Is your marketing collateral screwing your brand?

Question for you:

When’s the last time you reviewed your marketing collateral. No, not your site copy. Your other marketing materials: Your customer emails, fax forms, customer service surveys, order receipts – anything you send to a client or prospect.

Guess what? Your collateral marketing material may be undoing all of your good SEO copywriting and content marketing work and hurting your brand. To illustrate this point, let me tell a story…

I was unhappy with my current merchant processor. They weren’t a bad company. The customer service folks were nice. They just weren’t a good fit. It happens.

Canceling the account meant filling out a form. Not a big deal. The company requires a reason for closure and provides nine possible options to check.

(Mistake #1 – There was no room to write-in a comment. You had to choose one of the nine choices. So much for wanting useful customer feedback.)

I glanced at the reasons and saw the reasons you’d expect: “Out of business,” “new business ownership,” “chose different processor.”

And then one choice quickly jumped out at me: Misrepresentation.
And then I read: Poor service from bankcard.
And then I read: Poor service from sales representative.

So, what the company is telling me is – out of nine possible (and apparently common) reasons for closing the account, 1/3 of them is for poor service or misrepresentation?

Immediately, what was a brand-neutral experience (they weren’t a good fit for my business, so what) turned into a brand-killer. (Have they been lying to me all this time? Do I need to go back and check my statements?) I instantly distrusted them and would not recommend them. All because of a one-page fax.

Their marketing collateral screwed their brand.

It happens with emails, too. Companies forget to review their autoresponder content all the time – so they may have “stuff” out there from five years ago. And since it’s automatic and no-one really sees the email in-house, the mistake is sent over and over and over again.

Case in point: After every email received (every one,) a direct cremation company would automatically send a general “here’s how to contact us” email.” ¬†The companies first error? They misspelled the first word in the email ¬†(they wrote “thanks you for contacting us.”) Yes, they misspelled the very first word. ¬†Immediately after, the email listed a 800 number “if a death has just occurred,” and told the reader to “wait 24 hours for an email response.”There was nothing about “Sorry for your loss.” No mention of “We’re here to help you every step of the way.” No…nothing. I don’t think it was more than 25 poorly-written words. An email like that should have been written with the utmost care and compassion. Not as a fast one-off.

Tell me, would you trust your loved one to a company that misspells the first word of their email?

Again, the marketing collateral screwed their brand.

I urge you, please go through everything – your autresponders, your fax forms, your customer service scripts – everything and double-check it. You’re not just looking for the obvious mistakes (although if you find them, fix them fast!) You’re also looking for opportunity. Can you transform your writing so it’s more customer-centered? Do your “old” materials reflect a different style than what’s on your site – and you forgot to update them? Is there a way you can transform a customer receipt into an upselling machine?

For most companies, reviewing the collateral will take a couple hours, max. Worst that happens is everything is on-track and you have the peace-of-mind knowing that things are A-OK. But chances are, you’ll find something you can make just a little bit better – and making it better can help you make more money (and help people embrace your brand rather than avoid it.) The opportunities are there. You just have to notice.