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Ad Expert Shares Her Collateral Secrets

How to Create Mind-Blowing Collaterals on a Shoestring – 

Collateral materials

Collaterals that Cheri picked up at the GeekGirl Tech Conference and other fun places (which shows that if you have good collaterals, people keep them!)

I have been working on a big franchise project for a client, and the expert who handles all the ads for the client is Cyndi Darlington. I asked her if she would share what she has found that businesses need to know (that we might not know). She did it! Here’s what Cyndi says:

The devil is in the details! Collateral sales materials are often an afterthought for a small business owner with time and budget constraints, but as a company, you are only as good as the materials you present. How many times have you seen a smart business owner send the completely wrong impression with materials that lack not only style, but the basics of branding?

Here’s what your customer might think –

  • Restaurant with an ad that looks hastily created? Maybe they’re cleaning as hastily.
  • Insurance broker with an illegible flyer? Maybe their attention to detail is lacking.
  • Interior designer with a poorly designed business card? Enough said.

For me, it’s misspellings. If I see a misspelled word or grammatical error, I question everything about that person or business’ commitment to quality. A bit overboard, I know, but there are no excuses for that lack of attention to detail.

However, as a small business owner, it can be difficult to source and create quality materials, whether it’s in-store signage, ads or online presence such as websites or social media sites. Here are some tips to help even the busiest, most cash-strapped businesses create their own masterpieces.

1) The all-important creative brief

Collaterals for clients

Restaurants’ collaterals have the element of immediacy

Every project needs to start with a creative brief. This is a document that will give your designer/writer the direction you’d like them to take with their materials. The good news is that if you spend time developing a tight brief, you can use it as a basis for all materials. And the very good news is that a tight brief will ultimately save your designer/writer time, which saves you money.

A creative brief starts with a clear definition of your brand. You should understand your brand in both a written and visual way. Often it helps to be aspirational about your brand; include photos or links to creative examples that you love, or similar brands that you feel are presenting themselves effectively. Be aware of your competitors, and be able to communicate who you feel is doing it right, and who isn’t.  (Click here for some guidelines to writing an effective creative brief, and there is another site below, too.)

At the very least, your brief should have a project summary, target audience, components to include (Offer? Website address? Map?), tone and “look” guidelines. And the two critical questions:

  • Who is the audience? 
  • What do we want them to think and feel about the company?

Click here for some MORE guidelines to writing an effective creative brief

Once the brand definition and brief is done, you’ve completed the heavy lifting; now you just need to figure out what to do with it!

2) Finding the right help

collateral sales materials

Why make ho-hum collaterals when you can make a brand statement?

Lack of resources is one of the most common complaints I hear from my clients. They don’t know where to source designers, copywriters, programmers, etc. It’s not their world, and they don’t have the time or often the desire to get bogged down by this. Here are several great places to search for a resource:

• Local Favorites – look for ads you like, or in-store materials you love at local businesses. Ask who they use. Most business owners will be flattered and happy to share a resource with you. Local papers or websites, especially if you’re an advertiser, can help you make contacts or provide designer information for ads you like.

Sites like Fiverr or Guru – if you haven’t spent time on fiverr.com or guru.com, clear your schedule and prepare to be hooked! Fiverr is a site where people will perform a variety of tasks for $5…anything from telling a joke to doing a Mickey Mouse impression. But the real fun comes from the amazing array of graphics and copywriting services. I had my husband’s logo designed for $5. In fact, we did three just for the heck of it. It may a few tries to find just the right resource here, but heck, for $5 a pop, it’s worth a try!

Guru is a similar site, but prices vary and the resources tend to vary related to price. It’s absolutely worth a browse and you can get an amazing graphics package created or brochure/website written for a great price.

• Vendor resources – there are a tremendous amount of resources out there from large companies that are at your disposal. Think of the big companies you do business with. For restaurants, it’s food distributors or soft drink companies. For retail stores, it would be some of the bigger brands that you sell. For brokers, maybe some of the larger companies that you rep. These big players can often provide resources in the form of photos, graphic design services or even printing. I recently had a large beer vendor help design and print counter cards for a client’s cross-promotion, which they did at no cost but the addition of their logo at the bottom.

• Trade – know your customers. You never know if you are performing dental work on a talented local web programmer, or teaching Pilates to an excellent writer. You can often find people willing to trade services in today’s economy, so assure you are learning about your customers and looking for opportunities for a win-win situation. Plus, the advantages of getting to know your customers in any case should be obvious.

Although it may seem like a lot of work, I assure you that the system of setting up your creative brief and resources will set you up for success for years to come. Don’t ignore the little things; go forth and create collateral that reflects the amazing business that you have created!

Cyndi Darlington, marketing expertCyndi Darlington, MBA, is the Founder and President of Darlington Marketing, a restaurant consulting firm providing marketing services to small to mid-sized restaurant and hospitality companies. Follow her on Facebook – 0r see her web site. – (www.darlingtonco.com).

Won’t you please share her insights on marketing collaterals with your friends and colleagues?
Just tap one of the share buttons below or on the left, and thanks for helping!



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