Writing Sales letters Full of OOMPH!
Do you feel frustrated at the lack of response to your sales letters? Do you avoid devising mailers because they are a "waste of time and effort"? Writing sales letters is an art that everyone can learn. It is an essential skill for sellers, as the selling letter must do the job we ourselves would do if we were present with our customer. You would not drop a brochure on your customer's desk and say nothing! And yet, that is what many sales letters effectively do. They TELL a lot, but SELL nothing.
Why do we talk of "junk mail" in derogatory terms? "Straight into the dustbin" is the usual comment. In fact, this belies the fact of how we handle direct mail. Research by the DMA-UK shows that 69% of business people read direct mail, and 81% of homeowners read theirs. Moreover, when you know how to harvest it, you can reap the benefit of this potentially huge readership.
Why does direct mail suffer from such bad press? Mainly because the letters tell us what they want to tell us, irrespective of what we might want to hear.
Let's look at direct mail from the receiver's point of view, show you exactly how direct mail is handled when received, and show you how to garner more attention for your offers, and better response rates if you are looking for an action from your reader.
Consciously or otherwise, you are likely to have scanned (in order):
By now, over 95% of readers will have lost interest at some stage, and your letter is on its way to the dustbin.
Lets' look at these elements and see how we lose them, and how you can better hold and focus your reader's attention.
Not much there to lose a reader you may think. However, if you have had a bad experience with the sending company the mere sight of their logo can be a major turn off. Personally, any letter from Hewlett Packard gets my immediate thumbs down, due to an horrendous experience with one of their printers a couple of years ago. Nobody at HP would take any responsibility for solving the problem. It took over seven months to get a refund on a printer that was faulty from day one. Good-bye and thank you!
Customer name & address.
As a sales coach and trainer I have learned this lesson the hard way. The slightest error on a name card, say, and out comes the pen to correct it. Kathleen with a "K" or a "C". Stephen with a "ph" or a "v". Anne, with or without an "e" on the end. Our given name is the thing that distinguishes us as individuals. We love it. We can't resist the sound of it. A man named Tony will pay little attention to a shout of "Jack", but call his name and he is genetically programmed to respond. He will search for the source of the sound. He will tell those around him to quieten.
When the sale letter starts "Dear customer" or "Dear fellow gardener" you know you are one of the lucky 50,000 people getting this letter today. I'm only a number, a category. Where's that dustbin?
Personalise and go to whatever lengths it takes in order to spell your recipient's name, title and address correctly.
This is one of the major milestones and is the death of many mailers.
Suppose you pay an electricity / gas bill each month. You have received a letter from the utility company and the headline reads: "Are electricity prices causing you panic attacks? Reduce your bill by 25% per month". Into the dustbin? I don't think so, because the headline grabs you! Cost is a concern of every electricity bill payer. "Special FREE offer to previous Dell computer owners". You are a Dell user. Dustbin? Naaaah! Let's see what they are offering. Yes, we know it's a sales letter, but let's check anyway.
Your headline must spell out the biggest Promise, Value, Benefit, Guarantee, or Merit that the reader will receive in return for reading the letter and taking some action. And the headline must have impact! It must appeal to THIS reader. (See "Magic words" below for content ideas). Even better if your headline incorporates the Problem, the Solution, and the Target Audience in the headline. People are focussed on problems! Define the target's key problem and offer a solution combined for big impact. "Do you find it difficult to find maternity clothes that really fit? Here is your answer" Problem, solution, target audience. Your target readers will want to know what it is about.
Notes for Email: Headlines
Therefore, if you wish to have your selling email opened by others, the Subject Line becomes the most important part of the whole email! Getting your email opened by the recipient may be your toughest task. Pay as much attention to your email subject line as you would to the construction an advertisement headline (and you usually pay a pro to do that for you)....See notes above on headlines.
Signature of Sender
Again, apparently not that important. But how convinced are you by the guy who signs the Reader's Digest letters- "Tom Champagne". You think this is a real man? You innocent old thing.
And we hand write the salutation. Another little touch which tells our readers they really exist for us. Troublesome, yes, but look at the financial return.
Your P.S. should contain the biggest Promise, Value, Benefit, Guarantee, or Merit that the reader will receive in return for reading the letter and taking some action.
Lead Paragraph / sentence.
Body of the Sales letter
The body of your letter is where you give your reader the essential facts and information. It can be relatively straightforward, as your reader now wants this information. Remember to use short paragraphs, sub headings, and bullet points to highlight certain aspects for them.
Long copy works
The 12 most persuasive words in the English language
So much expense is wasted on fancy four colour glossy brochures that fail the most important test. They fail to get the MWR. Words sell! If oyou owuld really like ot understand this, here is
And you must ask for action in every letter. "Act now", "For a limited time only", "Respond today". Make it easy for them to get back to you.
Golden rules of Direct Response:
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Maitiu MacCabe is the CEO of Great Expectations Coaching, a Dublin, Ireland, based coaching practice.