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The Most Overlooked Component In Information Marketing Today: The "Stick Letter"

Nov 6, 2007
Not long ago, I eagerly opened a bubble envelope containing a CD product I'd ordered on the web. This was the first item I'd ordered from a certain prominent Internet marketer. Inside, along with the CD, I found a one-page information sheet consisting of dry technical instructions on how to "register" the product, with the warning that it can be used on only one computer.

It couldn't have been clearer that the marketer's overriding purpose in the instructions was to prevent unauthorized sharing of the product - not to welcome me as a customer, so that this would be my first of many purchases from him. Nowhere was there a personal message from the marketer or any kind of friendly touch.

Imagine if, instead, the paper accompanying the product started off, "Dear Aspiring Entrepreneur: Congratulations on taking the first step toward turning ideas into products!" The message could have continued in this vein for another couple sentences, reminding me why I bought the item and the value I'd experience from it. Then it could have had something like "Please see the instructions that follow for how to activate your CD. If you encounter any problems, don't hesitate to email or call my office by..." The signature of the marketer would have come next, followed by a friendlier, less stern rewording of the activation instructions.

This would have accomplished the purpose of the information sheet actually sent with the product, without implying that I was inclined to rip it off in some way. Instead of feeling put off, I would have had a warm feeling of gratitude and anticipation. I would have been on my way to feeling like I had a relationship with this marketer instead of feeling like I'd never want to buy from him again.

I'm baffled about why so many smart info-marketers who should know better - indeed some of whom actually teach the importance of the "stick letter" - either send no cover letter at all with their info-products or send an impersonal, unwelcoming one like the one described above.

A "stick letter" gets that name because it helps the sale "stick" - that is, it decreases the chance that the purchaser asks for a refund. It does that in several ways: by stating the appropriate expectations for and benefits of the product; by explaining how to get started using the product; and by saying what to do in case of questions. And by treating the customer with the utmost respect, it also sets the stage for more expensive follow-up sales.

In its simplest incarnation, a "stick letter" could be a handwritten "Thank you for your purchase" or "Enjoy!" with a first-name signature. If it has to be computer generated, it can still help form a bond with the customer by being written in a considerate, hospitable tone. I add a personal touch to a preprinted cover letter by crossing out its generic salutation and hand-writing the name of the buyer.

Put yourself in the position of the customer opening the package containing their first purchase from you. How do you want them to feel? Then engineer the "stick letter" so that it prompts that feeling. In the long run, the small bit of extra trouble necessary to do this right makes a big difference.
About the Author
Marcia Yudkin has been selling content since 1981. Check out her free weekly newsletter on creative marketing, Marketing Minute (http://www.yudkin.com/marksynd.htm ). Learn more about her home-study course on becoming a successful information marketer: http://www.yudkin.com/informationempire.htm
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