How to write successful sales letters

How to write successful sales letters

Your most successful promotional tool is a sales letter. Not advertising, not newsletters, not brochures, but sales letters. In twenty-five years in business I have seen this over and over again. There is a very simple reason behind this truth, and knowing this reason will lead to making your letters successful.

Here is the truth: businesses and companies don’t buy things. People buy things. Any money you spend trying to get a business to buy something from you is money wasted.

Bulk mail, brochures, all the other kinds of promotions have some value. They lead to name recognition, occasionally result in an inquiry or a request for a quote, and form impressions in their viewers about you or your company. The disadvantages in cost and energy and increased possibility of making a wrong or bad impression, almost always offset the advantages for any but the large national companies.

Put the same amount of energy into sales letters, and you will get four to ten times the return.

What is the sales letter?

It is an actual letter, on company letterhead, to a specific person and from a specific person, sent by first-class mail, with the envelope individually addressed (i.e., not using an address label). The same letter can be sent to many people, but each one is individualized to a specific recipient.

The underlying principle of writing a successful sales letter is to write it to a real person, not a business. This person has emotions, workloads, problems, hopes, and attitudes. Assuming you are writing to a person responsible enough to make buying decisions, he or she is busy. Your letter has to hit hard and hit home quickly.

Here’s how to do it.

First, only use language in your sales letter that you would use talking to this person’s face to face. This is the only way your letter will project sincerity. Would you really say, “Our whatzits slip through your bottlenecks like hot steel through soft butter” if you were sitting in this person’s office? No. You would say what they do: “Our whatzits make it easy to prioritize the traffic through this particular bottleneck.” So that is what you write. That actually will mean something to the person reading it.

Second, be friendly, and real. Let them know you are a real person also. Someone they would be comfortable talking to. It actually helps to (briefly) mention something about your family, or environment, or personal opinions, to help them form a picture of you. Mental pictures make it much easier to remember you.

Third, have a specific purpose in mind when you write the letter. The actual purpose of any sales letter is to get an interested response, of course, or even an order. Each letter must have its own specific purpose as well. Trying to pack too much into one letter will result in none of it making an impact. Tell about one product, or one service. Or ask about one area of interest, being sure to explain why you are asking and how providing the answer can benefit him or her. Everything in your letter should relate to or be consistent with this purpose. Definitely avoid going off on any tangents.

Fourth, be absolutely accurate. No exaggeration, no vague or unverifiable claims. No hints or suggestions without data. No meaningless statistics. It only takes one false note to get your letter thrown out. Don’t say you are the best at something, for instance, unless you can prove it…and then do so.

Fifth, and as important as any of the above, is to be professional. This means making no spelling mistakes, using good grammar, and demonstrating a concern for quality. Personally, I throw away any letter with a stupid mistake, as it shows me that person or business does not care about quality. Get two or even three people to proofread every letter, not just one.

A few final hints: keep letters to one page, and just four or five paragraphs. Write it, then edit it, cutting out anything that is not directly helpful to the purpose of the letter. Allocate time, either your own or an employee’s, to discovering actual names to write to. Call companies and ask. Collect business cards at trade shows. Look for referrals. Whatever it takes, get actual names. For goodness’ sake, make sure they are spelled correctly. Finally, it is perfectly all right to include a brochure with a sales letter. It stands a much better chance of getting looked at than if you send it out in bulk mail.

Be real. Be professional. Be successful.

Be real

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