Michael Adams Green Mountain Mustard and Gredio

Michael Adams, Owner
Green Mountain Mustard & Gredio

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How to Make a Sell Sheet for Your Food Business

How to Make a Sell Sheet for Your Food Business

Want to impress buyers and land more retail accounts?

Ding-ding-ding! Every food business wants to do that. And it starts with sell sheets. Sell sheets are the advertising of the specialty food industry. They show off your product, provide ordering information, and often are the first thing to cross a buyer’s desk (hopefully with samples).

But creating an awesome sell sheet isn’t easy.

There’s so much to cram on there, it’s hard to make it look pretty and communicate what your brand is all about. Plus, awesome sell sheets tend to be designed by expensive branding agencies. And as a small food business, you don’t have the money to pay a designer.

That means you probably need to go the do-it-yourself route: Make your own sell sheet. And that’s what this blog post is attempting to accomplish. Here’s what you’ll learn:

  1. What goes on a sell sheet?
  2. 5 great examples of sell sheets
  3. How do I design a good sell sheet?

Ready to learn how to make a sell sheet for your food business? Let’s get started with what actually goes on a sell sheet.

What should be on a sell sheet?

There are certain things that should go on a sell sheet. Below you’ll find a list of ten suggested parts of your sell sheet.

What should go on a sell sheet?

1.Contact information
I’ll start with the obvious. Add your name, address, phone number, email (and fax if you have it) to your sell sheet. And don’t just include a business card – those get lost. Having your contact information in more than one place assures the buyer they’ll be able to find it.

2. Big “money-shot” picture
Think about what draws you in to look at something – it’s the visuals. And the same is true with your sell sheet. Have product photography at the ready so you have some variety in what picture you’re going to choose. In the examples below, you’ll notice how beautiful photography plays a key role in selling.

3. Your product line
How many products do you have? While you don’t have to go into detail for each product, list your different varieties – and note your most popular products. If buyers have to limit the number of SKUs they bring in, they want to know what’s going to move best. Note buzz-words, too, like gluten-free, dairy-free, etc.

4. UPC’s (if you have room)
Why put ugly barcodes on your sell sheet? If you’re products get accepted, the buyer needs these to add to their inventory system. An alternative is to list the UPC codes in a table – that way you have more room for everything else on this list.

5. Customer testimonials
Customers LOVE your product. Retailers want to see that their customers will, too. Testimonials are powerful tools to show buyers your product is tops in the market. 2-3 is a good number – you don’t want to go overboard!

6. List of distributors
How are retailers going to get your product? Sure, you may deliver directly to retailers, but sometimes it’s easier for buyers to order everything through one distributor.

7. Ordering details
Do you have order minimums? Do you ship? What about mixing cases? If you answer all these questions on your sell sheet, you’ll be closer to getting an order because the buyer won’t have to clarify anything with you.

8. What makes you different
This should be higher on the list, but what you’re ultimately trying to do is convince the buyer that your jam (or mustard, brownies, etc) are better than other products. Do you have a unique story? Are your ingredients local? What about your flavors – are they like nothing ever seen before?

9. Pricing
Another obvious one. List your pricing – by unit and case. Don’t hide it or make the buyer call. And make sure to have separate distributor and wholesale pricing (but don’t list them on the same sell sheet).

10. Your story
Food is all about the people who make it – what’s your story? Sure, you may not be a 15-year-old kid or an aspiring chef, but everyone has a story. Make it come through on your sell sheet.

And it’s as simple as that. While some of this is optional (I don’t include everything here on my sell sheet for Green Mountain Mustard), feel free to customize your company’s sell sheet to your needs.

So, what’s next. Well, I figured I’d give you a few examples of well-designed sell sheets. Let’s look at five I’ve come across on my foodie travels (including mine!).

What do great sell sheets look like?

1. Green Mountain Mustard (yep – this is mine!)
2. Kayem Brats Grilling Sausage (bold design – great branding)
3. Classic Salads (awesome example of how to display a big product line)
4. TrueBar (lacks some information, but great hero-image)
5. Grandmother’s Food (sometimes, simple is better)

Aren’t these great sell sheets? I tried to showcase different products and strategies used to make these sell sheets pop. Now, you’re probably wondering: “How do I make my sell sheet amazing?” It just so happens I’ve got a couple tips for you.

Design a beautiful sell sheet for your food business

Want to get a beautiful sell sheet for your food business? You’ll find a few tips below!

How do you get a great-looking sell sheet?

