Truth time. All those years you spent dreaming of being an entrepreneur filled your head with visions of exotic vacations and Ferraris you paid for in cash. But the reality isn’t always quite as dazzling.
Sure, owning your own business is empowering. It can be incredibly exciting. It can even make you rich.
It can also make you seriously consider tearing out your own hair and throwing the entire concept in the trash if you run into even one. more. problem.
And that’s often what happens when jewelry designers, e-commerce retailers, inventors and other people running product-based businesses are first asked to provide a linesheet.
Because really, what is a linesheet, how will creating one help you and why does it look like it’s going to cost several hundred dollars (minimum) or weeks of yelling at the computer to make one?
- Linesheets Are What Buyers Want
Imagine you’re a buyer for Bloomingdale’s or Walmart or the adorable little shop down the street that has all the cool hand-tooled belts in the window. You need products to fill your shelves. Every business owner who knows you exist wants to be the one to fill that shelf space.
Now you have to sift through countless emails and listen to an endless parade of pitches to see who gets the call. How do you keep them all straight?
Linesheets are a sales tool, but they’re also a kind of CliffsNotes for buyers. Instead of filling the pages of a consumer-facing catalog with flowery language and stylized photos, business owners use linesheets to cover the greatest hits:
- Product names
- Product images
- Basic product descriptions
- Wholesale prices
- Suggest MSRP
- Minimum orders/prepack quantities
Without the aspirational content, lifestyle imagery and sales language normally found in marketing material, the simplicity of a line sheet allows your products to shine. Buyers can scan the content, immediately understand what you have to offer and make a decision without wasting time.
In fact, buyers won’t waste time. If they can’t find the information they’re looking for quickly, they’ll move on to the next candidate. Giving them the details they need in an organized, attractive document isn’t just smart, it’s effective.
- Linesheets Are Smarter, More Focused and More Portable Alternatives to Catalogs
It’s super fun to lug around a giant catalog when you’re headed to a buyer meeting. Or put yourself in a potential customer’s shoes — anyone who has been to a convention knows why buyers arrive with a rolling suitcase in tow.
All that paper, all those backs thrown out of whack, and all Customer X wanted was a look at your spring collection.
The Data &Marketing Association says that retailers spend a staggering $9 billion every year on catalog marketing. While studies show that those catalogs still have the power to drive sales, finding ways to cut back on waste, postage and printing fees is good for the environment and your bottom line.
Choosing a line sheet app that offers digital formats that you can download or e-mail directly to buyers can drastically reduce the need for printed materials. Linesheets are smaller to begin with and offer a narrower focus — in many cases, they include just what buyers need, nothing more and nothing less.
- They Emphasize Your Branding
Sure, you could just copy and paste basic product specs into an email and send that over to a prospective customer, but what fun is that? More importantly, what kind of impact would that lackluster delivery method have?
Answer: It’s not fun, and it won’t have an impact. Talk about a lose-lose situation.
Line sheets are important for sales, but they also fall firmly into the marketing column — but only if you take advance of all the opportunities these dynamic documents offer.
A professional line sheet layout includes key product info and leaves room for your branding. Including your logo up top as well as contact information is practical and makes an impression. You’re not a nameless, faceless entity, you’re Company X.
Consider these fast facts:
- Many experts agree that people have to see a brand image five to seven times before they’ll remember it
- Having a signature color can improve brand recognition by up to 80%
- Implementing consistent design elements across multiple channels can increase both revenue and recognition (which makes sense, seeing as the two go hand in hand)
Your primary goal is to get buyers to order your products, but to get there you need to establish a connection. Branding can help, and a well-designed line sheet puts your brand front and center.
- Linesheets Stand In For You When You Can’t Appear in Person
In-person sales pitches have a number of benefits, but unless you’ve mastered the art of cloning, you can’t be everywhere at once. Whether you’re hampered by social distancing requirements and travel restrictions or just need help reaching more buyers in less time, linesheets go anywhere you can’t.
Send a stunning linesheet to buyers who signed up for your product launch but couldn’t actually come. Forward one to potential clients in new markets as a teaser for a future in-person meet and greet or use them to warm up local prospects so they already have an idea who you are when you call and make your pitch directly.
A great sales sheet can also be left behind as a reminder of your pitch and product line. While it would be undoubtedly creepy if you perched on the corner of a buyer’s desk and periodically piped up so they didn’t forget who you are, there’s no such taboo attached to a line sheet that basically does the same thing.
If a buyer can’t remember which products are included in your Black Friday sale or whether that stunning cocktail ring comes in rose gold as well as platinum, they can refer back to your sales sheet to find the answer. If they need further clarification, your name and contact information are mere millimeters away.
