A Beginner's Guide to Marketing Collateral

by Robert Izquierdo | Published on May 18, 2022

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Smiling woman gestures to gray-haired man over desk.

Image source: Getty Images

Marketing capabilities today far outstrip the possibilities of the pre-digital era. Case in point: U2’s Songs of Innocence album magically appeared on Apple devices a few years ago to the consternation of iPhone customers.

Customers didn’t realize Apple initiated the marketing stunt to promote its latest products. No one could fathom a music album by a premier rock band could serve as marketing collateral.

What is marketing collateral?

In today’s technology-driven world, the concept of marketing collateral has transitioned from the old paradigm of printed promotional materials, like flyers and business cards, to any type of online or offline media used to support the sale of a product or service.

Marketing collateral examples include an online video, a blog post, and yes, even a music album. Typically, the collateral contains a call to action, and delivers valuable information or advice to the customer.

Collateral accompanies every step of the sales and marketing process. Consequently, all businesses use marketing collateral.

It should be personalized to the individual client and reflect where they live in the customer life cycle. To do so, a business must leverage the kind of data and automation tools available in the best CRM software.

Top 10 types of marketing collateral to use for your business

In today’s digital world, marketing collateral serves a greater role than a simple business card. However, the right strategy must accompany collateral materials or it will be wasted effort.

So let’s break down the 10 most common types of marketing collateral to help your business succeed with each.

1. Landing pages

A landing page is a unique page designed to achieve a specific marketing objective. That objective depends on where clients reside in the customer life cycle.

For example, website visitors at the awareness stage typically arrive at the landing page via an online advertisement. They clicked on the ad to learn more.

In this case, the landing page builds on the information in the ad while incorporating a design geared toward capturing email or other contact information to move visitors into the sales pipeline.

Today, you have many options to create landing pages without requiring an engineering degree. Software like Hubspot CMS offers a content management system (CMS) to build landing pages within its interface.

HubSpot CMS page builder screen with a tooltip suggestion to A/B test different variations of the page.

Hubspot CMS enables easy creation of a landing page and allows for A/B testing. Image source: Author

Tips for using landing pages:

To use landing pages effectively, follow these suggestions.

  • Tailor the page to the customer objective: You created a landing page to achieve your objective, but prioritize the customer’s need, and you’ll obtain better results. If customers arrive at your landing page from an ad promoting free coupons, don’t make it difficult to find the coupons. Otherwise, customers leave frustrated.
  • Provide a carrot: Consumers won’t provide personal information without an incentive. This can take many forms, like product discounts, a downloadable research report, or access to a special tool or newsletter. So to move customers down the sales funnel, the landing page should offer a carrot.

2. Emails

Email provides one of the most effective marketing channels. Customers past the awareness stage can be open to opting into an email list, enabling an email marketing campaign to drive them to the next stage of the customer life cycle.

A flexible tool in your marketing arsenal, email can be used effectively across customer life cycle stages. It can act as promotional collateral, delivering news of a sale, or it can be informative, describing availability of a new product. Its flexibility makes email ideal as both consumer and business collateral.

Tips for using emails:

Email marketing easily slips into spam territory if applied incorrectly. Use these best practices to maximize results.

  • Personalize the emails: Because consumers receive a lot of email, a one-size-fits-all message gets lost or feels like spam. To combat this, personalize the email to each customer segment you’re targeting. For instance, if a customer abandons an item in your website’s shopping cart, reach out with an email reminder.
  • Use email software: Personalizing emails is a daunting task without help. Adopt one of the best email marketing software options available to easily create email collateral, segment your customer population, and monitor performance after sending the emails. Software like HubSpot’s Marketing Hub streamlines the entire email marketing process.
HubSpot email editor with drag and drop blocks for image, text, and button

HubSpot’s Marketing Hub simplifies email marketing with customizable content blocks. Image source: Author

3. Blog posts

Blog posts enable a business to create a brand image as an expert and thought leader in the industry. By crafting posts that tackle topics germane to the business and its customers, the organization’s blog builds client confidence in the company’s expertise.

Another important benefit: Blogs help a business appear in search engine results. Consumers often discover businesses through search engines, and these search engines prioritize content related to the words used to execute a search, called keywords.

So an accounting firm’s blog post about new tax legislation can provide the company greater search engine visibility when consumers use tax-related keywords.

Blog post benefits don’t end there. This type of collateral is ideal for inbound marketing strategies. Furnishing value to customers lies at the heart of inbound marketing. So a blog packed with useful information delivers higher inbound marketing success rates.

