Marketing consultant Kevin Nunley writes that long letters of up to 12 pages are increasingly popular with advertisers who want to make sales—and for good reason. Long sales letters do best when they wind up in the hands of genuinely interested prospects (hence, list selection is even more important than your offer and how you articulate it).
Reason: The person most likely to be ready to buy from you wants all the information he or she can get to bolster the decision to purchase from you. A long letter packed with meaty details often is just the thing to motivate a decision in your favor.
Yet many marketers still believe that their best prospects are “too busy” to read a long letter, let alone take action on it. They are wrong—and tests of short versus long copy usually prove it. But bad long letters won't do the job. Here are 10 pointers on writing effective ones:
Start by describing a big problem that your reader faces, whether he knows it or not (for example, if you sell tires, a blowout that could endanger your family or leave it stranded on the highway).
Make the problem sound urgent. Stress that trouble lurks in ambush for the reader who does not solve the problem now. Be specific—detail all possible pitfalls.
Detail how purchasing your product will help solve the problem for your reader. Connect your features with the benefits they will bring.
Include three to six glowing testimonials. Make sure to include the recommender’s name, city, and business and title (if appropriate). This bolsters your letter's believability.
Dramatize all the ways a purchase will benefit the customer. Write a gripping scenario for each of your product's features and benefits.
Pile on descriptions of the exciting bonuses you are offering to the person who buys from you now—or by a specific date. A special low price, perhaps.
Ask for an immediate order—and tell your reader, step by step, how to place it, by filling in and mailing a printed order form, or by telephone or e-mail communications. Make the whole process sound easy.
Start your letter with an exciting headline—and end it with a summarizing postscript (more readers will read your headline and your P.S. than will study body copy).
Break up your text with subheads, bullets, and call-outs. Easy-on-the-eyes copy scores high in readership.
Establish a relationship with your reader. Ask for his permission to send him more information. It will pay off in immediate and later sales.
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