The Measures of Success: Do Your Marketing Materials Meet One of These Criteria?

It’s important to develop a purpose for your marketing materials before you begin creating them. Not only will the planning facilitate effectiveness, but it will also help you measure results in the end.

It might sound remedial, but the outcome of your collateral should be the most important factor, not the collateral itself. Make sure the goal is at the forefront of every phase of production, and don’t try to do too much with a single project. Ask yourself, “Which of these five objectives am I looking to achieve?”

Building Brand Awareness

Successful businesses have stories. When consumers like the stories, the businesses are successful. This is the central dialogue of every effective brand awareness campaign, regardless of style, method, format, or level of complexity.

Look at the growth of the organic food movement. If you walk the aisles of Whole Foods, you will see tales about local farmers, happy cows, and hand-picked produce. People aren’t just buying dinner; they’re buying stories. And it’s the copywriters who cultivate this connection between producer and consumer.

World famous food writer, Michael Pollan, refers to this evocative marketing prose as a literary experience. It makes food choices special, transforming an egg or a piece of chicken or a bag of arugula from nourishment to an intellectual experience with complex aesthetic, emotional, and even political dimensions.

When you develop a producer/consumer relationship with this kind of depth, you help grow bonds with your customers. Just by committing to your story, you’ll begin to sow the seeds of brand awareness that will bear fruit for many years to come.

Supporting Sales

The ultimate goal of any business is to increase sales and revenues. Marketing collateral such as direct mail, catalogs, and point-of-sale brochures can all play a vital role.

The most important aspect of supporting sales with marketing collateral is to begin by considering the sales process as a whole. Don’t try to create a piece that covers the entire process. Instead, figure out which step you want to support, and plan accordingly.

For example, if you’re looking to cultivate new leads, try a direct mail postcard with short, snappy phrases and statements that grab the reader’s attention. Introduce them to the product, and lead them to the next step of the sales process. Instead of trying to sell them a widget directly from an initial postcard, direct them to your website for more information, instruct them to call a 1-800 number for the latest offer, or even ask them to bring the postcard to your store to receive a 10- percent discount.

If you already have the sales leads and are looking to supplement a later phase of the sales process, a different format might work best. Perhaps you have a team of salespeople who need to provide detailed information about your product line. Try a catalog to underscore the important benefits you’re providing, include a call-to-action, and have your sales team leave them behind.

When creating marketing collateral in support of sales, it’s important to define what part of the process you’re looking to support. Can you send a piece of collateral that attempts to do all the work in one shot? Sure. Will it work? Probably not. Should you even try it? There are more effective ways to support sales. Define your goal, and stay focused.

Projecting Thought Leadership

According to the Information Technology Services Marketing Association, nearly two-thirds of all consumers conduct their own research before making purchases. This means most people who are ready to buy already know details about what you’re selling. They’ve read the ratings and reviews. They’ve seen all the articles. They’re educated. But who creates all this information?

In the last few years, we’ve seen an outpouring of fresh and relevant content. From stay-at-home moms blogging about childcare products to multi-billion dollar corporations publishing white papers about the newest software solutions, our collective vision of marketing is changing. With the birth and development of content marketing strategies, we’ve seen companies move away from the traditional sales pitch in favor of posting valuable content and information. They want to be seen as thought leaders, not just salespeople.

Essentially, content marketing places emphasis on providing relevant information to potential and existing customers. The idea is that as your consumers begin to see you as a valuable source of information, they begin to trust you. Trust leads to reader retention and brand loyalty. As you continue to provide useful information to your now eager audience, the consumer begins to see you as a thought leader in your industry, not just someone selling something. And it’s common sense that consumers like to buy things from companies that are trustworthy and consistently project leadership in their industry.

From blogs to case studies and from white papers to editorials, the supply of useful information is almost endless. It seems like everyone has something to say about pretty much everything. So if everyone else is influencing buyers with relevant information, shouldn’t you be, too?

Introducing a New Product or Service

People like the concept of new. No matter what it is, they like being the first to know, the first to try, the first to taste, the first to buy. It’s human nature.

Sometimes companies run into a lack of purpose when it comes to the development of marketing collateral. They often forget that news can sell, and even when it doesn’t, it can open doors that eventually lead to sales potential.

Introducing new goods and services is one of the most important reasons for the development of marketing pieces. Tell your audience what’s new with your organization, and be even more effective by creating a level of exclusivity. Never underestimate the power of telling someone they are part of a select few who can try something first.

Facilitating Internal Communications

It’s common for companies to focus on selling to customers, but one of the most overlooked marketing efforts is actually done internally. Many companies forget to “sell” the business to their own employees, which is surprising because it’s those same employees who are out there “selling” the business.

Everyone needs to be up-to-date. They need to buy in and be on the same page, and traditional marketing collateral can help. Meetings are important, but unless they consistently present a visceral experience, the same information can be conveyed by email or newsletter. And the great thing about using traditional marketing collateral is they won’t interrupt employees from their daily tasks like a meeting will. Plus, you’re giving people the option to read company news on their own time.

Internal communications can be just as valuable as your inventory or hardware. Like servicing computers and fax machines to maximize their potential, opening up lines of communication with your employees is a way to get the most out of your human resources.

Companies that fail to capitalize on this potential are often the ones that fail to view their workers as true resources. Just like database servers and delivery trucks, the people who work for you need maintenance, too.