You can of course not bother hiring a professional graphic designer to produce your white papers, data sheets, case studies and other collateral.
Why not save what you would have spent on having them done properly and just add your logo to the Word or Google doc that your writer is producing the content in?
Hiring a professional designer vs. DIY.
The answer is whether you want your company to look like you're serious or not. Having a low-res JPEG stretching your brand out in PPT or Word on the cover with a stock image you found of business professionals in suits smiling, makes you look like you're not taking your communications seriously at all.
This also somewhat undermines the extensive effort the writer or data scientist or whichever team member has gone to produce this good content.
A decision maker
Considering all of the money invested in your advertising, your website, and sales team salaries – to then not deliver a sharp looking document, that is potentially the final piece of communication to your prospect that will determine if they go with your company or not – is actually insane if you think about it.
It's the equivalent of delivering an incredible pitch, and to leave behind a business card that you used a free online template to make and chose the cheapest sandpaper toilet roll paper stock option to print it on.
Not an after thought to your website design
I would argue that your collateral is just as important as your website, if not even moreso. Don't think for a second that it's ok to have a great looking site, but to muggle together the PDF resources as an after thought.
What your design options are
1. DIY = Worst
Add your logo yourself and a home made footer to the Word or Google Doc your writer has produced the content in.
2. Editable Template = Better
For documents of low importance this isn't a bad option actually. To have a designer produce a document template and then port that over to PPT or Google Docs.
I always warn customers that although this is possible, you'll never end up near the refinement that a layout produced in InDesign offers.
3. InDesign = Best
Providing your document with copy, diagrams, illustrations and footnotes to a graphic designer that will then take all of that and lay it out into a well presented and nicely formatted InDesign document – that can be exported to Web and Print PDFs – is the best route.
Is it worth incurring the cost of a designer?
• Are your sales team sending PDFs over as follow ups?
• Are you asking people to go through the steps of registering to access the content?
• Are you investing in lead generation campaigns to reach people?
For the niche that I serve they are offering resources on cyber security, infosec, threat intelligence, and network security solutions. These really should have the benefit of a design eye on them as they are important documents that are shared digitally and handed out at events.
The same goes for company overviews and general marketing documents.
However your business may benefit from option 2 above if your documentation isn't so important to the branding and impression that tech companies need to make.
Summary – don't let the quality of your documents become an oversight
It's easy to think that because the website looks great, it doesn't matter as much how the resources look. Time to think again.
The next time your sales team sends out a PDF attachment – make sure that when that baby is fired up so is the reader looking to buy in to your solutions.