Business Collateral - Easy to Do, Hard to Do Right

by on

Business collateral is an, admittedly, fairly vague term used to reference a wide variety of printed or digital pieces of marketing material, and is often referred to by similar names such as marketing collateral, sales collateral, brand collateral or identity collateral. The one consistency between these names is the term “collateral” (meaning ancillary or accompanying), which is important because it drives home that these marketing pieces are not meant to stand on their own, isolated from the rest of your business processes or other marketing efforts. They are individual pieces that may build a brand, introduce a product, explain a service, strengthen credibility, or guide a decision, but can’t (and shouldn’t) try to do it all at once.

Although by no means complete, here are the most common types of business collateral seen in today’s marketing landscape. In addition to this list, some industries have their own unique types of business collateral, such as deposit or withdrawal slips for a financial institution, estimate forms for a landscaper, or restaurant menus.

When you’re ready to introduce business collateral into your business, sales or marketing processes, remember that not every piece of collateral is created equally or is appropriate for the same purpose. You should never produce a piece of collateral because “everyone else has one”. Every piece of collateral should have a clearly defined purpose (extra points if this purpose is spelled out in your marketing strategy), whose format and content is chosen specifically to support that purpose. For example, you may find that you make a great connection with potential customers when face-to-face at a business networking event, but struggle to get people to contact you down the line. Start by evaluating your business card design (you are handing out business cards, right?), then move into considering a piece of easy to hand out collateral, such as a tri-fold brochure or postcard. Your contact information should be featured prominently, along with a strong call to action that tells the reader why they should reach out to you now or in the future. This simple piece of collateral could be the bridge between your initial connection with a person and thinking of you when they have need of your products or services in the future.

Business collateral can serve a variety of purposes, but some of the most common reasons include:

Just as every business is unique, so, too, is every piece of business collateral, and this uniqueness makes it impossible to define exactly what makes a piece of collateral successful. There are, however, some common elements that will contribute to the overall success of your own collateral. Successful business collateral should be:

It’s easy to produce business collateral – it’s difficult to produce it right. If you want to introduce the right business collateral into your business, sales or marketing processes, or if it’s time to rethink collateral you already have, let us help steer you in the right direction!