I need to create some marketing materials, but what is the best option for me?

When it comes to marketing materials there are a great many things you can choose from to get your message out to the masses, the most popular of which is a website, but we are talking about offline materials here. So what to create?

In order to determine the best type of collateral for you, you first need to decide the primary function of the piece. Is it something for use strictly on sales calls, is it something that you want your clients to come to on their own or are you trying to reach out to cold sales prospects? The answers to questions like these will help determine the format of your material and that format will help determine the content.

There are several types collateral materials, here are five of the most popular:

A standard brochure or leave behind as they are sometimes called are something that you would take with you on a sales call. These materials usually contain an overview of your products or services and generally summarize your sales pitch for why someone should use your company.

Point of Sale
Point of Sale materials are similar to a display advertisement (magazine type ad) and are generally used to get potential customers attention while they are standing in line or waiting for something. These materials are usually characterized by a catchy headline that draws immediate interest followed by a brief description of the product or service involved. They usually have a strong call to action driving potential customers to request more information or contact a sales representative.

Sales Support
Sales support materials in the form of individual sell sheets are very similar to your standard brochure but while your company brochure has a cross section of your entire business, your support materials will give specific details about a single product or service. these types of materials can also be used as a follow up to direct inquiries and responses from ads, or point of sale materials.

Direct Mail
Direct Mail is used when trying to connect with current or potential customers about a specific product or service. The space is usually more limited for content on these and comes in the form of a post card or other such simple communication. Direct mail can be a very powerful tool if done correctly but it generally allows for much less content so it has to count. Like the Point of Sale pieces, it needs a headline that will capture attention quickly, but in this case it has to be done before it finds its way to the trash. They must have a specific call to action and it is important that responses to this type of material be measurable. Direct mail can often expose you to a much wider audience but response rates for direct mail in general hover between two and five percent so you have to consider your potential return on Investment (ROI) before you even begin.

The last type of materials have become the most popular in recent years, Downloads. While these are technically printed materials, they also have an online component. Most often these resemble a sell sheet but since you are not specifically limited by material cost and deliverability, they are much more flexible. If you have created printed versions of any of the above materials, you should also have a downloadable version to give you additional delivery options such as through email or from your website. These materials are generally in a PDF format for the widest possible distribution. Although they are more flexible and you can create online versions of all existing printed materials, one thing to keep in mind when creating materials that are to be download only is standard computer printer limitations. Download only materials should limit bleeds (unless of course you don’t care how they will look when printed – which they will be) and the best case is to leave 1/2″ border of white around the entire document to ensure that the materials will be displayed the same on every device (by default the printable area for most printers leaves 1/4″ of white space on the top and sides of a sheet while having at least 3/8″ at the bottom for gripping the paper – some go as low as 1/8″ top and sides but the tail is usually the same).

No matter which direction your marketing takes you (and it may just be all of the above), just make sure that as you develop your materials, you gear them toward your intended audience in both style and content to ensure that they are as effective as possible for your specific marketing purpose.

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