Updated July 2020
You can never have too much marketing collateral. That’s because its value is transferable across various mediums, internal departments and company objectives.
The issue, though, is how do you collect it, store it and make it actionable? Otherwise you’re just sitting on a large pile of useless data.
This post is for marketers and sales reps needing more collateral and the mechanisms for how to capitalize on it.
What is marketing collateral?
Marketing collateral – aka marketing material, aka marketing assets – is a compilation of media in all of its forms, with the goal of enabling marketing and sales objectives. This collection can be leveraged for unlimited purposes, and has significant internal and external benefits to organizations.
Just as the physical, tri-fold brochure you find at trade shows and hospital waiting rooms is a form of collateral, there are digital analogs all around you.
Every illustration, blog post, case study and social media GIF that supports your marketing campaigns should be cataloged for additional use down the road.
Marketing collateral for the buyer’s journey
A one-time investment in content repays itself several times over each time you grab that evergreen infographic from a few years ago, for instance, and cycle it back into your campaigns.
The same goes for any type of asset: Reuse it as often as you like, provided it remains relevant to your target audience.
This process of recycling and reformatting is perfectly suited to the sales funnel and the buyer’s journey.
You should have a catalog of top-of-funnel assets ready to deploy at any moment (a process you’ve hopefully automated using triggers you’ve designed). Then, as leads become warmer and require further nurturing with content that’s more in-depth and commercially targeted, you can reach into your inventory of middle- and bottom-of-funnel marketing collateral to engage them with even greater specificity.
In short, wherever your prospects are, so are you, with your collateral continuously feeding your funnel.
That’s why we’ve assembled this list of marketing collateral ideas.
A large portion of your marketing materials will be copy-based. And it makes sense: The average company that’s versed in content marketing increases their online visibility with prospects primarily through text. Here are the assets you’ll likely be working with and how you can use them as recurring collateral:
Blogs are the front doors to your website. They’re perfect for owning keywords in organic search, sharing on social media and curating into newsletters. So, with just one individual blog post, you can publish it on your domain, on third-party websites, via email and social, cut up into shorter micro assets and refer prospects to them via a quick hyperlink. One asset, multiple avenues for ROI. Thank you, trusty blog.
2. Case studies
Your own brand voice can get stale after a while, and studies show consumers are likelier to trust a company that’s highly praised by others. Case studies present this opportunity en masse. Featuring top clients and their attestations to your expertise on your website and with middle- and bottom-of-funnel prospects helps you leverage your existing clients’ testimonials to earn that last bit of trust needed to close a deal.
3. White papers
Gated assets like white papers allow your technical expertise to shine. Put them behind form fills on your site, distribute them via email and use them to collect leads.
4. Landing pages
Your core landing pages are the scaffolding of your online presence – you need that strong foundation first before you can do much else that’s measurable. Product, services, contact and About Us pages are must-haves, and they give you a vehicle through which to talk about your company, your brand and your capabilities as they relate to customers. As far as marketing content goes, few assets rival the immediate commercial value of the landing page.
5. Employee bios
This one may not be top of mind, but employee bios provide a level of assurance that customers are working with a reputable, talented staff. They’re also a unique branding opportunity – they give you a chance to showcase some personality.
6. Product guides/catalogs
No matter what type of business you run, you need a handy product guide that walks through all of your products and services. This should be formatted, easy to read and client-facing.
Even more types of written content can be found here.
Pairing text and design elements adds a visual dynamism to your brand image and allows you to tap into the brains of potential customers who may not like reading long emails or complex white papers. We’ll call these assets “hybrid” because they require a fairly even contribution of copy and graphics.
Infographics perform amazingly well through virtually every distribution channel because humans process information visually. By using icons, illustrations, characters, graphical narratives and design cues, you can convey even the most complex ideas. You can also print out infographics and bring them to your next trade show.
The more beautiful cousin of white papers, eBooks scale back the text a tad in favor of more color, branding and illustrations. Gate them on their own landing pages and capture leads left and right. Saved as PDFs, you can circulate them via email and even tweak them to be more like SlideShares with clickable page buttons.
Every marketing campaign needs a call to action. Embed them in newsletters, blog posts, landing pages and more. Your marketing communications must provide next steps for readers/viewers to take, and CTAs are just that conduit.
