all this is your SEO strategy which uses keywords, hashtags, backlinks, descriptions as links between each marketing collateral. Now, that is a heady mixture of several things that generate revenues for your business.
If you are not able to take stock of them from time to time, you will be staring at an abyss of endless stuff that is intertwined along with your business. A marketing collateral platform tells you the date when collaterals were created, the people responsible for it, when does it need a refresh, which ones should you retire, what are the new ones you should create (in line with your evolving marketing themes), etc.
All of your collaterals can be in one place, and all that you need to do is get your content teams to look at it and determine the future course of action. It can organize your collaterals under various themes, initiatives, the purpose for which they are created and a lot more.
MAKING SALESPEOPLE SMARTER WITH MARKETING COLLATERAL
Thus far, we have explored how we create, curate, distribute, audit marketing collateral. In this section, we will look at how can marketing collateral be personalized so that the sales reps who are using it for sales pitches appear smarter in front of customers.
Until now, when sales teams launched email campaigns loaded with attachments to customers, they could not prioritize the right call and adapt their conversations according to the interests of the target audience.
Not just while reaching customers for the first, even for customers who’re known to them, the attachments that sales folks use are large ones that might take ages to open/download. Moreover, despite having spent considerable energy and resources in developing these attachments, sales teams aren’t even aware if their customers have engaged with their content.
That is because organizations are not looking at the bigger picture – Is the buyer aspiring to achieve far more than just buying a product/service once? Is the buyer looking to increase his knowledge? Is the buyer trying to get newer insights from a piece of content?
Teams are only looking at fulfilling their Key Result Areas (KRAs) versus catering to the customer’s holistic needs. Companies are still providing to process-centric journeys instead of buyer-centric journeys that addresses the overall story.
That is why enabling salespeople must be enabled with sharp abilities to converse with customers such as:
1. Personalized Experience for Each Buyer
Who does not like personalization? From mobile covers to the music playlist in our cars, all of us like the stuff we are most familiar with, and it never gets boring. So, why not give salespeople the ability to personalize their outreach to buyers. Customizing a story to the unique needs of the target audience allows for a one-on-one conversation with customers. Salespeople can drag-and-drop content pieces on visually enriching storyboards that reinforce brand ideology and offerings and convey a lot more than simple emails.
2. Engaging User Experience
Research tells us that a user spends only 10-15 seconds on a content piece. A user can be compelled to stay on a content piece if it has a clear proposition in terms of value. Let salespeople have the ability to pinpoint which pieces of marketing collateral are going viral within their target audiences.
As a result, enable your sales teams to get rid of email attachments and instead create unique experiences that effortlessly integrate different media into a single customized interface.
3. Understanding Buyer Intent
By the time a buyer becomes an actual customer, there are numerous touch points that he has had with the company selling the product. He would have seen the product ad on a social media platform, and he might have seen a YouTube video to know how the product works, read reviews, spoken to sales reps for more information.
By tying all these touch points together through a single instance of content, and tracking its journey through the digital ecosystem, businesses can control their messaging, identify how the marketing collateral is best engaged, and clearly understand the consumer’s intent.
This leads us to our final section in this guide, and that is measuring the ROI of marketing collateral.
MEASURING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF MARKETING COLLATERAL
For today’s businesses, content is now at the core with over 25-45% of marketing budget spent on content marketing. A majority of them cannot track how the audience engages with them. Zazzle Media’s “The State of Content Marketing Survey,” revealed that 62% of marketers did not know how to measure the ROI of their marketing campaigns.
Marketers and salespeople are therefore firing in the dark and hope their messaging resonate with their customers. The number of channels to distribute content aggravates this situation.
Good content undeniably produces better customers – customers who are more invested in your business, are more loyal and are more willing to share their story with others. It amplifies the value marketing collateral provides to the company, extending well beyond the direct top-line revenue it generates, making the Return on Investment (RoI) on content a significant indication of success. This section is about metrics for assessing your marketing collateral strategy. Consider these questions for a start:
1. How do you know which marketing collateral piece is becoming viral?
2. Which content piece is garnering more attention than the rest?
3. Which page of your eBook are your leads/prospects spending more time reading?
4. Who is viewing your marketing collateral?
5. Are all outbound content branded according to your company’s standards?
6. Which of your pieces is a favorite among your sales teams?
7. Do your sales teams know the next part of marketing collateral in the pipeline?
8. How are salespeople discovering your collateral?
9. Who are your marketing collateral's biggest fans?
We often tend to get carried away by the number of likes and shares that our social media posts get. True, they are a good indicator of what our audience feels about it. However, do they define the efficacy of our marketing collateral? Can they tell us by how much did our conversion rates improve? Or, what is the next marketing collateral that our target audience is ready to consume? The answer is a resounding ‘No.’
That’s why measuring marketing collateral engagement is critical. It can give you answers to questions such as:
1. How many people have viewed/downloaded your content?
2. Who gets to see it further?
3. Which portion of your document is attracting more attention?
4. What was the average time spent?
5. How many marketing collateral pieces are unused/undiscovered?
6. What are the opportunities that you are not cashing on in yet?
7. Are there clear trends which types of content are working better? E.g., Blogs, videos, white papers.
These metrics can then enable you to track down the leads to their source. To be able to do this, you need to tag your leads to the marketing collateral pieces via your platform. Or, you can do this intelligently through your CRM platform. Ensure you have integrated your CRM with your marketing collateral platform.
Ultimately, it is the dollar numbers that count. From the leads that your marketing collateral generates, you can get the percentage conversions into actual sales and the amount of revenues influenced. Find out which types of marketing collateral compresses the sales cycle or moves the pipeline faster.
A 100-page whitepaper is hardly equipping your sales reps better than just being a bragging topic. Probably your YouTube channel is keeping buyers hooked on to your website. However, to get there, you will need to get your primary metrics in place.
Measuring marketing metrics can tell you if your marketing strategy is headed in the right direction or not, and which marketing collaterals you need to focus more. Define these metrics when you start putting together your approach so that it becomes more comfortable for you to know what to measure. Assessing the ROI of your marketing collateral closes the loop that began during the creation stage. It gives marketers a clear idea of which marketing collateral is working and which one is not.
Creating marketing collateral is just one aspect of your overall marketing strategy. Distributing them, hosting them, organizing them under different categories, keeping them relevant to your brand, making it usable for various events, conferences, i.e., doing everything to making them valuable are the larger chunks of work associated with it. Despite your best efforts in creating marketing collaterals, ensure you revisit your strategy frequently so that you can refresh it and tune it to the needs of your target audience. This guide will enable you to think about how you can create and distribute effective marketing collateral that results in positive outcomes for your business.