Think direct marketing is dead? Think again.
Over 90 percent of shoppers say that they prefer direct mail for making purchasing decisions. The ROI of such marketing floats around 20 percent, thereby making it one of the most useful means of advertising.
But what should a persuasive sales letter include? Of course, no formula can guarantee success for every letter. Yet there are time-tested tactics that can dramatically improve your chances. Here are seven of them.
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There are countless formats for headlines and first sentences, including making an announcement, asking a question, or telling a story.
Personally, my preference is the problem/solution format. This is the most logical, direct approach I know. After all, people don’t buy products or services per se. Rather, they buy solutions to problems. If you know your reader (and you should), you can just state the reader’s problem and offer a solution. Simple, right?
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How many yawning consumers snap to attention when they read your first line? How many look forward to reading the pitch you make?
Let’s put it this way: If people were in a rush to catch an airplane and stopped by the bookstore with five minutes to spare, would they choose your sales letter or the guy’s next to you? It’s the differences between these two sentences:
“Alissa Parker didn’t look like a murderer or cheat. Her pleasantly plump face fooled everyone!” Cliché.
“Alissa Parker, 12 years old at the time, began her descent into murder on a bus ride.” Intriguing.
Make your sales letter capture attention much the same way as the second sentence does. With power, with intrigue, with surprise.
While headlines are infinitely important, so are the first words put on paper (or pixels). Make sure both deliver with chutzpah.
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The reader wanting a new app doesn’t care that the app comes with five thingamabobs. But she is interested in how those five thingamabobs take the place of five other expensive doodads to save her money and make her work easier … as well as make her the envy of all the other app-owner on the block.
Relate everything to your reader and his or her needs. Talk benefits, not features.
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Just as people buy solutions rather than products, they also prefer offers much more than purchases. If you’ve done a good job of showing the reader all the benefits of your product or service, you have to make a h3, fair offer.
For example, people don’t buy 12 issues of a magazine; they accept an offer of 45 percent off the newsstand price. People don’t buy a pair of socks, they accept an offer to buy one and get one free. Your offer isn’t your price. It’s your special deal.
People fear getting scammed. No one wants to be made a fool. There’s also a great deal of commitment phobia. So when you make an offer, you must eliminate any fear your reader may have by providing a way out. Most people won’t return your product or refuse your service after they’ve accepted your offer, but they want reassurance that they’re not locked into a deal forever.
If you have a solid product or service, stand behind it with a guarantee. Highlight it. The more you emphasize the guarantee, the more your reader will trust you. This, in turn, ups the likelihood of a sale.
Sure, your readers may be intelligent, but don’t assume that they’ll spend even a second pondering how to accept your offer. If you want the reader to email, say so. If you want your reader to fill out a reply card, give direct instructions of how to do so.
Every good salesperson knows you have to ask for the order. A sales letter is no different. If you want the reader’s business, ask for it. And don’t shy away from the bold. Make your phone number large and your contact information easy to read. Use a serif typeface no smaller than 10 points.
You’ve written a h3, benefit-packed letter that persuades the reader to try out your product or service. But you’ve skipped out on including a return envelope. Or readers would like to order now, yet there’s no phone number. You lose a sale.
The more ways you give the reader to respond, the more likely it is that they will do just that… and the more sales you’ll make. Include phone numbers, email addresses, reply cards, coupons, order forms, return envelopes, and anything else that makes it easy to say “yes” to your offer.
Writing sales letters can be a daunting task. Figuring out the right verbiage along with the appropriate tone is an exercise in patience and practice. If you’d like help crafting your next sales letter, contact On the Verge Writing at (971) 238.6256 or email Sylvia@onthevergewriting.com. I have the expertise of writing hundreds of successful sales letters and would be happy to do so on your behalf.