Writing - Sales-Letter Magic: 10 Tips for Writing Letters That Sell : MarketingProfs Article

Sales-Letter Magic: 10 Tips for Writing Letters That Sell

Published on April 7, 2011    
In this article, you'll learn...
  • 10 ways to knock 'em dead with your sales letter
  • Common pitfalls to avoid when crafting your next sales letter

Sales letters are powerful selling tools. They give you a simple, direct way to generate sales leads and orders. 

But for many businesspeople, they present a daunting writing challenge and a host of questions to consider. How do you start a letter? When should you present your offer? 

How long should the letter be?

I've been writing successful direct mail, including sales letters, for many years. And I've learned that writing a letter is like building a house. You must go step by step and put every element in the right place.

Here are 10 tips for building your own successful sales letter.

1. Consider headlines and photos

If you want your letter to appear businesslike or highly personal, I suggest that you not use a headline or graphics. However, many types of sales letters can benefit from either or both.

I often use those items for straightforward consumer mail. In a newsletter subscription offer, for example, I showed a large photo of the newsletter at the top left of page one, with a bold benefit headline on the right side. I also included a reference to the offer and a call to action.

These techniques liven up the letter, draw the eye, telegraph the offer and the main benefit, and push the letter text to the lower half of the page, making it shorter and easier to read. If you can get someone to start reading a letter, you've won half the battle.

2. Use a fitting salutation

If your budget allows, go for personalization. Any letter I receive that starts with "Dear Dean Rieck" is far more likely to get read than one with a generic salutation.

But if you can't personalize, use a salutation that connects with the reader as closely as possible in the context of your list, offer, and product. "Dear Cat Lover" for cat owners, for example.

If you're mailing to a business audience, you can use the recipient's occupational or professional title, such as "Dear Family Doctor" or "Dear Marketing Manager." If nothing else, "Dear Friend" is usually a safe bet.

3. Start your letter strong

Writing Sales Letters is Fun :-)
There are infinite ways to begin. However, I generally try to create something that's short, attention-grabbing, and maybe even a little startling. Here's an example from a letter I wrote to sell a home-buying book:

Dear Friend,
I could just kick myself!
A couple years ago, my wife and I bought a new home. After we moved in, our neighbor asked us over for coffee.

What a shock! He had the same house design, but it was full of all the extras we couldn't afford—like a fireplace, panel doors, tile, oak cabinets. It was stunning.

When I asked how much it cost, he smiled. "Nothing. I knew how to get the extras added on free." And it was so simple, I could have done it, too. If I had only known the secret!

Notice how punchy and intriguing the first line is, and how the copy plunges right into the meat of the sales pitch with a story chockfull of specifics.

Of course, a letter opening doesn't have to be this involved. Sometimes it's best to get right to the point, as I did in a business-to-business lead generation letter:

Dear John Doe,
      I have a FREE Demo CD you should see. May I send it to you?
      It demonstrates (the product) and how dozens of leading companies are using it to revolutionize the way they work.

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Writing - Sales-Letter Magic: 10 Tips for Writing Letters That Sell : MarketingProfs Article

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