Sales letters have been around for a long time.

The way they are constructed has changed very little and, being an off line form of marketing will remain that way.

That said there are a lot of really bad sales letters out there. Many are inward facing – by that I mean they focus on what the company does rather than what the company will do for the customer.

Let’s face it, people don’t really care about your company (that is at least beyond whether you’re trustworthy or not), all they want to know is that you’re going to provide the solution to the problem they have.

Getting the most from your sales letters

The following 7 tips aren’t revolutionary, it’s nothing you haven’t heard before, but they are essential to make sure you get the most from your marketing.

1. Strong start

If you don’t capture your reader’s interest from the off your letter will be on a one-way trip to the waste paper bin.

When kicking off with a headline make sure it:

  • Makes sense
  • Tells the reader what’s in it for them
  • Isn’t so creative it leaves them scratching their head

Of course, sometimes a headline won’t be appropriate and you’ll want to go straight into the body of the letter. In that case your first sentence will take the place of the headline.

2. What’s their problem?

There are lots of different ways of writing a headline (or constructing a first sentence), but the one that has the most power is the problem/solution format.

People don’t buy products they buy solutions to problems, so make sure immediately identify the problem they have and show them how you can take it away.

3. Benefits

Everything you write about must be related back to your reader’s needs. That means every aspect of the product that you write about must, in some way, deliver a solution that’s going to make their life easier, better, richer etc.

4. Offer

You can have an incredibly well written letter, but if your offer is pants people won’t buy. Remember, no one will just buy a pair of glasses, but they will accept a buy one get one free offer.

5. Guarantee

One of the biggest barriers to buying is the fear of being ripped off, especially when buying form an online retailer.

The best way to overcome that is by offering a caste-iron guarantee. Make sure you emphasise it in your letter using bold text. Be proud to be offering it and make sure you stand by it.

6. Call to action

Any sales person worth their salt will ask for the sale, the same goes for your sales letter.

There’s no point in empathising with the reader, highlighting the benefits your product brings, giving a fantastic offer and rock-solid guarantee if you’re not going to tell them how to buy.

Always, always tell them what to do through a commanding call to action, or watch them walk away.

7. Respond this way

You’ve told them what to do now you have to give them the tools to do it.

Make sure you enclose an envelope if they need to post back a reply slip, highlight your phone number or email address if you want to take orders that way. Basically, provide as many options as possible so there’s something to suit everyone.

These 7 tips aren’t breaking new ground, but they are essential if you want your sales letters to work. Make sure your next marketing campaign is as strong as possible, or get in touch with a writer who can do it for you.

Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd.