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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

Developing a sales aid

The new iPad presentation won’t pass muster if the content and messages aren’t right. Prepare an effective sales aid…  by referring to these seven all-important steps.

In all the justified excitement surrounding the new digital era and the desire to send your sales force out there with a shiny new iPad, it's easy to forget that the technology is only the messenger – it's not the message.

Despite the apparent headlong rush towards new technology, there remains an ongoing requirement for coherent, focused sales materials, and after spending most of the past 30 years either using them or writing them, I've learned that the rules really haven't changed in terms of creating an effective sales aid.

So even if you don't write the sales aid yourself, these are the important points that you should expect your agency to pay attention to.

1. WHAT'S THE CORE CAMPAIGN CONCEPT AND HOW DO YOU ADAPT IT TO A SALES AID?

Sometimes the most striking campaign messages/images look a bit too aggressive for the sales aid and that's when you need to look beyond the creative concept and work instead on basic brand promise (which, of course, the concept would have been built on anyway). Let's say you are using a shark to represent hidden danger to a patient: littering your sales aid with images of sharks runs the risk of making your brand look dangerous, so you have to tread carefully.

2. WHAT'S THE STORY?

Every good sales call consists of a story – you could almost think of it as constructing a joke: set up; detail, punchline. Every good story has a flow to it – so make sure there is a logical flow with linked headlines on the pages and spreads. Do this even if you think your representatives are going to cherry-pick the pages, because it ensures that you have captured the brand promise in full.

3. BE SELECTIVE WITH YOUR DATA

You are the brand champion so you know your data intimately – but that can lead to a tendency to pack it all in, no matter how cramped everything becomes. You and your agency need to be disciplined and ONLY use the data that best supports your arguments. 

4. ILLUSTRATE YOUR DATA INVENTIVELY

It doesn't have to be a bar chart! So expect your agency to try new things. But having said that, creativity for its own sake is pointless if it obscures the meaning of the data. If you have statistically significant data then shout it loud, especially if it's highly significant: that is real evidence that your brand works or is 'safe'.

5. GIVE ROOM FOR MESSAGES TO BREATHE

There isn't a creative director in the world who doesn't know the importance of space – so listen to his advice. That doesn't mean it has to be illegible 6 point copy in an ocean of white – there is always a reasonable compromise.

6. FINALLY, MAKE IT LOOK NICE

Spend time, effort and yes, money, on making it look good. Your representative is far more likely to pull it out of the bag if he is keen to show it to their customer, ie it reflects his own professionalism.

7. FINALLY, IF IT'S FOR AN iPad – LOOK FOR CREATIVITY, BUT DON'T OVERDO IT

When writing for an iPad app, I make sure that we get the best out of the functionality (moving charts, talking heads etc.) but always with an eye on avoiding gimmickry. Make sure your agency gets the balance right.

QUICK CHECKLIST 

Question

Yes

No

Have I used the core campaign concept sensitively and imaginatively?



Does my sales aid tell a good story?



Have I used my data selectively?



Is the data represented clearly, without ambiguity, but with interest?



Does my sales aid look too busy?



Would I be proud to show it to my customers/colleagues/industry peers?



Article by
Neil Dickinson

managing director and head of copy at Dice Medical Communications. He can be contacted at neil@dice-comms.co.uk or on 

+44 (0)1628 400608

19th September 2011

From: Marketing

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