Do You Have The "Write" Stuff?
Four questions that absolutely have to
be answered in all of your company
collateral in order to be successful.
The Sheffield Report
by Michael L. Sheffield
CEO The Sheffield Group
One of the greatest challenges facing an entrepreneur entering the network marketing industry for the first time is translating his or her tremendous vision into words an average distributor can truly understand and use. Do it well and your business can take off like a rocket. Do it poorly and the rocket will blow up in your face. With that understanding, there are four questions that absolutely have to be answered in all of your company collateral in order to be successful, whether you are doing print, CD, DVD, web-based or other format for your company literature.
Your manual is your distributors “bible”. It explains everything about the company, products or services, compensation plan, leadership history, etc.. This is done in great detail so that the reader thoroughly understands the business he or she is going to put their time, money, energy, belief and heart into. Here is what it must answer to be effective.
1. What is the Need? You must explain why there is a tremendous need for the product or service you are offering. For example: If you are promoting a wellness product, you would want to detail the health care issues that have created the need for products like the ones you are offering. They could include environmental issues, poor eating habits, aging, rising costs of health care, increase in poor nutrition related illness, etc.
2. What Is The Answer? Once you’ve established the need, you need to discuss how your company was founded to provide the answers to that challenge. Staying with the health products example, it might include the founders search for products that would help a friend or family member that was suffering, and the lengths they went to find the exact thing those loved ones needed for relief. If that is done well, your distributors will feel confident “telling the story” when explaining it to their prospects.
3. What Are The Features? The features are the specific characteristics that distinguish your product or service. Since your manual is an educational piece for your distributors, these characteristics need to be detailed out in plain English so they can understand and explain it, and backed up with some pertinent scientific data. For example, if your health product has special properties, you need to list each one and explain what they do for the body, with some footnotes as to where that information was derived. It is also wise to create a Glossary with a description of each ingredient and its structure function claim, so your distributor has quick access to exactly what they can and cannot legally say about the products.
4. What Are The Benefits? Features are important, but benefits drive home what’s in it for those who use the products or services. If you want to see an industry that presents benefits incredibly well, watch a few infomercials. There are probably two to three benefits per feature. For purposes of illustration here, a product that offers the feature of a great tasting supplement could offer the benefits of:
• Easy to sell because your prospects will like them.
• People will take them, instead of avoid them, so they will get the
• Even your kids will like them!
Your brochure and other marketing collateral will be very different from your manual, as they are much shorter tools for your distributors to use with their prospects. The content addresses all of those questions outlined above, but is designed to “sell” those qualities to a prospect in less detail, but with a lot more flash and sizzle. The copy must be designed to build interest quickly, which can be done using graphics, photography and key words. It should serve as a quick overview of the need for this product or service, the answers the product or service provides, a few key features, and lots of benefits, because they will make buying decisions based on benefits. The goal of the marketing collateral is simply to invite prospects to look further into the products and company. You don’t want to overwhelm them with too many complex details because they may fear they could never master all of that information and get scared away.
Great print and online marketing collateral is more art than science. You must play with words, graphics and photographs to convey your vision in the customers mind. You may want to put all your products in one catalog. However, most companies today create single brochures because they invariably add to the product line and the catalog quickly becomes obsolete. This is a little easier for companies that are primarily web based in their marketing, as they can change the content whenever needed. You can also divide your site into a “prospects only” section and a “members only” section that has greater detail. But however you approach your market, remember to answer these four questions so that all of your marketing materials work for you, not against you. In doing so, it will give your company the "write" stuff you need to succeed.
Michael L. Sheffield is the CEO of The Sheffield Group, a full-service direct sales and multi level marketing (MLM) consulting firm. He is a Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Multi Level Marketing International Association and in 2001 he was inducted into the MLMIA Hall of Fame. He and the Sheffield team have assisted in hundreds of national and international MLM corporate start-ups as well as offered a full line of services for established direct sales companies including consultation on MLM Website development. As the most noted expert on compensation plans, he has been a guest lecturer on the subject for the DSA, University of Illinois, University of Texas, Berkeley and Harvard Alumni Association. He has helped launch over 200 new products marketed by direct selling companies around the globe. He can be contacted at 480-968-6199, The Sheffield Group, 2239 N. Hayden Road, Suite 103, Scottsdale, AZ. 85257, website address: www.sheffieldnet.com.
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