Brochures, websites, presentation folders, and white papers. Business cards, print and e-newsletters, trade show displays, and blog posts. Sales “scripts,” data sheets, and multimedia presentations. All of these materials, both print and digital, are marketing collateral-“sales aids” that position your company well (or poorly!) in the minds of your prospective customers.
Effective, professionally developed marketing collateral will help drive your business. But how do you know if your materials are working for you…or against you?
First, study your marketing materials as an entire group. Ask these questions:
1. Is there visual consistency among all of your collateral materials? Every item in your collateral library should feature your corporate identity and brand. Key company messages, photos, selling points, and so on should be consistent across the board, making each marketing piece easily identifiable as yours.
2. Is the quality of the finished material high, with no exceptions? A poorly proofread website makes you look unprofessional and careless. A well-produced presentation folder stuffed with fuzzy Xerox copies mixes messages about your firm`s attention to detail, commitment to quality, and budget.
3. Are the images presented the “right” images for your ideal prospects? We recently worked with a healthcare firm whose patients in different metro areas were dramatically different demographically: In one city, it was best to choose images for brochures featuring working-class African-American and Asian people, while in another, it was important to present Caucasians who appeared affluent.
4. Are the details of your collateral materials accurate and up-to-date? You might be surprised how often materials have to be re-printed because no one noticed that a phone number or email address was incorrect!
5. Do print materials reference electronic materials? Printed brochures and newsletters should refer to websites and social media pages. Printed materials are still important components of your overall marketing effort, but potential customers need to be aware that you have an online presence, as well (and you should have an online presence, if you don`t already).
Next, choose the brochure, site, article, or other material that you think is the best one you have. Answer these questions:
6. Does this piece of collateral have a specific purpose? Don`t confuse your audience by overcomplicating your sales aids! Each piece of collateral should have a purpose: a fundamental reason for existing. (One recent client insisted on a 12-page “Company Overview” booklet: serious overkill!)
7. Can your prospective clients and customers tell what you do? This may sound like a funny question, but it`s often hard to tell! Covers, headlines, callouts, and other key elements of your marketing materials should clearly explain WHAT your company does, HOW you do it, and ideally, WHY you do it: Companies that have a clear mission and purpose get better results in the short and long term.
8. Can your prospects determine why they should consider your firm over others? It is incredibly useful to look at your competitors` marketing collateral. As it`s often said: “You don`t have to be the first to offer a benefit, but if you`re the first to tell people about it, you own that benefit!” (And remember, presenting your company as “lowest price” devalues your services: Look for other ways to differentiate yourself.)
9. Is each piece of collateral targeted toward a particular customer? One of the single biggest mistakes marketers and salespeople make is attempting to be everything to everyone! Every piece of collateral should be aimed toward a particular type of client. Picture one of your best customers-seriously, picture Sally Smith from XYZ company, or John Jones from ABC-when you create collateral. This will help you target your message to other buyers like Sally and John.
10. Are you promising or guaranteeing things your company really can (and will) deliver? If you have a 70% satisfaction rating on your response time from customers, don`t promise them “immediate, effective response.”
By asking the 10 questions above, you`ll be able to determine if your marketing materials are working for you or against you. Developing powerful marketing collateral that represents your company accurately and positively will drive your revenue.
P.S. But wait, there`s more: proofread, proofread, proofread! Don`t just proof for misspellings. Check for accuracy of information (see #4 above), consistency, and meaning. Don`t forget that your and you`re are different words; as are it`s and its; there, their, and they`re. Small mistakes can give a big, bad impression.