12 Tips on Writing Letters that Sell

woman reading letter

When you are hungry for sales (and who isn’t, these days?), sharpen your sales letter. It is the heart of your direct-mail package — and highly economical to change. Noted consultant Ernest Nicastro offers these 12 pointers on making letters pull dollars:

  • Focus on your prospect’s wants.

  • When he picks up your letter, he wants to know WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?). Don’t bore him with information about you and your wants. He guesses you want his money. Stress what he will receive for it.

  • Benefits are what most people buy.

  • If you are selling drill bits, for example, sell the holes that they make, not the type of steel they are made of.

  • Write to one person at a time.

  • Imagine your best current customer and pretend that you are pitching to him. Your letter is your salesman — and a champion salesman, though he may have 50 leads to cover, speaks as if his prospects were the only other persons on Earth.

  • Dramatize your offer.

  • Write the truth. But cut through clutter. Tell a real-life story about your product and its applications. Testimonials are great — but make sure you use real, full names (with permission) and genuine locations. Remember, advertisers bombard your prospects with 4,000 messages a day.

  • Specify.

  • “925,510” is much more believable than “hundreds of thousands.” Do not fudge with glittering generalities like “total quality.”

  • Copy should be long enough to get your selling job done — not won word longer, not one word shorter.

  • For consumer offers, tested four- to eight-page letters pull like TNT. For business-to- business offers, the best response pullers are two pages or more long. Prospects will read everything that grabs their interest.

  • Appeal to the eye.

  • Letters that look invitingly easy to read score handsomely over letters that look hard. Set your copy at 60 characters to the line. Limit paragraphs to six lines max. Indent them Vary their length. Use a serif type face. Break up text with subheads, numerals, bullets.

  • Never end any page with a complete sentence, period.

  • Periods say “Stop!” You want your prospect to keep reading.

  • Simple, short declarative sentences collar higher readership than long, comma-ridden sentences with many confusing clauses.

  • Do not use long sentences. Break then up to two or more short, active-voice units. Use common words when you can. High-falutin vocabularies turn off most sales prospects.

  • Cleverness kills sales.

  • Show your letter to a secretary. If she compliments you on your sense of humor, rip up your copy and start over. If she remarks that what you are selling sounds like a great product, you are nearly home free. As David Ogilvy once observed, “Nobody buys from a clown.”

  • Tell your reader exactly what you want him to do.

  • If you omit this vital selling step, you will leave him hanging. And lose your sale.

  • Always end your letter with a sales-reinforcing postscript.

See also:

Advertising Copy Home Page

Marketing Tactics Home Page

Marketing Home Page

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