Sales letters are still a valuable marketing tool, even in today’s digitally dominated world.
I know the title of this article talks about the perfect recipe, but there is no one-size-fits-all formula. Your sales letter, its approach and tone will depend on your audience and the letter’s purpose.
However, there are some core elements common to all sales letters.
This article will look at those elements and discuss how they can be adapted to suit your particular needs.
Let’s start at the top.
An immediate impact
The opening of your sales letter is your make-or-break moment.
Whether you go for a bold heading before the greeting or a powerful first sentence, you must immediately grab your reader’s attention if you want them to read on.
If you go for the headline option, you must decide whether to go for something creative or something that sticks with the primary benefit you’re offering.
Certainly, telling the reader you’re about to save them money will probably want them to read more, but so can a creative hook.
A few years ago, I created a sales letter for a finance company that provides flexible working capital for small businesses. Their existing raft of letters opened with the benefits of their increased flexibility, low rates, etc. However, they wanted to find a new approach that would set them apart from their competitors.
The solution I came up with was a more creative opening that would raise questions in the reader’s mind. A strong initial sentence and bullet points that highlighted the main benefits of their offering then reinforced this:
Sales letters and structure
There are several ways you can structure your letter: making an announcement, telling a story or asking a question.
My personal favourite is the problem/solution format. As the name suggests, after your strong headline, you state the problem your reader is facing and then provide them with a solution.
This works for most businesses; however, the story approach can be very powerful if you’re creating a letter for a charity.
Writing it in the first person from an individual who has benefited from the charity, or as a story about a person, can pull at the reader’s heartstrings because it humanises the cause.
Your product or service has benefits, and it has features.
Features are the nice to know, whereas benefits are the need to know because they are the ones that will make an emotional impact on your reader. They will make their life easier, save them money or make them more successful.
That’s why it’s important to stress the benefits in your letter.
Highlight them by showing them in a bulleted list, but make sure they are tangible and relevant to your audience.
Make your offer irresistible
Another essential element of your sales letter is your offer.
People don’t buy products or services; they buy offers.
For example, if you’re selling glasses, your reader will go for your ‘buy one get one free’ deal rather than ‘buy your designer glasses for £150’.
Equally, rather than signing up to buy 12 issues of your magazine, they’ll be falling over themselves to ‘sign up and get 50% off the newsstand price.’
Sales letters and guarantees
Marketers talk a lot these days about the fear of missing out (FOMO), but the fear of being ripped off is just as powerful.
The best way to get your reader to buy is to offer them a cast-iron money-back guarantee. After all, if you’re so convinced your product or service is the best, you should be prepared to back your claims up with a no quibble guarantee.
Plus, the more you stress it in your letter, the more likely you will gain your reader’s trust.
Call to action
The final ingredient is the call to action (i.e. tell them what to do next).
Your reader is intelligent, but it’s vital you still say what you want them to do.
Also, make it as easy as possible for them to order from you: enclosed a stamped address envelope, show your email clearly, offer a Freephone number – in fact, the more options you can provide, the better.
Even if your phone number or email is in your signature or the header or footer of your letter, repeat it clearly and boldly after your call to action – you don’t want to give your reader any excuse not to get in touch.
These six elements are the vital ingredients for any sales letter.
It may take time to find the right combination and approach, and it’s always a good idea to test a couple of options to help you hone your recipe. Done well, a sales letter will still have an impact, despite the digital age in which we live. In fact, with the rise of email marketing, some people see it as a nice change to receive a letter.
Give it a try and experiment with a few different approaches to find out what works for your audience.
Sally Ormond has over ten years of experience in creating eye-catching, compelling copy. To get your sales letters noticed, get in touch.