Brochures, leave-behinds, sell sheets, media releases, newsletters, fact sheets … They all fall into the category of collateral.

In today’s continuous evolution of digital marketing, there are those who view collateral as outdated. Not so, we counter. Smart collateral remains as vital to a company’s overall marketing strategy as ever.

What kinds of collateral and how to use it is an important part of developing an integrated communication and marketing business plan.

Not unlike crafting a C/M plan, collateral planning requires plenty of insightful input and homework.

What is its intended purpose? Audience? What is the most effective collateral to deliver key messages? Will it resonate? Why?

Or why not? What will resonate with your targeted audience? And how will you know?

Defining collateral becomes much easier once basics like audience, multi-media delivery format, purpose, message content and other fundamental issues are spelled out.

There are also ground rules that need to be observed when creating collateral. Today there is more clamor for eyes and ears than ever. So keep that in mind when preparing collateral like print ads where white space should be your friend. Tell stories with your collateral. Who doesn’t like a compelling anecdote? Use eye-popping graphics to draw attention to your content. And by all means, keep the focus of your collateral on its intended audience. The call-to action should be clean and clear, the benefit understandable and up front. Don’t muddy it with a glut of text or irrelevant images.

And above all, less is more.