Trends and Resources For Great Looking Business Collateral

How you tell your business story can be the difference between turning a lead into a new customer or just a lost opportunity.

Eye catching and compelling business collateral plays an important role in buying decisions.  According to Eccolo Media’s “2010 B2B Technology Collateral Survey Report,” 83% of B2B technology purchasers say they had used brochures within the previous six months to evaluate a prospective purchase, 76% referred to white papers, followed by 67% who used case studies.

And great collateral isn’t just for big business, heavy investment in marketing collateral is also a key 2011 trend for Small Business as well.

So how do you create business collateral that stands out and gets your audience engaged?

1. Tell A Story.  Stories intrigue, keep our interest and help us convey information in an engaging way.  Conveying your brand promise or promoting your new product or service as a narrative helps your audience understand the possibility and gives them a call to action to learn more.  Chris Brogan, president of Human Business Works, offers some great insight into storytelling for business.

2. Bring Your Story To Life.  A story is more than words. You can use pictures, graphs, tables, screen shots, pull quotes from customers etc. − anything that will help visually convey your story, and underscore your viewpoint and competitive advantage.  There is a plethora of free tools to make creating charts and diagrams super easy.  If you want to push your story to a new visual level consider designing and incorporating infographics.  Infographics have been heavily used by B2C and B2B companies in the past few years to help convey complex information and trends.  Check out the Cool Infographics Blog, Weloveinfographics or Datavis for some infographic inspiration.

3. Invest in Design.  You don’t have to break your business piggy bank to design great looking collateral.  There are lots of desktop publishing applications that make brochure, newsletter, program and catalog design easy. Depending on your skill level and budget there is a spectrum of solutions including Microsoft Publisher, QuarkXPress, Apple Pages and Adobe InDesign.  Most of these programs also include templates or you can check out some of MagCloud’s free business templates as well.

4. Ask for Help.  If you are having trouble getting started there are lots of tutorials and resources to put you on the right path.  Microsoft for example offers a suite of tutorials for Publisher, there are forums for Adobe InDesign or head on over to for an array of business and software online courses. Or you can always consider outsourcing your business collateral design to a third-party or agency such as MagCloud partners HP Logoworks or Madison Ave. Collective.

5. Leverage the Web.  Printing and updating your business collateral no longer needs to be complex, time-consuming and expensive.  Thanks to new print on demand services like MagCloud you can upload a PDF of your collateral and have it printed and delivered to your customers without ever leaving your desk.  Need to change a product spec in your brochure or add a new offering to your catalog? No problem, simply upload a new version of your PDF.  The web also offers you the flexibility to take the same PDF you use for print and make it available digitally for reading on a PC or mobile device giving your audience choice.  Once you have your printed or digital publication ready, it’s easy to build an online marketing plan around it.  Make your content readily accessible and easy to share not only via your website but wherever your audience would be most receptive to your message–social networks, forums, blogs etc.  You spent all that time and effort creating it so don’t forget to make it easy to find.

We’ve had the pleasure of seeing some great looking brochures, newsletters, event programs and catalogs published on MagCloud, so we thought we would share a few of our favorites to help inspire you.

Axses Travel Platform

Cubic Machinery

High Points Promotional

Natural Homes

Overland Sourcebook


Share any great resources or tips you’ve found useful in creating your business collateral in the comments section below.

Design Blog Series

We realize designing a great looking publication can be time-consuming and a bit tricky so for the next month we’ll be doing a series of blog posts sharing some of the MagCloud team’s favorite design tips and resources.

These will range from guidance on how to create a MagCloud-ready PDF, to design do’s and don’ts, as well as the latest trends in fonts, color and content layout.

Tomorrow we’ll kick off the series with a post on how to work with trim size when creating a MagCloud-ready PDF.

Let us know in the comments section if there are any specific topics you would like us to include in the Design Blog Series.

Happy Designing!

Leveraging Current Events & Trends to Create Compelling Content

A great way to create a stronger connection with your readers and provide hyper-relevant content is to utilize what’s going on around the world and apply it back to them. With some creativity, you can tie nearly any current event back to your community. Below are a few ideas to consider:

Holidays – Pair your magazine and online content with holiday celebrations like the Year of the Rabbit, Mother’s Day or even seasons like spring and summer.
Events – From New York Fashion Week to the Oscars to the upcoming March Madness basketball tournament, use high-profile events to relate back to your readers’ lives.
Latest News – Connect with your readers using the latest news whether it’s a local program affecting your magazine’s community or a nationwide health initiative to improve school lunches.

If your publication also maintains a presence online with a website, blog or via social media channels, tying popular events and real-time trends is even more essential, but keeping your content super fresh and relevant can be easy with the help of a few online tools.

Google Trends, the Hot Searches section of the site offers a birds-eye view of the big topics that people are searching for right now.

ItsTrending serves as a zeitgeist for news, videos, technology, entertainment and anything that people share publicly on Facebook.

Use to find hashtags representing topics that are heavily being discussed in the Twitter community. Once you’ve identified the hot Twitter topics, your brand can participate in these conversations by incorporating the related hashtags into tweets that tie to your subject matter. For instance, incorporate the popular hashtag “#TheGRAMMYs” into a relevant tweet about films and movies to attract new readers who may be following that search term on Twitter.

Share your tips for creating compelling content in the comments section below. Hey, and while you’re at it, follow us on Twitter where we regularly incorporate hashtags and current happenings for you!