From the November 2007 issue of Entrepreneur

No one likes to be sold, but everyone likes to buy. Your marketing materials should be designed in a way that guides your prospects logically along a path from education to trust to wanting to build a relationship.

 

At first, your prospects believe your firm is pretty much like any other firm that does what you do. And just looking on the surface, they're right. If you're an electrical contractor, your employees probably wire a ceiling fan the same way other electricians do. The difference, though, is the level of service, professionalism and communication you provide--and of course, your 27-point safety checklist and personal story. That's the stuff they need to hear, the stuff that makes them say, "This is someone I can trust to come into my home, someone I want to refer to a friend."

 

Don't turn your prospects off from the beginning with the typical sales copy. Your marketing materials should function more as informational products than as sales materials. A marketing kit is an effective tool to help educate prospects about your business. If properly constructed, your marketing kit will make your firm the obvious choice when prospects compare it to other businesses that do what you do.

 

Your marketing kit should include some combination of the following information:

 

  • Your "difference" page: Use this page to explain how your firm is truly different than your competition and designed to meet a very specific need in a very specific way. In this section, don't worry about telling your prospects what your firm does; focus on how you do it in a valuable or unique way.
  • A list of services: Here, tell prospects what you do or offer. You may even need to create a separate sheet for each of your services or service areas.
  • Case studies: Pick representative clients or industries and outline how your product or service solved their challenge. Case studies allow your prospects to see how they, too, can find relief.
  • Process description: Show prospects how you do what you do. Create detailed checklists and flow charts that show how you keep your promises. Many people underestimate how much goes into delivering a quality product or service.
  • Your story: Many companies have interesting--and even gut-wrenching--histories. Tell your story in an open, honest and entertaining way, and you'll win their hearts as well as their heads.

You can also add testimonial letters, FAQ pages, copies of articles you've written, and reprints of any media coverage your firm has received.

 

The individual pieces of your marketing kit can, in many cases, consist of word-processed files that are laser-printed onto a template and tucked in a pocket folder for delivery. This format allows for inexpensive printing and a great deal of flexibility when you need to change or update your marketing materials. This format makes for great web content as well.

 

But will prospects even read all this stuff? As with all marketing efforts, some people will read it and some won't, but the ones who do won't hesitate to pay a premium to acquire the services of such an obvious expert.

John Jantsch is a veteran marketing coach, award winning blogger and author of Duct Tape Marketing: The World's Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide. Find out more at ducttapemarketing.com.