How to Create Marketing Materials that Work
- You have established which of your three draft marketing messages is the strongest, and incorporated it into all of your existing marketing materials
- You have implemented a lead tracking and management system and trained your staff to use it effectively
Your marketing materials are an extension of you and your company.
How are yours working?
You can have a lot of fun creating marketing materials for your business. It’s an opportunity to work on a project that isn’t a spreadsheet, or a graph or an order form. You can really get creative!
Your materials get distributed in the world to send out a particular message (or messages) about your company and what you sell. They’re ambassadors for your business because they speak to your potential customers when you’re not there.
As you probably know, it’s easy to get carried away with marketing collateral. You’re surrounded by flashy, clever advertising everywhere you look, and when the time comes to create your own, you can’t help but feel that you have to keep up with the joneses.
Most of the time this doesn’t work. You spend more money, and see less impressive results. In this E-Class, I’m going to show you some proven strategies for simplifying and strengthening your marketing materials, and focusing on the materials you need not the materials you think you think you should have.
In this E-Class we will cover:
- The marketing materials you really need – and the ones you don’t
- The mistakes you might be making now
- The elements each piece of marketing collateral should have
- What you need to know about the design of your materials
- What you need to know about testing, measuring and making mistakes
It’s easy to want to match your competition piece by piece – but when you’re trying to stretch your marketing budget, focus on the materials you actually need.
Just because your competition has an eight page, glossy color brochure, doesn’t mean you need one to run a successful business.
When one brochure has the ability to eat your entire budget for marketing materials, you have to prioritize what’s essential and what’s just a “wish” or want. You need to make sure you’re spending on the items that are going to bring in the most return on investment.
Your marketing materials need to communicate your message to your target and motivate them to act. Do you really need a glossy brochure when black and white flyers will be just as effective? Think about this when making decisions about your marketing items.
Make choices based on how your target audience prefers to receive information. Do they prefer paper newsletters, or electronic ones? Are they environmentally conscious, or technology savvy? Do they appreciate personal contact, or just need to see information in a newspaper? Remember that how you communicate is often just as or more important that what you communicate.
Make green choices – your customers will appreciate it. Choose recycled paper and envelopes when you can, and print double-sided. Produce marketing materials in electronic format (like newsletters), and print limited runs of hard copy materials (like brochures).
What are the marketing materials that your business needs, wants and would like to have?
- Business Cards
- Fridge Magnet
- Branded Swag (pens, etc.)
- Employee Clothing
- Cloth Bags
- Product Labels
- Email Signature
- Letterhead + Envelopes
- Thank You Cards
- Seasonal Gifts
- Company Profile
- Internal Templates (Fax Cover, Memo, etc.)
Create a list of your essential marketing materials then, below it, create a list of your “wish” marketing materials. You can use your “wish list” when you have a little extra budget, or are looking to create a “wow” piece. The list above is for you to use as a guideline – you may not need all of these items, or want to add your own ideas to the list.
Take your existing marketing materials through this audit, and look for opportunities to improve and strengthen.
Are you fighting for their attention with a powerful headline?
You have about four seconds to grab the attention of your reader with your headline. If you do, you have a few more seconds to convince them to read your subheadline. If you’re successful in doing that, you have a few more seconds to get them to read further. See what I’m saying?
Make sure your headlines:
- Offer to take away pain or give pleasure
- Hit your target market’s hot buttons
- Bring up emotion
- Are bold, dramatic, shocking or unbelievable
- Answer the questions – what’s in it for the customer? why should the customer care?
Are you triggering an emotional response to a problem, fear, need or want?
Once you have their attention, you need to continue to keep it. Shake up their confidence in what they’re doing now, or the urgency with which they need to solve their problem. Put their fears, concerns and desires in black and white text in front of their eyes:
Ask them if they:
- Are doing enough?
- Can wait any longer?
- Can sacrifice any more?
- Are paying too much?
- Are getting the best product or service for their money?
Are you building their trust or confidence in your ability to meet their needs?
You’ve got their attention, and tapped into their emotions, now you need to build their confidence in you ability to solve their problems and meet their needs. You’ll need to show them your solution, and prove that you can be trusted to do what you promise.
Tell them how:
- You’re different from the competition
- You’re highly qualified
- You have documented results
- You have a high number of happy customers
- You get recognized from others in your field
Are you wowing them with your competitive edge?
You may be the best at what you do or have the best product but if your customers can’t get a hold of you when they need you, how valuable are you? Here are some examples:
Tell them how you do more than the competition:
- 24-hour hotline
- Housecalls, or free delivery
- Customer rewards program
- Other convenience services
Are you overcoming their objections before they’ve raised them?
It makes no difference what business you are in; there will always be objections to buying what you are selling. Most often the biggest objection is the price. You should confront them head-on by explaining why it’s worth paying your price. You need to put their fears to rest before they will be ready to buy.
Are you providing an element of risk reversal with a strong guarantee?
Stand behind what you’re claiming about the quality of your product or service, and offer a guarantee in your marketing materials. Typically, the strength and length of the guarantee indicate the quality of the product in most customer’s eyes, so create a strong one.
