A sales letter is a marketing tool that promotes a good or service. Its objective is to persuade the reader to buy what the letter offers. To be effective, its scope must describe a particular benefit the reader will gain by making the purchase, such as a problem solved or a need fulfilled.
Before you begin, you should be familiar with what your sales letter intends to promote and the people you intend it to reach. This may require a little research and some brainstorming, but without preparation your sales letter will be less effective.
Then decide on the features that best highlight the good or service; identify its selling points, in other words. Bigger, brighter, stronger, faster, cheaper, etc., are common selling points when writing a sales letter.
Once you have made a selection, you must persuade the readers that the benefit of your offer outweighs the cost. In other words, convince them that what you have to offer is a good deal.
In the sample sales letter the writer promotes a service performing a time-consuming task that few people like to do.
Identify Your Reader
A sales letter should be addressed to a group of prospective buyers who meet an established set of criteria. Selecting their names should be done carefully, ideally with the help of a professional who specializes in direct mail marketing. He or she will be able to assist you in constructing a mailing list tailored to your specific needs.
Once assembled, the names of your potential customers should be placed in the salutation and inside heading of your sales letter. They should also be included on the top line of your envelope.
Whether you are singling out homeowners or renters, students or working people, dentists or lawyers you are singling out a group of people with an identifiable need or desire, one that you can fulfill or satisfy in some way. This group is your target audience. Each member is a potential customer.
Keep in mind that people do business with people. When you personalize your sales letter, addressing the reader by name, you recognize that person's individual importance and their value as a human being.
Establish Your Objective
The objective of a sales letter is threefold:
- To attract attention
- Generate interest
- Induce a purchase
Your sales letter may not induce an immediate purchase, however, it should, at the very least, meet the first two objectives. It should provide its readers with enough information to heighten their brand awareness about who you are and what goods or services you have to offer. They may return as a customer in the future.
After all, on the day that your direct mail piece arrives, the targeted reader may neither need nor want what you have to offer. Regardless, your sales letter can have a positive residual effect if it succeeds in creating a strong and favorable impression at the time it is received.
Determine Your Scope
To be effective, the scope of a sales letter must identify one or more of the following:
- A problem that can be solved
- A need that can be fulfilled
- A desire that can be satisfied
- A pleasure that can be gained
It must then present an attractive solution in a manner persuasive enough to accomplish the objective of the letter, convincing the reader to make a purchase.
Successful sales letters gear their pitch toward the benefit received by the reader rather than the actual goods or services being offered.
Organize Your Letter
Organizing your sales letter will establish a logical order in which to present your information. You have already begun this task by establishing an objective and determining your scope. Refer back to them. Together they include much of the content that will become the body of your letter.
A simple outline will get you organized. Begin by creating a list of items that your package will include and put them in the sequential order that will best help your reader comprehend the contents of your package. These points will become the backbone of your draft; your outline will become a checklist.
Draft Your Letter
Working from an outline is the simplest way to draft a sales letter. You have already organized yourself by creating a list. Refer back to it and turn each fragment into a full and complete sentence expressing a single thought or idea
In order that your thoughts and ideas are conveyed in a cohesive manner, write in as natural a sounding voice as possible.Try writing your draft quickly and then read it out loud. Concentrate on communicating your objective to your reader. Make sure that the scope of your letter contains all the relevant information included in your organizational list.
Keep in mind that you are writing a rough draft. For the moment you can ignore spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence and paragraph structure. Those are technical details that you will pay attention to in the final step when you review and revise your work.
Close Your Letter
A sales letter should close in a professional manner. Once your last paragraph is written, sign off between a complimentary close such as "Sincerely," or "Thank you," and your printed name.
If you are writing in conjunction with an official duty, place your title below your printed name. Additional information such as dictation remarks, notification of attachments, enclosures and copies sent to other individuals should be placed beneath the title line.
Review and Revise Your Sales Letter
Reviewing and revising the draft of your sales letter is when you inspect and hone its textual content. It is a final check to see that your objective is clearly stated, your scope is sufficient, and the reader has been provided enough information to understand your message.
Look for obvious errors. Check for misspelled words, poor sentence structure, and grammar mistakes. Make sure that you have been direct and to the point. Use a strong active voice.
Keep in mind the overall cohesiveness of your letter. Look for accuracy, clarity, and a sense of completeness. Ask yourself if the transitions between paragraphs are working and if your point of view, tone, and style are consistent throughout the text.
Examine your word choices carefully. Ambiguous words lead to confusion. Jargon and abstract terms may not be understood at all and affectations, cliches, and trite language tend to diminish the substance of your message.
If you have not written an opening or a closing now is the time. Lead into the sales letter with a strong attention getter. Conclude with an inducement to act.