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Five Effective Tips For Writing Successful Sales Letters

Apr 16, 2008
One of the most powerful weapons in any marketer's arsenal is a well-constructed sales letter. It provides the perfect vehicle to drive home your sales presentation, and it allows you to reach thousands and even millions of people all at once.

There are many ways to go about crafting the perfect prose needed to grab and hold the attention of your target market. Here are some tips that you may want to keep in mind.

Tip #1
Your Opening Sentence Or Headline Must Make Your Reader Sit Up And Take Notice

A great copywriter's secret is to begin your ad or article or web page with a powerful question. This makes the reader curious right off the bat and it usually does a pretty good job and making him/her want to read more. For example:

If you could learn a simple strategy with a proven 85% success rate at getting every day guys/gals like you a juicy raise at work, would you like to know what it is?

Asking your readers a question is fantastic and highly effective way to get attention. Why? Because you are asking them to enter into a conversation with you. You're not lecturing them, preaching to them, screaming at them, or boring them with stats or ideas they don't care about.

In essence, what you're doing is engaging your reader by asking them for their opinion. And you're simultaneously giving them the option of whether or not they want to continue to be engaged, whether or not they want to read more of what you're saying. Even more, you're getting them to open their mind, which is tremendously important, because once they're open to what you're saying, then you've got your foot in the door.

In addition to a question, or in place of a question, another effective attention-grabber is to begin your piece by using what's known as a damaging admission. For example:

If you're looking for an accountant who will do your taxes quickly and at a very low cost, then we're not for you.

But if you're looking for an accountant who can help you save money by coming up with legal tips, tactics, resources and strategies that you either don't know or have never heard of, and which can save you a ton of money this tax season, then check out our Pay Less Taxes Today website to get our free report on the top ten best legal ways to save money on your income taxes.

This damaging admission method is a very effective opening salvo because it's disarming. By honestly telling your reader what you're about up-front, they're more likely to believe you. A damaging admission is attention-getting because we all like to relate to other human beings, and when our fellow man/woman starts admitting their weaknesses or mistakes, we find it compelling and interesting to say the least.

It's certainly more compelling than hearing someone go on and on about how great he or she is.

TIP #2
Make a list of all the benefits of the product or service you're selling, and use this in order of importance in your copy.

It's well known in marketing circles that people don't buy products or services. People buy the great results those products or services can bring them.

You're not buying a car when you purchase a Mercedes; you're buying comfort, class, elegance, and prestige. And when you buy a Volvo, you're buying safety. Does Disneyland just sell rides? Does Las Vegas just sell gambling? Or do they sell magical dreams of fulfillment of one kind or another? When writing about your product, you need to identify and see the product achieving great things for the prospect.

Even better, if you can discover what copywriters call a "hidden benefit," one that is secondary to the benefits the products/services were designed for, then you can strengthen your appeal. We all want to be in on secrets, ever since we were in kindergarten. For example, a hidden benefit of red wine, besides it tasting so great, is that it helps reduce the risk of getting a heart attack and stroke by thinning the blood and thus unclogging our arteries. I think you'll agree that this is a pretty amazing benefit.

Just about every product out there has a hidden benefit that often times may be even more attractive than the obvious benefit. Like finding hidden treasures, hidden benefits engage us and are exciting to read about.

TIP #3
Always explain your key benefit in great detail

Anyone can make claims like, "we're the pioneer," "we're the biggest," "we're the cheapest priced," "we're the best." But not everyone can persuade us that their claims are true. All copywriters and all marketers in general know that it's important, no, imperative, to prove your claims.

This is done by explaining in detail about how and why your product/service can and will succeed at achieving the things, the benefits, your competing products/services can't. Now, you don't do this by screaming at your readers, and you don't do this with a lot of BS hype. You also don't do it by using shallow surface words like "fantastic" and "number one."

You do this by giving facts, explaining reasons, and providing social proof, and giving interesting details about your product.

A Marketing 101 story teaches us of the legendary copywriter Claude Hopkins. In 1919 he was hired by the then faltering Schlitz beer to craft an ad campaign that would rescue the company from slipping sales. He visited the Wisconsin plant and found out how intricate the process actually was, which is something he never knew.

Digging deep wells to find pure water; using only the best barely and hops; facilities where hey sanitized the bottles. Hopkins told company heads to reveal this to the public, but they were apprehensive at first, as all companies brew their beer more or less the same way. Hopkins countered by explaining that, while this may be true, the first one to tell the public about it would be viewed as the first company that took the most steps to brewing beer.

Can you guess what happened?

People who love beer were fascinated by the subject, and before the year's end Schlitz jumped in ranking from #15 to the top #1 selling beer in the country. Turns out, beer lovers were thrilled to know exactly and precisely why they should pick one beer over the rest.

TIP #4
Tell readers exactly what they will get when they buy your product or service.

When you buy something, don't you want to know exactly what you'll be getting for your money?

Sure you do. And so do your readers. As customers, we want to know where our hard-earned dollars are going. Think about it. When you buy something, let's say a computer or printer, you want to know exactly what all the features and benefits are, don't you? How well does it perform? How fast is it? How many miles does it get per gallon?

Keep this in mind when writing your copy. You should always include all the information your prospects need in order to make a buying decision. Bullet points work well here, as they provide just the highlights. However, you should definitely include a complete list somewhere.

If you're selling anything, you should include right on the box an impressive photo of all the materials your customers will be getting. After all, your letter is like your sales package providing a ton of valuable information.

TIP #5
Give social proof whenever possible, and make sure the people or companies you choose are credible.

As a copywriter writing a sales letter, you are a salesman. And it's important that you understand this. Being bombarded these days with messages from all directions, we've become weary of salesmen and marketers.

We're skeptical, regardless of how compelling their story and claims, and regardless of all the details described. What we need is social proof, best believable when coming from famous and respected people, to confirm that what the sales guy or marketer is saying is true.

If you are selling a new system for sanitizing toothbrushes, you should get endorsements by top dentists. An endorsement of your revolutionary dental product by the dentist for presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush is impressive, isn't it?

It's a good idea to try to get testimonials on audio and video and put them directly on your website. Be creative. Also, use website links as much as possible. For example which testimonial below is more believable? A or B?

a) "They gave me the best website ever!" Posted by John from Nebraska.

b) "My website's design was spectacular, the company provided me with unlimited design revisions, the price was affordable, and the turnaround was fas." Posted by Jane Betty Frier. Click this link to see her website.

OK, bad example, but you get the idea!

The more testimonials the better, as long as they are detailed and credible. You can never have enough testimonials.
About the Author
Richard Cagney heads the SEO/SEM division of the affordable custom website design firm All Access Unlimited (http://www.allaccessunlimited.com), in Stamford, Connecticut. AAU provides high conversion marketing to companies aiming to expand and grow in the American and world markets.
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