The greatest sales letters are those that achieve their purpose: selling something! Whether it be a product or service, a sales letter is often the tool small to medium-sized businesses rely on to create interest in their business, make sales and acquire new customers. The best sales letters, however, are not pushy, kitschy or cheesy, but are rather those that present a company and make a pitch in a clear, concise manner.
Elements of the Greatest Sales Letters
There are 5 elements to every sales letter: introduction, statement of purpose, description, statement of benefits and a pitch. These elements can be combined, but eliminating an element may make the letter appear unfinished.
- Introduction: This is the opening paragraph in which you introduce yourself and your company. Provide basic information about your background and the company's history. This section's purpose is to tell the reader who you and your company are and why you are both important.
- Statement of Purpose: This tells the reader why you are writing. For example, the simple sentence: "I'm contacting you today because I believe that your business paper needs could greatly benefit from my inexpensive bulk paper deliver service" is perfect.
- Description: Typically the longest section, the description tells the reader what you sell and why it's great. A great description sticks to the facts and doesn't generalize or exaggerate; say that your paper is two percent less expensive than competitors and not "It's so cheap your head will spin!"
- Statement of Benefits: This tells the reader why your described product is great for her or the company. Essentially, it connects your product to the reader. Here again, specificity is important.
- Pitch: This is the crux of every sales letter. Here, you push the reader to inquire further into your product or purchase it outright. Avoid being cheesy or overly-energetic. Excitement is very difficult to induce in a reader and often just appears fake, which is never something you want to associate yourself with.
A free publication called Greatest Sales Letters offers tips, instruction, and examples of many effective sales letters. Many of these are famous direct marketing examples and may help you understand the techniques for writing a great sales letter.
Tips for Great Letters
Ideally, you should develop your letter over several hours or even several days. Keep a notepad with you to jot down ideas or sentences as they come to you; forcing yourself to write a sales letter may result in the letter being dry and unimaginative. Here are several tips to help you in your task:
- Avoid Industry Jargon. Although perhaps frequently used and understood in your industry, jargon is too information for a sales letter. Using jargon also runs the risk of your reader not understanding your letter. After all, there's no guarantee that your reader will be experienced in the field.
- Be Bold. You're already putting yourself out there by writing a sales letter, so don't shirk away from the courage it took to do that. Be upfront about your product. You're more likely to receive interest if you carry your confidence from your letter's opening lines to its valediction.
- Match Your Audience. The biggest mistake in a sales letter is to not matching its tone, style and language to your audience. Don't send a breezy, carefree letter to a busy business owner or a serious letter to a young, creative employee.
- Be Concise and Use White Space. It's unlikely that a reader will continue past the first page of your letter, and it's possible that a very dense letter won't be read at all. Be straightforward by using basic language and don't be afraid of white space. A letter that provides basic information is more likely to generate leads or sales than one that looks like a word-search.
- Generate Leads. Very few sales letters will induce the reader to buy. Typically, a sales letter creates enough interest in you or your product that the reader wants to find out more. While you should always include the purchase information in your pitch, it's more important for you to include your contact information.
Writing Your Best Sales Letter
By enabling you to directly contact potential customers, a sales letter can be the single most influential factor to growing your business. Writing sales letters isn't complicated, but may take some time. Treat your first attempt like a draft and don't expect it to be perfect. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day!