Most small businesses don’t have the luxury of hiring a sales team when first starting out. This is where well developed and thought out marketing materials come in. Marketing materials are items that communicate your message to customers, and drive them to action. When you’re starting a business, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of options you have when it comes to marketing your products or services. We’re here to help break down the basic types of marketing materials, and which ones you should include in your marketing toolkit first.
What to include in your marketing toolkit
We believe print collateral deserves consideration in every business, and, when mixed with digital marketing efforts, can drive big results. Here are some printed materials to consider investing in when building your marketing toolkit:
Business cards are an inexpensive way to carry your message everywhere! Provide your team with quality business cards and hand them out any chance you get to ensure potential and returning customers have your information when they need it. (Plus, you really don’t want to be stuck awkwardly patting your empty pockets if someone asks for your card.)
At least one piece of printed collateral
Depending on your business, this could be a flyer, brochure, postcard, or catalog. Consider the real-life use case for what you’re wanting to print. How many different ways will you need to use your collateral? Who is your audience, and what action do you want them to take after seeing your marketing material? Answering these questions will help you determine the best format and messaging for your new prints.
For example, let’s say you want to give potential customers a quick overview of what you sell. Maybe you want to offer a printed takeaway on your store’s front counter, but you also want to be able to mail it too. In this case, a compact format like a postcard or brochure might be best. The point is, think about how your messaging needs to be accessed, and choose a format around that.
If you choose a format first, you might be missing other options that could better suit your needs. DIY Marketers has a helpful breakdown here of some common types of collateral and ideas for using each.
Even if you don’t print them right away, it’s a good idea to have letterhead and envelopes designed. We recommend thank you cards as well, especially for B2B companies, because they can be easily customized and are an effective way of building relationships with your loyal customers.
Promotional materials are nice to have, but generally not critical to start with. These are things like pens, mugs, keychains, hats, or other branded items that you can give away. Promotional materials are more costly compared to other printed collateral, and don’t typically provide a direct ROI like, for example, a postcard with a coupon might. However, these items can be valuable brand-builders (plus, people really enjoy free “SWAG”). Pens and stickers are usually an inexpensive place to start if you’re interested in promo items.
A website is probably the most vital tool in your marketing toolbox. It gives your business an online “home base” where customers can learn about what you do, find your contact information, see examples of your work, and much more. An effective website gives you a foundation to build on as you grow.
We know the web design process can seem daunting. If you’re thinking about having a website designed, you might be worried about a long, arduous, and expensive journey ahead. It really doesn’t have to be like that. Here’s what our web design process looks like, step by step.
Depending on your business, you’ll need to set up at least one company profile on social media. If you run a business that serves customers at a particular location, or you serve customers within a designated service area, Google My Business can help people find you. If you have a lot of visuals to show off, or products to sell online, consider platforms like Instagram or Pinterest. To provide lots of updates to a broad audience, Facebook and Twitter are a good bet.
Wherever you set up profiles, remember that your social posts have the power to drive both online sales and in-store traffic, but you have to remain authentic and relevant for your audience to engage. Social profiles should follow the same branding guidelines as your print collateral – here’s how to optimize your social media profiles for best results.
Your brand should be present in all aspects of your business communications. Branded email signatures are a great way to build recognition, and simple to set up. Here’s a free email signature generator from Hubspot that you can use with any email client.
It’s a good idea to have some kind of downloadable marketing material available online or for emailing to your customers. If you created a printed piece, it can probably be transformed into a digital asset too. Digital collateral includes things like whitepapers, case studies, ebooks, brochures, slide decks, or catalogs.
Other materials to consider
Depending on your business, you might want to consider including the following in your marketing toolkit:
- Indoor or outdoor signage
- Post-of-sale displays
- Menus or maps
- Pricing or product sheets
- Uniforms or name badges
- Loyalty cards
- Newsletter template
- Referral discount cards
- Presentation folders
- Vehicle decals or magnets
- Flyers or brochures for each segment of your target audience
Tips for building your marketing toolkit
Before tackling anything on this list, we recommend that you establish your brand’s basic visual identity if you haven’t already. Generally speaking, this will mean you need a logo, fonts, and colors. Consider outsourcing your design project to a professional designer to get a brand package that will last for years. We also recommend that you get your value proposition and products/services offerings in writing first to help speed up the creation of your marketing materials.
- Make sure that your logo, colors, and fonts are used consistently across all your marketing materials.
- Use consistent imagery – try to coordinate the look of any photos, icons, or illustrations that you use. Don’t make big shifts in styles when creating different marketing materials.
- Continuously audit your materials to make sure they stay current. You might want to order any print materials in smaller quantities at first in case you need to update them more frequently in the beginning.
- Work with a reputable printer that can guide you to the right products, work with you on price, and prevent quality issues before they happen.
Brand messaging refers to the underlying value proposition conveyed and language used in your content. It’s what makes buyers relate to your brand by inspiring them, persuading them, motivating them, and ultimately making them want to buy your product. (Source: Pardot)
Your company’s personality should shine through your messaging in a way that resonates with both your internal values and your audience. Here’s a fun tool from Portent to help you generate your brand’s tone of voice.
When creating marketing material, remember – not every single piece of collateral needs to be jam packed with information. Make sure you’re tailoring your message to the medium. In general, you should concentrate on answering the following questions with your marketing materials:
- What makes your product or service unique?
- What are the benefits of using your product or service?
- Why should people use your product or service?
- Why is your product or service better than your competitor’s?
Professional copywriters or brand builders can help you craft messaging for all of your materials. If you draft your own messaging, it’s a good idea to have others read it over before it goes live. There’s no such thing as too much proofreading, especially when it comes to costly printed collateral. Keep your messaging consistent, easy to understand, and focused on the customer, no matter what format it’s in.
Want help putting together your brand’s marketing toolkit? Connect with our expert team here.