- You Can Tailor Each Sales Sheet to Satisfy a Specific Audience
Send a 300-page catalog to a buyer who’s only interested in one product category and you’ve just bought yourself a one-way trip to Nevermindsville. No one wants to flip through a massive book just to locate the few items they consider relevant.
Researchers say that providing too many choices can actually confuse peopleand make them less likely to make any choice at all. Show a buyer 1000 products and they may be overwhelmed. Show them your 10 best-sellers to lay the groundwork and you may score a sale and pave the way for a bigger order later on.
Okay, but short of ripping a couple pages out of your existing catalog and tossing them in the mail, how can you get that focused list to buyers in a way that’s fast, eye-catching and professional?
With the right linesheets utility at your disposal, you can not only create gorgeous linesheets, you can make them on demand. Rather than paying a freelancer designer a rush fee to whip up a new sales sheet on the fly, you can do it yourself in a matter of minutes and still produce a custom document.
- Send a PDF detailing your newest product to existing wholesale customers who might be interested in adding that product to their standing order
- Respond to retailer inquiries about a specific product category or style (for example anklets, women’s V-neck t-shirts or wedding-themed stationery) with a customized linesheet containing only the products relevant to that request
- Create linesheets around a collection, such as your new fall styles or a special heart-themed line, that’s launching in between your regular showings/catalog releases
- You Can Tweak Line Sheets As the Need Arises
When you need to change information in a catalog, you’re in for a world of hurt. You have a few choices, and none of them are very palatable:
- Spend a small fortune and a ton of time having the catalog reprinted and resent to existing customers
- Send out an email explaining what needs to be changed and what it’s being changed to and hope customers see your message
- Stress yourself out by calling everyone and verbally informing them of the update
Sound tedious? That’s because it will be. Those methods aren’t efficient or effective, and at least one could leave you with a busted budget.
On-demand linesheet creation means you can make changes to existing sheets at any time. Go into your linesheet app, open the relevant file, take care of the necessary adjustments and then download or email as needed.
This works spectacularly for a wide variety of scenarios:
- You need to add or delete a variant based on changes from your supplier
- You’ve discontinued a product
- You’re modifying an important policy such as shipping rates, minimum order requirements or minimum advertised pricing (MAP)
- You made a typo — it happens!
- You’ve moved your brick-and-mortar location or changed the primary contact
Work with a line sheet template and you can customize the original layout and also dip back in weeks or even months in the future to make speedy alterations.That kind of flexibility can help you save face and underscore your brand’s reliability, two things that are practically priceless.
- Linesheets Make You Easy to Work With
It’s human nature to take the path of least resistance. If buyers have to choose between the brand that comes across as organized, accurate and prepared versus one that seems scattered, undependable and unprofessional, guess which one they’re going to pick?
Without a line sheet, you’re just a company that wants to make a sale. The lack of clear-cut, elegantly displayed information puts the burden on buyers to understand what you’re selling and then try to recall that information later. It’s frustrating, it’s exhausting and it’s a recipe for failure.
Learn how to create a linesheet that makes an impact. Organize your information in a way that makes sense. Include the important information and leave out anything and everything that could cloud your message. Look at it from a buyer’s point of view and imagine what you would want to see.
- Does that stylized image of your new “boyfriend shirt” show the garment in its best light?
- Is it easy to understand shipping policies?
- Did you include enough white space or is the page so busy it’s next to impossible to locate key details?
- Is your contact information included to nix the need to Google a website address or phone number?
In short, learn how a linesheet can make a buyer’s life easier and construct a sales sheet that ticks those boxes.
- Surprise! You Can Use Them In-House, Too
Much of the functionality of a phenomenal line sheet is geared toward pleading your case to buyers, and rightfully so. But that’s not the only way you can use your dazzling creations.
The layout and information are ideal for team members who could benefit from having critical data at their fingertips. While digital databases are more comprehensive, it takes time to look up a SKU and sift through a laundry list of specs to find certain details
Hand out a linesheet to your employees to serve as a one-page reference tool they can post on the cubicle wall or sit by the phone as they answer client calls. This ensures everyone from your sales reps to your front desk staff is on the same page and has the exact same product specs as your customers.
If there’s confusion about which products are included in a pre-summer sale, make a linesheet that only includes sale items. If you want to concentrate on training employees in the fine art of upselling, you could create mini collections of coordinating furniture pieces so reps can mention specific products clients might like to purchase together.
As educational tools, sales devices and marketing apparatus, line sheets amplify entrepreneurial functionality and make it easier for business owners to connect and convert.Just what your bank account ordered.
Author Information Blurb
Alexis Kelly is a jewelry designer and the CEO & Co-Founder of Linesheets, a web-based app that automates line sheet creation using templates as a stress-free starting point. Her mission is to make it easy for fellow entrepreneurs to create line sheets from scratch without relaying on pricey graphic designers or wasting time learning cumbersome design software. XXXpersonal detail??XXX