We live in noisy times, bombarded by information on all sides – and at all times of the day and night. There are endless distractions available and sometimes it’s hard to cut through the clutter. But despite all the innovations, the simple sales letter still packs a powerful punch. It’s a direct and highly personal form of communication. It’s not cluttered with slowly loading videos, repetitive music or irrelevant adverts, and it’s a lot more tangible than a fleeting glimpse at a webpage or TV commercial. Here's a few of the letter writing tips we've found useful.
The sales letter remains the ideal way to present a strong, focused offer, for the majority of target markets.
Every sales letter is a little different, depending on your particular audience and the product or service you’re selling. However, there are a few basic elements you should consider:
- Consider using a headline or an “Attention Box” – a box commonly found at the top of direct mail letters, containing the key message of the letter. Not every letter will benefit from these, but they are ideal for emphasising your offer, or stating a clear benefit. Just remember that they make your letter look less personal and more like advertising.
- Use an appropriate greeting. Personalisation is best when you can do it. Otherwise, use a salutation that connects with the reader as closely as possible. “Dear Owner/Occupier” is okay but very impersonal. “Dear Cat Lover” is more targeted and specific. If you’re mailing to a business audience, use the occupational or professional title.
- Make your first sentence short and attention-grabbing. You can aim to instantly involve the reader, with a bold statement, or alternatively, just state the offer and get to the point. This last approach is often the best tactic as it offers the least room for error. Subsequent sentences should expand on this first sentence, to pull the reader into the body copy.
- Present your offer on page one. If you don’t give your offer in the headline or first sentence, you should put it somewhere on page one. Be clear and specific about what your reader will get by responding. Remember, attention spans are short…
- Try ending the page in mid-sentence, if your letter extends to 2 or more pages. Whether it’s curiosity or an urge to know more, cutting a sentence in two at the bottom of a page helps encourage the reader to flip the page and finish the sentence—and, hopefully, to keep reading.
- Keep your copy on track. You’re not writing a novel, but your main idea should be a thread that weaves through the whole letter. Avoid waffle and jargon – keep it clear and specific.
- Make the body of the letter work hard. If you’ve grabbed your reader’s attention and generated interest in your offer, follow immediately where possible with benefits, details, word pictures, testimonials and proofs to eliminate doubt.
- Call for action. Summarise the main points of your offer, and ask for the response you want—clearly and directly. Restate information on involvement devices, motivators, incentives, etc. Restate the big benefit.
- Make responding clear and easy. How should the reader respond? Give your full contact details. State your opening times for sales and customer service clearly.
- Guarantee your offer. Assure the reader that there is no risk. State your guarantee in strong terms. This should directly follow your call to action.
- Stress urgency. Why should the reader respond now? Is it a limited-time offer? Are supplies limited? Are prices going up soon? Give a logical, sensible, honest reason why this is the best time to respond. And be clear about what will happen if the reader does not respond—the lost opportunity, the consequences.
- End the letter when you’re finished. Just as you shouldn’t have a long wind up at the beginning of a letter, don’t prattle on at the end. End a letter as bluntly as you began it. Often this is a quick restatement of your instructions for responding or a simple “thank you.”
- Have the right person sign your letter. Your letter should be signed by the highest authority person available or by someone relevant to the reader. Remember though, that some customers with queries will ask for the signatory, so keep the name appropriate and accessible if possible.
- Use postscripts effectively. A P.S. is one of the most-read parts of a letter. It should present an important message, a prime benefit, a restatement of the offer, a reminder of the deadline, a sweetener, or whatever you feel is most effective in this prime spot. Some call the P.S. a headline at the end of the letter. But keep it short – don’t try to rewrite the letter again here —one to three lines long at most.
Of course, these 14 sales letter suggestions are not hard and fast rules.
A letter should be as individual as your offer and your customers. If you want to miss a step out, think about why, and what you will gain or lose by doing so. And always test the letter before “signing it off” – give to friends and colleagues to read through, both for the content and message as much as the spelling and grammar.
Having spent this far on the letter, the final thing to consider is when you want it to be read? Businesses tend to be busy on Mondays, and often looking to the weekend on a Friday, so would mid-week be better? Avoid peak holiday times like Christmas when people are likely to be swamped in mail. Remember too that the cost of your mailing can be drastically reduced if you avoid standard schemes like first class, or franking. Postforce has access to discount schemes for larger mailings – including Royal Mail Sorted and Economy services which gives excellent savings compared to these.
Postforce will work with you on a mailing solution that will work for you and your current and potential customers. We can help with mailing all types of media – from Letters, Postcards & Leaflets through to Newsletter, Brochure and Catalogue mailing. Why not call us today?
If you are looking for additional support or guidance, the web is of course a great place to explore. We’d recommend peopleperhour – an online resource market of experts in most fields including copy writing and proof reading. For logo designs, Canva is a good free resource to use, whilst for images for your business, try Pixabay, Fotolia or Ingimage.