If you are ultra confident, you may just wade straight in there, patting your target on the back and telling them in no uncertain terms why they need to know you. However, quite often the most effective way is to simply hold out your hand and quietly introduce yourself.
The same analogy is just as relevant when introducing yourselves to your customers. Introductory sales letters offer you an important opportunity to present your products or services to your target customers and tell them what your business can do for them. Introductory sales letters often constitute your best opportunity to make a great first impression and it is crucial that you get them right.
Last week I asked 20 business experts to share their opinions on what constitutes great sales letters. I asked:
“Sales letters need to display benefits and build trust in the eyes of the customer. What’s your top tip for writing sales letters that get real results?
Thank you to the 20 experts who took the time to share their great tips with us. I’m sure you will agree, their insights into writing introductory sales letters that get results are extremely interesting and thought provoking.
1. The Old Saying: “Keep It Simple Stupid”
Use as few words as possible (bullet points are great) and include a Call To Action. People generally do not want to read a long email, so place the most important part of your message at the top of the email, and give the reader incentive (such as a coupon) to pick up the phone or visit your website.
Thanks to Mark McKelvey of hiddenequity.com
2. Words! The Next Best Thing To A Face-to-Face
It’s exciting! Words can be where you cannot, day or night. What needs does your company meet for your target audience? With that in mind, write a sales letter that reflects you and your company in a style that is genuine. As if you were “face-to-face,” what would you say about you or your company, service or products?
Build relationship, build trust:
- Write words that show you are accessible and real.
- Meet their needs, in innovative ways.
- Tell what you’ve changed by listening.
Thanks to Judy Dippel of JLD Writes
3. Test Ugly First
Remember that by testing one sales letter against another, you can “genetically engineer” your marketing for ever-increasing success. And when testing one piece against another, remember TUF! (Test Ugly First).
It remains true that very often, the simplest, plainest piece will out-pull the fancy one. In other words, a simple, straight-forward sales letter in one or two colors, set in, say, a Courier font, will often be more effective and profitable than a full color, picture-laden fancy piece.
Thanks to Jim Ackerman of Ascend Marketing, Inc.
4. Study Winning Letters
Every successful direct-response copywriter keeps a swipe file of successful mailings, promotions, and advertisements. With your swipe file all prepared you can easily pull it out and reference it for ideas for winning headlines, offers, call to actions and graphics. It can take time to build your own swipe file, but start clipping magazines and print out ideas from online promotions and you’ll have a great file going in no time.
Thanks to Michael Zipursky of Business Consulting Buzz
5. It Can’t Be About You; It’s About Your Prospect’s Wants And Needs
Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes–focus not on yourself but on how your offering advances their desires or fixes their problems. Understand features versus benefits. Go past the simple benefits to the ultimate ones (efficiency is a simple benefit; enjoying two hours of extra free time per day is an ultimate benefit). I discuss this in detail in several of my books, especially Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green and Grassroots Marketing: Getting Noticed in a Noisy World (frugalmarketing.com).
Thanks to Shel Horowitz of Green And Profitable
6. Writing Sales Letters That Get Results
Size Doesn’t Matter
Sometimes a one page letter is perfect, other times a 3-4 page letter is required. It depends on price, the product, and the customers – not the size.
Multiple Ways to Say Yes
We all want our sales letter to sell, that’s the big YES. However, small yeses can help place your prospect in your sales funnel.
A little yes could mean a free dvd, gift, or report. This allows you to build the relationship with the customer
Thanks to Bert Martinez of Bert Martinez Communications
7. Sell The Solution
My top tip for any marketing materials, including sales letters, is to sell the solution. Customers don’t care how shiny, fast or cheap a product or service is. They only care how shiny, fast or cheap will make their lives better. The most common example used to illustrate this point is the person who goes to the store to buy a drill. His goal isn’t the drill, but the hole he hopes to make with the drill. The salesman that sells the hole, will do better than the salesman that focuses on the drill.
Thanks to Leslie Truex of Make The Connection Marketing
8. Keep Sales Letters Conversational
Too many people try to sound smarter than they really are when writing a sales letter. Their language is stilted and they pull out a thesaurus to find “impressive” words. Keeping the letter conversational is much more effective. Use short sentences and simple words. Don’t be stickler for the rules of grammar. And don’t try to make too many points in a single letter – you’ll only confuse the reader.
Thanks to Bill McDonough of Scribendi Advertising & PR
9. Know Your Generational Speak
In today’s multi-generational market, understanding which customer segment you are communicating to is vital. Matures, Boomers, Gen X and Millenials have different wants, needs and expectations from companies. You will not get the results you want if you expect everyone to respond to the same language, style, design and platform.
Thanks to Eileen Batson of Batson Group Marketing And PR
10. Know The Customer’s Problem!
Address the problem first. Always start the letter addressing the problem that your company is going to solve, then build from there, and focus on the benefits of your product or service and how you can solve their problem.
Read more: Features versus benefits
Thanks to Christine Parizo of Christine Parizo Communications
11. How To Start Writing Sales Letters That Work!
First and foremost, you need to know the audience you are writing to. If you are writing to gardeners, you better know something about gardening so you can put yourself in their shoes, and you know how present your product as it would relate to them.
Then follow the AIDCA formula for writing the letter. Most people know this as the AIDA formula. I added the C.