Tips for using blog posts:

While a flexible marketing medium, blog posts can succumb to pitfalls, like a lack of engaging content. Use these suggestions to ensure success.

  • Avoid the sales pitch: Blog posts are meant to convey information, not sell your products or services. Making them salesy undermines consumer confidence in the blog content.
  • Address challenges and provide solutions: Tackle a specific problem or topic in each blog post, and suggest solutions or advice. This allows your company’s expertise to shine.

4. White papers

White papers are authoritative, in-depth research reports focused on a specific technical topic.

Like blog posts, they position your company as a thought leader and industry expert. Unlike blog posts, white papers deliver original research of a highly technical nature.

As a result, white paper creation calls for participation by experts in the field, either within your company or from professionals and educators in the industry.

White papers’ unique nature makes them ideal for B2B lead generation. Typically, white papers are obtainable via a digital download, but only after a client provides contact details.

Revisiting the accounting firm example, let’s say it authors a white paper analyzing the theory of just-in-time audits for small businesses. Business owners searching for audit info are motivated to download the white paper, increasing the opt-in rate.

Tips for using white papers:

To effectively employ white papers, keep these tips in mind.

  • The goal is education: White papers educate readers on a topic. Often written in an academic style, white papers eschew any pretense toward entertainment or selling solutions.
  • Provide data to support the analysis: While blog posts can supply high-level information, white papers provide in-depth analysis. Consequently, show objective data to support the white paper’s statements and conclusions.

5. Infographics

According to a study by the Social Science Research Network, 65% of us are visual learners. That’s why today we live in the era of the infographic. An infographic presents complex ideas or data analysis in a poster, chart, illustration, or other type of graphical element.

Because people are better at processing information visually, the infographic helps your business stand out, and it leaves a lasting impression. It’s also a versatile tool in your marketing arsenal.

Infographics help build your brand’s position as an industry expert, validate the efficacy of your products and services, or help your business content go viral, since infographics are shared widely across social media.

Tips for using infographics:

An infographic must include these characteristics to prove impactful.

  • Succinct: The effectiveness of an infographic lies in its brevity. It must summarize a topic within a limited space.
  • Visually appealing: Its name says it all. An infographic’s most important component is visual appeal. You won’t grab the customer’s attention if it’s not visually compelling. And if the information cannot be captured graphically, skip the infographic.
  • Easy to understand: The info part of an infographic must be easy to grasp without a lot of text. Readers shouldn’t need to read much with an infographic; the visuals perform the explanation. Any exposition beyond a brief sentence or two means the infographic failed.
Infographic example of Wikicamp showing various graphics to illustrate different data points.

An infographic summarizing results of a boot camp for wiki contributors. Image source: Author

6. Brand videos

Television commercials historically commanded the largest advertising amounts and not just for their power to reach a wide audience. Television’s ability to capture sight, sound, and motion creates an emotional experience for viewers. The same holds true for online videos.

Videos that promote your brand, products, and services provide an effective means of connecting with consumers. These videos humanize your company, building consumer trust as well as raising awareness of your offerings.

Also, as consumers continue to shift viewing habits from cable television to streaming services, videos about your brand can appear on these services, granting a similar level of exposure as a TV commercial for a fraction of the cost.

Tips for using brand videos:

Apply these suggestions to increase the potency of your online videos.

  • Make it entertaining: Videos must capture viewer attention. If it’s a staid sales pitch, consumers tune out. So inject an emotional component, like humor, into the video.
  • Remember brand positioning: Although your videos should contain an entertainment factor, it still needs to reflect your brand’s positioning. If you attempt a funny video but your positioning lacks fun elements, this dichotomy strikes viewers as insincere. So keep the video content in sync with your positioning.
  • Keep it short: While television commercials can run as long as 30 seconds or more, stick to shorter online videos. Consumers navigate away from websites if they are turned off, and a long commercial can do just that. A 15-second video sufficiently conveys an effective brand message. In fact, some brands do it in six seconds.

7. Case studies

The case study serves as a key piece of collateral for any new product or service. It’s a document summarizing real world results delivered by your product or service to existing clients. The goal is to validate the efficacy of your offerings to new customers.

Tips for using case studies:

Since case studies showcase your company’s success stories, they serve to move clients at the consideration stage of the customer life cycle to the purchase phase. Here are tips to get the most from your case studies.

