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.
- 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
□ Business cards
□ Sell Sheets
□ Company/Brand Profiles
□ Media Kit
□ General Services Fact Sheet
□ Pricing Guides
□ Elevator Speech Scripts (memorized)
□ Landing Page
□ Social Media Profiles
□ Company Story Video
□ Portfolio Page
- 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.
|□ Pricing Guide
□ Case Studies
□ Product/Service Video
□ Explainer Video
|□ Sell Sheet
□ Explainer Video3.
□ Promotional Video
□ Landing Page
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.
(evergreen and client accessed)
□ 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!
The search engine picks up the keywords “support documentation” and “medical documentation.” Search the phrase “core business documentation,” and all you get is a few articles on documenting your business’ core processes — a topic worthy of exploration in other posts, to be sure. But when I use the term in the context of business documentation, I mean something else.
I guess I assume every business keeps a series of files in the company “vault” of official papers that say who you are as a business (along with your registration and business plan). But, as a business owner myself, I’ve learned how easy it is to get mired in the business of business building that you don’t get around to formally putting your vision on paper. I’ve also learned that, in the long run, that’s no excuse.
Roughly half of small businesses fail within the first five years. Moreover, experienced entrepreneurs and experts agree that one reason is they don’t build their business infrastructure starting with a clearly defined mission, vision, and values statements.
“Wait! Yes, I did!” you protest as you search for that coffee-stained Starbucks napkin with the doodled mind map you drew at the moment of your epiphany.
That doesn’t count.
Create a “company vault” of core documents
When I say “document”, I mean just that. Take the time to write formal statements, and other key documentation outlining your business’ purpose, vision, mission, values and keep it in your company file. If you don’t you’ll become a Ben Franklin proverb along with other would-be geniuses who had a great idea but tanked it:
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
It behooves you, your partners, staff, and customers to bite the bullet, pull up your sleeves and generate those essential pieces of paper that may ensure your business’ longevity.
Then, compile those documents and keep them in your version of a vault — I recommend an organized file of hard copies, a digital copy in a secure location on the cloud and a copy you keep in your external hard drive. In other words, treat them like expensive jewels.
Core Documents You Should Have in your vault
Core Three Statements
Core Operation Documents
● Mission statement
● Vision statement
● Statement of core values
● Products/Services Profile
● Ideal Client Profiles & Avatars
● Company Position Descriptions
● Five-year Strategic Plan
● Operating Budget
● Operations Inventory
Brand Messaging Documents
● Brand Identity
● Brand Personality Profile
● Brand Manifesto
● Brand Story
● Tags & Slogans
● Social Media Profiles
● Brand Imaging and Aesthetics
● Marketing Plan
● Content Marketing Strategy
● Company Profile
● Press Kit
● Elevator Pitch Scripts
● Brand Board
● Business Cards
● Brand Video/Presentation
While I’m not going to expound on the elements and mechanics of creating these documents in this post(there’s an ocean of information floating around out there about writing them), I’ll give you a few reasons why you should invest time in the process of generating them.
- They help you understand why you’re in business
You may think you know all the reasons you’re starting your business, but in my experience, most first-time entrepreneurs don’t examine their motives. It’s a valuable exercise that helps you tap into your initial passion and excitement for your vision that will fuel you for the long journey.
- They map out your business’ future
Starting a business is like embarking on an exploratory expedition. You’re charting a new path for yourself. And, like most expeditions, you need a compass to help you plot your route, and you need a route plan to get to your destination.
- You’ll need them when you create your business plan
At some point, you’re going to need a business plan for funding. Producing at least some of these documents, in the beginning, will cut in half the time and effort to generate your business plan.
- They’re the foundation of future strategic plans
The beauty of core documentation is you can always tweak them. You’ll have your business’ blueprint at your fingertips. When you need to adjust to market fluctuations or if you have to re-brand, you don’t have to start from scratch.
- They ensure brand image consistency
Because core documentation is your brand’s rebar and foundation, everything you produce will reinforce your image in the marketplace, strengthen you as a leader in your niche, inspire customer loyalty, and expand your following. That’s because everyone inside and outside of your company will know exactly who you are.
- They put your team on the same page
I often refer to Zappos’ company culture formula: happy employees provide excellent customer service that creates happy customers. It’s true. Your core documentation defines your business’ standards and values. When you’re clear about those, you hire and partner with like-minded people who have a stake in your brand, so they’re happy to be on the journey with you. That’s how company culture is created. It starts with clarifying your business vision and practices in writing.
- They’re the basis of all training
Whether you need new-hire orientation materials or a manual of best practices, you have the structure already codified and accessible for internal training requirements.
Core Documents need revision over time
Alright … I did liken business core documents to sacred stone tablets with your company’s commandments inscribed on them for posterity. The truth is, they’re fluid. You can revise and amend them as needed. After all, markets and industries change. You’ll change. Your company will change to adapt. But creating the core documentation early in your business’ life is like feeding an infant a healthy diet of breast milk. It gives your business a healthy start that will evolve into good habits that will position it for a long life.
Isn’t that what you want?
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:
- To infuse brand-specific messaging into every piece of content you (and your staff) create.
- To create language that identifies your brand in the collective mind of your audience.
- 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:
- First Impression – what a visitor feels the first time they land on your site.
- Value Proposition – what the visitor feels after learning the value you provide.
- 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, http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2016/01/align-messaging-tool/
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, http://www.admarco.net/inbound-marketing-messaging-sales-performance-blog/bid/93858/Your-Sales-Problem-is-not-the-Problem-it-s-in-Marketing
Kristina Halvorson’s “Message and Medium: Better Content by Design” UI15 Session Sample, December 22, 2011