A – Get Attention
I – Arouse Interest
D – Stimulate Desire
C – Build Confidence
A – Ask for Action
And remember ‘Believability!’
Thanks to John Schulte of National Mail Order Association, NMOA
12. Make It Risk Free To Improve Response
Today, you must remove risk. An over-sized postcard designed to increase sales showed dogs playing with cats. The piece went to businesses; the first person to see it would be probably be female, hence the catchy picture. Our message emphasized a risk-reducing triple money-back guarantee. A letter designed to increase sales leads featured a free survey, free installation, money-back gaurantee and a 3-year no price increase. The result? Over 150% increase in responses in both offers.
Thanks to Pete Peterson of National Assoc. Sales Consultants & Coaches
13. Connect With Your Customers
The most successful sales letters make the potential customer feel as if youre writing personally to them. Consumers are smart – they can smell lifeless sales copy a mile away. Sending an impersonal letter is guaranteed to land your letter in the garbage. Don’t lead in with your company’s information. Keep it simple and introduce yourself as an individual first, and try to relate to them and their situation. Explain your benefit to them. If you can’t do this, hire a good copywriter.
Thanks to Jane Rosalie Kaiser of EPublish Copywriting
14. Address Your Customer’s Pain Points
I’m the Marketing & PR Director for MANCOMM, a safety and compliance publisher. In our sales messages I make it a point to start each letter by addressing the “pain points” of our customers — this is a technique stressed by our founder, Benjamin Mangan. We all have aspects of our jobs that are difficult or tiresome: those are the pain points. So in our letters I address how our products can help our customers to overcome their personal pain points. That’s helpful info for them to know!
Thanks to Mark McLaughlin of MANCOMM
15. Find Your Authentic Voice
Far too often, when writing our sales letters and copy we try to model (or copy) what others – the “experts”- have done before us. But sadly, what works for them doesn’t always work for us. I’ve found that to write effective copy and sales letters I need to find my own authentic voice. It needs to sound as if you and I were casually chatting about something…like we actually already know, like and trust each other. And that can’t happen when my “voice” is coming from someone else’s words.
Thanks to Katy Tafoya of Success For Solopreneurs
16. Relevance And Timing Are Key
You need to understand what your potential client’s business is, and how your service/product can fill a void they are lacking in. Most importantly, you need to do front end research before your initial contact, because identifying their need and knowing exactly how you can help them is your way in the door. If you don’t personalize it, state specific areas where you can assist them, your letter will get dropped in the circular filing cabinet.
Thanks to Tim Tilson
17. Super Simple Formula For Sales Letter Success
Always approach all sales letter projects from a place of service and offering solutions. Knowing the formula for creating a sales letter will help you connect with your ideal client. There are three main points of focus you must include:
- Your hook
- The benefits to your prospect
- A call to action.
Regardless of the length of your copy, you can incorporate the basic formula to ensure you’re providing all the information your customers need to make a sound decision about investing in your products and services. There are also specific sections of copy that are the most read. The first thing the majority of readers absorb is your headline. So, you’ll want to make that punchy and customer-centric. The second most read portion of copy is your P.S. So, make sure you include the details of your offer to capture the scanners. Finally, the third most read portion of copy is the captions under pictures. Always remember that your prospects want to know “what’s in it for me”. So deliver solid value and tangible proof that what you are offering is what they’re looking for.
Thanks to Lisa Manyon of www.writeoncreative.com
18. Salesmanship In Print – The Easiest Way To Write A Million Dollar Salesletter
The best tip I can give anyone about writing a sales letter is to record and transcribe the sales presentation of the BEST salesperson you can find for the product or service. Once you have the sales presentation recorded, you simply use the transcription as the basis for your letter. DO NOT change any of the substance of the presentation, just do what you need to do to make it look like a letter and add graphic enhancements as to not bore the prospect to death!
If you can’t find a really top flight salesperson who is selling your product or service, record someone selling a similar product or service to the same market. For example, someone selling kitchen remodels can record someone selling top tier customer closet shelving packages, like California Closets. Once you have the presentation, you need to review it and figure out what the hot buttons are and how you can use them in you sales letter. This is a bit more tricky, but it still gives you a powerful tool to maximize your chances of having the best sales letter possible!
Thanks to Everte Farnell of RJG Publishing, Inc
19. Tips For Writing Sales Letters
The biggest mistake that most people make with sales letters is not personalizing it. A sales letter should be addressed to the person with some type of personal touch, i.e. “Thank you for your time on the phone. I hope you were able to finish the project you were working on. It sounded like you would do great with it. To recap what we discussed…” This addresses the person and thanks them for their time which will hold their attention. It personalizes it to remind them of your discussion.
Thanks to Rob Bedell of Bedell Media & Consulting
20. Do Your Homework!
I think the most important thing is to show that you have a valid business reason for reaching out. The ‘form letter’ just doesn’t work. That says – you are not important to me. I am only trying to complete a sale for MY reasons. Instead, you need to show that you’ve done some research and customize every single letter. For example “I know your company recently launched a new product line and I have a way to help you promote it.” Something that tells the reader – I know about your company and have a specific idea that could help you.
Thanks to Amy Creel of Smart Mom LLC
If you could benefit from a little help formulating an introductory sales letter that gets results, check out our business proofreading services now.