Reading time ( words)
Collateral is such an ugly word. As the late, great Rodney Dangerfield would have put it, brochures, sell sheets, process manuals, and other sales support tools often get no respect in our digital world. Even the convenience of downloading a PDF is scoffed at by today’s millennials who rely on the “Almighty App” and the “All-Knowing Cloud” to view, digest and store information.
Whatever twisted mind came up with the word “collateral” to denote support literature is not giving this critical content the high credibility it deserves. Today, the label “collateral marketing” spreads this cancerous term by including compelling white papers, case studies, video, and web content, thereby further demeaning the importance of the information. I’ve always half-joked that you may as well call the literary masterpieces that I and others slave over “collateral damage.”
Collateral damage: injury inflicted on something other than an intended target
I’ve actually witnessed the embarrassment on the face of a young, super-smart colleague, as if he was apologizing for admitting that he downloaded the PDF because it was easier to follow and read. Why, the shame of it all! May he drop his head in despair and walk the halls of industry tech conferences wearing the collateral letter “C” on his chest! All should succumb to the sanctity of the Cloud and the absolute authority of the App!
Literature is a critical organ for providing compelling data to support and validate the value propositions briefly stated in a trade show graphic, advertisement or social media posting. Ensuring that literature is composed in a tone that conveys your organization’s vision with the text and images that “speak the voice” of the targeted readership is essential. Literature, when constructed correctly, consistently communicates the meaning and relevance of the company’s brand.
Given the time and thought you devote to generating documentation to support your company’s product or service, literature takes no back seat to the fancy-schmancy digital world. It may not have the dynamics of digital, however, the “deep-dive” contents contained in brochures, case studies and selection guides (to name a few) continue to be highly coveted by customers and prospects. Literature is equally used as strategic follow-up by sales and marketing teams to reinforce site visits and showcase technical and applications expertise. And—news alert—that collateral (ouch!) is often re-purposed for other editorial and promotional purposes.
So, go ahead—give your literature some lovin’ and the respect that it deserves. It may be deemed old-school by some, but it can and should become a powerful part of an integrated program or a singular objective.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of The PCB Magazine.