Designing the Effective Sell Sheet

Volume 132, No. 19 - Friday, November 9, 2007

Two basic promotional materials are essential to be able to sell wholesale.

One For Buyers
A well-designed sell sheet with all the information a buyer might need on it, printed clearly, so they can read it. 

A single page, both sides if needed, is best, providing essential information for both the distributor you sell to, and their customers. Each has information they need to sell your product effectively, and the distributor need only pass on a copy to their customer when presenting the product. 

Best of all, in today’s web-enhanced world, a copy can be posted to your website, ready to be downloaded by whomever needs the information on it. This sell sheet needs to be well-designed graphically, but it is not a piece of art. It is to communicate information to the buyers.

The Second for the Front Line Employees
The second piece is a simple insert with talking points to be put into each carton for the people who actually work your product in the store, or restaurant. 

When they open the box it will be there for them to see. This may be the only education a clerk ever gets about you and your product. 

No need for a graphic designer, merely typed up neatly in big print. Include storage information, use suggestions and anything else you want them to know so that they can share it with the consumer. Carefully check your spelling, unless you want to entertain in unexpected ways.

Use your website
Consumer handouts, while great looking, mostly end up in the trash. Consumers who are really interested will enjoy going to your website to download recipes and read stories get use suggestions, and all you have to do is direct them there. 

The One Size Fits All Sell Sheet
The suggestions here come from years of experience working with cheese makers and distributors. It is based on input from a wide variety of top professionals. Once the information is collected, use a professional designer and be sure they don’t artsy
it up too much.

Sell sheets should contain: 
1) The name of your cheese prominently featured.

2) Your logo.

3) A good picture of your cheese or your label. Good from the industry’s point of view, not your friends and family. If you don’t have a good picture, get one from an experienced professional that clearly shows your cheese.

4) The name of your company.

5) Website address (feature prominently).

6) Where you are located.

7) Contact information.

8) The type of production (circle one): specialty, farmhouse, farm, artisan, commodity.

9) The Family of Cheese

10) The Type of Rind 

11) Type of Culture: none, proprietary blend.

12) Coagulant: animal, or vegetarian (not vegetable, as it probably isn’t, why mislead in the day of the Internet, it will backfire.)

13) Type of Milk: What kind of animal? Pasture Fed? Seasonally Pasture Fed? Organic? Pasteurized? Raw? 

14) Ingredients.

15) Nutritional information as on your label but readable.

16) How long you ripen the cheese before release. (Minimum).

17) Shelf life after shipping.

18) Short description of you and your cheese.

19) Flavor: One sentence describing the flavor. 

20) Food Pairing Suggestions: refer to website. 

21) Wine Pairing Suggestions: refer to website.

22) Cooking Tips: refer them to your website and include tips and recipes on a special page. Have them done professionally or test them with friends. Family recipes work well if they are delicious.

23) Case and Pallet info, including how many pieces in each case; what each piece weighs; what the case weight is; net weight (without the box); gross weight (with the box); what the dimensions of the box are.

24) How many cases fit on a pallet expressed as TI/HI, meaning how many cases on each level and how many levels high.

25) Storage Hints: (Choose the appropriate one to your left)

26) Distributor Benefits: Why it is to the distributor’s advantage to buy your cheeses. Things like, easy stacking box, extend proven niche, better value to your customers, good pack size to maximize sales….:

27) Retailer Benefits: Things like colorful attention-getting package, access to many recipes from website, passive sampling program, demos available, easy to open package, great size for cutting into portions, etc. 

28) Consumer benefits: any health claims, no preservatives, lines like “for your peace of mind”, flavorful, nutritious, easy open package. Ask your current customers what they like about it. Talk to people during demos and get feedback.

29)Tell the distributor how they can order, who to call, give them a contact name, do you want orders by fax or email, INCLUDE YOUR PHONE NUMBER AND WEBSITE and do it all prominently in a readable font. Make it easy for them to buy.

The Second Sheet, for Clerks, Cooks and Store Employees
Unlike the sell sheet, you do not want this insert to look too polished. Handwriting fonts, your signature, anything you can add to personalize it while still making it readable. 

Thank them for helping you sell your product. Give them four or five talking points, points that are featured on the sell sheet but may never be communicated to the frontline staff. 

Invite them to visit your website and encourage them to send you an e-mail with any feedback. (Be sure you answer this e-mail right away, without fail, if it ever comes.)

Place it in the box so it is the first thing they see when they open the box. Use big print. See example (reduced in size for space restrictions) to the left. 

Dan Strongin is managing partner and owner of Edible Solutions, a consulting company focused on helping companies making great food make a profit. He will be writing a monthly column in Cheese Reporter. Strongin can be reached via phone at (510) 224-0493, or via e-mail at


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