1. Use a template
A lot of food businesses try to scrap together a sell sheet in Microsoft Word and it almost never comes out the way you want it to. That’s why I suggest using a template. Look around GraphicRiver and StockLayouts for inspiration.

2. Take great photography
Seems to always end up that great photography sells everything. Simply put, it does. If you’re not a pro at food photography, here are a couple of sites and eBooks that may help you out. Or, get the professionals to do it!

Tasty Food Photography
An Introduction to Food Photography

3. Have a plan
Open up Microsoft Word or Photoshop and all you see is a blank screen. Well, clearly that’s not going to help you! Instead, grab a sketch pad and draw out what you want your sell sheet to look like. See what photos and text you need and fill in where necessary. Sketch a couple of ideas out. That way when you go to create your sell sheet, you have a few options to choose from.

4. Don’t be afraid to call in the pros
Do-it-yourself sell sheets aren’t easy. And some people are just better at making food than trying to make a sell sheet work. That’s when you may want to consider bringing in a professional designer to help you create the look you want. Here are a few resources to find a freelance designer:

– Your local high school or college design department (cool class project)

Sell sheets are your most important asset when trying to land new retail accounts. And getting a beautiful sell sheet is tough because there are so many working parts. Hopefully with these tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating your first sell sheet.

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34 Comments on this post

  1. AUTHORLinda Fazio

    on September 26, 2013 at 12:33 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the aritcle. I have a sell sheet, but I can see where I could make some improvements. In the business for 3 years, trying to take our product line national this year with a National Sales Director.

    • AUTHORmichael

      on September 30, 2013 at 7:37 pm - Reply

      That’s fantastic, Linda! I checked out your products – they look great! How is it going with your national sales director?

  2. AUTHORFood Allergy Gal

    on September 30, 2013 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    I love this article and thank you so much for taking the time to write it, I have also shared it with some of my other clients.

    I would love to speak to you more about wroking together on some possible articles.

    • AUTHORmichael

      on September 30, 2013 at 10:00 pm - Reply

      Hi Lara — glad you enjoyed it and thanks so much for sharing it with your clients! I’ll get in touch via email to talk further.

  3. AUTHORazhar

    on October 1, 2013 at 5:06 am - Reply

    hi – simple and great tips – thanks so much for this, am going to be designing my sell sheet and will keep all this in mind when doing so. Cheers.

    • AUTHORmichael

      on October 1, 2013 at 8:19 pm - Reply

      Hi Azhar,

      THanks for the comment – let me know how your sell sheet turns out!

  4. AUTHORChuck Fletcher

    on October 1, 2013 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    I have seen an abundance of great looking but non-compelling “sell sheets” in my career that sell nothing other than meet internal beauty contests and “wow” factors. They sell nothing.

    Provide your reason to” be” (on the self) or point of difference (“why to buy”) for the retailer. This must be compelling and factual based on research – not opinion. Think quantitative opposed to qualitative. The question to answering is “how is this product going to increase categories sales”. Do not use too many words – use numbers and promises that are validated.

    I was told many years ago that “I could set on price, the retail or the cost” by a customer. I you include an SRP also include a margin %.

    On the back or at the bottom include the technical information: by UPC >> size, case count, cube, pallet, etc.

    Overall, sell sheets are great to hand out at food shows providing you competitor with information. Nothing can take the place of an on-target, customized, to the point, fact based presentation.

    • AUTHORmichael

      on October 1, 2013 at 8:20 pm - Reply

      Hi Chuck — thanks for the additional tips. I love the one about providing your reason to be on the shelf to the retailer. Maybe presentations and pitches are another topic to write about – that’s a whole other animal!

  5. AUTHORJoy Roxborough

    on October 15, 2013 at 1:34 am - Reply

    I did not like the kayem sell sheet . . . too dull and dark. Yours was great, though, Michael. Light, airy, breezy, fun . . .

  6. AUTHORLavina

    on January 2, 2015 at 12:45 am - Reply

    Happy New Year’s! I am in a specialty online dessert business named Caketails. I’d like to send and/or deliver myself my dessert information to specialty stores around Los Angeles. Any advice on how to make a beautiful one for desserts? I have professional photos as well.
    Thank You,
    Lavina Johnson

    • AUTHORmichael

      on January 8, 2015 at 5:51 pm - Reply

      Hi Lavina,

      I’d keep it simple. A big picture up top with info on your product line below. If you have to make it double-sided then so be it. But, with dessert, you’ve got to be elegant and make it look like your products are worth the premium price.