  • Ensure achievable results: It’s natural to use your best results in the case study. However, only highlight results achievable in typical situations. The case study sets expectations with customers so if they don’t experience results like the case study, it increases the likelihood of customer attrition.
  • Use facts and data: Make case studies believable by including statistics, charts, and other data to support the results in an objective manner.

8. Brochures

The tried and true company brochure still exists in print form, but its online version takes the concept to new levels. Digital brochures can include interactive elements and incorporate animations or videos. In fact, a company’s website is now its default brochure.

Brochures serve several purposes:

  • Educate potential customers about your business.
  • Raise awareness for specific products, services, or promotions.
  • Re-engage past customers by promoting what’s new.

Because the brochure’s primary purpose is information dissemination, it can contain a lot of text. A digital version with interactive elements delivers this educational component in a fun and engaging manner for customers.

Tips for using brochures:

Here are suggestions for how to get the most from your brochures.

  • Reflect your positioning: Integrate the organization’s positioning into the brochure to maintain cohesive messaging with all other marketing efforts.
  • Keep text short: Limit the amount of text, or readers won’t get through it all, potentially missing key information.
  • Divide up information: Keep information consumption simple for readers by dividing it into logical sections. For instance, if you offer multiple products, partition each into a dedicated area within the brochure. Websites provide ample room to do this; it’s one of the reasons why company websites evolved into the default business brochure.

9. Newsletters

Newsletters are a mix of articles, videos, and other digital content delivering consistent company updates to clients. The goal is to drive customers further down the sales funnel by keeping them engaged with your business.

In the past, newsletters were print collateral, but today, digital versions delivered by email are the norm.

Each newsletter can contain several different topics. This approach appeals to a range of customer interests, increasing the likelihood of a sale. In this way, newsletters serve as a useful marketing tactic in a drip campaign.

In addition, newsletters aid in generating traffic to your website. Their content provides a call to action, such as a "read more" button, that sends readers to your site when clicked.

Tips for using newsletters:

Newsletter recipients live further down the sales funnel, increasing the likelihood of closing a sale. Use these tips to move these customers to a purchase.

  • Offer incentives: Include incentives like coupons or discounts as part of your newsletter content to improve customer conversion rates. Making these incentives available only to newsletter readers creates a reason for customers to sign up in the first place.
  • Personalize the content: Increase both newsletter engagement and likelihood to convert by personalizing content to the reader. To apply this approach, leverage software like Zoho Campaigns, which allows you to add dynamic content to newsletters.
Zoho Campaigns email editor with dropdown menu to select personalized criteria

Zoho Campaigns provides the ability to add dynamic content to newsletters. Image source: Author

10. Presentations

A sales representative’s bread and butter for customer acquisition, presentations act as a visual aid to explain the company’s offerings. For example, if the presentation is about a product, show images of what the product looks like.

Presentations consist of a series of slides delivered in-person to an audience as part of a sales pitch. Hence, this type of collateral works best in B2B marketing. They apply to all stages of the customer life cycle, but are most common in prospecting efforts.

In addition, presentations support integration of other types of collateral. For example, an infographic might appear on one slide while the summary of a case study appears on another.

Tips for using presentations:

A presentation helps persuade and convert potential customers into paying ones. To ensure your presentation delivers the necessary impact, follow these tips.

  • Avoid lots of text: The presentation should complement the sales pitch, not reiterate it. If a customer is trying to read a text-heavy presentation slide, they aren’t paying attention to the sales rep. Therefore, a presentation should not act as both a visual aid and a reference document. If sales reps want to leave behind reference material, use the company brochure instead.
  • Keep it short: Presentations with lots of slides fail because people possess short attention spans, or time runs out before getting through the slides. A good rule of thumb is to allot five minutes for each slide. So a 30-minute meeting with a client can accommodate 4-5 slides (to leave time for questions).

Final advice for marketing collateral

As Apple’s audacious U2 album stunt proves, marketing collateral ideas extend well beyond any finite list. While many options exist, they all share two traits:

  • They reflect your brand’s positioning.
  • They are personalized. This encompasses aligning the appropriate collateral to the client’s place in the customer life cycle.

In Apple’s case, the free album proved divisive because it lacked personalization. Some customers like U2 and others do not. So targeting them all with the same marketing collateral was doomed to fall short.

Additionally, mix and match collateral to build on their various strengths as clients pass through the customer life cycle stages. Understanding these strategies leads to effective use of marketing collateral, will help you avoid Apple’s mistake, and unlock success for your sales and marketing efforts.

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