Put Your Marketing Materials to the SUD Test

If your webpages and sell sheets aren’t Substantive, Updated and Differentiated, you’re missing opportunities to sell.

I’ll tell you a little secret: prospects really do need, and want, you to sell to them.

Companies picking ecommerce fulfillment providers, shippers deciding on their next TMS and importers figuring out the best way to move their cargo—they all need to know what your company can do for them and why you’re the best option for them. 

They need that. So give it to them. 

Everyone’s talking about content these days—from videos and e-books to blogs and white papers—but it’s not the content that does the selling. 

That’s the job of marketing materials like these:

  • Web pages for services, solutions provided, technology offerings
  • Sell sheets for services like transportation or ecommerce fulfillment
  • Solutions sheets addressing verticals like fashion, electronics or food & beverage
  • Topical literature like a digital or printed brochure describing sustainability initiatives
  • Capabilities brochures for trade shows, press kits and follow-ups
  • Email marketing, including drip campaigns and e-newsletters
  • Ads for digital and the occasional print ad that comes around

Don’t get me wrong: providing prospects with insightful, informative content in the form of blogs, e-books, case studies and more is critical in the transportation and logistics space. It’s how companies attract prospects, gain search traffic, establish credibility, create connections and more.


In the hustle to fill pipeline and gain search and woo prospects with valuable information, I’m wondering if companies’ copywriting on things like web pages, sell sheets, brochures, emails and ads is being neglected.

Who’s minding the store when it comes to selling? I’m not sure these things are getting all the attention they deserve. 

One way or another, the materials that sell your company, its services and its solutions need to be well-written. And whoever is doing the writing needs to apply the time and the skill to doing it right. Whether that’s the marketers in your organization, your in-house writers or your interns who are doing the writing isn’t the important thing. Making sure these important materials are working as hard as possible for you is. 

How do you know if your marketing materials are working as hard as they should be? Do an SUD test by asking if they are Substantive, Updated and Differentiated. 

If your marketing materials fall short on the SUD test, your team may be giving them short shrift, and it’s time for a rewrite or refresh. 

Is it substantive?

Are you providing the information a prospect needs or assuming they’ll fill in certain blanks? Prospects have a mental checklist of what they need in a service provider. They use it to qualify and compare your company to others. For example, their list might contain warehousing, ecommerce fulfillment services, national distribution, consolidation capabilities or value-added services. 

If you sell it, say it. 

Next, don’t just be a checklist. Explain what makes your offerings superior and unique. To be scannable is one thing; to provide no substance is a sin. Prospects are reading your materials because they want information—give them generous, juicy details. 

Is It Updated?

If you’re growing and adding services or vertical specialties, your materials need to reflect your current state. Supply chain is changing fast and your services and solutions are probably changing just as quickly. You want to emphasize services that address the greatest demand and future opportunities. Some examples are D2C fulfillment services, technology that provides supply chain visibility, and programs supporting supply chain resilience. 

Prioritize updating or creating materials to highlight hot offerings. Don’t assume your market’s perception of you has evolved and that they know all the new strengths your company has added. Even long-term clients and colleagues can be in the dark about your new warehouses or investments in a WMS or automation. 

Is It Differentiated?

This last criteria is the hardest to fulfill for harried inhouse writers with a full plate of content needs or busy marketers who are stretching to fill all the gaps in their marketing materials. 

The reason? Just getting projects done is hard enough. Making them different, finding unique features and highlighting insightful benefits is a creative exercise. 

It’s easier to create a sell sheet for your LTL offering when the criteria is that it just has to be on par your competitors’ sell sheet. It’s harder when the criteria is highlighting how your company does it, how it’s totally unique and how the benefit is so much better. 

It’s competitive out there today. You have to stand out to be noticed, remembered and chosen. That takes messaging that leaves a special impression or inspires a prospect to decide they must talk to you. 

And writing like that takes time and effort, even for people like me who have been doing it a long time. 

Is It on Your Radar?

Now’s the time to emphasize Substantive, Updated and Differentiated writing in your foundational marketing materials while 2023 is still young. Let me know if you need help. Happy to SUD-test your materials and share my views.