10. Social media posts
Social media is a visual artform. This is your chance to use feature images with text overlays, GIFs, punny memes and brand-conscious designs in addition to your snappy headlines and captions. The point is to generate comments, likes and shares, so they’re effectiveness is easily measurable.
11. Product/sales sheets
One-pagers, sometimes called a “sell sheet,” are useful in both physical and digital marketing realms, so they should definitely be part of your collateral playbook. They’re immediately recognizable by prospects, applicable to internal discussions and can be quickly disseminated by sales teams.
12. Partnership logos
Your logo is important, but sometimes the logos of your business partners and affiliates are even more important to those becoming aware of your brand for the first time. You don’t need to do any design work yourself; just ask your partners for a hi-res .jpeg of their logos and you can stick them on your marketing collateral to really add authority and emphasis to your messaging.
13. Email newsletters
Newsletters are the linchpins of email marketing. Think of them as your digital magazines, the way you stay in contact with email subscribers. Include graphical components like images, CTAs and border formatting along with a few clickable hyperlinks to your blogs or gated assets.
14. Custom illustrations/Document templates
Custom doesn’t have to imply one-off or ad hoc. You can create a graphics template with your brand colors and drop in new text as you see fit, depending on your current and upcoming marketing campaigns. Custom imagery does a lot more for brand awareness than tired stock photos.
15. Example portfolios
Showing a portfolio of your best work to prospects lends credence to your marketing and sales pitches. A carefully curated and formatted selection of client success stories can be one of the simplest ways to allow your blood, sweat and tears speak for themselves.
Whether physical or digital, a brochure still holds weight as both marketing and sales collateral. They’re easily distributed and can be circulated for an endless number of purposes.
17. Business cards
Similar to the employee bio, a business card confers a level of sophistication, assurance and credibility that is often understated. Ever have someone ask for your business card and you don’t have one? I have and it’s downright embarrassing and potentially perceived as unprofessional.
18. Email signatures
Adding contact info, CTAs, links to newsletters and other collateral to email signatures is an easy way to promote your brand with every email you send.
We’ve used this stat so often I know it by heart, but video makes up 80 percent of all web traffic. We’re inundated with video on our laptops, our smartphones, our flat screen TVs; you better believe it has applications as collateral.
19. Video blogs
Using an on-screen presenter, a short 60-second script and a rotating carousel of images, video blogs are digestible in a way that longer-form blogs are not. You can also create them very quickly and publish on a number of channels like your website, YouTube, Vimeo and social media.
Either 2D or 3D, animations take the best of scriptwriting, storyboarding and voiceover and fuse them into an effective media. They work great on dedicated landing pages, via email and social and in place of lengthy phone calls with prospects. Great animation can tell a story, function as an explainer video for a complicated product or bring your brand to life. It’s meant to convey, convince and convert all within 90 seconds.
21. Video testimonials
Essentially Case Studies 2.0, video testimonials put your satisfied customers in front of the camera, empowering them to talk up your brand, rave about your excellence and recommend others to your business. That’s collateral that is as closely tied to potential ROI as there comes.
22. Web demos
You can think of a web demo as a more appealing stand-in for a sales rep. By demonstrating a product, explaining a service or detailing an intricate process, you let viewers follow along on their own terms. Leverage demos at the middle or bottom of the funnel.
23. Vox pops
Event-based marketing (more on that below) at trade shows, industry conferences and other experiential functions are perfect opportunities for vox pops. They provide a more authentic, off-the-cuff image of your company and employees, which translates well on social media. Using branded hashtag campaigns, real-time social media references and breaking-news updates in coordination with your vox pops can keep followers engaged online and dovetail nicely with printed collateral handouts you have on-site.
24. Corporate promos
These may sound cheesy, but, done right, they can speak volumes. Being able to explain your company values in an honest way is invaluable. It could also be one of the first touch points you have with a potential customer. Promos are key sales resources, as they can be quickly disseminated to important, high-ranking influencers and decision-makers within the organizations you’re selling to. Not everyone has the time to read a company bio or navigate your services landing pages. But they can get the gist from a hard-hitting promo. It’s basically a matter of making your collateral speak the language of the right audience at the right time, which corporate promos do succinctly and effectively.
