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14 Ways To Make The Sale Instead Of Giving It To The Competition Tip 7: Have Good Collateral Materials

By July 20, 2010July 1st, 2014Marketing Insights & Strategy
14 Ways To Make The Sale Instead Of Giving It To The Competition Tip 7: Have Good Collateral Materials

So far all of these tips have been about you and what you can do to find and win over your prospects. Today we’re going to digress into something that’s ancillary, something that serves a supporting role.

So wipe your brow and breathe a sigh of relief because you’re off the hook today as you let your collateral do the talking for you.

Tip #7: Have Good Collateral Materials

Collateral materials are everything from business cards to brochures, sell sheets to info packs. Anything you can hand a prospect for their current or future reading pleasure is part of your collateral.

I don’t care how great your website is or how many trees you want to save, you’ve got to walk into a meeting with something to hand a prospect even if it’s as simple as a business card. If you can’t even do that much you’re going to have a credibility problem right up front.

And if you’re a professional consultant charging professional consultant fees, then you do not get to print your brochure on your inkjet printer or hand out cards you designed yourself because you learned Photoshop last weekend. Your collateral materials play a supporting role, so they should support you, not make prospects question your legitimacy.

You Must Must Must Have Business Cards

And yes they must must must be designed and printed professionally. If you care about your business then find a designer who can actually design a card. That’s different than plunking a bunch of contact information and a picture of your dog onto the card. Even if you’re a dog walker.

A designer will understand typeface and color, proportion and distribution. There are so many horrific business cards out there that people probably just assume that that’s just what business cards look like. Not true! If you have them done professionally you won’t be able to help but notice the difference.

Professional cards do not…

  • Read like a novel. Contact information, period.  And not in a big glom in one corner so you can fit that picture of your dog.
  • Have perforated edges. If you print your own cards and tear at the seams, then quit your job now and go spend some time with your dog.
  • Have cross outs and write ins. If your phone number has changed, spend a few bucks and get your cards reprinted. Personally, I demote anyone who has to write on their business cards and probably won’t do business with them.
  • Have a glossy finish. Maybe a high gloss business card is appropriate somewhere. Can’t think of where. But somewhere. Mostly it just looks cheap and gaudy.

You Should Probably Have A Brochure

It doesn’t need to be complicated. It just has to exist. The point is that you’ve got something you can leave on your prospect’s desk in your absence. Might it be tossed in the trash can? Probably. Maybe even sooner rather than later. But if you do your job presenting yourself as a professional then your brochure will stick around for a few days and remind your prospect that you were there and you were pretty cool after all.

Much like business cards, brochures play a supporting role which means they need to make you look good. Even if you’re repurposing web content, think about what you want to say, how you want to say it and why you’re saying it.

The brochure should remind your prospect of something important about you and your services and provide direction if he wants to find out more (such as by checking out your website). Try not to plagiarize yourself. If a prospect does go to your website, give him something else to read and learn.

You can be creative with a brochure, just make sure it’s got a purpose and a message and states clearly what you do. If you’re a dog walker then by all means this is your chance to show off that cute pooch. But make sure that you don’t get so creative that your brochure looks nothing like your business cards or like anything else you’ve got going on.

Every piece of collateral that you produce should be consistent in design, style and message.

And for the love of all things professional, please don’t print your own brochures or separate them with a paper cutter. Get them done right so that they reflect your attention to detail and the care that you put into everything you do.

You Might Want An Information Kit

This isn’t in everyone’s budget, but it’s something to think about depending on your industry. An information kit can include anything about your services that might be important. You can include sample contracts, checklists, newsletters. There’s no rule except that whatever you put together should serve a purpose.

I’ll give you two examples and then you can blaze your own trail.

A colleague who works in the IT industry uses a leave-behind kit that contains a handful of educational sheets, a brochure with a list of services and rates, a business card, his latest newsletter and an entire book about what to look for when hiring an IT professional.

The educational sheets give prospects information about the hazards of failing to back up data and the benefits of virtualization among other things. The book is a super-bonus that feeds into, and then dispels, many common myths and fears. It’s a great way to answer common questions and plant a few seeds that keep germinating even after he’s left the meeting.

Similarly, a colleague in the financial industry has a set of sell sheets that describe each of his service areas in a fair amount of detail. He’s collected them into an elegant and beautifully designed folder that he only uses for high net-worth prospects. It’s a touch of class that people appreciate and that certainly leaves the impression that he’s a guy who understands high net worth.

Whether you decide to put together an entire informational kit or choose to stick to business cards, your collateral lets people know you’re serious, legitimate and you care about the finer points.

If you take nothing else away from this message, I beg you to promise yourself right now that the next card, brochure, flyer or newsletter that you print will be both designed and printed professionally.

Be mindful of what your collateral says about you. It’s no different than what your shoes say.

What collateral materials do you use to promote your business?

Read More In The “Make The Sale” Series