Using the right type of marketing collateral at the right time can make or break your campaigns. Pushing for a hard sell before you’ve had time to nurture and educate a lead with helpful content is likely to end in disaster.
But with so many content formats to choose from, where do you begin?
In this guide, we’re going to take you on a journey from the top to the bottom of the marketing funnel, so you can see exactly when and how each type of marketing collateral takes buyers from awareness to decision-making.
But before you start developing your content, we’ll outline the role of marketing collateral and highlight some key things to consider.
Ready? Let’s go!
What we'll cover
Table of contents
What is Marketing Collateral?
Any piece of media used to promote a company's products or services is considered marketing collateral, from printed materials such as posters and flyers to digital content like newsletters and case studies. Basically, marketing collateral is anything you can use to communicate your company's brand message.
Traditionally, businesses relied heavily on printed materials. Today, brands can reach more consumers than ever through the internet. Online media also allows companies to send more personalized and customized offers.
In the past, marketing collateral was used predominantly by sales and marketing teams. But now, other departments such as HR and Customer Support also use marketing collateral to promote their campaigns.
The Primary Role of Marketing Collateral
A brand's content marketing efforts begin with marketing collateral. Its primary role is to provide authentic content that helps solve customer needs and challenges.
Most marketing collateral includes a call to action, even if it’s as simple as asking your audience to check out your website or listen to your podcast. No matter what, all of your collateral should work together to guide prospects through the buyer's journey and ultimately help them make a decision.
You can use marketing collateral in the early stages of the funnel to build brand awareness. At this stage, your audience is figuring out the challenges they are facing. So any material — such as brochures, press releases, and flyers — that helps them recognize your brand’s products or services and reinforces your brand elements, like logos and colors, is beneficial.
Promote thought leadership
The goal of thought leadership marketing is to educate, inform, and engage your audience so that you become a trustworthy source in your industry.
You can use various forms of marketing collateral, including blog posts, webinars, white papers, podcasts, videos, books, speaking engagements, guest contributions, and original research papers to promote thought leadership.
Communicate the value proposition
You can use marketing collateral to explain how your brand meets the needs and challenges of people. You can attract a customer's attention to your product or service, inform and educate them how it fulfills their needs, and then persuade them to make a purchase.
In the latter stages of the funnel, when your audience knows about your brand but is unsure whether they should start using your product or service, you can use marketing collateral, such as product pages, retargeting ads, and cart abandonment emails, to prompt them to make a decision.
Key Considerations Before Developing Marketing Collateral
Before you dive into creating your marketing collateral, you need to have a plan in place that aligns materials with your business.
For starters, you need to consider which distribution channels to use for your marketing collateral. Whether it’s owned, paid, or earned, every marketing channel comes with its idiosyncrasies. For example, you’ll need to consider each platform’s guidance on file size, image size, color contrast, and the number of words or characters. So decide which channels you’re going to use before developing your marketing collateral.
You also need to consider what type of marketing collateral is best suited for your audience. For example, your brand persona should guide you on whether online or offline collateral works best.
No matter which marketing channel or stage in the funnel you’re targeting, you need to ensure your brand guidelines — including colors, tone, and logo — are consistent across all collateral. For example, if you were to mention Apple or Nike, most people would instantly recognize the names, imagine their logos, recall their tone, name one of their products, and perhaps share some information about what the brand stands for.
Finally, you’ll need to have a system in place to ensure that all marketing collateral is compliant with brand guidelines. In other words, you’ll need a way to review and approve content efficiently before it’s distributed.
An online proofing tool like Ziflow allows team members to share feedback easily, organize assets, collaborate from a single, shared location, and streamline the entire review and approval process.
23 Examples of Marketing Collateral at Each Stage of the Funnel
From print to digital, marketing collateral comes in many forms, but here are some of the most useful types for each stage of the funnel:
Top of the funnel (awareness) marketing collateral
In the Awareness stage, the buyer knows they have a problem or challenge to solve, but they don't yet know which solutions are available. It’s the start of their journey where they’re keen to explore their options.
Marketing collateral for the top of the funnel should educate the buyer rather than rely heavily on product promotion.
Now let’s look at some examples of marketing collateral for the Awareness stage.
Long-form blog content
You can use long-form blog content at any stage of the funnel, but it’s perfect for the awareness stage. You can help buyers on their journey towards finding a solution by writing posts that address the problems they face.
Because blog content acts as a hub for answering questions that people are searching for, it effectively drives traffic to your website and, at the same time, helps your company build brand awareness. Blog posts also help position you as an expert.
Pro Tip: Remember to include visuals, such as images, screenshots, and annotations, in your blog posts to keep your readers engaged in the content.