Webinars are seemingly everywhere these days. By soliciting signups from webinar viewers you gather leads. You can also email the recording after the fact so that you stay in contact with those who may have missed the original viewing.
Up your game with even more visual content ideas found here.
Bonus collateral ideas
No, we’re not done yet. Here are a few collateral options that are incredibly important for internal purposes in addition to understanding your company’s true status in the marketplace:
26. Event-based marketing
Time- and location-specific marketing events are great for B2C products, trade show booths and important demos. The collateral at these events only have a limited run, so the experience should be amplified and memorable. Things like pop-up ephemera, VR headsets, interactive floor plans and in-person samples create a buzz around your brand and allow your marketing, sales and event planning teams to work cohesively on innovative concepts that are sure to wow customers.
27. Site audits
Is this collateral you would share externally? No. But you should absolutely conduct regular site audits and share the results with internal stakeholders? Yes. That counts as collateral, too.
28. Content audits
Similar to a sitewide audit, a content audit goes into more detail about your content across all channels. Again, you need this intel to report ROI and to know how to tweak your campaigns. Format your findings into a slick document and brainstorm ways to improve your content.
29. Competitor audits
Not only should you audit your own marketing effectiveness, but you should apply the same due diligence to your primary, secondary and tertiary competitors as well. What you uncover serves as the framework for your go-to-market strategy. Every department in your company should have this information bookmarked.
30. Buyer personas
It doesn’t matter if it’s 1918, 2018 or 2118, understanding your buyers is Business 101. Researching and developing detailed, formatted buyer personas isn’t just an inbound marketing objective; its utility is universal to your entire organization, from sales to customer service to product dev.
31. Brand identity guidelines
If you work with in-house creatives or outsourced vendors, you need brand guidelines that dictate who you are, how you want to be portrayed and how you can maintain these standards. Again, every employee at your company should have a copy of this document.
Coach your sales team to use marketing collateral
A few decades ago, business cards, brochures, fact sheets and other various forms of print collateral were the bread and butter of in-person sales. Attending trade shows and conferences entailed maintaining a booth and needing a physical item to trade hands.
But with the rise of digital content, sales reps need to pivot to collateral-sharing via email, social media, text message and direct message. And today’s collateral material of choice is the blog post. A well-written blog post is a quick, scannable read that contains imagery and addresses pain points. So instead of sales reps needing to be constantly on the phone with prospective customers, a simple hyperlink to a digital resource can accomplish the same goal: driving sales and fostering continued engagement.
A primary component of your overall marketing strategy should be creating a collateral stack that’s accessible, shareable and versatile. That means tiers of collateral that map to the sales funnel and hit upon each phase of the buyer journey. For instance, blogs for top of the funnel, gated content for mid funnel and sales-oriented copy for bottom of the funnel.
The sales team should be able to hop into this inventory, grab a resource and send it to a prospect within minutes, which will require a tool or platform to manage all of the resources and keep them updated. That’s what sales enablement is all about.
Marketing collateral management: A heroic task
Content inventories can easily become stale and unhelpful unless there is a particular person designated to general collateral housekeeping. We use good ol’ Google Sheets, Airtable, Box and a few other tools to keep our sanity and coordinate with other departments. We upload new marketing collateral weekly so that our resources align with the shifting demands of our target audience. Again, 2014 collateral won’t do much for a modern audience.
Keeping a pile of business cards on your desk is great – but only for highly specific and limited reasons. Having a “pile” of digital content in a folder on your computer, however, allows you as a marketer or sales rep to grab and go, to be as useful as possible, to be fully in tune with the needs of prospects.
Although we’ve angled this blog post to focus on the digital vectors of your marketing, we’re cognizant of the fact that there is innate value in real-world, face-to-face contact with potential buyers. (Remember face-to-face contact?)
Flyers, promotional products and various trade-show giveaways like branded swag still play a role in your comprehensive brand image.
Collateral is collateral, and you must have it on hand at all times because there will inevitably be a moment in your ordinary workday where you’ll think to yourself, “Gosh, I really wish we had something of significance to show this prospect in this instance.”
As you know, if you don’t, your competitors surely will.