Friday, December 30, 2011

Superhero Sell Sheets

A sell sheet is a high-impact, single-page presentation of your core capabilities, customer benefits, and contact information. It is a smart way to get your brand into the customer's hands without the bulk or expense of a brochure. When you think about it, sell sheets are a lot like superheroes.

Superheroes tend to build their reputations around one or two specific qualities - strength, speed, ability to climb walls - and sell sheets typically highlight one or two specific services. For example, a medical communications provider may design a sell sheet for hospital prospects that highlights the benefits of electronic newsletters, and a different sell sheet for biopharmaceutical prospects that details services in instructional design or online learning.

Superheroes have a knack for appearing suddenly when they are most needed and taking care of business quickly and expertly. Sell sheets do the same thing with the help of their twin powers, brevity and versatility.

Brevity — An effective sell sheet includes branding, a core value proposition, a clear benefit statement and complete contact information, all on an 8.5"x 11" page. For maximum visual impact it is best to print your sell sheet single-sided and in color. The goal is to say, "This is who I am, this is what I can do for you, and this is how you can reach me" as efficiently as possible.

Versatiliy — Sell sheets offer infinite versatility and revision, which makes it easier to keep your message current and compelling. Chances are your visual branding, core value proposition and contact information are the same for all of your prospects. If so, create a sell sheet template with that information, then all you need to do is re-work your benefit statement to reflect the needs and interests of a particular target market. For example, a financial services provider may include information about their wealth management division on sell sheets for the individual investor market, and easily omit that section on sell sheets for their investment professional prospects.

If you need more reasons to start selling with sell sheets, consider this:

  • Sell sheets highlight the benefits of a specific service or application to one specific prospect profile.
  • Sell sheets enhance your brochure. Tuck the right sell sheet in, and you automatically personalize your message for the prospect.
  • Sell sheets allow you to deliver your marketing message at a lower cost, giving you more opportunities to touch your target market without increasing your budget.
  • Sell sheets bring value and visitors to your website. You can incorporate complete sell sheets into your website content or make sell sheets available for download from your site. Either way, you add value to your website and all who visit.

So, sell sheets.faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? No. But faster than a multi-page brochure, more powerful than a business card, able to leap over your competitors with a single page? Absolutely yes! Whether your prospects are management consultants, directors of sales training, biopharmaceutical service providers, or marketing communications agencies, your sell sheets can be as versatile and powerful as your market and your capabilities.

Sally Bacchetta
Onwords™ column
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Go Green with Your Written Communications

Resolve to "go green" with your written communication in the year ahead. “Green” communication can save you time and money as well as reduce clutter and your environmental footprint.

Check out these examples of greener communication:

Sell sheet vs. brochure — Before you develop a new brochure (or re-design an existing one), consider a sell sheet instead. A sell sheet is a high-impact single page presentation of your core capabilities, customer benefits, and contact information. It is a smart way to get your brand into the customer's hands without the bulk or expense of a brochure. Use sell sheets for prospects and brochures for leads. A sell sheet is a way to tell pre-qualified prospects who you are and what you do. A brochure is a way to tell qualified leads specifically how you do business and why they should partner with you to meet their objectives.

Email vs. direct mail — Email is obviously "greener" than paper-based direct mail and it also offers several other advantages over direct mail. Many of your prospects and customers spend a lot of their time at the computer, and email is usually the fastest way to reach them. And even though people receive a lot more email than direct mail, it is easier to capture attention with email than it is with direct mail. You can use an engaging subject line, colorful graphics, animation and video to set your email apart from the Inbox crowd.

Be concise — As much as we embrace digital communication, many people still rely on the printed word. Assume that a percentage of your readers will print out your digital communication, and make it "greener" by writing concisely. Highlight key messages with bullet points and links to relevant sources rather than sending long paragraphs and multi-page messages.

Consider file sharing for large files — Instead of sending entire Power Point presentations and 100-page reports, consider parking the information on a secure file sharing site. It's much "greener" for your team to download a presentation from a file sharing site for review during a conference call than it is to send the presentation and have everyone print it out for their own reference.

Issue a press release vs. direct mail campaign — And now for one of my favorite "green" writing techniques - the press release. A press release (sent digitally, of course) can deliver your message to a vast market without using a single piece of paper or envelope. If you're not sure of the benefits of using press releases please read my article “Permanent Press”. You will be glad you did!

Sally Bacchetta
Onwords™ column
My Google Profile+