It goes without saying, but your marketing materials shouldn’t be limited to conventional outbound advertising – especially if your business is B2B. Sure, getting attention is part of the battle, but what if a potential customer visits your website and only sees some product descriptions and a pricing page?
There must be more in it. You will need some material to show that you can take the walk. One type of content to help you get there is known as marketing material, and it can come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Here we get a deeper understanding of the concept and outline the top five marketing material 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 typically more informative than traditional advertisements. The medium is generally designed to project authority, establish legitimacy, and build trust with prospects to closely complement the sales effort.
At its core, marketing collateral is a way of letting prospects know you know what you’re talking about. It shouldn’t be as conspicuous as conventional advertising. When creating marketing materials, your first priority is generally not to get attention, but rather to maintain and improve it.
In most cases, the prospects looking at your marketing materials are curious about your business, but they may not know you or what you are offering. Well-designed marketing materials can put them at ease. It can help build the trust necessary to build and maintain a customer relationship.
Now you may be wondering how does marketing collateral relate to marketing collateral in general? Good question.
Marketing materials vs. marketing collateral
In general, the difference between marketing collateral and marketing collateral is that you don’t say anything. While other marketing materials may specifically 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 are 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.
If all of your marketing materials are used solely to promote your product or service, you are selling yourself empty. When prospects decide to buy, they don’t just think about what’s for sale – they look at your business as a whole.
They want to know that they are being looked after by a competent, capable, and knowledgeable organization that they can rely on to resolve any problems and concerns that may arise. Creating well-thought-out marketing materials is one way to support 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 delivering constant 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.
It enables you to complement your sales efforts with helpful insights and audience interactions by driving traffic to your website and generating leads through actionable advice, expertise, and entertainment. Below are some examples from the HubSpot website blog.
Example of a blog post
Like any other type of effective marketing collateral, good blog posts can exude authority in your industry. You want to show that you are keeping up with industry trends and understand the nuances of your space – providing high quality, helpful content all the time can help and put your prospects at ease.
With all of these advantages in mind, it’s no wonder marketers ranked blogs the second most important form of media in their content strategy in a recent HubSpot survey.
E-books are similar to blog posts in that they are intended to express industry authority through engagement, but they are typically longer, more detailed, and less palatable than typical blog content. This type of marketing material generally attracts potential customers with a legitimate interest in your industry. Below are some examples from HubSpot.
In a way, an ebook could be compared to an expanded blog post or a few blog posts strung together. Like blog content, an e-book generally contains accessible language and actionable advice.
In many cases, e-books are downloadable and can only be accessed in exchange for a prospect’s contact information – making them a powerful vehicle for lead generation.
Regardless of where your business is, you probably have the resources and expertise to bundle your industry-specific knowledge into a well-thought-out e-book. Remember that your marketing materials should be designed to instill trust with prospects and customers.
If you can publish e-books to reliably increase their knowledge of your industry, then 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 have been successful 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.
Case study example
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 lets prospects introduce what you could do for their business.
Like almost every other example on this list, case studies are educational. They provide a more thorough explanation of how your product or service works through 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.
4. Experience reports
Testimonials are essentially condensed case studies to nibble on. Many, if not most, prospects have neither the time nor the interest to delve into an in-depth case study. If you want to reach them, you need to quickly provide relevant content that they can passively survey. Testimonials can do just that. Below is an example of one 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 a reasonably informative, easily digestible marketing material. Ultimately, a good testimonial helps to highlight the legitimacy of the company and at the same time inspire potential customers to further explore the advertised product.
A white paper is a compelling, authoritative, and in-depth report on a specific topic. In general, one of these documents will raise a problem and present a solution to it.
It’s usually more technical and less accessible than an ebook. It is meant to attract a target audience that is more deeply involved with or interested in your industry – an audience that could, of course, come across the topic at the core of the document.
White papers shouldn’t be product presentations. The best course of action is to keep it objective and educational. However, the topics you choose must be relevant to your business or environment.
This type of supporting material also needs to be thoroughly researched, carefully formatted, polished, and written in a serious tone. That means no flashy language or cute gimmicks. Below are some examples of topics from HubSpot’s Not Another State of Marketing Report.
As I keep mentioning, every format listed in this article is tailored to the project authority to some extent – the whitepaper is the purest example of this trend. It is a technical document designed to demonstrate technical knowledge to a crowd with technical proficiency.
6. Explanatory videos
Explanatory videos – the most commonly created types of videos – are a great way to target visual learners. Designed to quickly and easily explain a product, service or topic related to your industry, these will help your company build expertise and gain the trust of its target audience.
They are usually between 30 and 90 seconds long, which equates to a written script of 200 words or less. This type of collateral can often be found on a website home page, landing pages, prominent product pages, and social media accounts. Below is an example of one from HubSpot.
Example of an explanatory video
The explainer video is a quick and memorable way to make an impression on your audience. It can make the difference between whether or not a potential customer buys your product, or whether they subscribe to your YouTube page, and much more.
Look at each other for inspiration 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 vehicle, but it can add an element of authority and trustworthiness to your business to make potential customers more comfortable and willing to buy. 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.