Marketing Collateral Strategy

6 things to keep in mind for a top-notch marketing collateral strategy

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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 put out the first collateral.

What is needed is a well-thought approach to build a marketing collateral strategy that that can flow to a marketing calendar and thereafter for execution.

Here are 6 things to keep in mind to create a top-notch marketing collateral strategy:

1. Create Goals for Your Marketing Collateral Strategy - Identify the goals that you want to achieve with your marketing collateral strategy. Think about the end-result you hope to achieve 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 metrices specific for your business? Make sure you have that metric pinned up on the wall so you are always reminded that anything that is part of your marketing collateral strategy is aimed towards achieving that metric.

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, social media posts etc. Marketing collateral can be created based on:

  • Paradigms - Marketing collateral can be created based on various models that suits a business’s need. For example, Sephora, the beauty brand, launched the Beauty Board, a Pinterest-type social platform where users can upload pictures of their makeup looks. Customers who aren’t really sure how they’d look if they were to apply a makeup can get inspired with 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 acts as word-of-mouth marketing.

    In the case of Land Rover, a car company that symbolizes the free spirit of outdoor travel, marketers produced a video series of a couple’s journey in a land rover along with their baby. Buyers want to know how a Land Rover looks like when its driven in real-life 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. This is about showing your customers your product in action. These examples show why the conventional route to creating marketing collaterals may not be relevant.

  • Needs - Marketing collaterals can be created to address a specific need. For example, GE’s white paper on gender equality explains the ways of improving gender balance across the company’s technical functions. 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. The ideas for content on this platform is mined from the innumerable calls that its call centers receive each day.

  • Industry Requirements - 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 an IBM may not be very active on social media (apart from posting about their customer successes, company initiatives etc.). That is because the marketing strategy varies between company to company, industry to industry. Netflix chooses to take an aggressive social media route because that gives them a lot of traffic to their website which contributes to their topline. On the other hand, IBM might rely on their relationships with customer executives and partners/resellers to secure hardware/IT deals. To illustrate this point better, we published the “The Ultimate Guide to Creating Marketing Collateral for Consulting Companies,” that explains how the biggest 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.

    Take Decathlon's example of creating videos for teaching popular sports. The French sporting goods retailer has partnered with Sikana Education to teach people learn the basics of badminton. The two organizations 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 are by Decathlon brands. By creating these videos, Decathlon has not just associated with a socially important theme but have also provided themselves with a great opportunity to market their franchise organically. These videos have been hosted on their own website and distributed on YouTube as well to make them easily accessible to their target audience.

  • Each Stage of the Buyer’s Journey - Every customer goes through a buyer’s journey before finally buying the most apt product/service that fulfils their need. As a customer goes through each stage, we expect the customer to be closer to buying the product/service and more knowledgeable about her need than the previous stage. 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 call-to-action also differs between each stage. That is because if a prospective customer has read your blog on choosing the best outdoor camping material (for example), then the next stage of the journey, she might need a comparison document that lists the features of camping material from different vendors and why your merchandise is her best choice.

2. Getting Executive Buy-in - Ensure that even before you embark on creating marketing collateral pieces, you have your executives bought into 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 what sort of marketing collateral pieces are needed to suit your company’s target audience, agenda, objectives etc.

3. Aligning Your Marketing Collateral Strategy with Your Marketing Theme - Marketers often tend to get influenced away by the need of the hour 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 important opportunity for marketers to head out and get some leads in the funnel. But, don’t forget to go back to the 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 it is incorporated 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 everyday 6:30 pm London time. These newsletters carry their views on the day’s top global events. Everything that they do – social media posts, mobile app notifications, etc. reflect a common theme – global events.

4. Designing the 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 the browser more appealing than the rest. These doodles are created in memory of people who might have been forgotten for their contribution to society, but Google’s doodles have rekindled their interest in them.

5. Peering into What the Leaders Are Doing – As you build your marketing collateral strategy, don’t forget to look over your shoulder to know what the 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 the niches that your consultants are good at and develop marketing collaterals aimed at them.

6. Using a Marketing Collateral Management System – You have created marketing collaterals after a lot of thought. Now is the time to make them count. Having a marketing collateral management system that updates stakeholders when a new collateral is published or when an old one is replaced helps them know what to look for. That way, salespeople always have access to the latest marketing collateral that they need for their meetings and you avoid sending irrelevant content to your prospects. Make sure you are able to grant access to people who will need them instead of giving access to everybody. A marketing collateral system that tells you the key insights on your content (number of views, downloads, re-shares etc.) and can seamlessly sync with your workflow (i.e., CRM, email, etc.) might work wonders for your collateral creation team. Separately, make sure you have a provision of having a list of marketing collaterals that have been created, the various versions of it, the keywords factored in it, its metrics etc.

Now that we have seen how having an effective marketing collateral strategy in place is helpful, learn how you can action it in our post “The Secret to Effective Marketing Collateral.”


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