The Essential Marketing Collateral Checklist

The Essential Marketing Collateral Checklist


People have different takes on what marketing collateral is. Some say it’s a file of general sales materials that account execs use to pitch new clients. Others say it’s a tool chest of documents that accompany a product or service promotion. Both are correct.

The way I see it, marketing collateral is a collection of easy-to-digest evergreen digital or hard copy materials that promote your brand and its products and services. It can also be the essential marketing material that arms your sales team. But it can also include specific literature — digital or hard copy — that promotes a product launch.

However you define it, marketing collateral is essential to your sales kit. That’s why I decided to compile this simple checklist to guide you through the arduous task of creating and assembling your sales arsenal.

  1. General Collateral

This is your list of evergreen business collateral. It’s documentation that evolves from your core documentation and its job is to tell the world who you are and what you do. No matter what, if you’re a serious business owner, you should have most items on this list ready to go.


General Brand Company Collateral


Hard Copy

□ Business cards

□ Brochures

□ Sell Sheets

□ Company/Brand Profiles

□ Media Kit

□ Proposal

□ General Services Fact Sheet

□ Pricing Guides

□ Elevator Speech Scripts (memorized)


□ Website

□ Landing Page

□ Social Media Profiles

□ Company Story Video

□ Testimonials

□ Portfolio Page



  1. Product or Service-based Marketing Collateral

Most companies keep a file of evergreen marketing materials for each featured product and service. But, you can also create a list of appropriate materials for each product or service launch and promotion.



Promotional/Product Launch

□ Pricing Guide

□ Case Studies

□ Whitepapers

□ Product/Service Video

□ Explainer Video

□ Sell Sheet

□ Explainer Video3.

□ Promotional Video

□ Landing Page

□ Podcast

  1. Information Products

If you want to develop niche authority, leadership, and a passive revenue stream, information products are a great option. While they can be time-consuming to produce, they’re worth the effort because, in the end, they’re that gift that keeps on giving for brands.

Information Products

(evergreen and client accessed)

□ eBooks

□ Books

□ e-Courses

□ Case Studies

□ Tutorial Video

This checklist is, by no means, comprehensive. But it will guide you through your process of creating appropriate materials that will give you an edge. Sure, producing marketing collateral takes a little time, but for new (or not-so-new) brands, having them on hand helps you and your sales team while lending a polished look to your brand.

Do you need marketing collateral but don’t know where to start? Turns out that’s my forte. Get in touch to schedule a consultation!

Posted by Sharon@ShastonWrites in Blog, 0 comments
25 Tools to Create Infographics for Your Small Business Website

25 Tools to Create Infographics for Your Small Business Website

Believe it or not, people will share infographics 3 times more than they’ll share other content types. That’s because they’re little visual bite-sized content snacks rather than a 1,000-word blog post or 9-minute video meal. Until recently, creating infographics has been the domain of graphic artists. But if you can’t afford to outsource, you can create your own infographics using tools designed to help small businesses create their own smart-looking infographics that will boost your SEO and authority in your niche. Plus, these tools are big fun!

If you’re looking to publish infographics online, take a look at the following list of 25 infographic creation tools ideal for small business websites. One of the best places to start is with Canva, which is free to use and enables non-designers to create attractive and informative graphics with a simple drag-and-drop method. Another popular free infographic generator is Visme. Their creation process is easy to navigate and can help a small business owner create and share professional-looking infographics with the added option of making them interactive. This easy-to-use infographic creator offers a free service that is useful, although the best options it has are only available through paid upgrades to the premium Piktochart services, one costing $15 per month and the other $29 per month. You can create a multitude of charts, maps, graphics and dashboards with Infogram’s free-to-use infographic generator. There are also several paid options in which more advanced infographic services can be accessed, ranging from $19 to $149 per month. Another infographic generator with a basic free option but with much more in-depth paid services priced from $19 per month is Venngage, which can be especially useful for businesses which require animated infographics. This free… Read more here …

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Posted by Sharon@ShastonWrites in Content, 0 comments
Terms You Should Know: Message Architecture

Terms You Should Know: Message Architecture

Imagine a tree — a content tree. If content represents the branches, message architecture would be the trunk from which the branches grow.

Some call it message framework. Others refer to it as message architecture (my preferred term). It’s the message structure behind all your brand’s content.

The Content Marketing Institute defines it as a collection of communicative — words, terms, phrases, clauses, or statements — arranged into a hierarchy according to a brand’s messaging priorities.

It has three primary purposes:

  1. To infuse brand-specific messaging into every piece of content you (and your staff) create.
  2. To create language that identifies your brand in the collective mind of your audience.
  3. To establish guidelines within your organization to ensure message consistency in all content platforms — social media, blogs, images, videos, podcasts, etc.

How it works

Like most good ideas, various leaders in the content marketing industry developed their own signature message architecture templates. Meghan Casey, Content Strategist and Author of The Content Strategy Toolkit, created a message architecture template using three steps of message flow:

  1. First Impression – what a visitor feels the first time they land on your site.
  2. Value Proposition – what the visitor feels after learning the value you provide.
  3. Proof – the content’s effectiveness in assuring the visitor that your brand will deliver.

Casey focused on the customer, not the organization.

Advanced Marketing Concepts created this template in 2013 which extracts messaging from core documentation including mission and positioning statements:

Brain Traffic Founder Kristina Halvorson is hailed for having birthed the concept of content strategy. Her messaging template starts with defining a primary message — a value proposition statement. From there, secondary messages encapsulate that statement.

As you can see, message architecture can take different forms emphasizing different angles. Depends on what you want to say to your tribe.