You can guarantee:
Are you showing them what other people have said about your product or service?
Use testimonials to speak to your credibility and merit. Let the testimonials show your potential clients how trustworthy you are, and how much benefit they’ve received from your product or service. Make sure the testimonial addresses the problem that your customer had before they used your product.
Are you giving them an easy way to contact you?
Make it easy for customers to be in touch with you, or get more information. Clearly display your phone number and website address on everything you produce, and consider including a map of your store location so you’re easy to find.
Each piece should provide the following contact information:
- Location (with map)
- Phone / Fax / Cell
- Toll free number
Are you giving them a reason to act NOW?
The last job your marketing piece has to do is motivate your viewer to take action. You need to make them want to call for more information, visit your website, or just come into your store. Invite them to take action on every page.
To motivate customers to act, you can:
- Offer special “bonus” offers to quick responders
- Make a time-sensitive offer
- Tell them how rare your product is, or what limited quantity you have
- Offer limited-time added value
Are you telling them what your product or service will give them?
Your customer doesn’t care about the features of your product or service, they only care about the benefit that feature will provide them. Customers buy benefits, not products or services. A client is looking to buy some more confidence from a new hairstyle, not a haircut.
Are you telling viewers the story of your product or service?
Remember that you are painting a story to tap into the emotions of your viewers. Detailed technical descriptions should be replaced with descriptions of how the customer may enjoy the benefit, and how they might feel.
The story will help the reader picture:
- How they’ll feel after using your product or service
- What they’ll look like using your product or service
- What they’ll have time to do once they buy your product or service
- The relief they’ll experience after purchasing your product or service
Are you giving them a reason to keep your marketing piece?
Give your customers a reason to keep your business card, brochure, newsletter or direct mail piece, refer to it, and pass it on to others to see. If you are selling hair care products, you can give your readers tips on how to combat split ends, frizz, unruly curls and heat damage. If you sell kitchen products, you can provide recipes that use your cookware or tools.
Some ideas for keep-able marketing pieces are:
- Top 10 lists
- Tips for product caretaking and longevity
Flashy design is not important to your marketing campaign – but clear and professional looking materials are absolutely essential.
When it comes to the visual presentation of your marketing materials, you need to strike a balance. On one hand, you don’t want to spend all of your budget on design and production. On the other hand, the cost of sending out materials that don’t look and feel professional is usually much higher.
Going back to our discussion on time management, you’ll want to check in with yourself and see if your time is best spent designing your brochures, ads, flyers and direct mail, or if you should hire other resources.
Resources for marketing collateral design and layout include:
|Graphic Design Agency||This is generally the most expensive option. However, if you can find a small to medium sized agency you’ll typically be able to work within a reasonable budget. This can also be a resource to use for “wow” pieces, or design projects that require a little extra flair.|
|Freelance Designer||Freelance designers don’t carry the overhead that agencies do, so typically their prices are a little cheaper. Try to find a designer you work well with and build a long-term relationship. Ask your network for referrals, or try listings like Craigslist.|
|In-House Designer||If you don’t have the time to design your own collateral, but have heaps of marketing collateral and signage to design on a regular basis, hiring a dedicated employee may be your most cost effective option.|
If you’re designing your materials in-house, here are some guidelines.
|Consistency||Your materials need to be cohesive and look like they come from the same company. Be consistent in your color choices, font, headline styles and logo placement.|
|Simplicity||Keep your materials simple and easy to read. This will save you money, as little details like full-bleed printing and die-cut edges are more expensive.|
|Information Hierarchy||Think about the information that you need your customers to receive, and the information that is less important. Structure your page so that the most important messages jump off the page, and less pertinent details are at the bottom.|
|Color Choice||Colors give a visual message to your readers, and have many meanings including cultural connotations. Choose your business colors carefully, and stick to two or three.|
|White Space||Every piece needs enough white space to give viewers’ eyes a place to rest when taking in information. The point here is not to crowd your piece with text and copy.|
|Photo Choice||Put some thought into the photo you select, if you choose to include photos in your marketing materials. Details in the photo can unintentionally communicate messages about your business, so make sure they’re the right ones.|
If you’re going to try something new – test, measure and make mistakes in small batches, or online.
You will need to constantly be monitoring the success of each piece of marketing material and looking for opportunities to strengthen and improve it. Since you already have your lead tracking and management system in place, this is a matter of sitting down on a regular basis and reviewing the leads each piece generated, and how many turned into sales (we’ll review this when we get to conversion rates.
Remember, always test, measure and then make choices.
If you’re not sure about a new strategy, do a test run to a limited distribution area, or test the message out online. Do small production runs of brochures or flyers you’re not sure about, so you don’t end up with heaps of flyers that didn’t work.
In the end, the strength of your marketing piece is in what you say and how you say it.
Too often, flashy design gets in the way of the message and you miss an opportunity to attract a customer. Simple, clear marketing materials deliver an easy-to-understand message to your target audience, and result
The next E-Class will look at the role of your offer in motivating your audience to take action. A powerful – even irresistible – offer can act as an ace in the hole for your lead generation efforts. I’ll show you how to put one together.
Until next time,