Sales letter basics

Follow these sales letter basics to maximise your chances of success.

The letter is usually the first thing that your prospect will read, even in you accompany it with a brochure.  You need to make it relevant.

Know your customers If you don’t understand your customers, their needs and anxieties you cannot know which buttons to press and can expect a minimal response.

Reread and re-edit Never send your first draft.  Always leave it for at least an hour, preferably a day to get some distance from it.  I guarantee you will find something that doesn’t quite work for you to change.  Ask others to do the same and take their feedback on board.

Write as you speak Don’t try to be too formal or you will appear unapproachable and stilted.  Use a conversational tone and keep sentences short.  Avoid long, unnecessary words and industry jargon.

Use the “active” not the “passive” You will get a better response if you are clear on what you want your prospect to do.  Saying “call us now on…” will be more action-oriented than “we await your call on…”.

Write a long letter Research suggests that longer copy in business to business marketing works best.  Stick to a single page if you can or if not two pages but space the text out properly and have a logical flow.  Readers Digest were one of the first to embrace long letters and their results showed these as much more responsive consumer mailings than short letters.

Make it easy on the eye Don’t crowd or jam text into every inch of white space on your letter or email.  Break it up by using paragraphs, bullets and numbers.

Beware of humour What you find funny isn’t necessarily what everyone else will.  They may not get it or worse, be offended by your attempt at humour.

Use AIDA Every communication should follow the AIDA principles.  Grab your readers ATTENTION, stimulate INTEREST in your product, convert this interest to a DESIRE and finally, convince them to take ACTION.  If your sales letter doesn’t have these 4 elements – in the right order – it is not as effective as it could be.

Get to the point Most people will only read the headline and the first couple of lines.  If you haven’t told the reader what you have to offer within 50 words, you face losing them.

Sell the benefits not the features You may be proud of the technology, flexibility, market trials etc behind your product but your reader isn’t.  They simply want to know what’s in it for them.

Offer something for free Preferably free and with no obligation.  Maybe information, a quotation, a newsletter, a seminar etc.  Make it relevant but make it clear that its free with no risk or obligation.

Include a guarantee If you can do this it adds credibility to your offer.  If you can’t guarantee a product, offer a guarantee of your service, price or delivery.   A guarantee may just convince the more skeptical.

Include testimonials Let other satisfied customers sing your praises.  Make sure they are relevant for the product or service you are selling and take an extract from one of your clients testimonials if necessary – but make sure you get their permission first.

Ask for business Make sure you finish your letter with a clear call to action.

Set a deadline You increase your chances of response as if there is no deadline there is no urgency to act – you can also offer a further benefit if they reply by a certain date.

Make it easy Make it as easy as possible for them to get in touch with you.  Always make sure you have a range of methods available like office number, mobile number, email address, website for more information and if you have one your blog address.

Sign the letter Never send out mass produced computer generated signature letters or have them PP’d by someone else if you are sending “personal” sales letters.  OK if you are sending out a few thousand but actually if you’re sending out 100 you can sign them in less than 30 minutes.

Include a PS Many people read the PS before anything else.  You should restate your offer and / or put in a call to action.

If you would like help developing your own sales material please get in touch.

About Marie

I started Elite Edge 12 years ago and I am still as passionate about marketing today as I was then - probably more so because I consider myself very lucky to do a job that I love every day! My area of specialism is strategic planning but like most people these days, I wear many other hats too!
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