Is your Advertising Collateral Effective?

Collateral TSCEvery successful business, organization and marketing campaign relies on some form of print support material to communicate their message. Be it a product catalog, a service brochure, informational pamphlet or a political campaign flier. All collateral is created to perform the same function; to inform, educate, and motivate the recipient to take a specific action. Most professionally designed ad material achieves their objectives. However, poorly designed collateral falls short and does not generate the desired response.

Lackluster collateral is a waste of time, effort and money, and may actually harm the promoters image. The primary reason for poor advertising material is the client’s failure to understand the essential factors that make it effective, and/or their reluctance to pay a professional Marketing Consultant to design it. So the task of producing advertising is often relegated to a low-priced graphic artist, or assigned to an in-house employee. Freelance artists are limited, while they may do creative artwork, they lack marketing experience. Ad material designed by the office staff is stymied by management oversight. When company management directs the composition of the project it is based on subjective opinions that may not reflect the true market conditions. “Everyone knows that”, is not always the case in presenting features and benefits, especially in burgeoning markets. “This is what we want to sell”, may not be what the customer wants to buy.

Professionally developed collateral starts with a marketing strategy. An analysis of past and current efforts, establish the success (or failure) history of a product, service or program. Competitive research identifies capabilities, factors and opportunities to base the new strategy. Market trends need to be considered to determine the best approach to gain response in existing market conditions. The roll this collateral will play in the overall marketing campaign must be determined. How the collateral will be utilized is an important factor. Finally, the budget to produce and distribute the support material needs a commitment. Candid client/marketer input is essential. With all of this input, a Marketing Consultant can employ their experience, objectivity and creativity to design graphics, provide professional photos, write informative copy and develop an incentive and generate an impressive composition.

First-rate graphics, and photos play an important roll in depicting the quality and features of products, services or the concept. Activity or action photos with people, rather than still life product/image shots, make the greatest impression. There are many creative techniques to illustrate people involved, and it adds a convincing human element when employed properly. Aftermarket products, parts and components, should always be shown in the position, as installed or in use. In other words the angle of the product photo or illustration should depict what the buyer would be familiar with. This is especially important when it comes to kits with multiple parts. The photo layout is best shown as an exploded assembly on a white background. This concept illustrates where everything goes and makes it easier for the buyer to understand what is all included. One of the big mistakes many marketers make, is they scatter a bunch of parts in disarray on a bed sheet, on a piece of plywood, or the floor and snap an iPhone photo. Quality professional photography includes Photoshop enhancement to show the product at it’s best.

Advertising copy should always be in the language of the market. I don’t mean English or Spanish (although that may be applicable). Information, descriptions and specifications should be written “at grade level”. Do not assume the potential buyer has in-depth knowledge, but do not insult the intelligence of the savvy shopper either. The more sophisticated the product or buyer, the more that technical terms and specifications can be utilized. Basic and familiar phrases and descriptions can be effectively used in conveying concepts depending on the product and the target market. A rule for advertising copy: Design information to communicate to the lowest level of the market without insulting the intelligence of the highest level. Interpretation and the composition skills of a professional copywriter will put things into perspective.

While the layout, design and graphics play in important roll, it is the combination of a marketing strategy, and a dynamic creative approach, combined with quality photos, graphics and text organized in a user-friendly format that will produce the best response. All collateral needs to be easy to navigate, follow and understand. Products and services information must flow and have uniformity and ease-of-readability from start to finish. And finally, there must be a call to action, or how to buy. It may be to order products direct, see a local dealer, call for a quote, make a reservation, or in the case of a political campaign, vote for a candidate or issue. Every collateral element should be in harmony with all other elements of the advertising campaign as part of a unified image, theme or message. Although advertising collateral is originally designed as printed collateral, these elements may also be utilized on websites, as links to downloadable printouts.

As you can see there is a lot to creating effective advertising collateral. How good is your advertising collateral? Whether your advertising material is designed by a major Advertising Agency, a Freelance Designer, or you did it Yourself, have it evaluated by a professional… it’s like a second doctor’s opinion. Tom Smisek, Professional Marketing Consultant, based in Orange County California with over five decades of experience in designing collateral, is offering A FREE Advertising Collateral Critique for a limited time. For information call: 714-649-2528