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.


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What do you think about this?

I saw this video on Web Ink Now today. It was part of a post pointing out that people don’t care about your products (as a business), they care about their problems and whether you can help fix those problems. So far, so good and I nodded my head in agreement.

Then he included a video. He said it “offers a twisted look at the problem with older TVs. The link at the end of the video points to a webcast with Cisco chairman John Chambers, during CES on Jan 5.”

Here’s the video:

I completely agree that saying your product is great or talking about the 1080p definition or the thousands of connections doesn’t help.

I don’t like the video video though. It seemed to make fun of older TVs (or people who had them), rather than helping them.

And the link to the talk at the end (which, I confess I didn’t watch) isn’t terribly clear. If David hadn’t pointed it out, I would have never known what it was.

Clever is fine – but not for the sake of being clever, which this seems to be.

What do you think?

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Limited Editions: Good or Evil?

Black Friday line
Image by tshein via Flickr

Yesterday’s post about limited editions touched on the idea of using a limited offer or quantity to spur sales.

In the comments, John wanted to know if “people really believe it. How can they trust that there really is a scarcity and not just a another marketing ploy?”

Limited can be artificial

Well, it can be a ploy, like Black Friday deals, or the limited edition car. It can make something seem more exclusive or important than it really is. (Long ago, I was working at a cosmetics company and someone wrote in asking if his “limited edition” cologne set was valuable).

Limited can be real

Or, limited can be very real. An original copy of John Audubon’s book of bird illustrations just sold for $11.5 million dollars. It’s truly limited. There aren’t any more.  I happen to own a reproduced edition, but that’s not the same. The original Apple computer cost $666.66 (hmmmm).  One of the rare surviving examples just sold for $210,000. You can get a brand new Mac mini starting at around $700 (and it’s faster), but they make lots of them – they’re not unique.

It can also be fun

For example, each day “woot” puts up a different daily deal. One day, one product, and then it’s gone. (today’s, by the way is a two-pack of smoke alarms). Will there be more smoke alarms in a real store? Yes. Is it a good price (decent, I had to pay $25 for mine and this is two for $40). They write funny copy, and it pulls you in.

“So just to make it easy, if you DON’T want to buy these smoke alarms, just check the box marked “I don’t value the safety of my home and worldly possessions or the lives of my loved ones.” Go ahead. Blame it on the holidays. IF YOU DARE.”

Same with Groupon. More funny copy, and participating is part of the fun (as well as part of the deal) (If you don’t know, Groupon offers discounts – but only if enough people sign up for it – so there’s an incentive to pass it on and tell your friends).

Share your thoughts

So, is making something limited a good idea? Or a bad one?

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A Marketing Tip from The Playground

playground slidesI just tried to post a rather long comment on someone’s blog. I finished all that typing, and was unable to post it. They have a comment management system which requires you to join something else, or have an open ID, or something.  I don’t have whatever it is,  I just wanted to contribute to the discussion.  It was rather frustrating.

There’s another business blog that’s much worse. You have to fill out nine or ten different fields ! Sorry, not going to do that unless what I’ve got to say is really, really urgent.

Less friction makes a slide more fun. It also makes it more likely your visitors will comment and your clients or prospective clients will contact you. Have more than one way to do it too (email, phone, comments, contact form).

Got a comment? Share it here. No registration needed!

Photo thanks to: Carbonnyc

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What or why?

A friend pointed out this brilliant video yesterday.

What really makes the difference in marketing (or flying airplanes or changing the law) isn’t a marketing plan or wanting to get rich, or even having the best and the brightest minds.

It’s making a connection with people. Showing that you care about what they think and giving them something that makes them feel better. Not what or how, but why.

Share your thoughts

What do you think? How do you make a connection? What’s your “why”?

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