Create Your Sales Collateral…

When you finally make client contact (marketing becomes sales), you often need simple stuff you can hand out or mail – business cards, brochures, folders, letterhead, envelopes, labels, etc.

Since these create first impressions of your business, they should be an integral part of your sales and marketing process.

These items are often referred to as sales collateral. Some people include web content, pricing and data sheets, white papers, and more in this definition. In this post, we’ll focus on the simple printed materials.

Before we get specific, here are some general comments:

  • Keep it simple. Like a doctor or lawyer, you are trying to present yourself as a professional.  One exception — if you are in a highly creative business, you may want to showcase your creativity. Otherwise, simpler is safer.
  • But don’t skimp on quality. This is NOT the place to cut corners. Go with high quality paper stock with a fine finish, such as textured or matte. Just make sure the printing looks good on it. (I prefer a light colored stock to plain white.)
  • Coordinate the look and feel. This applies to both printed and electronic marketing materials. You want consistency among the colors, fonts, and logos (if applicable). Subtle, but this is all part of your branding process.
  • Put contact information everywhere! One of my biggest pet peeves is having to hunt for contact information. This is particularly true with web sites, but I’ve also had to hunt on printed brochures and even letterheads. In the latter case, I suggest full contact info on the bottom of the page — address, phone number, and web site.

Here are some suggestions based on what we have done:

1. Business Cards - Don’t be cute — use a standard size in a suitably heavy stock. You don’t want your card to feel flimsy, and you want to make it easy for people to file or scan. Although increasingly popular, I prefer NOT to use a picture on the card (but definitely put that in your brochures.)

We settled on a  light gray linen finish with two print colors — dark gray and dark blue, with a simple dark blue logo. Although the second color adds a small cost, we felt it conveys a more professional image.

2. Letterhead/envelopes – Should match your business card, although the paper stock may be lighter. We use 20#  stock which feeds well with most printers and copiers. We also use a matching letterhead for electronic communication, which we usually send as PDF files.

3. Brochures – Should also match your business card and letterhead. As a minimum, I feel you should have a simple three fold brochure that fits in a standard envelope. Yes, many argue this is not necessary with web sites, but there are times when a printed brochure makes sense.

Keep the content simple. Include a BRIEF background with a professional photograph. The photo can be black and white, but you will also want matching color copies for article biographies, press releases, etc.

The rest of the brochure should be simple too. Use bullet points to summarize capabilities, and include a short testimonial or two if available. Regarding clients — get permission FIRST if you use their names. Incidentally, we do NOT use client names to protect confidentiality. Instead, we include a list of typical past projects.

In addition to a general brochure, we also developed a special brochure describing our training classes. We also developed a special mini-brochure with some tables of technical information.  Dubbed UBI (Useful Bits of Information), we find our engineering colleagues often keep these for years – long after throwing out cards and brochures.

Of course, ALL of these brochures should have full contact information on both sides, as people often photocopy them. Always make it easy for potential clients to contact you!

4. Other - These can include mail labels, presentation folders, etc. Once again, these should match your other printed collateral. As an aside, we rarely use presentation folders any more, but when you want to make an impression, they are very useful. We printed a couple hundred with our name/logo for a nominal amount, and they have lasted us for years.

Some final thoughts. You may want to engage a graphics designer for help. We did, and got good advice on colors, fonts, and even a simple logo. It was money well spent.

We also use a small commercial printer. Nothing wrong with the large print chains, but we’ve found the extra service invaluable. They have also referred us to other vendors as needed – mail houses, etc. In fact, our graphics designer was on their staff.

So what is the cost of all of this? Depending on quantities, you should be able to outfit yourself for $500-$2000 depending on quantities and amount of graphics design.

Remember, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

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