The case for sales collateral

By James Lowry and Christy Correll | May 24, 2012

Do print sales collaterals still have a place in today’s world? Many of our customers have ready access to any information they want thanks to the internet. Has that influenced how print sales collaterals are used? Absolutely. Does that mean they are no longer important? Absolutely not.

I am somewhat biased about this issue because I am a printer. This also obligates us to utilize sales collaterals to demonstrate how customers should use theirs.  By leading by example, we can prove we are business partners by helping them get more business through the products we make. One word of advice, though, is to make sure you are talking to your customer’s marketing team.

So how are print sales collaterals still relevant for selling?  Here are a few ideas that marketing experts have shared.

Advertisements: It proves to your customers that you are here to stay and able to make that kind of investment. Notice how the big brands use big ads? The perception created is that you are a notable and established company.

Brochures:  Tells who you are, what you sell, and the promises you have made. Most importantly they become a tool for the person you talked to to sell your product to the rest of their company.  If you arm them to make that second or third sales pitch with a prepared presentation, you win. 
Printing PowerPoint presentation slides show you are effective and efficient. They also can be a leave-behind as well.

Direct mail: Send your presentation this way and you can still get a reasonable ROI.  We are not restricted by “do not call” lists or governmental regulations on “opt out” options for emails.

Thoughts on what your collaterals include: Is your title engaging? Does it say “nap time” or create emotional fireworks? What sets you apart from your competition? Compelling visuals? Customer testimonials? What results have you achieved? Calls to action?

One plan is if you arm your salespeople with collaterals, give them the option of  “reading” their customer and the situation. 

For example:
Option 1 would be a product overview only with visuals.
Option 2 would be a product overview with brief descriptions.
Option 3 would be an overview with long descriptions. 

While these traditional types of sales materials are still alive and well, Christy is going to give you an overview of digital sales collaterals that are now available.

James Lowry is the general manager of Lightning Labels, an all-digital label printer in Denver, CO, USA. He is a 25-year veteran of the printing industry with experience in digital, flexo, offset, and commercial printing.

James noted that printed sales materials still have their place in today’s digital world. I agree, especially since eCommerce marketers use print collateral to point customers and prospects to websites and other digital media.

Here’s the deal: the amount of information you can incorporate into a printed piece is limited. Digital media, on the other hand, isn’t nearly as restrictive. In some cases, it is more interactive, as well. Interactivity is not synonymous with engagement, though. Did you know that text is far more effective in print ads than online ones? People reading a magazine are much more likely to recall details about an ad when compared with a similar online advertisement.

So what’s better, print or digital? The answer is both. Feed both to your target audience, and you really will have the best of both worlds. Here are just a few ideas for taking your traditional sales and marketing materials to the next level:

Add calls-to-action such as “Like Us on Facebook” or “Follow Us on Twitter” in print brochures and catalogs. 

Put your brochure online and make it more convenient to navigate than the print edition. Take advantage of search boxes. Create special editions for users with touch screen devices so they can quickly swipe across their screen to browse your product offerings.

Add a QR code and your eCommerce website address to your business card.

Make your white papers available online as print-ready PDFs, and embed links to online resources and references.

Put PowerPoint presentations online, preferably on a public site such as that will give them maximum exposure and drive traffic to your eCommerce site.

Remember that not every presentation has to be about products or services you can sell to your audience. Presenting purely educational information of interest to your industry peers or customer base will increase your brand credibility.

Finally, I encourage you to keep the objectives of any type of sales and marketing materials in mind when designing for print collateral, digital media, or both: supporting the sales process, providing product and service information, influencing customer purchasing decisions, and building brand credibility.

Christy Correll is the online marketing specialist at Lightning Labels, where sales are driven primarily through eCommerce activities.
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