  7. AUTHORdenise

    on January 21, 2015 at 2:07 am - Reply

    Hi Michael,

    We cannot see your sell sheet. Did you remove it or did
    something happen to the attachment.
    I’m in the process of putting one together and is looking for reference and ideas. It is a daunting task but worth it.

    • AUTHORmichael

      on January 21, 2015 at 2:26 am - Reply

      Whoops! I just updated the link. Here’s a direct link to download it, though. Best of luck creating your own sell sheet, Denise!

  8. AUTHORGabellaminerals

    on April 29, 2016 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    Found your site for sell-sheet advise. I am still adhering to the word option for now and see how that goes. Since it is not a food item, but a Brain Pill called Miraculous Mind; I figured minimalism may work better. Thanks for the tips!

    • AUTHORmichael

      on May 9, 2016 at 6:58 pm - Reply

      Good luck on the design of the spreadsheet!

  9. AUTHORLindsay

    on May 9, 2016 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    Hi, Thanks for the tips! Did you include the unit UPC or the case UPC on your sell sheet?

    • AUTHORmichael

      on May 9, 2016 at 6:50 pm - Reply

      Hi Lindsay,

      Yes — that’s beneficial for retailers because they can just scan your sell sheet and put your codes into their system. Hope that helps! You guys have awesome products! — Michael

      • AUTHORLindsay

        on May 10, 2016 at 5:55 pm - Reply

        Hi, Thanks 🙂 Sorry I realized my question wasn’t clear – looks like you have one UPC on your sheet, is it the unit or the case? (Debating if I need to put both?)

        • AUTHORmichael

          on May 10, 2016 at 5:59 pm - Reply

          Hi Lindsay,

          Sorry – I have just the unit UPC. My Unit UPC also doubles as my case UPC. If it’s different, you should include both if you have the room.

  10. AUTHORLindsay

    on May 12, 2016 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    Thanks for your help!

  11. AUTHORCynthia

    on November 6, 2016 at 4:43 am - Reply

    Thank you for posting this along with the examples!

    • AUTHORmichael

      on November 8, 2016 at 12:35 am - Reply

      Hi Cynthia! You’re welcome. Thanks for stopping by and reading the article. — Michael

  12. AUTHORNahum Jeannot

    on January 17, 2017 at 12:07 am - Reply

    Love your stuff dude. Everything I’ve read from you is spot on- how to price your products for retail, etc. Keep it up

    • AUTHORmichael

      on January 17, 2017 at 1:06 am - Reply

      Hi Nahum — thanks for reading! Glad you’ve gotten a ton of value from the blog! — Michael

  13. AUTHORAisha

    on February 13, 2017 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    Hi Michael, these are some great guidelines. I used them to help create a sell sheet for my products. I am curious about the UPC codes. I haven’t found much in the way of suggestions on how to get them, but I have heard that there is a right way and a wrong way. Any suggestions on UPC sources and how to do it effectively and efficiently (especially cost effectively)?

    • AUTHORmichael

      on February 18, 2017 at 11:46 am - Reply

      Hi Aisha,

      I wrote a post on UPC codes that details both ways to get them. Hope that helps!


  14. AUTHORDana

    on July 20, 2018 at 10:02 pm - Reply

    It’s telling that 3 of the 5 sample sell sheets seem to be out of business five years after publishing this piece. Yikes.

    • AUTHORmichael

      on August 21, 2018 at 12:10 pm - Reply

      Yes, however, some of those companies have probably changed the links to their sell sheets. I guess I should find some updated ones! Thanks for the heads up, Dana!

  15. AUTHORPREP Atlanta

    on October 13, 2018 at 11:25 am - Reply

    Thanks for a great article. I will share this with our small food manufacturers at PREP Cook | Create | Connect

  16. AUTHORTara

    on April 11, 2019 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    This post may be off your radar as it’s been almost 6 years since you wrote it, but only 2 of the 5 sample sheets you linked to are valid anymore. 🙁

    • AUTHORmichael

      on April 16, 2019 at 10:13 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the heads up, Tara — appreciate it!

  17. AUTHORBella Lam

    on August 3, 2019 at 9:17 pm - Reply

    Hey there! Great article! Super helpful!
    Can you clarify on the price sheet part? What do you mean to make sure to not list them on the same sell sheet? On your sell sheet, you didn’t write pricing. Is that on a separate document?


    • AUTHORmichael

      on August 6, 2019 at 11:56 pm - Reply

      Hi Bella,

      Typically I don’t list them because sometimes they change. I usually include a quick price sheet with product info that I staple to the sell sheet.

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