Brochures. Folders. Sales sheets. Stationery. Flyers. Trade show displays. These are the kinds of items you most likely think of when you hear the words “marketing collateral.” And yes, all of those items, and more, do fit that definition and still have their place in your marketing strategies today (more on that later in this blog post), but with the dramatic shift toward digital marketing over the past 20 years, so too has the definition of marketing collateral materials changed. Printed brochures and posters, logo-imprinted pens and coffee mugs and all of those other items still have their place, but electronic materials have broadened what constitutes ad campaign collateral.

Email Outreach and Organic Social Media Posts

You may feel that this doesn’t fit into any definition of marketing collateral, but here’s how Red Thinking views it. Completely separate from paid boosts on social media sites and outright paid ad placements on those outlets, organic social posts are your opportunity to tell your brands story and shape your consumer and target audience’s perception. Each post should be crafted to highlight a specific area of your brand whether that be through curated content or sharing user generated content. Think of organic social media sort of like mini-pamphlets of information, or handout flyers at specific industry venues that a user can view at their leisure. Permission-based email messaging, as we see it, similarly falls into this category. After all, “collateral” means sideline, and in the context of marketing it involves little cost to produce, yet no cost to place like paid advertising. It’s all about staying engaged with the audience you’ve worked so hard to build!

Blogs and Vlogs

Now we get into a more direct comparison with printed brochures that fits the digital age. Long format articles, white papers, case studies, instructional or informational videos, interactive webinars, case studies, even downloadable e-books that contain as much content as a printed volume all count as collateral materials by definition. Again, no direct real cost for placement like paid advertising as they can live directly on your website or social media platforms, and they supplement a company’s paid media plan. Collateral…sideline…see what we mean? The blog concept is also expandable to include digital magazines that recipients sign up to receive, just as they would for a magazine delivered each month by mail (only without all that pesky expense for printing and postage!)

Online Promotional Videos

Printed brochures are collateral materials you read, right? Well, promotional videos are really just brochures that you watch. They can contain as much – or more – information as a traditional brochure, but take less time to convey their information than it takes to read through a detail-intensive printed piece. Plus, just as easily as you can pick up a printed brochure to read it again, you can simply bookmark a video’s URL, save or favorite a video to your social media profile and come back to it any time you choose…with no additional stacks of clutter on your desk. When potential customers don’t have time to watch a video, you can serve them the video’s close cousin, an audio podcast.

Promotional Landing Pages

Think in terms of handout flyers, except these online versions are direct links to your website for immediate action, and the lumber company doesn’t have to cut down that nice forest you love. E-flyers sent through email marketing, and landing pages on your website that are a first filter that visitors hit when they click through to your website, are more effective than the old-fashioned printed equivalent. And you don’t have to send the summer intern to hand them out at the entrance of the trade show arena (whenever those come back) or put them on windshields of cars in the parking lot.

Your Company’s Website Itself

OK, yes, we’ll admit that it sounds like a stretch to define a website as marketing collateral, but think about it. It’s the ULTIMATE brochure! (Only better.) It’s an information resource that’s always available, it can be updated almost immediately, and unlike any printed brochure, it’s a DIRECT, IMMEDIATE PATH for sales transactions or specific inquiries.

There’s Still Room for Tradition

Integrated marketing and advertising is multi-faceted in our modern times, so the more traditional types of collateral materials still have their place. Items like point-of-sales displays in stores or at trade shows, physical banners that direct passers-by to sales centers or tout special promotions at storefronts, press releases and news alerts that get picked up by wire services…these are all still great elements to include in a strategically-rich marketing campaign, just as are printed brochures and similar materials. Let’s also not forget stationery identity packages. Few things beat the eternally stalwart, good old business card as a brand and contact information message point.

Whether online or printed, collateral marketing materials are more than just the chorus supporting the headlining stars of your blockbuster advertising campaign. They’re necessary members in the whole cast of characters, bringing their own full, rich harmony to the entire production.