Marketing collateral comes in a bewildering array these days from print to digital to personal – yes, those conversations at your local networking group are just as much about marketing as is your brochure or website. Whatever your collateral, published or verbal, it can be tempting to focus on what you want to tell people. It is harder to think about what they might want to hear, to engage with them! Actually these two can be the same thing from different perspectives. Thinking from the recipients point of view makes it more likely that your message will be engaging with them rather than just talking at them. You have probably experienced it, and some may even have done it – the one-way networking conversation. You are talked at and if you don’t bite, they move on. OK, this approach can work if you are in search of ‘right place, right time‘, but it is incredibly wasteful. If you engage with people while you are networking, listening as well as talking, you will create a better impression and even if there is no opportunity to progress just now, you create a platform for the future. Similarly with brochures and websites, content that puts your products and services in a context of how someone can benefit from doing business with you, and demonstrating your ability to deliver on your offer, is more powerful than simply listing what you offer.
It's the old story of focusing on benefits rather than features.
Key steps to engaging marketing collateral
Be aware of the balance – are you focusing on their interest? Putting your proposition/products/services in the context of your market place can be very effective. It is a good way to demonstrate benefits and also give you an opportunity to show your understanding and expertise; powerful marketing messages! Showing your continuing engagement with your marketplace also demonstrates your commitment. Clients want someone to rely on. They want to be sure you will be around to support them as they work with you. With this in mind, ask yourself a question:
Do you stick with you?
Do you stick with you? – A process not an event
We live in the world of ‘now’. Is your collateral up to date or out of date? Print can be a particular problem here. Most brochures are expected to have a life of at least a few years but images of cars, IT, phones etc can be giveaways of older collateral as technology moves forward so rapidly with newer models introduced every year – never mind your business evolving and changing your portfolio of products and services. A website should be easier to keep updated but many companies don’t! Often a website is seen as a ‘fit and forget’ like a brochure, but a good site should be dynamic with new content added on a regular basis. As ‘blogs’ and ‘news’ become core elements of a website, the problem is exacerbated as this content normally includes a publication date by default.
An example of the problem:
We just got a new twitter follower on (@bsamarketing). It is a creative agency – I took a look at their website – smart. I took a look at their blog: regular posts from March 2016 (launch of new website?) to May 2016, then nothing. What does this tell me about their commitment? Not great I’m afraid. I may be wrong but that’s the evidence.
There is the option to hide out of dateness by removing date references, but regularly adding new content, blog articles, case studies etc. and embracing the fact that they are dated is a real positive – and a demonstration of your commitment.
Prove your capabilities
It is one thing to say you can do something but quite another to actually do it. Including case studies and testimonials in your marketing collateral can be a great way of allowing others (your customers!) to tell your market what a great job you do. Simply talking the talk isn’t enough you need to walk the walk and demonstrate your competence. Long term business relationships are built on mutual trust and confidence. If your marketing collateral really engages, it is a great way starting this process.
A practical start
Why not ask one or two customers for an objective critique of your website or other marketing collateral. As an alternative, even family members not involved in the business can give some interesting insight. Both approaches can identify opportunities to refine and improve what you say and the way you say it. When it comes to networking and ‘verbal’ collateral, next time you are networking try to listen to what you are saying when talking to someone and compare it with what you hear from others. Do they take a different approach or say anything that you might be able to use – or maybe it just shows you what an engaging networker you are already! If you’d like to make your marketing work by being more engaging, do get in touch