Communicating Your Product & Company: Marketing Materials
Marketing materials provide the essential information about your products, your organization and how you do business. Good marketing materials will help your buyer place an order or initiate a relationship with you quickly and easily.
Marketing materials do not have to be expensive, but they should provide complete information to be seen as professional. Marketing materials include a price list, terms sheet, a catalogue or images of products, and a company profile.
Recommendation: Print these four documents separately. Price lists and catalogues tend to change more frequently than terms and company profiles. Also, you may find that your prices change or you want to quote different prices for different types of buyers. By keeping the price list separate from the catalogue, you can change the price list without reprinting the catalogue. Marketing materials should be in the language of your target market.
A price list communicates detailed information about your products and how to order them. The following is a checklist for price lists:
- product code – a letter or number code distinct to each item
- product name & description – include material, color, motif, etc
- product size – note whether in inches or centimeter/metric units
- price -indicate the unit, for example if it is per item, for set of 6, etc
- currency – most buyers look for prices in US$ or Euros; if you quote in your currency, it is helpful to list an exchange rate with the date of the rate quote
- price terms – ex-factory, FOB, CIF or landed and the location
- minimum quantities per item (if applicable)
- note how products are packaged & labeled (particularly if they are packaged in sets, or a certain number of units per shipping carton)
- organization’s logo
- organization name
- organization contact information – address, telephone, fax, email, skype
- contact person for export orders – including that person’s email, telephone or skype
- date – when price list was printed
- duration of prices – usually 6 months
Be sure to list the name of the person who handles export sales inquiries. Buyers like to write to a specific person with a personalized email address rather than sending an email to a general company email. For example, a buyer would rather send an email to Mr. John Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org than send an email to Dear Sir or Madame at email@example.com.
Also, remember to date your prices lists and indicate the duration of those prices, for example, “June 2008. Prices valid for six months.” This helps you avoid misunderstandings with your buyers who find old price lists and expect those prices to be valid.
A terms sheet communicates how your company does business and the requirements of export orders. A terms sheet will include the following information:
- minimum for export order – a price list indicates the minimum quantity per item and the terms sheet indicates the minimum overall value of an export orders; it is usually indicated in currency, for example, “$2,500 minimum order”
- production lead time – the time between receiving a purchase order and shipping the order; these times are difficult to quote because they depend on the size and composition of the order; however, it is helpful to give an estimated lead time on average minimum orders, for example “6-8 week lead time for $2,5000 minimum orders”
- payment terms – terms might include, “payment on delivery”, “net 30 terms”, “deposit required, balance due on receipt”, or “terms negotiable”
- payment methods – international wire transfer, PayPal, credit cards, letter of credit, etc
- shipping options – list the different shipping options you use, such as, “FedEx for samples, orders shipped by airfreight and sea”, or “sea container shipping only”
- shipping costs – some buyers like to know the approximate costs of shipping a 20-foot and 40-foot container to a major international port, such as Miami, FL or New York, NY and approximate air freight rates for minimum volumes
- product development policy – if your organization has a product development policy, it is helpful to state it here, such as “custom product development available; all samples to be paid by buyer at twice normal FOB price; 6 week lead-time for custom designs”
- packaging and labeling resources – indicate the type of packing materials you use and any custom labeling resources you have available, for an additional cost to the buyer, of course
- “references available on request” – some new buyers like to check out your references to better understand your performance as a supplier; if you have a few customers or colleagues who can attest to your export abilities you can offer them to new customers, only upon their request, and only with the consent of the existing customer
- organization name
- organization contact information (address, telephone, fax, email, Skype)
- contact person for export orders (name, email, telephone)
- you may also want to list the president or owner of the company
- business affiliations and memberships (member of local chamber of commerce, member of IFAT/WFTO, etc)
- company’s mission statement
- company logo
A catalogue shows your product lines and collections with photos. The goal and content of catalogues vary based on your target customer. Retail customers want to see images of all items in a product line or collection. They will be also be interested in seeing some detail photos illustrating techniques and materials. Wholesale customers are less interested in seeing every item in a product line or collection; they want to know what product categories, materials, techniques and motifs are available with a supplier. Wholesalers will often use this information on capabilities and capacities to develop their own custom designs.
A catalogue can take many formats. A catalogue can be a full-color multi-page printed catalogue. A catalogue can also be a website or online catalogue. A catalogue can be a series of digital photos. A collection of postcards can also be a catalogue. A catalogue can be put on a CD. If using a CD, be sure to package the CD in clever packaging or labeling with images of products to remind buyers of your company (otherwise CD’s tend to get lost on desks).
Catalogues, no matter what format, should include the following information:
- images of products
- product codes (so that buyers can reference the price lists for pricing information, sizing, etc)
- product name
- a brief description of each product line or collection
- organization name
- organization contact information
- contact person for export orders
Tip: Good quality photos are important! Invest the time and money into a good quality digital camera and learn how to take product photos. Use an appropriate background, include objects that give reference to the products’ scale, insure that the lighting shows off the detail of the products. Good quality photos can make the difference in whether a product sells or not.
A company profile is your opportunity to tell your customers about your company, how your company began, what your mission is, where you work, the ethics of your business, how products are developed, etc. The information in a company profile helps your customer sell your products – it provides the story behind the products. Your customer may use the information from your company profile in their own marketing materials or they may use it to educate their own staff in who makes the products and how they were developed.
There is no check-list of information to include in a company profile but the following is a list of things buyers are generally interested in:
- how long have you been in business
- why you started your business
- what is the mission of your business
- where are the products made – give some idea of the people who make them, where they live, what are their traditions
- what techniques are used in your products, are they unique to your country or region
- what is the inspiration for the designs and motifs, what is the history of those designs and motifs
- what is the environmental impact of your products and production
- what is the social responsibility of your company
- what is your experience in exporting – to what countries, what types of customers
- what organizations are you affiliated with and why