The Unexpected Sales Tool

What To Showcase

If you have a product or service that is easily pictured, such as custom jewelry or carpentry, then the bulk of your portfolio should consist of photos of your work. However, if your business doesn't naturally lend itself to photos, don't throw up your hands in defeat. Most businesses can be illustrated in some way; follow some of these examples:

  • Photographs of products, such as floral arrangements, furniture, gift baskets, computer systems, arts-and-crafts items; or photos of finished work, such as landscaped backyards, remodeled kitchens or bathrooms, painted homes, new roofs or clean, detailed cars.
  • Your business's Web-site address. A Web site shows you're on the cutting edge. Include screen shots of your home page in the portfolio.
  • Clips from magazines or newspapers containing articles about your business. These could be stories you've written or articles written about you.
  • Brochures illustrating the kind of products or services you offer.
  • Client testimonials or thank-you letters, including phone numbers for verification purposes. This creates trust in your work.
  • Documents that prove you can legally operate a business, such as licenses, bonds and proof of insurance.
  • Paperwork, such as memberships in professional associations or any awards you've received.
  • A complete biography of yourself. A bio differs from a resume: For one thing, it is more readable, usually written in paragraph form, and tells about your accomplishments in a more general way. Resumes focus on specifics in relation to qualifications and jobs held. Instead of reciting the specifics of each job you've held and your accomplishments, your bio should mention your career highlights and try to give a glimpse of your personality.
  • A list of the products or programs you provide, with a brief description of each.
  • Sample products, if possible; some items that would work well include jewelry, watches, wallets, food products (such as candy or nuts), artwork, small arts-and-crafts items (such as Christmas-tree ornaments, bookmarks or recipe cards), small apparel items (such as gloves, scarves or socks), stationery items (such as note paper, envelopes, pens or pencils), or cassette tapes of music or seminar presentations.

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This article was originally published in the July 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Unexpected Sales Tool.

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