It doesn’t matter which template you use as long as you have one

The concept of message architecture is a byproduct of the transition from traditional marketing to digital marketing when people started doing business online. It’s a trend that’s here to stay, which means it’s not just a novel idea anymore. It’s integral to your brand’s content marketing strategy.

Moreover, it’s a vital tool in your marketing chest — whether you’re part of a team or going solo. Without one, your online marketing will be, at best, unfocused. With one, you’re likely to efficiently target your audience while reinforcing brand marketing stability with each piece of content.

Now, that’s worth the trouble, isn’t it?

Need help building your messaging architecture? Shaston Writes can create template that will articulate your value proposition while focusing your brand voice, so it hits the target. Let’s talk!



“Align All Your Messaging With This Simple (& Fun) Tool,” By Marcia Riefer Johnston published Content Marketing Institute, JANUARY 28, 2016,

Casey, Megan. The Content Strategy Toolkit: methods, Guidelines, and templates for Getting Content Right. New Riders, 2015, pgs 143-146

“Your Sales Problem is Not the Problem, It’s Marketing, Admarco, Advanced Marketing Concepts Blog, Mark Gibson, February 5, 2013,

Kristina Halvorson’s “Message and Medium: Better Content by Design” UI15 Session Sample, December 22, 2010





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Social trends to watch out for in 2018

Social trends to watch out for in 2018

Since the 2016 elections, “fake news” has become a favorite cliche in public discourse. It has also directly affected how people perceive information sources. Tribalism, community discussion groups, and person-to-person conversations are replacing traditional information sources and, as a result, they’re affecting how businesses market to their tribes. So, for 2018, the buzz word for brand marketing  is “connection.” Take note.

@taylorfayebragg Taylor Bragg is a technology journalist with a particular interest in blockchain applications, brand marketing and the effect of the ever-growing digital world on businesses around the globe. Taylor also has a love for all things fashion and discovering new places. Read more here …

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Posted by Sharon@ShastonWrites in Social Media, 0 comments
What Is Messaging, Really?

What Is Messaging, Really?


The term “messaging” has been bandied about marketing situation rooms since … well, forever. But, like many marketing industry terms-turned-cliches, it’s one of those broad marketing-speak vocabulary words that insiders use but, for the most part, fail to translate clearly to non-marketers.

What it is

In content marketing, messaging means the same as it does in general usage. So let me give you a working definition:

Messaging is a noun. It’s the substance and/or subtext of intent that belies actual, concrete communication. It’s not what you say. It’s what you mean and how that meaning affects the receiver of that message.

I’ll use an acting analogy.

An actor does more than recite the lines written for their role. They infuse the lines they say with unspoken intent and motive that we pick up through other cues — facial expressions, body language, or tone. In fact, actors are trained to practice thinking an inner monologue in their heads or subtext that, in turn, affects their line delivery and performance. If they’ve done their job, we get the message. (find meme)

Here’s another example:

Modern politicians rely on data from focus groups and polls to craft messages that resonate with people they want to vote for them. I’m not going to go into the intricacies of message coding and dog whistling — using innocuous language in a way that exploits stereotypes or unsubstantiated fears, but … you get the drift.

Messaging, used in the context of content, is how brands articulate who they are, what they do, what’s important to them, and how they can make their customers’ lives better.

Why it Matters

We all use messaging everyday. We use it in conversation, social media engagement, in our dress, our carriage, our style and word choices. All these things collectively tell the world who we are.

Same goes for brand messaging. Everything you do — how you network, how you deliver products and services, how you operate as a company, your brand image, marketing collateral — conveys who you are.

Problem is, many small-to-medium businesses (and some big ones) fail to define their messaging. They don’t take the time to decide what it is they want to say to people about themselves. They just shoot in the dark at the moon using obsolete advertising practices — like broadcast commercials, relying on print marketing materials or throwing up a website — assuming they’re “getting the word out”. It doesn’t work anymore.

The old marketing model of casting a wide net so you can reach the masses has bitten the dust. Unfortunately, not everyone has gotten the memo. Brands who fail to plan their message also fail to reach their target clients and gain conversions.

Define your message: articulate your brand’s heart

If you want to stay in the game, take an honest look at your approach to messaging. Take the process of messaging seriously. Don’t blow it off. Your brand’s future may depend on it.

Start by working through these steps:

  • Define Your Business in Core Documentation. Start by clarifying your mission, vision, core values, target and value proposition. If you haven’t done it yet, now’s the time.


  • Put your heart into it — Write Your “WHY.” If you feel emotionally detached from your brand, you’ve probably lost sight of your “why” — the reason you started your company in the first place. So, I’m giving you a writing prompt: free write what doing your brand means to you … personally.
  • Write a brand manifesto. Write a statement that declares what your brand stands for.
  • List 5 things your brand does for your client/customer better than anyone. This is not the time to be Debbie Downer. List your brand’s superpowers — that “thing” that differentiates you. It could be nothing more than an attitude, swag or that certain “je ne sais quoi.” Hint: your brand is a reflection of you. If you tap into what makes you unique, you’ll find the key to your brand’s place in your niche.

Next-level messaging: your message architecture

Once you’ve articulated your brand’s message foundation, it’s time to begin structuring the re-bar: your message architecture. This is the process of taking your core message and deciding how it’ll translate in actual content. While there are a variety of ways to build a message architecture, it should include three thing:

  1. A message hierarchy – ranking your messages in order of priority.
  2. Messaging guidelines — determine guidelines for all content creators to convey that message (start with a content mission statement and content style guide).
  3. A message plan – determine what content types and outlets you’ll use to target your message receivers.

Obviously, there’s more to mapping out a message architecture than this. Ready to move forward?  Read my post, “Message Architecture Primer”. =

Need more? Get in touch for a consultation.


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