Planning Your Sales Letter

February 25th 2010       Sally Ormond       copywriter, copywriting tips, freelance copywriter

sales letter

Being a copywriter my work has to inspire, entertain and inform my readers. It has to help them make the right buying decision, which, of course, means coming to the conclusion that that product or service I happen to be writing aboutis the one they want.

But there is a saying coined by yours truly that shows this isn’t quite as easy as it sounds:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a reader in possession of a sales letter, will be in close proximity of a rubbish bin’

OK, so I may not have come up with that one totally on my own – I had a bit of help from Jane Austin. But it is very true – people don’t like sales letters. They turn up on your door step unannounced trying to sell you something you don’t want (I like to think that you may not  think you need it…yet). It is an invasion of their privacy so there is only place for them to got – in the rubbish to be recycled into something more useful.

How to make your sales letter un-recyclable

I agree that, technically, a sales letter is going to be recyclable however well it’s written. But hopefully this post will delay the inevitable until your letter has been read and, preferably, been acted upon.

If your letter is unsolicited it is unlikely to be read.

The potential success of your letter is determined before it has been written – it’s all in the planning. You do plan, don’t you?

Don’t panic! I have a plan

The planning of your letter is vital. You’d be amazed at how many people think it’s OK to skip this step.

Cast your mind back to your school days if you can – remember that teacher (you know the one, brown suit and socks with sandals) who always told you to plan your essays, well he was right. Remember how, when you took his advice, you grades began to rise? Well, if you plan out your sales letters your sales results will also start to rise. There’s nothing worse than receiving a letter that’s all over the place – no planning means no focus. And no focus means wishy-washy nothingness.

This list of pointers will help you plan your letters.

  • Who am I writing to? – your target market/ideal reader this will determin the voice you use
  • What do I want to say? – focus on your reader’s needs not yours so clearly state the benefits as they will see them
  • How much space do I have? – if there is a set word limit make sure you know what it is
  • How do I want to come across? – what’s your tone to be? Friendly, approachable, authoritative…
  • What’s my deadline? – this is vital!
  • What do I want to achieve? – what is the objective of your sales letter?

There is a good reason why the last point is in bold – because it’s flaming important!!!!

You must know what is to be achieved by your letter if you are going to make it happen. Do you want it to change your readers’ minds about something? Do you want them to buy something, book an appointment, sign up for a newsletter…

Why am I telling you this?

For the simple reason if I don’t you could end up spending a small fortune on your sales letter campaigns in return for absolutlet nothing.

These simple tips will help  you get your plan in place. Make sure you:

  • Find our who your audience is
  • Tell them the benefits of your product
  • Tell them what you want them to do next

Before you whinge that you haven’t got time to plan – just think about what diving in unprepared might do. It could turn  your unopened letter into a paper cup!

Of course there is one way that you can save yourself the time it takes to plan and execute a brilliant sales letter – hire a copywriter!

Tags: copywriter, copywriting tips, freelance copywriter
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