It goes without saying, but your marketing materials shouldn’t be limited to traditional outbound advertising – especially if your business is B2B. Sure, getting attention is part of the battle, but what if a prospect visits your website and only sees some product descriptions and a pricing page?
There must be more. You will need material to show that you can go the way. One type of content to help you get there is called marketing material and it can come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Here we get a deeper understanding of the concept and go into the top five marketing collateral formats that you can use to establish legitimacy and complement your sales efforts.
What are Marketing Materials?
Marketing materials are media or marketing materials that are usually more informative than traditional advertising. The medium is generally designed to project authority, establish legitimacy, and build trust with prospects to closely complement the sales effort.
Marketing collateral is at its core a way of letting potential customers know that you know what you are talking about. It shouldn’t be as conspicuous as conventional advertising. When creating marketing materials, your first priority is generally not to grab attention, but rather to keep it and improve it.
For the most part, the potential customers looking at your marketing materials are curious about your business, but they may not know you well or what you are offering. Well-designed marketing materials can put them at ease. This can help build the trust necessary to build and maintain a customer relationship.
Now you may be wondering how marketing collateral relates to marketing materials in general. Good question.
Marketing Materials vs. Marketing Materials
In general, the difference between marketing collateral and marketing collateral is that they are not meaningful. While other marketing materials may explicitly tell the reader why their company or offering is the best, marketing materials focus on showing why their company or offering is the best.
Because of this, marketing materials tend to be educational in a way. If done right, the informative nature of the format can help you stand out from the competition by showing a thorough understanding of your industry that others in your field may not project.
If all of your marketing materials are solely meant to talk about your product or service, then sell yourself short. When potential customers decide to buy, they don’t just think about what’s for sale, they think about your business as a whole.
They want to know that they are being looked after by a competent, knowledgeable, knowledgeable organization that they can rely on to resolve any problems and concerns they may have. Creating well-thought-out marketing collateral is one way to help this cause.
Types of collateral for digital marketing
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- White papers
- Explanatory videos
1. Blog posts
Often times, creating good marketing collateral is about adding value to your audience. One of the better forums to create and promote the kind of material that does this on an ongoing basis is a well-maintained company blog.
You can add helpful insight and audience engagement to your sales effort – driving traffic to your website and generating leads through actionable advice, expertise, and entertainment. Here are a few examples from the HubSpot website blog.
Example of a blog post
Like any other type of effective marketing security, good blog posts can project authority in your industry. You want to show that you are keeping up with industry trends and understand the nuances of your area. Continuing to publish high quality, helpful content can help and reassure your prospects.
With all of these benefits in mind, it’s no wonder marketers ranked blogs as the second primary form of media to use in their content strategy in a recent HubSpot survey.
Ebooks are similar to blog posts in that they should project the authority of the industry through engagement, but they are typically longer, more elaborate, and less nutritious than typical blog content. This type of marketing collateral generally attracts prospects with a vested interest in your industry. Below are a few examples from HubSpot.
In a way, an e-book could be compared to an extended blog post or a series of blog posts. Like blog content, an e-book generally contains accessible language and actionable advice.
In many cases, e-books can be downloaded and can only be accessed in exchange for a prospect’s contact information. This makes them a powerful lead generation tool.
Regardless of where your business is, you likely have the resources and expertise to incorporate your industry-specific knowledge into a well-designed e-book. Remember that your marketing collateral should be designed to build trust with prospects and customers.
If you can bring out e-books to reliably increase their industry knowledge, you can convince them that they are in good hands when buying your product or service.
3. Case studies
Case studies are offer-specific documents that detail how certain customers saw success as a result of using your product or service. This format differs from the two previous ones in that it is never product-independent. Below is an example from HubSpot.
Example of a case study
Each case study is created in collaboration with a satisfied customer. It’s a form of cross-promotion that shows what your product or service looks like in practice – a roadmap that potential customers can use to imagine what you could do for their company.
Like almost every other example on this list, case studies are educational. They provide a more detailed explanation of how your product or service works using an active example. It’s also another way of building trust.
When you can refer to reputable customers willing to vouch for your business in detail, you can build your business’s reputation as a solid, knowledgeable organization with a product or service that delivers results.
Testimonials are essentially condensed case studies. Many, if not most, prospects have neither the time nor the interest to delve into a comprehensive case study. If you want to reach them, you need to provide quick content that they can peer passively over. Testimonials can do just that. Below is an example from HubSpot.
This testimonial follows the format’s best practices. It’s visually appealing, clearly identifying who made the offer, and pointing out specific benefits – a solid example of appropriately informative, easy-to-digest marketing material. Ultimately, having a good testimonial helps project the company’s legitimacy and inspire potential customers to further explore the product it is promoting.
5. White papers
A white paper is a compelling, authoritative, and detailed report on a specific topic. In general, one of these documents will raise a problem and provide a solution to it.
It’s usually more technical and less accessible than an e-book. It’s meant to attract a crowd more closely related or interested in your industry – an audience that, of course, comes across the problem at the core of the document.
White papers shouldn’t be misleading. It is best to keep them objective and educational. That being said, the topics you choose must be relevant to your company or area.
These types of collateral must also be thoroughly researched, carefully formatted, polished, and written in a reputable tone. That means no flashy language or cute gimmicks. Here are some examples of topics from the HubSpot Not Another State of Marketing report.
As I keep telling you, every format listed in this article is tailored to some degree for project authority – the whitepaper is the purest example of this trend. It is a technical document designed to demonstrate technical knowledge to a crowd with technical ability.
6. Explanatory videos
Explanatory videos – the most commonly created video types – are a great way to target visual learners. These are designed to provide a quick and easy explanation of a product, service, or topic related to your industry. They help your company to build up specialist knowledge and gain the trust of the target group.
They are usually between 30 and 90 seconds long, which is reflected in a written script with a maximum of 200 words. These types of collateral can often be found on a website home page, landing pages, prominent product pages, and social media accounts. Below is an example from HubSpot.
Explanatory video example
The explainer video is a quick and memorable way to impress your audience. This can be the difference between a potential buyer buying and not buying your product or subscribing to your YouTube page and more.
You can find inspiration here 17 examples of fabulous explainer videos.
Are you ready to create your own marketing collateral?
Well-designed marketing materials can give you an edge over your competition. Not only is it a great lead generation tool, but it also provides your business with an element of authority and trustworthiness to make potential customers more comfortable and willing to buy from you. If your company doesn’t produce it, then you should try one of the formats listed above.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2013 and has been updated for completeness.