Marketing Collateral supports the services you’re offering

The classic definition of collateral is “something promised as security for repayment of a debt, to be forfeited in the event of a default.”

Some synonyms include ‘security’ and ‘guarantee.’ So, how does that translate to marketing collateral? Well, just as traditional collateral proves that someone will pay their debt, your marketing collateral proves to potential customers that you are who you say you are, and that when you say you’ll do something, it will get done. It’s a broad term, encompassing the entire collection of media that supports the products or services you’re offering.

Multiple offerings of marketing collateral

Marketing collateral can be physical or digital, and it should provide information as well as answer frequently asked questions. Even if a business is running completely online, it still needs to “show and prove” the product or service. The collateral that someone can hold in their hands or see in-person or online is vital to creating value and bringing in sales. You can talk all day about your company’s great track record, but the testimonials on your website and reviews that customers leave on social sites are what really proves it to potential customers.

Having high quality marketing materials for collateral makes the sales process easier and more effective, whereas a poorly executed design can do damage to your company’s reputation. Marketing collateral is usually responsible for the first impression of your brand. Things like a business card or landing page often are what gets a potential customer interested in what you have to offer and starts the sales process.

Common examples of marketing collateral for any business type include:

Business Cards

Even with how much the internet has changed marketing, the old faithful business card is still a must have for any professional. Traditional or modern, matte or glossy, whatever your style, the card should always have your business name, logo, website, email address, and phone number. If there’s room, add the business tagline and address. Every employee that interacts with potential customers should have one. You never know when a conversation about your business might come up, and business cards are small enough to always have them ready.

Business cards should be a professional, tangible connection to your business.  Business cards that are misaligned, poorly printed, unusual in size or shape, have hand written or hand edited items, or don’t follow common design parameters, can do more harm than good.  Make sure your business cards have the correct information, before handing it to a potential customer.  It seems like a no-brainer, but it is an unfortunate common occurrence.

Product Information Sheets

Whether you’re selling products or services, it always helps to have a master list that lays everything out. It doesn’t have to be pretty, but it should be easy to read and a useful tool for your team and customers. For retail businesses, it’s recommended to have two versions – one with pricing information that’s used internally and one that’s customer-facing with all of the same information except for pricing. If you offer warranties for your products or services, make sure you have the warranty information readily available as well.

Website Content

It’s true that a simple website is better than no website at all, but that doesn’t mean an ugly website is better than no website at all. You want it to look good, after all it’s a representation of you and your business! An ugly or dysfunctional website can scare potential customers away, or drive them to your competition. A new modern, clean website design that’s mobile responsive is the way to go. That way, whether a customer looks you up on their computer, phone, or tablet, your website will look professional. While websites are considered marketing collateral, they also contain a lot of other collateral items! Such as:

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Testimonials
  • Company Facts
Breaking down website must-have’s

If you don’t already have an “About Us” section of your website, or if you don’t know what to write, here are some basics of what should be included:

  • The date the company was founded
  • Location of headquarters and any other locations or offices
  • Names, photos and backgrounds of founders
  • Names, photos and information for the rest of the team
  • Contact information (this is big!!)
  • Basic story of your business and why it exists

Remember, marketing collateral is all about guaranteeing you are who you say you are, so the more background information, the better. Have a cool company culture? Let people know. Have an interesting story of starting the company? Share it.

Company Publicity

Never underestimate the power of local recognition. There’s a reason you see awards, newspaper articles and other media clippings framed and displayed proudly in storefronts. They make a huge difference in your company’s reputation. They let people know you can be trusted. Show them off! For organizational purposes, make a media sheet that lists the awards or honors in chronological order. Also, include any times your business was mentioned in the media. Put all of this information, and links to the articles on your website, too!

Brochures and Rack Cards

Before websites came along, brochures were EVERYTHING. Tri-fold or bi-fold, printed brochures were the best way a company could summarize everything they offer into one attractive marketing piece. They still work great for some businesses! Because as much as people are online, there are still a lot of ways customers interact with brands in person. Trade shows, for example, are a big one. Or if you’re partnering up with another business and want to exchange some marketing materials to share. Rack cards are still popular because they get the job done with one piece of double sided card stock, and they are meant to stand up on tables and counters. High quality graphic design with a call to action, especially on the top front, is important to ensure everyone will want to grab a card.

Marketing collateral includes anything branded, so for B2B marketing the list can even expand to:

  • Letterhead
  • Envelopes
  • Presentation Folders
  • Postcards
  • Product samples or giveaways
  • And many more…

These elements help your business stay organized, especially if you offer products and services with a lot of information or paperwork. Custom printing definitely takes professionalism up a notch.

Business to Consumer Collateral

What about Business-to-Consumer (B2C)? The possibilities for marketing collateral seem endless.

  • Sales Scripts
  • Social Media Content
  • Display Signage
  • Packaging
  • Direct Mail
  • And all other Advertising

…are just some of the ways businesses can prove to consumers that they are legitimate and reliable.

The right collateral for the right connection

So, with all the options available, how do you know if you have the right marketing collateral?

Start with the basics. A great way to cover your bases is to put together a press kit. A press kit, just like a website, is collateral within collateral. It’s a collection of company information that you keep all together in an online zip folder so that it’s easy to share with press, customers, and even new employees. If in-person sales are common at your business, make physical printed versions of the press kit, too.

Press kits are a great way to keep everyone on the same page. Without one, you’re leaving it up to your team to represent your brand properly, and you never know when a new employee could accidentally send out an old logo or out-of-date information.

Press kits should be on websites too! That way if a potential customer or media professional is browsing your website they can download the information directly without having to contact someone to request it. Just make sure to keep it updated.

What’s inside the press kit? Loads of marketing collateral. Commonly included are:

  • High Quality Logo (if you have multiple versions such as a horizontal and vertical include all)
  • Press Release (write one whenever you have some news, like a new product)
  • Company Facts (stuff from the “about us” section of your website, for example)
  • Product Information (as mentioned previously)
  • Business Cards (for everyone who’s a main point of contact)
  • Company Directory (if there are too many contacts to include everyone’s business card)
  • Media Mentions (relevant articles written about the company, awards and recognition)
Consistency in brand and collateral

After reading this article, hopefully you’re thinking “wow, I have tons of marketing collateral!” Or maybe, you’re seeing some missing pieces and need to give your brand more substance. No matter where you are, you can get ahead of the game by keeping everything organized in a press kit and build on it over time. This is one area of marketing where word of mouth doesn’t count – you need tangible evidence for your business to prove itself.  Items your customers can hold in their hands and see with their eyes. Even in a digital age, the importance of marketing collateral cannot be understated.

High quality design that is consistent across all of the collateral is extremely important, too. You don’t want to be showing people business cards and brochures with different logos, color palettes or taglines. It always helps to find one marketing company you trust and stick with them.   Whatever they create for you must have the same branding, design and style.

Make sure your brand’s core values and personality shines through, and that you’re leaving a good first impression. Just like breadcrumbs, your marketing collateral should lead potential customers to you. A business card leads to a phone call. A website leads to reading testimonials and looking through photo galleries or service options. Social media leads to positive reviews. The final destination is a sale, or a lifetime of sales, thus making every step along the way play a vital role in your company’s success.

Use your marketing collateral to show people that you mean business.