The 3 pillars of marketing content

The 3 pillars of marketing - collateral, web, and video

Content is always the central focus of any company’s marketing operations. Without content, marketing can’t perform its most fundamental task: communication.

There’s so many types of content you can create to engage your salesforce and your customers.

I like to think marketing content generally falls into 3 categories, or ‘pillars’ as I refer to in the title of this blog post.

Before I get into these categories, I’d first like to establish the context, since the type of content you create depends on the nature of your company or business.

  • I’m approaching this from a B2B (business-to-business) perspective, rather than B2C (business-to-consumer).
  • My experience is with technology companies, for which content is frequently necessary to properly explain products of a complex, technical nature.

Collateral

Collateral is the classic term for marketing content. Traditionally, marketing collateral is defined as material that is read on a page. This includes:

  • Customer-facing material such as product brochures, case studies, catalog pages, advertisements, and press releases. On the web, there are product pages and dedicated landing pages. Many businesses have their own blogs with regularly published articles.
  • Content specifically for technical and technology products, including white papers, datasheets (also referred to as specification sheet or cut sheets), and technical guides (sometimes known as design or technology guides).
  • Materials for sales training (or sales enablement), including product training slide decks (sometimes narrated), battlecards to help the sales team position themselves against competitors, and documents that further explain product features and customer benefits.

As part of sales enablement, marketing may be requested to create specific content to help influence a sale, lure a prospective customer away from a competitor, or better help a customer understand how a product functions or satisfies a specific requirement.

Additionally, you may need to produce collateral for customer accounts and channels. If you have distribution partners, for example, you’ll often be requested to assist with their product training and web content initiatives.

Traditionally, marketing collateral has always been printed, but now typically appears as webpages and PDFs. There is still some value in providing printed material, most notably to hand over information to a customer after a face-to-face sales meeting.

Web

In the previous section, I mentioned several types of marketing content that reside on the web. So why even talk about the web here?

The reason: when it comes to web content, there is so much more than the words and artwork on a webpage.

Someone is responsible for the overall look and feel of the company’s website – colors, fonts, navigation, user experience, accessibility, mobile-friendly responsiveness, visual designs for new landing pages and microsites, and so much more.

These all generally fall to marketing. In fact, when it comes to anything web, visible or not, that is marketing’s domain.

  • Website management and maintenance. Marketing is usually accountable for making sure the company’s website is fast at all times, secure, and all essential components up to date. The responsibility includes working with IT and developers to resolve issues promptly.
  • Website content development. Marketing creates wireframes and mockups as the first step in creating new webpages. Some may proceed to final production with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript or PHP, or collaborate with in-house or outsourced developers.
  • Web applications. Many businesses face the challenge of selling complex, technical products. Custom-built web applications can help customers better understand them by way of interactive product demos, configuration tools, and even system design assistance. For further convenience, some applications allow a user to export a BOM (bill of materials) and specification documents.

Web apps are the newest and most important frontier for web-related content, offering new and novel capabilities to facilitate understanding of products and streamlining critical buying decisions.

Video

Some people like to associate videos as part of web content. That’s partly understandable since videos predominantly reside on the web.

But I strongly believe videos belong in their own category. Video production is altogether a distinct domain from the web.

Creating videos is a lot of work and really time-consuming – especially for a business!

When is comes to making a new video, there are a lot of moving parts to take into account.

It all begins with the initial scope, followed by detailed planning and coordination, then proceeding with filming primary and B-roll footage. Sometimes you need to generate animated content as well, usually with Adobe After Effects.

Afterward, it’s the long, exhaustive post-production processes such as editing and color grading – and then finally, generating the final render and publishing onto the web and (usually) YouTube or Vimeo.

Let’s summarize the general types of video content commonly associated with a company or business.

  • Product introduction videos. These are almost always part of a product launch. Most people today prefer to learn about a new product by watching a video, rather than reading paragraphs of text on a product page or datasheet.
  • Product information videos. It’s often necessary to follow up an introduction video with additional content to cover specific features and capabilities. Additionally, these videos are sometimes created to help drive more demand for a product.
  • Short video clips. These are often created for a product or landing page, or social media posts. They can be effective in illustrating a key feature, for example, or provide a quick digest in place of a formal product intro video. It’s not uncommon to create clips as animations without any camera footage.
  • Live / recorded streaming content. This includes webinars and customer-centric events with the intent to present naturally to customers (as if in an event with a live audience). They’re frequently used for product training, part of a new launch campaign, and to help keep customers up to date on a company’s most recent product offerings.
  • Sales training videos. These are perhaps the easiest to create, since they’re made for internal purposes and don’t necessarily require high production quality. In fact, it’s possible to generate an effective training video using PowerPoint.