Sales letters


You would think that writing a letter would be easy.

Ok, most of today’s communications are electronic, so the art of letter writing is on the wane, but the act of committing your thoughts to paper can’t be that hard, can it?

Judging by a lot of the direct mail I get these days the answer to that is yes.

Where are you going wrong?

  1. How many?

The biggest problem I see is that too many things are being covered in a single letter.

Let’s say you’re in the loan business. Your product is unique because it’s flexible, you base lending decisions on the whole business rather than just the balance sheet, there are no fees, and you provide a quick application process.

If you try to cover all those benefits in one letter, your message will get confused.

Look at what you offer from your customers’ perspective and decide on which is the most important. For argument’s sake let’s say that is the ‘no hidden fees’ bit. As you start to think about it, there are no hidden fees, no long-term commitments and no lengthy application process. That’s three nos.

Now you start to get excited; how can you convey these three nos in an intriguing and eye-catching way?

  1. Attention grabbing headline

To answer my earlier question, three nos means there’s nothing to see.

By using ‘Nothing to see here’ as your headline you’ve piqued your readers’ curiosity, pulled them in and persuaded them to read on.

It’s different because you haven’t gone for the usual ‘We offer flexible loans to businesses like yours’ – yawn.

They wouldn’t have been expecting an opener like that, so you’ve got them hooked, how you have to keep them dangling.

  1. Get to the point

Much of your writing in the past would have been during your education years. You were always taught to set the scene and gradually build your writing up to a crescendo.

Try that in a sales letter, and you’ll lose your reader immediately.

So far, you’ve invested a lot of your time in getting them to begin reading with your catchy headline. Now you have to hit them, square in the face, with a sentence that tells them:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • How you’ll benefit them

Yes, that’s a lot to cover, but it can be done.

Let’s take our lending example again. From the headline it’s not instantly clear what you do, so you’d start off telling the reader you lend and that you’re different (not in those exact words; you’ll obviously come up with something far more stylish). To reinforce that, you will then continue with three bullets outlining the three nos identified above.

Hey presto, in a few words they know who you are, what you do and how you’ll benefit them.

Easy, right?

  1. Don’t let them go

Once you’ve backed up your killer opening with supporting, original and persuasive copy (I’m not writing that bit for you), you have to make sure you add in a call to action.

If you can, reinforce the reasons why they need your service and tell them to call, email, or whatever other contact methods you prefer.

  1. Be a real person

Above all, when you’re following the other points above, make sure you write like a human.

A real person will be reading your letter. They don’t want something full of hype and hyperbole. They want straight talking, conversational and friendly content that makes them want to deal with you.


Writing sales letters takes practice. You might not hit it right the first time, but learn from your mistakes and keep refining your message until you get it right.

It’s also good practice to split test – sending out different letters to work out which approach is best.

Understanding your audience and treating them like human beings is the key to success of any sales strategy.


Sally Ormond is an international copywriter. Over the past decade, she has worked with numerous brands in all areas of content production. Placing the end customer at the centre of everything she writes, Sally’s words attract, convince and convert. Find out more by contacting her at Briar Copywriting