You can use eBooks to educate and inform your audience, particularly if you want to position yourself as an expert authority on specific topics. They can be saved in multiple formats and read on any device that has a screen.
Your brand can use an eBook to deliver exceptional value, build a relationship, and establish credibility with your audience. You can offer your eBook for free, or you can offer it as a lead magnet for an email address. Either way, it’s an excellent way to start a relationship and convert a prospect into a customer.
Here’s an example from Ziflow on the “definitive guide to online proofing” landing page:
Sponsored content is created specifically to be featured in a news publication. The key differentiator is that companies pay the media publications to create content that reads more like a news article than an advertisement. The content doesn’t have to mention their product or service, but it does align with their branding and acknowledges the company as a sponsoring partner, often with their logo.
Like blog content, infographics are another form of marketing collateral you can use throughout the buyer’s journey but usually appear at the awareness stage. An infographic may consist of an illustration, graph, chart, or a combination of those elements. They can be used either as standalone pieces of content or as part of an article or blog post.
Infographics remain popular as they are a powerful way to present information, particularly statistics and data. Plus, other sites like referencing and linking to them, so they build brand awareness and earn backlinks.
Here’s an excerpt from a Ziflow infographic that presents information about creative project overload in an eye-catching way:
Historically, brochures were folded pamphlets that companies distributed to prospective clients when they met in person or sent through the post.
Today, brochures have evolved into digital information resources that are easily shareable. They differ from eBooks and digital magazines as they use shorter copy and bullet points to highlight features. Brochures contain information about a company’s products or services, along with contact information.
For example, here’s one of 35 marketing brochure examples featuring the front and back of a brochure by the Nature Conservancy Organization:
Press releases include news about the most significant successes of your company, like awards and recognition. You can publish them on your website and also print them out to hand directly to prospects.
Listed companies also use them to publish quarterly financial results. For example, here's Facebook’s First Quarter 2021 Results:
Press releases are valuable for both businesses and journalists. Brands prepare their media kit and then deliver it to journalists, who are usually happy to spread the news.
Event display booths
Event display booths are an alternative way to distribute your marketing collateral. You can use these booths to provide potential customers with information about your products and services in the form of brochures, flyers, or free samples.
Business cards are the tried-and-true way to introduce yourself and your business to potential customers.
You never know when you’re going to meet someone in person. Whether you’re at a conference, seminar, or convention, it’s useful to have a business card to hand out.
A business card can come in many different designs, but it must contain the essential information of who you are and where you can be found.
Unlike brochures, flyers typically consist of one A5-sized sheet rather than a foldable pamphlet. The content needs to be engaging and well-designed to capture prospects' attention.
Flyers are an effective form of collateral for outdoor marketing since you can distribute them quickly to many people.
Middle of the funnel (consideration) marketing collateral
During the Consideration Stage, the buyer is weighing up the pros and cons of the various products or services that are available.
Some are feature-rich, some have good customer support, some are budget-friendly. But, ultimately, buyers need more guidance to produce a short list of products or services that solve their challenges.
The marketing collateral at the middle of the funnel uses a mix of customer success stories and testimonials, plus product comparisons to lead the buyer in the right direction.
Here are some examples of marketing collateral for the Consideration Stage:
Case studies are the best example of marketing collateral for the consideration stage as they showcase your brand’s success stories.
The objective of a case study is to demonstrate how clients achieved success with your product or service. They usually include four main components: the challenge, the solution, the result, and the client’s testimonial.
Before you write the case study, it’s essential to interview the client and get their story. You want to share first-hand how they used your product to overcome their challenge.
Like most marketing collateral, case studies are educational and help build credibility and trust.
Here’s an example from Ziflow showing how Listrak used our online proofing platform to standardize creative project communications across its client portfolio:
Source: Ziflow case studies page
Product comparison pages
At this stage, buyers are considering their options, which means comparing products and services. It’s in your best interest to create one or more product comparison pages on your site so that you have control over the content.
Yes, you’ll need to be objective, but at least your product info will be correct.
For example, here’s a product comparison page for Ziflow and ProofHQ:
If your product or service covers multiple industries, then you should address each industry or solution type with a vertical page dedicated to each audience.
Choose the primary industries you work with, create some use cases related for each vertical, and then upload the information on your website.
Genuine customer testimonials and reviews prove that your products or services are what prospects need. In a way, they act like condensed case studies. While not all buyers have time to read a case study, they can see at a glance that you have satisfied customers.
Ensure your testimonials are visually engaging and state clearly who provided the quote – a headshot with the company position works well. Then, in the quote, reference a specific benefit. For example: “I like that we can keep all our data in one place and never lose vital information. As a Manager, real-time information is important, and Spotio provides it.”
You could take it one step further with video testimonials, depending on your distribution channels.
