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10 Easy Tips For Better Lighting Product Spec Sheets

10 Easy Tips For Better Lighting Product Spec Sheets


Having created many hundreds of lighting product spec sheets, here are my suggested tips for improving their clarity, design, and completeness:


Always remember that the spec sheet has two purposes. The first is as a document to help sell the product, by highlighting up-front the key features, benefits, differentiation, and overall value proposition of the product family. The second purpose is to provide all of the technical information a potential buyer or specifier needs to make a purchasing / specifying decision. A good spec sheet always achieves both of these goals.


Nobody is going to grind through the detailed technical specs of a product unless they have a reason to. Page 1 MUST give all of the top reasons to care about the product and learn more about it. Page 1 should usually include basics such as clear product image(s), an application image, a family description paragraph framing the overall value proposition for the product, a list of the most important and differentiating features and benefits, a list of the most common applications, and a collection of the certification icons for the family (i.e. safety listing, DLC, IP rating, dimming type, vibration rating, surge protection, warranty term, etc.). I strongly recommend the certification icons be on page 1 as they can help sell the product and confirm it meets minimum requirements, very quickly.

Another benefit of making the first page a sales document is Page 1 can then be used as a stand-alone, 1-page sales brochure, by sales staff and reps. Overall, as with every piece of marketing collateral, what’s most important is being clear, concise, and compelling.


Create a standard template for the company spec sheets. This creates consistency across the brand and actually speeds up the spec sheet creation process as you simply follow the template (where applicable).

One simple way to create the template is to pick a popular representative product and create (or significantly improve an existing spec sheet) for that product. If the work is put in to make it a great spec sheet, it can then become the template for all other products to follow.


It’s not required, but it is a good idea at the template stage to do a quick competitive analysis of three or more top competitors in your particular market. Look at what technical data is provided, what’s emphasized in the marketing side of the document, and the overall look and feel. You don’t have to follow nor copy any of your competitors, but you’ll likely make better decisions if you study and compare what top competitors are doing, and then think creatively about how to be more clear, more concise, and more compelling (and possibly more complete).


Some manufacturers have an internal graphic designer, while others use outsourced graphic design services. Either way is fine, as long as it achieves the desired results. If the overall look and feel of the document is low budget, sloppy, or ugly, it will make your brand look that way and make sales a steep uphill climb. Create attractive, well designed spec sheets because they define your brand and sell more products!


 The question of how long a spec sheet should be is endlessly debated and a tricky issue. Concise is often better, but completeness is also desirable. These two goals should be balanced. In my experience, a simple lighting product without complex controls can often be a 2-3 page spec sheet. Products with complex controls information can quickly become 10 or more pages, which has drawbacks.

If many products rely on the same controls information, pages of controls information may be removed to create a separate document online, and linked to within the spec sheet. This strategy is best if many different spec sheets can link to a single online document. You don’t want 150 separate documents on the web that all require frequent updating and 150 different links.


The majority of lighting products still come from contract manufacturers (factories) in China. This is shifting slowly to places like India, Southeast Asia, and Mexico. Regardless of where the product is made, the factory likely is your only source for technical product information. Some factories provide great technical detail, but many do not. Don’t settle for what the factory provides from the first data request. If some piece of data is important in your market (such as EPA, IP rating, vibration rating, impact rating, etc.), push the factory harder to provide it or the relevant test reports.

If a factory can’t provide good data and quality product images, they are not a good partner. These issues should be taken seriously early in the product development and sourcing process.


Good technical data is often a matter of completeness — providing all of the technical information needed by customers & specifiers. As stated earlier, obsessing over completeness works against conciseness. Work to strike the right balance. The competitive analysis suggested earlier can help show what your competitors believe is a good balance.

The sales staff can assist in providing feedback on what is missing from current spec sheets, which results in frequent additional spec questions. It is easy to use sales staff as the voice of customer experts, and I highly recommend that the more a marketing department does it, the better.


I strongly recommend that no spec sheet be considered final until it is approved (in writing) by both the marketing department AND the product/engineering department. Remember the two purposes of the spec sheet are marketing and engineering related. The marketing department should approve that the spec sheet meets all marketing goals, while the product/engineering department approves the technical accuracy of the data presented. This will make the spec sheets much more accurate, which is important.


Many lighting manufacturers have excellent marketing departments that are over-stretched with dozens of competing and often time-sensitive priorities. Other marketing departments just don’t have the internal experience to create quality spec sheets. In either scenario, bringing in outsourced spec sheet development support can be an excellent solution. It is less expensive than a new hire with associated salary, overhead, and benefit costs. Would you like to discuss your spec sheet challenges and how to improve them? Email me at .



author avatar
David Shiller
David Shiller is the Publisher of LightNOW, and President of Lighting Solution Development, a North American consulting firm providing business development services to advanced lighting manufacturers. The ALA awarded David the Pillar of the Industry Award. David has co-chaired ALA’s Engineering Committee since 2010. David established MaxLite’s OEM component sales into a multi-million dollar division. He invented GU24 lamps while leading ENERGY STAR lighting programs for the US EPA. David has been published in leading lighting publications, including LD+A, enLIGHTenment Magazine, LEDs Magazine, and more.


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