How to Start Your Sales Letter With a Bang

start sales letter
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 readers 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

How to Go Broke With Your Bad Sales Letter

Empty Pockets

Image by danielmoyle via Flickr

Writing a sales letter is a bit of an art.  You have to grab attention, make your case, and make it clear what people will get by responding.

If it’s online,  you have the benefit of lots of colors, graphics, maybe even video and sound.  If it’s in the mail (no, direct mail isn’t dead) your words will have to do all the work.

Ignore do not mail requests

I recently got a letter from Chase bank, urging me to get a credit card.  Two things, one I’m on the do not mail list (boom, they just violated that).  Second, the reason I don’t have a Chase Visa is because they canceled it. However, back to the letter.

Confuse people

The envelope said “Chase”, but the sheet inside says “Slate” across the top.  I have no idea what Slate is.  Never heard of it.  It’s rather confusing.

Be irrelevant

It offers me savings on gas (oh good, something I never buy).   And more savings if I pay with Full Pay (whatever that is). Also, I can add or change categories at any time (categories of what?).

Bait and switch

There’s also a low APR initial rate (bet that goes up).  And, my favorite part, the opportunity to opt-out of further mailings if I call a toll-free number.  I’ve already asked that (I’m on the do-not-call list too).  Fail!

How not to fail

OK, so my refusal to apply won’t make Chase go broke. But, if you sent a letter that showed such a poor understanding of your audience’s needs and wants, you would go broke (and fast).

Writing an effective sales letter, especially to a new prospect, or for a new product, has to do a better job than that. It needs to:

Tune in tomorrow for Friday Fun. There may be some fireworks.