There inevitably comes a time in every client interaction in which we recommend that they create a fact sheet, also known as an information paper or white paper. The fact sheet is one of the most simple, effective pieces of corporate communication. Why? Here are five good reasons.
(1) Fact sheets are short. The rule of thumb is to keep a fact sheet to one page. One page is all you need to communicate the key messages about your company or one of your company’s products, services or issues. One page is also all that people will read. No one has the time or wants to read long content. If your fact sheet is bleeding over to two pages, revise it and revise it again until it’s one page. Take out all unnecessary points and words. If you’re finding it impossible to get your fact sheet to one page, chances are good that you need another fact sheet to tackle a portion of the information. Whatever you do, don’t make the font miniscule to pare down the text.
(2) Fact sheets are easy-to-read. Fact sheets are formatted like websites with tabs or books with chapters. They have headers so readers can glance at them to find the information they want and skip what they already know or don’t want. The key is deciding which headers are the most important ones for your business. If the fact sheet is for an event, you’ll need to include the overview of the event; the time, date and place; purpose; and who to contact to get tickets. If it’s for an issue or project, you’ll need to think about the most frequently asked questions you receive from your publics so you can answer them on one sheet.
(3) Fact sheets are to-the-point. They make you boil down your key points into the most pertinent facts. Many of our clients, especially those in technical industries or those facing complex or controversial issues, feel the need to explain their situations and reasoning in great detail to the general public. While there is a place for detailed information, it’s usually best reserved for niched target publics, in other words, those who need to know. Details are also best conveyed in small, digestible chunks. They provide the essential truths and the direction necessary for people to dig deeper if they wish.
(4) Fact sheets are cheap. Fact sheets can be printed on your company letterhead; copied in black and white; and distributed as necessary. They’re not fancy pieces. Better yet, they can be revised anytime and then reprinted as needed. You can also offer a paperless option, which is entirely free. Just pdf the document and then post it on your website for people to download.
(5) Fact sheets save time. As we mentioned above, when you’re deciding what headers to include on your fact sheet, think about the most frequently asked questions people have about your products, services, or issues. If you can answer them concisely and well, you can be proactive by directing target publics to your fact sheet and avoid having to answer the same questions over and over again.