There is a reason you have clicked on this latest blog post of mine, and I know exactly why. Everybody loves sell sheets! In fact it is extremely common for a new student to ask me when he or she can get started on creating their marketing material. In reality, the sell sheet will come a little ways down the road for a brand new student. I love their passion none the less. It's no wonder to me. Presenting your product to a company in itself is exhilarating.
There is a tried and true inventRight way of creating a sell sheet. When I first started pitching the Woof Washer 360, I had a sell sheet created. At the time, I didn't know it was a 'sell sheet' per se, I just hired somebody to create what I thought was an advertisement. (See my original Woof Washer 360 sell sheet below.)
Today I would do it much differently, but as the saying goes, I didn't know what I didn't know.
In actuality, I believe it was Stephen's wife, Janice, who coined the term 'Sell Sheet.' With her vast marketing experience, legend has it she may have even taught Stephen how to make one!
You have heard Stephen say it dozens of times on our inventRight TV YouTube channel: "A sell sheet is like a billboard." The viewer must instantly understand what the product is as they blow by it on the interstate at 70mph plus. The concept of the sell sheet is no different. Your recipient must understand the product instantly. If they don't understand the product, you have not done your job correctly. We must be crystal clear in our presentation.
We recently revamped inventRight Design Studio (DS). The sell sheet and logo designs which are being produced by DS are simply fantastic. Did you know you can utilize inventRight DS services even if you are not an iR student? Whether you chose to use DS or look elsewhere for freelance work, please make sure you understand what exactly a sell sheet is and more importantly, what makes a sell sheet strong.
Let's take look at some Sell Sheet components:
One Line Benefit (OLB) Statement:
You have heard us talk about OLBs many times. It is as simple as it sounds. A one sentence explanation of your product that celebrates its benefit. This typically will go across the top of your sell sheet. This is the hook to keep the reader interested and to keep their eyeballs reading down the page.
My hook? "Wash Your Dog in 60 Seconds or Less."
Stephen's 'Spinformation' hook? "Add 75% More Information to Your Label."
Both are very powerful, are they not?
EXPERT TIP: Keep It Short. Your product might have numerous benefits. Use your most powerful benefit here.
Hero or Glamour Photo/3D Render
This will be the big beautiful photo of your product. It should dominate the sell sheet. Remember: Visuals sell, not verbiage. Sometimes, we will see a person holding the product. However, when done incorrectly, the product is a mere fraction of the overall photo, which is more focused on the person holding it. Don't do this.
EXPERT TIP: Purchase a small photo tent kit online. These kits include the photo tent, lights, and sometimes a cell phone tripod. Your product photo will look gorgeous! Your designer can easily remove the background and add a professional looking drop shadow.
I typically find that three to five bullet points are appropriate. These are just that, bullet points. Sentences, these are not. We often see these listed to the left or right of the 'Hero or Glamour Photo.'
EXPERT TIP: Consumers value simplicity, ease of use, and their time. Can your bullet points take advantage of these?
I love logos! I personally always use them. I believe there is no denying that a logo adds a fantastic level of polish to a sell sheet. With that said, you can have the most amazing logo in the world, but if the product or the benefit are poor, it just won't happen no matter how great that logo might be.
DISCLAIMER: It is highly unlikely the licensee will keep either your product name or logo unless you have established a brand identity prior.
EXPERT TIP: Remember, our goal at iR is to keep costs down. If you can't afford a logo, opt for stylized text. At a minimum, use something fancier than the traditional "Times New Roman" font. With shadowing and other minor editing tricks, you can make this look very nice.
Not all products need a video. Some products just don't need it and the consumer will immediately understand what the product is from photos alone. If you are claiming that you can wash a dog in sixty seconds or less, you better have a video demo. I encourage you to "embed" the video into the sell sheet. This means there will be a link in the PDF that your recipient can click and view.
EXPERT TIP: Upload your product demo video to Youtube as "unlisted." Only those with the link will be able to view it. It will not show up in search results.
Typically, this is included in a single line across the very bottom of the sell sheet. The following info is needed: First and last name, telephone number, email address and patent status.
EXPERT TIP: Make this small. This is valuable real estate. Do not take up room with this info. You're a great person, we all know that. We don't need it to be the focal point of your sell sheet however.
Companies spend countless dollars conducting market research to determine what colors resonate with consumers. I'd recommend you borrow some color palettes of industry leaders in your category. For example, if you have a new motorcycle innovation perhaps your color scheme should be some combination of silver, orange and black (Harley Davidson). Sometimes an entire industry shares a color palette. Pitching a medical device? Your colors better be a combination of shades of white and blue as these represent sterility.
EXPERT TIP: Find the national brand for a similar product to yours. Do a google search for '(Product Name) advertisement'. Perhaps you can borrow heavily from their design direction. If it is good enough for them, certainly it's good enough for you.
Graphic designer Stu Delossantos, a leader at inventRight Design Studio, explains the most important things for him to create good sell sheet below.
"As a designer, details are very important for me to really understand what design/layout to do with that specific project. I need, of course, to receive the content that will be featured in the sell sheet as well as how to easily contact the product developer.
A short brief explaining how the products works is also very important, because if I don't understand what I am designing the audience of the sell sheet will also be confused. If the product developer can provide color palette/pegs that they want, this is helpful to me as it lessens the time of work required, but this is optional. Mostly, I give product developers my own suggestions."
I've seen many people quickly rush to the sell sheet stage. Upon getting there, they blindly hire a freelancer to create it for them. Excitement and impatience have clouded their judgement. The sell sheet is the link between the product sitting in your head and the product sitting on the desk of an interested licensee.
Let's do this right moving forward!