5 Common Mistakes with Sales Collateral (and How to Fix Them)

Updated: May 26, 2010

Too Much Copy: Whatever you wrote for a first draft, you can probably cut the word count in half. Say the same thing with far fewer words. Let the words on the page breath with more white space around it. Let the shorter copy put greater emphasis on the points you want to really sink in, that you want the prospect to remember.

No Customer Testimonials or Results: Unless this is your company or product's first rodeo, you've got successful customers behind you. Why not feature them? Demonstrate that others have made the leap to use your product or service, and succeeded. Don't just use the typical "I'm so happy" quote, but back it up with real data. How have those customers quantified the ROI? How has their business changed, how have their results improved, because you are in their lives?

No Compelling Visuals: If you surround copy with clipart, that's not good visuals. If you use pictures of your building…you get the point. What visuals will reinforce the points you're making? What visuals could - alone - communicate what you're about and what you can enable for your customers? It might be a chart, it might be physical examples of your work. But think carefully about what you're showing, and what it's communicating.

Features Before Benefits: It's bad enough when collateral focuses on features without explaining what they do. But even if you're including both features and benfits, too often marketers put them in the wrong order. List the benefit first, then follow with the feature that enables that benefit or outcome. Prospects want the benefits, they want the outcomes your product or service represents. Start with what they want to hear, then (if you must) explain how you do it.

No Call to Action: Your sales collateral is not meant to be a direct-response piece. But if you do everything else right and the prospect wants to learn more, what do you want them to do? Plenty of collateral lists the company's main line. Do you want motivated prospects to call the receptionist? Or could you promote a dedicated line to a sales consultant? Better yet, what about including a value-added offer so that both ready-to-buy and not-quite-ready-to-buy prospects are equally compelled to respond, engage and keep walking the path with you towards a sale?

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