How To Write Effective Sales Letters

Here’s an easy, step-by-step guide to writing sales letters that get responses.

1. Identify your target market, the recipient of the letter.

(Be as specific as possible so you can focus really closely on them as individuals).

2. Determine what your message or offer is, and decide what you want them to do.

3. Now draft your letter using this basic format.

This is a basic structure for writing any form of sales letter. Draft your letter with your message or offer using this format, and then follow the tips and hints in step four to improve and strengthen your writing.

  1. Headline

    Headlines are a powerful tool to use in a sales letter to grab the reader’s attention, and communicate your message. This is especially effective if your headline speaks directly to the reader’s frustrations or concerns, or promises to deliver something of interest or value to the reader.

Boldface and centre your headline above the greeting line, and don’t be afraid to create a headline that is more than a single line in length.

  1. Sub Headline / Lead Paragraph
    Your sub headline and lead paragraph should support the headline in convincing your reader to care enough to continue reading. The sub headline can elaborate on your headline’s message, or further describe the reader’s problem. Sub headlines can also preface or summarize important paragraphs in the body of the letter.

Your lead paragraph should begin to answer questions, showcase benefits, or elaborate on the story you have begun to tell. This is where you can begin writing about your company and your offer in further detail.

Illustration / Proof
Use the body paragraphs of your letter to build your case and back up your bold statements. Make sure for every claim, guarantee, offer or statistic, you illustrate how it works or why it’s true. This is your opportunity to build your own credibility and the credibility of your business.

Use testimonials to support statements about your customer service or superiority over the competition. Describe customer experiences in an anecdotal way, and follow up the story with their words (the actual testimonial) in italics.

Benefits / Solution
The rest of your copy should focus on the benefits your product or service will offer the reader – the points that answer the ‘what’s in it for me’ question. Always include a summary of benefits or a detailed description of the solution you are offering in a bulleted or numbered list, and boldface key phrases to provide easy scan reading.

This sends a clear message to the reader – that you’re thinking about them, and their needs. As in all your copywriting, use the words “you” and “your” often, and stay away from too much description of product or service features.

Close / Call to Action
In your closing paragraphs, summarize your message and key points, but be brief and focus on motivating them to take action. Be clear about what you want your reader to do, and give them a good reason to do it immediately. Do you want them to pick up the phone? Fill out the order form? Put the stamped envelope in the mail? Remember that urgency and scarcity are powerful motivators.

Also be clear about how you are going to follow up with them so they know what to expect. If you’re going to call them in two days, or send them more information, let them know.

  1. Once you have your letter drafted, use some of these proven tips to strengthen your copy and improve response rates.

Present your letter professionally.

  • Use only your business letterhead and envelopes
  • Avoid using metered postage as it will make the letter look like junk mail

Format for skim reading.

  • Use headlines, sub headlines, bullets and bold text
  • Give important paragraphs a sub headline
  • Vary paragraph length
  • Use bold text or underline to highlight important points

Make it as easy as possible to respond.

  • Enclose prepaid envelopes or easy-fill out forms
  • Use toll/call free numbers
  • Give one or two contact options so the recipient can choose which is most convenient

Use a casual, conversational tone.

  • People remember and respond to conversation more than a formal tone
  • Write to the reader as though they’re a family member or friend
  • This technique builds trust and rapport

Use storytelling to engage the reader.

  • Tell your reader a short story they can relate to
  • Begin with a compelling customer testimonial
  • Always relate the story back to your offer

Tell them a secret, or make an exclusive announcement.

  • Engage your reader with exclusive information
  • Tell them a ‘secret’ or make an exclusive announcement
  • This will include or relate to your offer, like research statistics, a new development or invention, or a celebrity testimonial

Tell them what their problem is, and offer the solution.

  • Show that you understand what their problem or need is
  • Use your headline or sub headline to do this up front
  • Describe how your offer provides the solution or serves the need

Build instant trust by establishing credibility.

  • Do this as soon as possible in the letter
  • Tell your reader who your company is, and why you’re worth their time
  • Use testimonials, awards and other accolades to back up your claims, but make sure to do it sparingly and keep the letter customer-focused

Give them a reason to keep it.

  • Provide something of use, and your recipient may hang on to your letter
  • Include small gifts, like a fridge magnet with your contact information
  • Include free information, tips or hints listed on the back of the letter

Make use of the Post Script.

  • Restate your offer or strong guarantee
  • Remind your reader of the most important benefit
  • Restate the urgency or scarcity of the offer
  • Offer a bonus if they act now

Enclose a brochure or factsheet.

  • Add graphic appeal to your letter with a brochure or single information sheet
  • Use a brochure or factsheet to backup claims in your letter
  • Include product or service images, graphs, charts, and testimonials

Good luck writing your letters!


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