What Sales Literature Do I REALLY Need?

It's hard to believe today that anyone would still interested in printed material - after all, why not just create a.pdf file and post it on your website? But one of the most often-asked questions I get from clients is "what's the one piece of literature I really need?" In most cases, the answer is the indispensable "sell sheet". This efficient, versatile little sales tool can be easily adapted for products or services and with the right layout and design can look great printed in everything from black and white to glorious four-color (which yields the full-range of colors, for those of you not familiar with the printing process). And, yes, it also works well as a downloadable .pdf file on your web site, enabling you to provide potential and current customers with sales literature without incurring the cost of printing (or, perhaps reducing your cost by doing a smaller print run, since it's always a good idea to have some printed copies for trade shows, face-to-face meetings, etc.).

So, what exactly is a "sell sheet"? Something in-between a data sheet (specs and technical data only), and a corporate brochure (mostly image-building text and photos with a company backgrounder and general product or service descriptions). A sell sheet is your opportunity to put your product's or service's best foot forward for the potential customer.

An effective sell sheet might include both a quick overview of your company and a solid product or service description with enough information to enable the potential customer to qualify your offering as a potential solution to his or her problem. This can include an attractive product photo, a paragraph or two addressing applications and positioning the product or service against the competition, feature-and-benefit "bullet" points (those lists of short phrases often preceded by a dot or other mark), and perhaps basic schematics. Sell sheets, done correctly, are inexpensive enough to be used as a qualifying tool at trade shows, conferences, investor summits, or anywhere someone would want to know quickly who you are and what you have to offer. If, upon reading your sell sheet, your potential new customer is interested in learning more about what you are offering, you can follow up with a data sheet, brochure, catalog, or some other documentation to provide further, more detailed information about your offer.

The added benefit of the one page (two-sided) sell sheet is that it forces you to focus on what you're really offering. With the two-sided format you don't have the luxury of explaining your product, process, or service in great detail. Instead, you need to focus on how it alleviates your customers' "pain" -- whatever impediment hinders or even prevents them from successfully completing a task or project. It doesn't require a lot of fancy photography, illustration work, or lengthy copy. Instead, the sell sheet format requires you to focus on what your customers are willing to pay for and provide them with enough information to qualify themselves as potential buyers, request further information or, better yet, open a dialogue with you or your salespeople.

In short, the sell sheet is an ideal sales and marketing tool. With the proper layout and content, a sell sheet is cost-effective, versatile, and efficient - perfect for companies like yours.


With over 25 years of advertising and marketing communications experience, I am a freelance writer for B2B and technology companies and principal of BIGWORDS Content Development. I provide content for websites, news releases, trade publication articles, white papers, case studies, application stories, multimedia presentations, PowerPoints, sales materials and other written communications. I also do brand identity and marketing communications strategy consulting. For a FREE consultation and speak...

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