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Daughter looking at papers with mother

As an integrated marketing agency with a heavy focus on digital marketing to Boomers and Seniors, you may think we don’t design and produce a lot of print collateral for our clients. But we do. In fact, we’ve seen that printed collateral has not only survived the digital age — it has made a strong comeback. It’s still a core part of an integrated marketing strategy for many of our clients.

Let’s look at the collateral package and some of the reasons why it is still in demand, particularly for those selling to mature consumers.

1. Durability

I use this term in the broadest sense, as something that not only withstands use and abuse, but withstands the test of time. Printed material endures.

Case in point: When my mother tuned 80, I was her partner in searching for a senior living community. It took several years, and along the way I collected and kept collateral packages from each of the continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) we visited. Through that long search and decision-making process they were neatly stored in a file where I could get to them easily. They were a godsend. They contained a lot of useful information, and were a great way to keep straight which property had which features in a side-by-side comparison. Having printed materials to look at was especially helpful for her — an older person making a difficult, complex decision. Even after my mother moved into a CCRC, I kept them to share with others going through the same process. Years later, I gave some to friends with parents looking at CCRCs, and the materials were still relevant and helpful.

Takeaway: Collateral can have a long, useful shelf life and be shared with others as a personal-referral tool.Pocket folder with inserts

2. Flexibility

Developing and using collateral isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. You don’t have to choose between personalization, brand or quality. Your collateral can be tailored to its audience, maintain brand standards AND use high-quality materials.

A typical collateral package in senior living includes a pocket folder, several overview pieces highlighting products and services, and individual inserts that can be printed on demand or updated as needed. This formula is a staple and still works well, especially in combination with strong graphic design, interesting papers and unique finishes like textured varnish. Collateral pieces can take on other forms as well, depending on content, delivery method and audience. Custom-sized pieces can be effective — fold-out maps, tip-ins with special offers, personalized inserts — as long as all the pieces are well branded and the materials are not unwieldy in size or overwhelming in volume.

An essential toolkit, the collateral package allows the sales team to provide prospects with just what they need — when they need it. Suppose a new piece is needed in an hour for a group coming in to a discovery luncheon. No sweat. Using a preprinted shell or a Word template, our clients can produce professional-looking materials themselves on the fly and slip it into the package.

Takeaway: Having a cohesive, branded set of predesigned tools allows the sales team and others to easily provide useful information to prospects.

Map collateral insert

3. Value

One could argue that it’s hard to measure ROI on collateral. But think about this: a collateral package can powerfully communicate a community’s visual brand. Its content can educate and express the voice and personality of the organization. And its ease of use and overall impact can impart confidence and convey a commitment to making the senior living experience a positive one. And unlike materials targeted to a particular initiative, event or offer, it can be used at any stage of the prospect’s purchase journey.

The cost per touch is not only a sound investment, it is one that can be amortized over a period of time as individual pieces are added. Printing costs for collateral can be kept down by planning and negotiating with your trusted print partner. They can provide economical options for paper stock, standard pocket folder configurations and other suggestions. Online printing companies are another option. While they may feel less personal and don’t generally offer customization, the print options and customer support they offer has dramatically improved in recent years.

Takeaway: Other touches with your prospects rarely have the depth of content — and impact — that collateral can have.Sample of collateral

4. Timing

When is the best time to produce a collateral package? Can you produce one for a blue sky community, or one that is growing or changing? The “perfect time” to develop a collateral package is when there is solid strategy for what the collateral goals are and how it will be used. And yes, we are developing collateral for blue sky communities, as well as ones that are expanding or changing their offerings.

In the case of a blue sky community, the collateral package offers a way to introduce the brand and promote early-stage initiatives, such as a VIP program. The collateral can be simplified: perhaps a pocket folder or other type of enclosure, a large brochure, a business reply card and invitation to an event. For a community that is growing or in flux, collateral can be valuable in building brand equity and reinforcing the organization’s continuing presence in — and commitment to — the community. Some pieces can be static while others can evolve as the organization changes.

Takeaway: A collateral package can start simply and then easily expand and adapt to the evolving needs of an organization.

And One More Reason Collateral Is Powerful…

An essential element of why collateral is still such a successful tool is that it is tangible, and in some sense primal. As we increasingly rely on reaching prospects through their devices in interactions that are brief, if not fleeting, offering something physical is like offering a gift. With an appealing design and hefty (but not burdensome) feel, the collateral package can engender a sense of emotional confidence. A visitor can touch and feel it long after they have left — it is a piece of the community they take with them.

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About The Author

Martha Schultz

Martha has worked in the communications field for more than 20 years for a wide range of clients and organizations, giving her a breadth of expertise in marketing, along with many other skills. She has worked as an editor, graphic designer, publications manager, brand manager and creative director. As a member of our creative team, Martha applies her experience to produce effective online and print advertising and marketing solutions for our clients.