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How to Write a Sales Letter
Writing a sales letter requires you to consider many things if
it is to be effective in winning you business.
You need to have a
good idea of whom you are writing to so that you can create the
content and style to be appropriate.
Be clear what is your
objective is: do you want the recipient to place an order without
further contact with you? Do you want them to phone or email you to
request further details? Are you simply creating awareness of your
product or service in order to facilitate orders in stores or when
your sales representative calls?
Understand the the
client's perspective is likely to be different from yours. You
probably have a good understanding what you are offering, in both
the technical details and the applications. It may be that some or
most potential customers do not have this familiarity. Not only
that, the importance that you place on particular aspects of your
product may not match the way that the customer sees things.
The basics of
sales letter writing
No sales letter will achieve
what the writer wants if it is not opened. Since we are all bombarded
with sales messages these days, it is essential that you find a device
that maximises the chances that the letter will be read. If you don't
the time, effort, printing and stamp that you have invested will be
your letter look obviously like a sales letter
Don't put an advertising
message on the outside, or use bright colours for the envelope in an
effort to stand out. Nor is it necessary to use fancy paper or printing,
or arty cut-outs or pop-ups. The best approach is to create a letter
which looks and reads like a helpful note from a knowledgeable friend.
I was given a lesson in this
point by a man I met once in North Vancouver. He had a simple business
but which made sufficient profit that he needed to work only through the
Spring and Summer months, the rest of the year he took off and enjoyed a
relaxed life on a tropical island. 'Mike' had seen the flyer that I had
distributed for my business, but when I got to meet him he told me that
I would probably do better with a different style to what I had used. My
piece was written and printed conventionally; Mike showed me the
way he promoted his activities. It was quite different; his sales letter
was a photocopied sheet containing a handwritten description of the
service he was offering.
You may think that to be
'unprofessional', I did. But the point that Mike made is that what
counts for more than 'professional' appearance is believability.
The simple style that he had
chosen, suggested that he was genuine, experienced in his work, and most
probably, not too expensive.
I don't always use this
approach, but when I have the results have been good. In particular I
ran a campaign for a long time where I faxed hand-written sales messages
to prospects asking that they take a look at my website. This worked
very well - and I would still be doing it if faxing was still a popular
method of communication. Unfortunately it has been supplanted by email
and since I don't like to send unsolicited messages, other strategies
have replaced it.
A - Attention.
Your piece needs to be seen and for at least the moment become the
focus of your target's attention. Many gimmicks are used attempting
to achieve this, a lot of them are, in my opinion, tacky and
ineffective. One which fails to make me respond positively is
including a pen in the envelope as an incentive to make me open and
read the letter. Since from experience I know that the pens used are
poor quality, the impression this creates in me is not a positive
one. An enclosure that I did have success with was a nicely
presented small package of Scottish shortbread. My sales message
read,' Take a break, have a coffee and enjoy this piece of
shortbread (a type of cookie) while you read how my company can help
yours'. I received lots of business and some letters of thanks for
this offering. Maybe this will spark an idea for you.
- Interest. Getting attention is
necessary, but it's not enough on it's own. You have to quickly
communicate to the reader why it is worth his/her while to continue
to look through your piece. This is where 'benefits'
come in. Simply put, you must tell the prospect that you can supply
or do something that he would very much like. There is a hierarchy
of benefits; the most potent is to offer to solve a nasty problem.
Everyone has problems of some sort and we are delighted if someone
offers to make them go away. Unlike all the 'nice' things we would
like to have and do, but procrastinate on, we take action if an easy
way of resolving a problem is offered.
way to be 'interesting' is to
tell the prospect about something which is relevant to his activity
and new. It's been established over decades that 'New and
improved' beats 'Same old' every time
- Desire. Achieving interest is good, but invoking 'desire' is
better. It's simply a further stage along the road to taking action,
which in most cases will be the intended objective of your sales
letter. Use positive language in your writing but take care to avoid
clichéd hyperbole. That is to say words like 'Sky rocket your
...(something or other).. with our new WizzoMaster'. Cite, credible
and well-known examples of your item doing a very good job. If a
good photo is available to illustrate the point, use it. This next
point is going to sound 'sexist', but if the picture you use
features an attractive women with a nice smile, you enhance the
effectiveness of your message. Make sure the photograph is of
technically good quality; well lit, sharp, appropriate colours. I've
seen some awful examples put out by sales people who really should
A - Action. Tell the reader what
to do next. 'Call me today on 012 345 6789', for example. Or 'Go to
www.somethinggreat.com' to book. It is
necessary to spell out what you would like the prospect to do,
because what might appear obvious from your perspective may not seem
clear to the prospect. Give a reason to do it now, procrastination
is the death of good intentions. Sometime = never, so provide an
incentive. 'Buy today and I'll throw in an xPodBox'.
There is much more I would like to tell you
about sales letter writing - I have personally written more than 3000 of
them - but there's not the space for that here. However, if your product
is scientific or technical you'll find a wealth of on-target help in
How to Create Powerful Technical Sales Literature.
How to Create Technical Sales Literature Manual
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