How to Start Your Sales Letter With a Bang

ready set go

If you’re writing a marketing letter (or an email) the most important thing is to get the reader to open the envelope or the email.

But how do you start your sales letter? What do you do to make sure your headline grabs attention and your letter gets read, instead of being tossed in the trash?

Read on to find out.

Speak directly to your readers

Words like “you” and “your” send the message that you’re addressing the reader’s problems and concerns, rather than talking at them. It creates the feeling that you’re having a conversation, unlike “I” (which is more like a speech).

Keep the sentences and paragraphs short, so they’re easy to read and digest. Use that first sentence to introduce the conversation you’d like to have, and explain why the reader should keep reading.

Ignite curiosity

20 Ways to Market Your Business For Free

“Free” is a powerful attractor.  Nearly everyone likes to get something without paying for it, especially something valuable.  In this case, the only way to find out how to get the valuable information (free ways to market your business) is to keep reading.

Ask a question that you know your reader will agree with

Are you tired of spending money on IT support that leaves your wallet empty and your computer full of viruses?

Many people, and companies, have spent money on IT consultants who were unreliable, or left their systems in worse shape than they were when they started (I know this personally, since my brother is an IT consultant who frequently has to swoop in and clean up other IT guys’ messes).

Malfunctioning computers can make it nearly impossible for your business to run properly, so your readers will be eager to learn what they can do to make sure this doesn’t happen to them again.

Start with “because”

Because you’ve been a cardmember for 10 years, we’d like to reward you with a free gift.

“Free” is great, but sometimes people are skeptical.  They wonder why you are offering them something, out of the blue.  Using a word like “because” gives them a reason for your generosity.  You want to reward their loyalty and their business with a gift. They will keep reading because they want to find out what the gift is, and how to get one.

Address skepticism about your product

f  you’re selling something that people may have negative feelings about (such as email marketing), often the best approach is to address the issue head on.  Admit up front that there is a problem.  Then, agree with the problem (which your readers won’t expect).

Email marketing is just junk and a waste of time.  The truth is, I agree with you. The problem with most marketing is……What makes this different is…..

If most email marketing products are hard to use, explain why yours is easy. If other SEOs rely on underhanded “black hat” tricks to get links, show how your methods are completely above-board (and loved by Google).

Use memories and imagination

Conjure up a picture in the reader’s mind and tell a story:

It was 1945, the war was over and my dad, Ed Cushman, had just opened a small store and fruit packaging plant here in West Palm Beach. One night (a night never to be forgotten by anyone in our family), everyone was waiting for a truck load of grapefruit. When it finally arrived, my dad took one look and said, “What the devil is this?”

[They were Honeybell oranges; and when I tasted my first one, I said pretty much the same thing…what was that??!. It was sweet, juicy, and unlike any other orange I ever ate!].

To sum up:

Speak to your readers directly

Give reasons why you’re making the offer.

Address any bad feelings your readers may have about your service

Tell an interesting story.

Photo:mandj98

The One Rule Your Writing Must Follow

ONEYou hear it often.

Everyone seems to agree on it.

It’s the only way that you’ll get attention. If you don’t follow this rule, your sales letters won’t be read.

It’s funny how everyone says the same thing, and repeats it knowingly.

They said the same thing in Claude Hopkins’ day, back in 1920.

It’s too long

People won’t read it. It’s too long. You have to write shorter sales letters or posts. Nobody will read long ones. Some bloggers go so far as to include word counts and estimated reading times on their posts (don’t worry, I’ll only take up 3:31 of your time!). There’s even an internet abbreviation: TL, DR (too long, didn’t read).

It’s a trap

Readers avidly devour each Game of Thrones installment, despite the fact that the books are  about 1,000 pages long. A friend told me she read Shantaram in a few days (even though it’s 944 pages), because she was so entranced by it.

It’s not the length

The length of your email or sales letter, or post, isn’t what stops people from reading all of it. People don’t turn away because something is long. They leave because it’s dull. If you keep your readers’ interest, they’ll read every word. Bore them, and they’re gone.

Format for the screen

If you’re used to print, you will need to make a few changes for the web.  Break up the paragraphs into smaller pieces.  Use more line breaks, and more subheads.  It’s easier to read on a screen that way.

Good enough to share

Memorable, interesting posts (even ads) get shared, read, or watched over and over.  The length isn’t relevant. Don’t worry if it’s long; just make it interesting.

Meanwhile, if you could get George R.R. Martin to write faster, I’d appreciate it!

 

How to Keep Your Prospects Entranced

Hypnosis

Monday, I showed you two ads, one by Samsung and one by Apple.

Both are about electronics.  Both have multi-million dollar campaigns behind them, sponsored by large companies.

What’s the difference?

The Samsung ad starts off, “Nobody aspires to be second best, or make an average entrance…”  Good, it’s telling me that I can be better than average! Unusual and remarkable.

Samsung loves themselves

But towards the end, it goes off the rails. It turns all of that into why “they” did something, rather than about the people buying the phone.

“We have the best and brightest screen on our fastest phone ever.  Because we’re Samsung, and that’s just the way we’re wired.”

The phone spins. You see the logo over and over, while the announcer repeats the product name.

Lastly, the words “The Wonder of Samsung” appear on the screen, along with the logo, and those of retailers that sell the phone.

You’re not better, Samsung is better.

Apple loves their audience

In contrast, the Apple ad says,  “Are you curious about new ideas? Do you want to learn a new language? Or just a new word? ..Uncover a hidden talent?  There has never been a better time to learn.”

The announcer never mentions the name of the product or who makes it.  He never says “we” or “our” only “you.”

The Apple logo and the words “Ipad2″ show up only briefly, at the end.

The entire experience is about the viewer.

And that’s why it works.

Focus on your audience

Run the one-minute marketing test on your ad or your email or your web page.  See who you’re really talking about.

Write and promote to fulfill your audience’s desires, what they want to achieve, or save, or earn. They’ll be entranced.

Which Do You Prefer?

Which of these ads “speaks” to you? Which you do like better? What’s different about the way these two companies approach their advertising? Share your opinion in the comments.

My opinion (and I do have one) on Wednesday.

Getting Raving Fans

Inferno fans

Image via Wikipedia

I was listening to a webinar the other day with Peter Shankman of HARO (Help a Reporter Out).  Peter’s got 188,000 people on his email list, and mails three times a day.  He said he had an open rate of over 70% (pretty phenomenal for such a frequent mailer). His fans love his emails.

All creative types (and bloggers) want fans.  We want people to like us, to leave comments, and eagerly await what we write.  We want editors who never, ever kill our darling, favorite phrases. Clients who love our web designs, and never, ever spend an hour arguing over whether a design should be predominantly red or blue.

But, we know that may not happen.  Certainly not all the time.

What we can do

We can’t all be Peter (darn), but is there anything we can do? What makes readers (and potential clients) respond?

  • Random rewards?
  • Giveaways?
  • Personal stories about successes (or even failures)?
  • Shoutouts?
  • Something else?

What other techniques can you think of?  What have you tried? And which of them worked?