For companies of nearly all sizes, marketing materials—even print materials—are a must-have. But you may be having a difficult time convincing would-be buyers of this reality. Fear not! We have solutions to this all-too-common dilemma. Here are the top eight reasons why collateral matters to companies’ bottom lines. Use them to craft your own convincing argument.
1. You have to have collateral.
Admittedly, this starts out as the lamest reason. Tools for their own sake rarely make sense, but the defense gets better. When the client gets a call from a prospective buyer, partner or investor requesting more information, what do they have to send? That embarrassing tri-fold brochure they just ran off the printer? Maybe some direct mail postcards from the tradeshow in ’08? Or better yet, some of their partners’ materials they’ve been using. Even if they don’t expect to have a massive request for sales materials, they will have requests. If they don’t have some semblance of professional materials that speak to what they bring to the market, they simply won’t be taken seriously – nor should they be. I worked with one client in particular whose VP told us she’s sure they got significant business because of the quality of the materials our agency created for them. They know appointments were created and sales were made based on the quality of the marketing materials. We don’t always receive this level of quantification from our clients, but isn’t it great when we do? Flukes happen too. I worked with a company that made a major sale from a brochure their client’s predecessor left in his office. It was picked up by his replacement, meetings were initiated and a sale was made. The point is, if they’re done well, these materials can live on long after your client sends them out or has their pitch meeting. If you can’t sell them on the points above, ask them what they plan to take to tradeshows, conferences and career fairs? Just because they can print off those trifolds and lovingly fold them in the office doesn’t mean they should.
2. Collateral materials as competitive tools.
Have you ever been underwhelmed by the investment a large company has made in the quality of their marketing materials? Of course you have. It happened most recently to me last week. Some companies spend so much time, energy and money to be competitive. They make smart hiring decisions, ponder over successful growth strategies and collect competitive intelligence. They build five-year plans to trounce the competition and gain market share. But what these offenders don’t do is make the investment in marketing themselves, in order to successfully sell against their competitors. They miss the opportunity to deliver their value proposition and competitive differentiators through compelling marketing materials. They miss the chance to show their audience how they can increase their revenue, make their lives easier, or save them money by telling them how they’ve done it for others. They miss the chance to position themselves ahead of their competitors as the obvious choice.
3. High value products = high end materials.
Another pitfall is selling high dollar products, services and solutions, but failing to recognize the large gap between the value of what they’re delivering and the quality of their marketing materials. You can boldly point out this no-brainer to your would-be client by reminding them of the price tag of their products or services. Delicately ask them to consider the sophistication of their products and the level of the decision makers they’re trying to reach. Ask them to honestly assess whether their marketing materials are up to the challenge, or if they serve as a liability. Then allow them to draw the conclusion.
4. Look the part.
Companies of all sizes need to be concerned about perception. For small companies this is often a specific challenge. For small companies looking to penetrate an industry, bring a product to market, and/or compete against entrenched players, they need to look the part. Their sales materials can’t beg the question, “How long have you been in business?” or “Do you have the capability to meet our needs?”, because if they do, the sale is lost. Marketing materials are an effective way for smaller companies to deliver their unique selling proposition to buyers. Good materials can make even small and mid-size players look like leaders in their industries. If your client is serious about making traction in a market, these materials must send that message. Come back next time for four (or more) ways you can convince your clients and prospects that collateral still matters.
5. Collateral carries the brand.
You know, of course, that the best collateral builds and maintains strong brands. It forges a connection between the buyer and the seller. It communicates superiority and competitive differentiation. It enables companies to stand out among all the others. Sometimes clients get caught up in the sad reality that “people don’t read marketing pieces.” I know people don’t read. I’m a copywriter who obsesses over every word, every apostrophe and whether or not to italicize this word. And I know people don’t study it like it’s a literary masterpiece. That’s not the point. (However, if it looks like it was written by an English-as-a-second-language ninth grader, they will notice that.) The point is that good collateral makes an impression, carves out real estate in the prospect’s brain, and influences buying decisions. It helps make a competitive statement and win business. Too many companies fail to see collateral as the strategic asset it can be. They don’t use it to highlight past performance and showcase the difference they’ve made to their customers. And they don’t utilize it to shape and changes buyers’ perceptions about the company. These organizations fail to leverage marketing materials as powerful and effective mechanisms for carrying the brand. That’s where you come in.
6. Collateral is a sales tool.
It’s all about the sales team. Sales people need tools if they’re going to be effective. Years ago, I worked with the top sales guy in an organization that clearly didn’t value marketing. He called us in because, he said, “I need brochures so my sales guys will quit whining about not having any.” This way his sales team would quit making excuses and start making sales, he said. He just wanted us to create a very small number of brochures and data sheets. It wouldn’t take much. I still wonder to this day if he thought our team was paid based on the number of brochures that were printed. I think he missed the point. Collateral materials give sales representatives the resources they need to be effective in sales meetings. They also provide the tools they need to create appointments and follow up. Not having great—or even good—collateral is a tremendous liability in this process.
7. Creates excitement for an internal team.
When rebrands and website launches are done well, they create excitement within the organization. One company I worked with unveiled their new brand, including new business cards for the entire team, at an annual dinner. This created a buzz around the new brand, contributed to team building and even helped boost the staff’s ownership in the brand. Even if the company isn’t undergoing a wholesale rebrand, creating new materials can still build energy, help put employees on the same proverbial page and build their belief in their company. Their employer is making an investment in itself they can see and touch. For leadership that understands the importance of team building and retention, you can help them understand the impact marketing materials can have on their organization.
8. Tells their story better than they can.
As mentioned earlier, collateral carries the brand and it’s an important sales tool. But it can also more effectively and powerfully tell your client’s story than their sales representatives can. Case studies and client success stories are among the best ways to illustrate a company’s return on investment (ROI). Testimonials that speak to ROI and competitive differentiators, whether included in the case studies or elsewhere throughout the sales materials, are meaningful messages. Other leave-behinds that apply in some industries, such as white papers, will also continue to demonstrate your clients’ expertise long after the sales meeting.
For more information on this topic and much more feel free to give us a shout!