I've been doing a lot of reading on the sales forums and I noticed that one of the most critical pieces of developing your brand, was not being covered - POS
So I've taken it upon myself to start chipping away at some fundamental and easy things that can help build your brands without breaking the bank.
who the heck are you, and what makes you the 'expert?'
Glad you asked. I have almost a decade of industry experience ranging from bar and restaurant purchasing, distilling, brand development, market management and new market arrival - all the way to distribution and portfolio management in Illinois. I have quite literally seen brands develop from the field to the bartop, with every ugly little step in between. Trust me.
So, with that out of the way, let's move on to the sell sheet:
You have now made the greatest distilled product since (insert your role model here). You need to now find and choose a distributor (this is a WHOLE different thread) and get out into your first market. Usually the first market is your home market, so lets pretend we're looking at a second market, perhaps a large rural state, with a bustling city-suburb center and some sports teams... HEY! How about IL!
(mind you the sell sheet is crucial for control states as well, I am using tier for now)
For visual aid, I have attached an example of a sell sheet that I find to be a very good example of a successful sell sheet
**YES I KNOW IT'S AN LDI/MGP THING! THIS ISN'T WHAT THIS IS ABOUT, SAVE IT FOR ANOTHER THREAD**
This is simply, from an organizational and visual perspective a good example.
The 5 most important pieces of a good sell sheet:
1. A PICTURE OF THE BOTTLE
I, I cannot tell you how many sell sheets I've seen, without a picture of the bottle. I think suppliers (you guys) think that the sales staff will always carry a bottle of your product in their car or bag, and the customer then, will see it and hold it and taste it. WRONG. I know some places where the sales staff are limited to 2% of the previous months sales allotted in samples. These guys cant pull a bottle whenever. They cannot have a rolling liquor depot in their car and they dont always have time to taste with a customer. The bottle image is KEY to sparking the interest in the brand that will have the buyer ask to taste it on a follow up visit, if at all! The sell sheet is also a "FIRE AND FORGET" type of POS, you cant be leaving bottles at every account, on every call. Most of the time, you just leave a sell sheet after the pitch as a constant visual reminder that they want to buy this brand.
2. BULLET POINTS/BUZZWORDS
This part ends up being more for the sales person, who is overloaded with quotas, deadlines, information and stress, than for the buyer; It does have relevance beyond that though. These are words/points/one-liner's/pillars that the brand identity is based on. This is the MUST-SAY list when pitching the brands. When we present our own brands, we do it with the type of confidence and pride that only we can exude. Your sales rep, in your absence, will not be you...but he can at least say the type of this you would say! Reps dont know what a dephlegmator is, or why spelt is trending on twitter (it's not by the way) - Good news! Neither does the buyer! Just a few keywords and practice is all the average rep needs.
3. A HOOK!
Now I encourage you to look at the example. Notice that the brand/company name isn't the header. If you have high quality bottle shots, the brand name is clearly legible already... no...the header in this case is the hook.
**WHAT DID I TELL YOU EARLIER... SAVE IT FOR ANOTHER FORUM**
This, historically, has had two distinct effects on almost everyone who has read it "i thought bourbon only came from Kentucky!" and "what is Indiana bourbon?"
CONGRATULATIONS, YOUR HOOK WORKED!
The purpose of the hook isn't just to catch the eye visually (if your brand is based off of a visual hook, you are already in trouble) it forces the buyer, consumer, sales rep or other reader to ask a question. It gives you or your rep the window of opportunity to dive into those buzzwords or key points that you worked so hard on! Its the foot wedged in the door of conversation. In this case, you've affronted a widely held public belief and now you have the opportunity to prove it, while developing a conversation about the product. Pushing the conversation into a dialogue instead of a monologue is like... sales 101 folks; Let your Sell Sheet help.
4. SUPPORT/FURTHER INFO
In the wild world of social media, I cannot stress how important it is for an emerging brand to have a solid, well managed presence in social media and the web. A bad website, to me, as a portfolio manager is the end of the discussion for me. It is officially 2013, if you arent at least on facebook and ACTIVE (cant stress that enough) you are doomed. If your website looks like a geocities relic. I will not even bother to taste the product for consideration, and neither will the world. I will get to that more in a different post, but for the sake of your sheet, I think my example sheet could have done it more simply, but the idea is there. This is also useful if you are making a .PDF version which can be sent ahead or as follow up to your pitch. It shows that your brand has a reach beyond just paper and ink.
5. EMPTY SPACE!
This is my lame attempt at an M. Night Shyamalan twist - Empty space on a sheet is a tenant of good design; No one likes an overcrowded and visually assaulting page. Empty space can offer two important advantages: A place to take notes, write down the pricing (since it may differ slightly state to state) record flavor notes, or follow up questions during the presentation. The other aspect is it keeps the readers focus on the important parts of your brand. I think my example sheet could actually do a slightly better version of this as well, but there is still a place for notes on the sides.
Whew... okay that was a lot. I know, but feel free and encouraged to ask questions, discuss this post and hell, post your own sell sheets here to talk about them. I may be on the distribution and sales side but I always have time to chat or lend a hand to this community when I can. This is your most vital, simple and cost effective option in augmenting your marketing attempts. I'd love to help you work them out.