Want to impress buyers and land more retail accounts?
Ding-ding-ding! Every food business wants to do that. And it starts with sell sheets. Sell sheets are the advertising of the specialty food industry. They show off your product, provide ordering information, and often are the first thing to cross a buyer’s desk (hopefully with samples).
But creating an awesome sell sheet isn’t easy.
There’s so much to cram on there, it’s hard to make it look pretty and communicate what your brand is all about. Plus, awesome sell sheets tend to be designed by expensive branding agencies. And as a small food business, you don’t have the money to pay a designer.
That means you probably need to go the do-it-yourself route: Make your own sell sheet. And that’s what this blog post is attempting to accomplish. Here’s what you’ll learn:
- What goes on a sell sheet?
- Examples of winning sell sheets
- How do I design a good sell sheet?
Ready to learn how to make a sell sheet for your food business? Let’s get started with what actually goes on a sell sheet.
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What should go on a sell sheet?
I’ll start with the obvious. Add your name, address, phone number, email (and fax if you have it) to your sell sheet. And don’t just include a business card – those get lost. Having your contact information in more than one place assures the buyer they’ll be able to find it.
2. Big “money-shot” picture
Think about what draws you in to look at something – it’s the visuals. And the same is true with your sell sheet. Have product photography at the ready so you have some variety in what picture you’re going to choose. In the examples below, you’ll notice how beautiful photography plays a key role in selling.
3. Your product line
How many products do you have? While you don’t have to go into detail for each product, list your different varieties – and note your most popular products. If buyers have to limit the number of SKUs they bring in, they want to know what’s going to move best. Note buzz-words, too, like gluten-free, dairy-free, etc.
4. UPC’s (if you have room)
Why put ugly barcodes on your sell sheet? If you’re products get accepted, the buyer needs these to add to their inventory system. An alternative is to list the UPC codes in a table – that way you have more room for everything else on this list.
5. Customer testimonials
Customers LOVE your product. Retailers want to see that their customers will, too. Testimonials are powerful tools to show buyers your product is tops in the market. 2-3 is a good number – you don’t want to go overboard!
6. List of distributors
How are retailers going to get your product? Sure, you may deliver directly to retailers, but sometimes it’s easier for buyers to order everything through one distributor.
7. Ordering details
Do you have order minimums? Do you ship? What about mixing cases? If you answer all these questions on your sell sheet, you’ll be closer to getting an order because the buyer won’t have to clarify anything with you.
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8. What makes you different
This should be higher on the list, but what you’re ultimately trying to do is convince the buyer that your jam (or mustard, brownies, etc) are better than other products. Do you have a unique story? Are your ingredients local? What about your flavors – are they like nothing ever seen before?
Another obvious one. List your pricing – by unit and case. Don’t hide it or make the buyer call. And make sure to have separate distributor and wholesale pricing (but don’t list them on the same sell sheet).
10. Your story
Food is all about the people who make it – what’s your story? Sure, you may not be a 15-year-old kid or an aspiring chef, but everyone has a story. Make it come through on your sell sheet.
And it’s as simple as that. While some of this is optional (I don’t include everything here on my sell sheet for Green Mountain Mustard), feel free to customize your company’s sell sheet to your needs.
So, what’s next. Well, I figured I’d give you a few examples of well-designed sell sheets. Let’s look a a few I’ve come across on my foodie travels (including mine!).
What do great sell sheets look like?
- Green Mountain Mustard (yep – this is mine!)
- Kayem Brats Grilling Sausage (bold design – great branding)
- More designs – You can get inspired by all sorts of examples on Pinterest.
Aren’t these great sell sheets? I tried to showcase different products and strategies used to make these sell sheets pop. Now, you’re probably wondering: “How do I make my sell sheet amazing?” It just so happens I’ve got a couple tips for you.
How do you get a great-looking sell sheet?
1. Use a template
A lot of food businesses try to scrap together a sell sheet in Microsoft Word and it almost never comes out the way you want it to. That’s why I suggest using a template. Look at Canva for inspiration.
2. Take great photography
Seems to always end up that great photography sells everything. Simply put, it does. If you’re not a pro at food photography, here are a couple of sites and eBooks that may help you out. Or, get the professionals to do it!
- Tasty Food Photography
- An Introduction to Food Photography
- 7 Easy Ways Restaurant Owners Can Take Better Food Photos
3. Have a plan
Open up Microsoft Word or Photoshop and all you see is a blank screen. Well, clearly that’s not going to help you! Instead, grab a sketch pad and draw out what you want your sell sheet to look like. See what photos and text you need and fill in where necessary. Sketch a couple of ideas out. That way when you go to create your sell sheet, you have a few options to choose from.
4. Don’t be afraid to call in the pros
Do-it-yourself sell sheets aren’t easy. And some people are just better at making food than trying to make a sell sheet work. That’s when you may want to consider bringing in a professional designer to help you create the look you want. Here are a few resources to find a freelance designer:
- Your local high school or college design department (cool class project)
Reader note: You can hire a designer to put together a professional sell sheet for less than you might expect on websites like Fiverr.com listed above. Here you’ll find designers located in countries like the Philippines with much lower costs of living. If you’ve got $100 – $200 available, you can get a professional looking sell sheet spending the time learning how to design.
Sell sheets are your most important asset when trying to land new retail accounts. And getting a beautiful sell sheet is tough because there are so many working parts and learning curve if you’re not a professional designer. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating a sell sheet that gets results.
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