Along with testimonials and reviews, your portfolio is a great way to showcase your creative projects. It provides proof that you’re doing your job well and that your work is appreciated. It’s also a useful tool for employer branding and attracting other partners, as they can see what you’re doing at a glance.
White papers are authoritative, in-depth pieces covering a technical subject. And typically, they raise a problem and provide a solution to it. As a thought leader, you can use them to establish yourself as an expert in a particular field.
White papers should be thoroughly researched, professionally formatted, and written in a more serious tone than an eBook. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t be colorful and engaging. Take a look at this white paper excerpt from Vennage:
Explainer videos are usually short, animated videos that explain a feature (or features) of your product or service. For visual learners, videos can help get your main point across in an easy-to-understand format. Sometimes it’s better to show than tell.
Augmented reality (AR) seamlessly merges digital and physical reality by adding layers of digital information on top of the original physical real-life environment. In essence, AR enhances existing content with superimposed digital information.
The good news for marketers is that AR boosts conversion rates. Research shows that AR increases the average mobile conversion rate from 3.5% to 11%.
Bottom of the funnel (decision) marketing collateral
In the Decision Stage, the buyer has shortlisted the products or services they’d like to purchase. It’s just a case of deciding which option suits them best.
Marketing collateral at the bottom of the funnel needs to convince buyers to make an informed decision. For example, product pages and retargeting ads reinforce the brand’s value proposition.
Here are some examples of marketing collateral for the Decision Stage:
Product pages are the online equivalent of printed product catalogs. They describe the features and benefits of your products or services in as much detail as is necessary. Typically, they’re labeled as “Product” or “Features” in navigation menus and contain submenus or subpages with specific product details:
Cart abandonment emails
E-commerce stores use cart abandonment emails to remind users that they added items to their shopping cart but haven’t checked out yet. In most cases, the emails contain an incentive to complete the purchase, like a discount coupon.
It’s estimated that 67% of sales are lost due to abandoned carts. But the good news is that you can recover up to 12% by sending abandoned cart emails.
Proposals are confidential documents tailored to every B2B deal with specific terms, conditions, and pricing.
Business proposals and presentations typically have been presented in PowerPoint or PDF formats. But as technology advances, they’re becoming more interactive, especially for B2C sales.
For example, this interactive presentation deck from Carlton Hotels allows audiences to flip through pages and check out features in their own time.
Buyer guides/spec sheets
It’s common for decision-makers to have last-minute doubts about a purchase, especially if there’s a large sum of money at stake. You can use buyer guides to entice prospects a little longer with contextual marketing collateral so that they don’t drop out of the funnel.
You can use retargeting ads to re-engage people who have visited specific pages on your site. For example, you could offer a special discount to people who visited a product or service page but left without converting.
Traditionally, point-of-sale displays are found in retail stores near the checkout. But you can also find their online equivalents nudging you to make a purchase and place items in your shopping basket.
Best Practices for Managing Marketing Collateral
Here are six steps to manage your marketing collateral effectively so you can maximize your digital assets and exceed your business goals.
Take an inventory
The first step is to take an inventory of your marketing collateral, so you know exactly what you have and highlight areas where you might be short.
As you audit your content, start categorizing it, so you know what can be reused or repurposed, what needs updating, and what pieces to archive.
Create a workflow
If you don’t have a process to manage the creation of your marketing collateral, you’ll end up wasting more time reacting to ad-hoc requests and inevitable rework.
You can avoid inefficient work by automating the entire creative content review process for shorter feedback cycles, faster approval times, and fewer manual tasks.
Workflow templates for each team and content type define the roles and responsibilities throughout the review and approval process.
You can avoid lost files and misplaced conversations by storing all relevant files, mockups, images, discussions, and resources in one central workspace.
You can collaborate directly on creative content with rich discussion threads that let you get real-time client feedback, reply, share files, and more. As a result, every team member is synchronized, organized, and clear on priorities.
Set user access
It’s important to set user access permissions so that the right people can access the right collateral. You’ll also want to set review and approval roles so that nominated people can perform those actions.
Adapt and repurpose
To squeeze the most value out of your marketing collateral, you can adapt and repurpose your content across different media types and platforms.
For example, you could resize social media images to meet each network’s requirements and store them in one system so that they can be downloaded and used by team members accordingly.
Review and approve
With a system like Ziflow in place, creative teams can streamline the review and approval of content assets so that you can deliver your marketing collateral faster.
Instead of wasting hours sorting through feedback and chasing approvals, you can avoid costly revisions and automate the entire review and approval process from start to finish.
Congratulations! You made it to the end!
The sheer variety of marketing collateral used throughout the buyer journey is staggering. That’s why it’s more important than ever to have a system in place to manage the creation, review, and approval of every piece of content and ensure your team is working efficiently.
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