Collateral is the term used to describe marketing communication items such as:-

  • Corporate & product brochures
  • Product fliers
  • Short form brochures and catalogues
  • News letters
  • Reply cards, etc.

Collateral implies `in support of’ and is used to support marketing communications such as direct mail, exhibitions and personal contact.

Corporate brochures are about who you are and what your company does. They are particularly useful where a company wishes to build a quality image. The IT industry is moving towards added value and service so the objective of your corporate brochure may be to move the image of your company in that direction. Such a brochure will incorporate a strong visual identity and may describe the markets evolving needs and how your company intends to address those needs.

Corporate brochures should be designed for a long life and the chosen style should be incorporated into all the companies collateral and stationery, whenever possible.

Product brochures are usually about function, facilities and specifications and are less expensive to design than corporate brochures. Vertical market products are more likely to focus on benefits but the benefits of horizontal products can be difficult to particularise in a broad market. Here, personal contact may be required to fine tune the benefits of a product or service, to the particular requirements of a prospect.

Personal contact is expensive so you should consider how collateral can help reduce the cost of sales. This may be by careful consideration of the questions the item answers, and by indicating the profile of a typical user of the product or service you are communicating.

Remember, good marketing is as much about reducing the cost of the sale as generating leads.

To help any creative or production company you may use to design and produce your collateral, you should first prepare a brief. The brief should include details of your company, the products and services sold, a profile of the market the company works in, and the objectives of the brochure. Key sentences and copy can be included but the trick is to allow creative thinking and not set to specific criteria.

For cost sensitive projects why not consider a standard A4 format, of two or four sides, for brochures. One or two colours can be considered. One colour can look surprisingly effective if you use two or three tint values. My first product brochure used one colour (Reflex blue), with three tint values, and was received well in a critical market. Two colours, with tints, can be very effective. For those who have seen my book Communicating..., blue and green are used on a white card cover, which is laminated to give a gloss finish.

Two colour, plus tints, is ideal for product brochures, except those products with a very high volume or very high value. Remember, two colours can appear as more if you use coloured paper or card.

Where budget permits, a four colour print process provides the ultimate creative appeal and is ideal for corporate brochures and high value or volume product brochures. If you wish to include photographs, you will require a four colour print process.

Good quality materials should always be used and are preferable to using more colours on cheaper materials. The exception to this might be high volume short term offer brochures, for commodity type products.

After you have established a quality image for your company, you can occasionally use less expensive collateral. Faxed mailings can incorporate a simplified version of the companies identity and be humorous. Product fliers can be on a single A4 sheet, perhaps folded to DL. You could incorporate a perforation and have a third of the flier as a reply element. Such communications can be simple and inexpensive to design and produce, and be fun.

News letters are excellent for keeping in contact with a large user base or giving the impression your company is bigger than it actually is. News letters can help develop market penetration by having case studies of users who have incorporated new technology, or upgrades, in their systems. Stories should parallel the experiences of successful users, with prospects who should be thinking of upgrading. Prospects often view case studies as references and this adds credibility and helps reduce the cost of sale.

I have a client who uses direct mail to communicate the quality and dependability of his company and to build long term relationships. They have three or four direct mail campaigns a year and supplement these with monthly fax mailings. The fax mailings are geared to special offers and new product announcements, and are sent to only those companies who may be interested in the offer.

Each direct mailing costs around 70p and a fax mailing costs under 10p. This strategy has doubled their turnover every year since I have been working for them.

Actually, the cost of their marketing is much less because they have excellent relationships with their suppliers and obtain co-operative marketing funds for their marketing activities.

Rules for collateral;

  • Be clear about what you are trying to achieve.
  • Quality materials are generally preferable to more colours
  • Always establish a quality image before using low cost collateral or humour
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