You need marketing collateral, a collection of print and online materials such as whitepapers, sales scripts and website content, to support the sales of your products or services. But it takes planning to effectively prepare the collateral you need. You have to think about what these materials will be used for (promoting a sale, generating awareness, etc.), what message you want to deliver and what the most effective way to reach your audience is. If your to-do list is already too long, you may want to outsource the creation of your marketing collateral. Here’s what you should consider as you decide how to proceed.

The lowdown on marketing collateral

Marketing collateral allows your sales force — the individuals who sell your company’s products or services — to introduce your company’s offerings to the public and effectively explain key benefits. Whether it’s a promotional flyer or sales sheet, your marketing collateral will influence the way your company is perceived by prospective customers. This is why it’s important to put your best foot forward. Below we’ve outlined the pros and cons of creating marketing collateral internally vs. hiring a vendor.

Creating marketing collateral internally

Pros: You know your own company’s brand standards better than anyone else — your colors, message, tone and so on. Plus, it’s easier for you to know what needs to be done because you work directly with your sales team. Because there are fewer people involved in the approval process, you’ll be able to change or update your collateral quickly.

Cons: Creating your own marketing collateral will take time, and if that’s not something you have in excess, it can be challenging to get your sales force what they need promptly.

In practice: In season two of Small Business Revolution — Main Street, Polka Dot Parlor had a clear vision: to be a place where women of all ages can explore clothing and accessories that make them feel like themselves. With strong personal standards to reach, owner Paulette Kirk Kasmer knew what she wanted to communicate and who she wanted to communicate to. Still, her store kept her busy enough that she hadn’t found quite the best way to communicate that message to her audience.

When the Deluxe team helped boost her visual brand online and inside the shop — using items like retail packaging and a website — they left her with the tools she needed to continue her marketing and to reach potential customers, along with a handy reference kit of her branding materials for future use.

Key tip: Keep a folder with all past marketing collateral documents and branding elements, so it’s easier for you to work from previous projects rather than recreate the wheel every time.

Hiring a vendor to create marketing collateral

Pros: Hiring a vendor to create your marketing collateral will save you time, allowing you to focus your attention on other needed marketing projects, and it may give an additional air of professionalism to the materials. Additionally, once a vendor has your company’s branding information, it will be easier for them to work on future projects.

Cons: It’s not free — there will be a fee associated with their time. There will also be a longer approval process, as you’re no longer the only one involved in the creation process.

In practice: For the owners of Lovett’s Soul Food, featured during season three of Small Business Revolution — Main Street, every second mattered. With one full-time employee taking care of the cooking, cash register and daily operations, there just wasn’t extra time for marketing. By working with Deluxe to create a logo and using the Lovett’s brand for better marketing, Lovett’s was able to focus their energy on growing their restaurant and turning a profit.

The new logo was a change that led to revamped menus, take-out packaging for their to-go customers and apparel to wear and sell, plus online listings that are already bringing in more customers. This type of collateral isn’t something they would’ve had time to focus on alone. But with help, they’re able to reach a much larger audience with consistent branding across every piece of marketing, and they have the tools to recreate from their new collection of marketing materials.

Key tip: Create a folder with brand standard elements such as colors, fonts, logos and key phrases, so you can easily send them to future vendors when requested. Nothing is worse than spending valuable time digging around for brand components that live in various places.

No matter the business or situation, there’s a solution for you. Whether it’s creating collateral in-house, getting a little help or outsourcing everything, you can be sure that investing in your marketing collateral is always a good choice. So, regardless of what direction you choose, make sure the final product reflects your company’s brand. It should line up with the values, messaging, design and tone of your online and offline presence.

Got a small business question?

Request a call from a Small Business Adviser for tips and guidance. The conversation is free — not a sales call.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2014 and has been rewritten for accuracy and relevance.

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