How to Create Marketing Collateral That Increases Your Sales
One way or another, your company needs to generate sales. By effectively designing and incorporating marketing collateral, you can sell more people, more often. By marketing collateral, we're talking about items like brochures, fliers, business cards, letterhead, envelopes, direct mail, letters, proposals, presentations, fact sheets, case studies, testimonial sheets, reports and white papers.
These materials have a significant impact on your bottom line.
The Importance of Marketing Collateral
Every interaction between you and your prospects and customers shapes their perception of your business. Trust is a major hurdle you need to cross in order to get the sale. Your marketing communications help you leap this hurdle and get you closer to closing a sale.
How do they do this?
Every person you deal with forms a certain mental image of your product and your company. By presenting a consistent message, you reinforce the image you want your prospects to internalize. You can't implant the image of high quality if your website hasn't been updated since 2001. By the same token, you can't implant the image of technical aptitude if you have typos in your copy.
Are You Presenting a Consistent Image?
You can see for yourself if you are presenting conflicting messages. Collect all of your marketing collateral and communications and pile it on a table. This includes everything from your brochures and reports to your letterhead and stationery to promotional items such as t-shirts and mugs.
Now take a good look at it all.
Does the collection present a unified message? If not, you are sending potentially conflicting messages to your prospects. For example, are your business card and letterhead printed on high-quality paper stock, but your brochure is ink-jet printed on lightweight stock? Is your logo different on eaverry piece? Do you use more than one tagline or slogan? Each of these inconsistencies can create a lack of understanding in your audience. When the brain picks up conflicting messages, red flags go up and your trust is undermined.
Using the Right Image
You should also be presenting the proper unified message. Your marketing and sales team should share the same voice. You normally don't want to sell big ticket items with cheap collateral, or vice versa.
Due diligence to your marketing collateral also helps you to build your brand from the inside out. You can help shape what outsiders think of your company by consistently presenting yourself in a specific way. When you approach a new prospect, they will have an accurate view of your company's positioning. Your sales staff will have much less educating and more selling to do.
Good marketing collateral also allows your sales staff to spend their time building relationships and actually selling--not creating presentations and proposals. And by systematizing and tracking which marketing pieces work best, you arm your salesmen with the most effective pieces.
Your Company Image and Its Effect On Sales
Before designing your marketing collateral, you need to decide on the image you want to present,and who your audience is. Your marketing collateral is just one piece of your company's image. Your marketing communications, your pricing strategy, your sales strategy, your customer service, your public relations and your promotions should all work together to present a unified vision of your company to the marketplace. An anamoly in any part will confuse the market and hurt your sales.
When you have been able to tie all of the above pieces together and form them into an image and message that is attractive to your target market, you are ready to create killer marketing collateral. Depending on your business, you may need collateral before you begin selling (if you are selling an expensive piece of computer hardware) or months or years into your your business (for simpler, less expensive products).
Choosing a Vendor
So you have your image and message you want to present to the outside world. How do you get your vision made into paper and ink? You have several options depending on your budget, product and goals: You can do it yourself, hire a free-lancer or hire an agency.
Hiring an outside person to come in and design the collateral for you saves you time and produces good, professional results. Sometimes. It can also come in late, over-budget and not be what you wanted. You can help yourself by doing a little legwork before hiring an outside vendor.
A freelancer will be cheaper than hiring an agency. However, you may sacrifice customer service and reliability. If you are looking for a freelancer, you can begin your search by selecting pieces you like, and calling that company and asking who designed it, and how they were to work with.
An agency will cost you more money, but should provide you with more customer service and reliability. That does not mean that you will GET better results. Select a couple of different options and get a price estimate, review samples of work, examine testimonials, contact actual clients, and look for guarantees of on-time and on-budget delivery of your project.
Compare a couple different agencies or freelancers and choose the one you feel most comfortable with. Most outside vendors will also work with printers to get your pieces produced. Believe me when I tell you that this is a huge bonus to out-sourcing the work!
Creating Marketing Collateral In-House
You may have the resources to create your marketing collateral in-house. In this case, there are several areas you need to consider when creating your material including the design and layout, the format components, the message and production.
Before begining, you need to know how the piece will fit into the overall scheme of your sales process. What's the goal of the piece? The intended audience? When does it need to be completed? How will it be distributed? What's your budget?
When you know the who, what, where, when, and why you can get down to actually designing the piece. The overall design and layout should be attractive and properly reflect the message. The piece must functionally accomplish the stated goal.
You accomplish the above through different formatting elements. Design includes some or all of the following elements: balance, white space, font type and size, color, paper stock, paper size, graphics, illustrations, photographs, charts, and graphs. If any one of the above elements does not match or help propel the message, you create inconsistency which lessens the likelihood of a sale.
Next comes the content. Is it accurate, easy to read, simple and clearly written, easy to understand, grammatically correct, typographically correct, written in the reader's language, enthusiastic and persuasive, and does it contain a call to action? Good, each of the previous elements helps build trust and complete sales.
After the piece is designed, you need to send it to production. Most aften that means sending it off to a printer. You'll need to negotiate with a printer the cost and production schedule. You will need to prepare the files for printing and consider the timing of the piece and how it integrates with your other sales pieces.
You'll also want to devise a way to measure its effectiveness. You can do this directly via keyed calls to action or by running split tests among your sales staff. You may simply judge the piece indirectly by observing how your sales staff, your customers and your prospects respond to the pieces. Are they being used and commented on? Have sales rates improved with the introduction of a piece? Are leads better or worse with a particular piece?
You send subtle (and not so subtle) messages to the market with every piece of marketing communications your company sends. You can help foster a greater sense of trust by producing a consistent message through well-designed marketing collateral pieces. By actively producing a unified set of marketing materials, you help free up your sales staff to focus on generating sales, not sales materials. And by tracking which pieces produce the best results, you can arm your sales staff with the best weapons possible. All of which leads to greater sales.
So few businesses are aware of the effect that marketing collateral has on their bottom line, that with just a little diligence on your part, you can blow the competition away!.
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