How many of us in marketing have had the MBO to create three datasheets and two whitepapers in a quarter?  I have and I’ve been working in sales enablement and sales performance for more than 25 years in F100 companies as well as in 3 startups.

We researched and wrote, and wrote and researched, until we had something that was “customer presentable”. 

Then we handed it over to the “brand police” to make sure it was hitting all of the corporate themes and that it didn’t divulge any customer confidential information.  

We were so proud of our deliverable! 

And then what?

We “chucked it over the wall” to sales.  

We had no idea if sales actually sent it out, but we hoped they would, because it was a good piece. Or marketing posted it on our websites as a “lead-gen download”.

Our worst fears have been confirmed. New research from Sirius Decisions, that shows that up to 70% of content created by B to B marketing teams is never utilized.

The era of the glorious whitepaper and “glossy” is sadly (or gladly?) over. Collateral as we knew it, is dead – yet amazingly, thousands of companies are still churning this stuff out as if it’s still 1985.

In our mobile, ADD (attention deficit disorder) World, what is a customer supposed to do with a whitepaper when they download it, receive it from a salesperson, or pick it up in hard copy at a tradeshow? 

I’d wager that 90% of the time it gets electronically or physically round filed.


Four reasons:

  1. At an average length 8 pages it’s not easily consumable on tablets and mobile phones where most email gets read.
  2. It’s written in product management jargon, and “ground-breaking” gobbledygook
  3. It’s not laser-focused on the customer’s critical business issues and requirements
  4. It’s typically all about the product

Sales Portal Bloat

What’s worse, these marketing “assets” get stuffed into bloated corporate and sales portals where they become stale the moment they are published. 

With anywhere between 5 and 50 versions of the same document in the sales portal, finding the right version is a challenge in itself… and it’s a huge timewaster. 

According to IDC, knowledge workers (and salespeople are knowledge workers), spend up to 28 hours per month searching for and creating documents.

Salespeople and channel partners use keyword searches to try to find the right information for their customers, and get back a list of 20 documents, which they then have to download and wade through to find what they need and then repurpose.

What if there was a way to boil down these documents to their essence – well-formed “knowledge nuggets” or “information components” – that get right to the point, and that are targeted directly at customer needs and pain points?

Repurpose and Reuse Information Components

These “knowledge nuggets” can be repurposed in any number of ways to answer customer inquiries, respond to RFIs and RFPs, or reused in outbound email solicitations and proposals.

Salespeople and channel partners no longer need to negotiate the network and wade through portals and other repositories that contain monolithic documents to find what they need and then need to cut and paste from. 

What if salespeople could keyword search for product, solution or buyer persona information to cherry pick content they need in the exact context of the buyer’s interest and then simply drag-and-drop from their desktop into any application to use it? 

What if that content was succinctly structured so it could be consumed on any device?

And what if Marketing could actually measure every time one of these knowledge nuggets was used, by whom, and in which situations? 

They could then understand customer business requirement trends and market intelligence in a way that is impossible today by tracking a simple document download from some sales portal.

What is the Future of Collateral?

  • The Future of Collateral is component-based sales ready content that is aligned around buyer needs and structured, maintained, and shared in a component-based content management system.
  • Content that is componentized and ready for use on any device enables responsiveness and context.
  • Content that is consistent across the enterprise and via channel partners, and that amplifies brand messages.
  • Content that is easily customized, yet where governance strategies protect core-messaging components from modification for regulatory compliance.
  • Content use is measured, and the content itself is rated, commented-on, and maintained, improving in quality over time.

I have seen the future of collateral. New platforms and methods are required to create, manage, maintain, and deploy componentized content, and it’s already here.

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One thought on “The Death of Marketing Collateral as We Knew it

  1. Pingback: A vision for enterprise content strategy by Jim Burns | Marketing Blog

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