Trying to grow business in Northeast Ohio has been…well…challenging to say the least. And yeah, we’re all doing whatever we can to build our sales pipeline. We’re doing our best to exploit new media — Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook.

But don’t forget traditional sales channels. The best sales strategies consider all available media — new AND old.

The sales letter is an essential part of your toolkit ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú whether you?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re selling products or services, a well written ?¢‚Ǩ?ìto the point?¢‚Ǩ¬ù sales letter will help bring you?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re business to life to potential prospects.

A sales letter persuades the reader to place an order; to request additional information; or to lend support to the product or service or cause being offered. It influences the reader to take a specific action by making an offer–not an announcement–to her. To sell, the sales letter must be specific, go to the right audience, appeal to the readers needs, and it must be informative.

The job of the sales letter is to sell, not to tell. Preparing your sales letter means you need to understand the product or service being offered, the market, and the reader?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s needs.

Sales Letter Essentials

The first step, before you sit down to write, is to clearly understand your product or service, the market and the reader. What does the product or service do for the one who needs it? What can the reader gain from buying it? What is unique selling point of the product or service? To answer these questions begin by distinguishing the benefits from the features: Persuade your reader to buy based on the grounds of what the product or service does for him or her (benefit), not what the product or service is (feature)!

A benefit is what the product or service does, and what the buyer gains from the feature. A benefit is the specific outcome of the feature. A feature is something the product or service already has. Benefits are what motivate people to buy.

Who is your prospective buyer? What motivates a person to buy this item? The experts say that the emotion most often used to manipulate people to buy is fear, and the thousand variations of it. Walk a mile in the buyers’ shoes. Can you transform him from prospect to buyer?

We?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ve compiled a checklist of essential sales letter elements for you to consider when creating your own powerful tool:


Here is the sequence of components required for an effective sales letter:

1. Your business or personal nameplate (self-explanatory)
2. Image and headline
3. Greeting
4. Lead paragraph
5. Body
6. Closing

Image and Headline

The image, if used, is near the headline. It helps to catch the reader’s eye. If you have a logo or design for your business do not use it in the sales letter unless it is truly relevant to what you are offering. Use a specific image that is germane to your headline, lead, and theme, or do not use one at all. Stay with words.

The headline is usually 3 – 30 words long. It grabs the reader’s attention, and tells him what the ad (sales letter) is about. It makes a promise regarding what the item you are selling will do for him. Ideally, the job of the headline is to get the reader?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s attention, list a benefit and make a promise.

The headline draws the reader into the rest of the copy. Headlines of 10 words or more tend to generate more orders or leads. Headlines that promise a benefit also tend to sell more. Use your main selling point in the headline. Remember you only get 7 – 10 seconds to hook the reader. If the biggest benefit of what you are selling is cost, then list that first.

The sub-headline or lead paragraph is optional. It can be used to expand the promise made in the headline or used to deliver a 2nd major benefit of the product or service. A sub-headline can also be used as the second part, to answer a question posed in the headline. For example, Part 1 could say: “Want to double your part-time income during the next 90 day period?” Part 2 could say: “Well, here’s how to . . .”

Lead Paragraph

There are many possibilities for opening your sales letter that could persuade the reader to buy. Experiment, and create one that is right for your offer. Tell a story that the reader can identify with, in conversational tone

  • Make an announcement of a new product or service, a one of a kind event, or important news, showcasing your unique selling point
  • Identify the readers problem, one that your product will solve
  • Ask a question
  • Let the reader in on little known information

Body

The body expands the theme, fills in details, offers proof, and shows how you plan to fulfill the promise you made in the headline. Here, using the same tone and staying with the spirit of the headline, you begin to give details of your unique selling point. You continue talking about the benefits and offer proof of the claim you made early on. You share the details of the benefits. You prove your case or claim. Remember, by the end of the body, the goal is to create an emotional response that will cause the reader to do what you are now going to tell him to do.

Technical and complex words help, provided they are relevant and that your target recipient will understand them. Also remember that most decision-makers in organizations are fundamentally driven by return on investment. Use references that you believe are likely to be the most unique and beneficial and relevant, (which is why doing some initial research is useful). As a general rule, be specific but not detailed, and be broad but not vague.

Closing or Call to Action

The closing, or call to action, urges the reader to take the next step you want him to take. If you ask the reader to order, support, or to contact you for the specified reason you must make it easy for him to reply. Support the sales letter with a post card or prepaid envelope, and an order form. If not appropriate, supply a toll free telephone number, an Email link, and or your URL.

Always close with a thank you and use a signature at the end of the letter.

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