This is the second of a three-post MarketCopywriter series on copywriting and marketing with print collateral. Read the first post here.
“Print marketing is dead.” “No one wants brochures anymore.” “Print collateral will disappear in ten years.”
Yada, yada, yada.
The truth? Print collateral may not be as sexy as digital content, but it’s still an important tool in your—and your clients’—marketing kit.
“They laughed when I told them I write brochures—but oh, when they saw my pay stubs.”
As a copywriter I admit I write mostly digital content. But my digital-to-print copy ratio is tighter than you’d think: At least 30% of my copy billing comes from collateral. And that’s held steady for at least five years—and through the recession.
Unless you work exclusively with digital vendors, you likely share my experience. You may try to steer your clients to website, blog and social media content. But many ask for—demand isn’t too strong a word—humble, old-fashioned collateral tools.
10 ways print collateral improves your marketing mix
Clients find traditional print marketing materials useful for a number of concrete reasons. Collateral brochures are…
- Affordable. Relative to a website, a brochure is a bargain for most small businesses. Brochures and other simple collateral can be produced at affordable price points. And with a good printer and quality stock, budget-minded clients can even print their own tri-folds—in any quantity they choose.
- Familiar. Technology, the recession, globalization trends—your client reels trying to keep her footing in the continuously shifting business landscape. You can’t blame her—or her customers—for wanting tools that feel comfortable and familiar. When it comes to marketing tactics, your client may feel “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”: Print collateral still proves itself with certain products—like cars and long-cycle B2B technology.
- Useful. Good, targeted collateral provides helpful information—features, benefits, specs and more—in a handy format. Savvy marketers make an effort to include added-value elements such as tips, checklists, calendars, maps or directions that make brochures keepers.
- Convenient. A Slim Jim, trifold or compact multipage brochure fits handily into a handbag or jacket pocket. It can be pulled out and perused at will. “But what about online search—isn’t Google more convenient?” Maybe for you and me. But most Americans aren’t glued to laptop screens all day. As noted in yesterday’s post, 21% of Americans have never visited a website, sent an email or used a search engine. Many more use the Internet infrequently. For these consumers, online browsing requires dusting off and booting a PC and conjuring correct search terms. Then there’s the annoyance of online reading. Or the expense and time-suck of downloading and printing PDFs. Many consumers won’t go there.
- Good entry-level marketing tools. For small businesses and non-profit organizations promoting themselves for the first time, collateral offers a solid, non-intimidating way to start marketing. When carefully planned and viewed as part—not all—of a business/fundraising strategy, a company brochure provides powerful impetus for self-examination. It helps a company define its value proposition and identify customers, competition and unique selling point—sometimes for the first time. And for many small business clients, nothing says “I am” like a glossy brochure.
- Able to reach long tail markets. Whoa. Bet you’ve never seen “long tail” and “print media” appear in the same bullet point. But print engages—and persuades—certain niche and not-so-niche demographics. Sixty percent of B2B tech customers report that brochures influenced their buying decisions, according to a recent survey (PDF). And then there’s my mother-in-law. While one woman does not a focus group make, my mother-in-law represents a solid case study—and is fairly typical of senior consumers with disposal income and digital media dissonance.
- Good tactical measures in a mixed media strategy. An effective brochure is but one tool or tactic in a carefully considered, customer-centric marketing strategy. On its own, a brochure will not raise company profile, enhance image, build brand, drive traffic or boost sales. But neither will a website, blog or Twitter—on its own.
- Interactive. When you feel an emotional connection to something—and remember, emotions drive sales—you want to touch it. Collateral lets you get touchy-feely in ways that a glowing screen can’t. While lounging on your sofa, you can’t touch a trip to Tuscany, poke a mattress for firmness or run your finger along a shiny Prius. But you can caress glossy travel collateral. You can dog-ear a sofabed brochure page. You can circle key points and write notes on an auto Slim Jim. People like having something to hold onto: Ever notice how you feel better leaving the doctor’s office with a script in hand—whether you fill it or not? Same principle with good collateral.
- Long sales-cycle supports. In his landmark book, Influence, Dr. Robert Cialdini describes “reciprocity,” a universal human impulse to return favors—even when the “gift” is a token. I posit reciprocity comes into play when you provide useful collateral to customers. Not that your brochure obliges customers to buy your product. But the “gift” of useful collateral—especially over a long sales cycle—may incline customers to give precious time and attention. Or to take the next step along your sales/fundraising funnel. The key word is “useful.” Your collateral itself must provide value. Pompous, organization-centric, self-serving collateral is useless.
- Non-negotiable must-haves for some clients. Ultimately, as a freelancer you live and die satisfying clients’ needs and wants. On a number of occasions I’ve tried to talk clients out of collateral, thinking their most crucial need is an online presence. Their insistence on collateral, usually a brochure, however, is vehement. Copywriters who feel strongly that collateral is dead—but partner with clients who still clamor for it—may want to rethink their stance. Or prospect for a more like-minded client base.
Writing great collateral takes more than a wing and a prayer: Download The Brochure Bible—for free!
Curious about making collateral part of your marketing mix? Want to learn how to create your own conversion-driving brochures and Slim Jims?
Come back tomorrow for the third and last of MarketCopywriter’s three-post series. The post will include links to a free download of The Brochure Bible, Your Alpha to Omega Guide to Creating Killer Collateral Brochures. Or you can subscribe to my posts and get The Brochure Bible delivered directly to your RSS feed or email inbox.