The role of a business’ Marketing team can be quite varied. From creating and managing consumer advertising campaigns, to producing and managing the company’s brand identity, they have their hands full managing an array of marketing collateral, programs and initiatives.
What is marketing collateral?
Marketing collateral is any assets used by a business to communicate or promote a company's brand message, products, or services.
Traditionally, marketing collateral was restricted to physical items such as printed pamphlets, point-of-sale posters, or even billboards. However, over time the scope of Marketing teams has broadened, and now marketing collateral includes digital advertising, TV ads, newsletters, videos, eDMs, sales decks and more.
Marketing collateral is a component of an overall campaign run by the Marketing team, however they generally collaborate with a range of experts both within the company and externally (such as design agencies).
What is the purpose of marketing collateral?
Marketing collateral is created as part of wider marketing campaigns in order to better communicate the brand’s messages about the company and its products. The purpose of all collateral is to further the business's marketing objectives through communication with their audiences, raise audience awareness of the brand and encourage that audience to buy.
It is important to review all marketing collateral before a campaign is launched to ensure it fulfils all the criteria it aims to cover, and does not create any legal or brand risk.
What should I look for when reviewing marketing materials?
When reviewing marketing materials, there are a few key points for marketers to keep in mind. These points range from ensuring the collateral is optimised for audience fit, through to ensuring the collateral complies with all legal regulations and requirements. It is useful to create a checklist to speed up the review process and ensure you do not forget any important considerations such as:
Clear message and Call to Action
Sometimes in the middle of designing a larger campaign the main message or selling point can become lost in individual pieces of collateral. As part of the review process, it is key for marketers to take a step back and consider whether each item has a clear message that the audience will understand, even when viewed in isolation from the rest of the campaign materials.
It is also critical that the audience will understand any calls to action.
Consider what you would like the audience to do once they view the individual piece. Do you want them to go to your website and enter a promotion? Or do you want them to buy your item in store? Alternatively, are you wanting to drive awareness back to your brand and products?
Ensure whoever views this marketing piece will know what you want them to do, and how they can go about doing that thing.
Relevant to audience
When it comes to advertising, marketers can be managing several campaigns for several demographics at once. During the review process, it is important to consider each individual item and ensure that it is appropriate for the target audience. This includes: using language that the audience will be receptive to, and placing the marketing collateral in locations where that audience already exists.
Consistent look, feel and voice
When many people work together on delivering a campaign, there is a chance each will have a slightly different take on the look, feel and voice of the campaign. Ensuring all marketing collateral is aligned is a key component of the review process. Without alignment, the campaign will feel disjointed and possibly confuse your target audience instead of gaining their support.
Consistent experience across all platforms (e.g. mobile, desktop, etc)
Following on from the previous point about consistency in content look, feel and voice, it is also important to reflect on how your collateral is being presented in all its various formats.
Marketers should take into account the material differences that might affect the audience’s viewing experience for each piece of collateral.
For example, an eDM or webpage that looks great on desktop might need to be altered somewhat to be legible on mobile. Similarly, each social media platform has their own best practice for ad creative dimensions and ideal copy length.
Legal and business compliance
Perhaps the most significant consideration which marketers must make when creating campaign collateral is legal and business compliance.
All businesses will have a strict framework which every piece of external and internal collateral must adhere to. This ensures that all messages on behalf of the business are consistent with the company’s values and mission, and that no sensitive information about the business, their products or their clients is leaked publicly.
In addition to the business’s internal compliance requirements, every company - and therefore every piece of marketing campaign collateral - must comply with the legislations and regulations that cover the jurisdictions your marketing operates in.
The penalties for making false or misleading claims - or otherwise not complying with consumer law - can lead to a hefty fine, not to mention potentially irreversible damage to your brand’s reputation.
As marketers are not lawyers, it is understandable that they may not have thorough knowledge of all aspects of consumer law. This is why it’s so critical that Marketing includes Legal review as part of their marketing collateral review process.
Managing the relationship between Marketing and Legal throughout the marketing collateral review process
While it’s important for Marketing to collaborate with Legal as part of the marketing campaign creation process, it is not uncommon for the two teams to struggle due to conflicting priorities.
On Marketing’s end, timing is key and timelines can be tight. Generally speaking, the faster a campaign can move from ideation to execution, the higher the impact will be. On the other hand, Legal’s role is to support, advise, and manage risk across the whole business. They often have a large in-tray of competing priorities on top of Marketing’s collateral review work, and it’s no surprise that Marketing teams often view Legal as a speed bump in their road to execution.
Luckily, there are a few key tactics that businesses can adopt to ease the friction between the two teams:
Utilise cross-team training
Conflict can occur when different departments aren’t familiar with each other’s goals, requirements and capacity constraints. In particular, Marketing can become frustrated when Legal do not approve collateral for publishing in a timely manner. And Legal can become frustrated when Marketing continually creates collateral that is not legally compliant.
A good way to improve the relationship between Marketing and Legal is by improving communication between the teams. Cross-team training is a good way to familiarise each other with the best possible outcome for both teams. Marketing has the opportunity to highlight their upcoming campaigns and outline why and how they are planning on running campaigns, and Legal has the opportunity to share key risk and consumer law considerations so Marketing can avoid creating collateral that they won’t be cleared to execute.
Develop a marketing compliance checklist
After cross-team training occurs there will usually be an agreed upon criteria for Marketing teams to follow for a successful progression through the Legal review process.
This process can usually be drafted into a checklist that ensures marketing has addressed any key areas of risk or concern from Legal’s perspective, e.g. evidence is provided for any claims, etc.
This checklist can be an element of a wider Marketing collateral checklist which ensures that Marketing have also covered all strategic considerations before finalising their collateral.
Speed up the marketing collateral review process by leveraging a Productised Legal Service
At times, Marketing and Legal teams understand that due to wider business legal support needs, Legal cannot move at the speed of Marketing. Or, that managing the heavy workload of Marketing collateral review is not the most effective use of Legal’s limited resources.
In either case, businesses can partner with a productised legal service provider like Plexus’ Advertising Wizard, to deliver this specialised legal advice for marketing collateral.
Advertising Wizard allows Marketers to self-serve the basics via an online platform but is backed by Plexus’ team of expert lawyers who specialise in marketing and compliance law. It’s the perfect marriage between technology and experts, to ensure compliance is guaranteed in a fraction of the time, at a fraction of the cost.
What’s more, by taking this repetitive, administrative and often specialised Legal work off your in-house lawyers’ hands, they can get on with the higher risk, more strategic work the business needs their advice on.
Creating marketing collateral for a successful campaign can be a lengthy process. There are many factors for consideration to ensure the collateral is both effective and legally compliant.
Many teams are choosing to speed up their legal review process and launch campaigns faster by partnering with productised legal services like Advertising Wizard.