In talking with one of my auto dealer principals, he asked my thoughts on what he should give customers coming to his dealership. We chatted about business cards, car information, and what his passion was for the business. Here’s what we discussed. A company’s marketing materials must make a statement…they tell people who you are, what your values are, and why you are a valuable asset. For this reason, each piece, brochure, CD, or folder needs to be memorable—something you leave behind, compelling your customer to take a closer look at who you are and what you offer. They should have pizzazz, pack a punch, and get you noticed, all while clearly communicating the features and benefits of your offer!

The most important thing to remember when creating a piece is that you remain consistent with your brand. Examine your brand traits and promises and be sure to incorporate those into your design. If your brand promise is “delivering quality,” then leverage the concept of quality in a creative way, displaying these values through your collateral presentation and tone.

Finally, as we discussed the auto industry, I suggested he move past the idea that all marketing literature need to come in formal presentation folders. They can be very expensive and they’re a bit “been there, done that.” Consider these ideas to help you brainstorm creative collateral kit packaging that effectively communicates.

1. Make it fun
Think about how excited most people are about opening presents. That’s the feeling you want to give people when they see your collateral kit. You want them to be excited about opening and finding out what you’re all about. This can be accomplished by using a creative container (i.e. a clear plastic envelope, a CD jewel case, or a colorful binding option). Think outside of the box and consider your product or service when determining the right solution.

2. Make it useful
Look at this from your audience’s point of view, and remember that you want to give them something that they’ll read and find useful not only from the point of view of information, but also the tangible usefulness of your packaging. Be sure to include some type of tip or case study that illustrates your company’s understanding of current business issues. They’ll remember that you provided them with materials that were educational and useful in other areas of their business.

3. Make it unique
Hundreds of pieces of papers make their way across our desks on a daily basis. Information overload often prevents people from looking immediately at anything that isn’t critical, so it gets shoved in with the other pieces of paper that need to be dealt with later. Delivering a collateral package that just becomes part of the pile gives the recipient no incentive to pick it up later.

Set yourself apart by playing around with different sizes or shapes. Pick a package that won’t neatly stack in their pile. For example, consider a half-page or one-third of a page with perforated business cards, rather than the standard 8-1/2 x 11. Keep in mind that this information should be able to be filed, so you don’t want to give them a 24 x 60 poster, unless it can be delivered as a 8 1⁄2 x 11 piece and supports your brand.

4. Make it pop
The “pop” factor is all in the details. In addition to color, size, and packaging vehicles, think about what you can include in your package that will set you apart from the competition. For instance, a company that manufactures ceramic tile may want to incorporate a branded sample into the packaging. A company that provides services instead of physical products may want to include a tip sheet that walks them through a relevant business process. Stay away from giveaways and swag that are not directly relevant to your offer. The information needs to be relevant and tie directly to the benefits of doing business with you.

5. Make it last
One way to avoid getting lost in the paper shuffle and add some flair is to deliver your package on CD-ROM. It is a physical leavebehind that lessens the clutter and can be more interactive than traditional collateral kits, allowing you to provide additional items, such as a product demo or interactive PowerPoint. You may want to consider adding a CD-ROM to a physical collateral kit to add value or simply convert your entire kit onto CD, package it in a compelling way, and use the CD liner as your physical “brochure”. Be sure to keep your brand values in mind when making this decision.

The design of marketing communications can be fun, but remember they are also crucial in making a good first impression of your company. Remember that you want to make a professional statement about your company, delivering enough of a punch to put your company top-of-mind. Make them memorable, make them interesting, make sure they reflect your values—and you will be more successful in communicating why you’re worth contacting for future needs. IBI