Sales letters, sent via e-mail or snail mail, are an effective and inexpensive way to get your message out. Even if your letter goes out to thousands of people, it can give the feel of a personal communication — IF you write it in a direct and conversational tone.
To get your creative juices flowing, here are five tried and true formulas that can work for either e-mail or printed letters.
1. Tell a story — from either your point of view or a customer’s.
Example: ‘”When I started my own business, I was very nervous about keeping my books. I’m not a numbers person and wanted nothing to do with it! Then I purchased ‘EZ-BOOKS’ software. Instantly, all my accounting “dirty work” disappeared. I gained instant peace of mind, and now I can focus on my real job — finding and keeping customers!”
Copy written in a story format has great appeal. By telling a short story that relates to the reader’s situation, you create empathy with her. People are also familiar with stories and enjoy hearing them (they appear daily in newspapers, magazines, TV, etc.). If your letter happens to be a long one, you can draw out your story for added suspense, saving the outcome for the end. (People WILL read long copy… IF they are really interested in it.)
2. Ask questions.
Example: “Have you ever stared at yourself in the mirror and wanted to cry? If we told you we have a product guaranteed to help you lose weight, would you be interested? And what if we told you this product would cost you less than $30?”
Basic psychology dictates that when you ask a question, the reader feels compelled to answer it. You’re involving them immediately in the issue at hand. Many effective sales letters ask a series of questions that are all likely answered with a “yes” from the reader.
3. Offer something FREE.
My Own Example: “Would you like a complimentary copy of our FREE report, “The 3 Simple Secrets to Publishing an Ezine That Makes You Money?” Then just go to www.boostbizezine.com and you can download it instantly.”
Think of three free things you could offer right now. A free e-mail or printed newsletter. A helpful article, report, brochure, or booklet. A complimentary consultation or a discount on a first visit.
4. Point out a problem or fear the reader may have.
Example: “You may feel safe in your own home, but did you know that burglaries in your neighborhood are UP by 30%? This is the ideal time to install that home security system you’ve been thinking about.”
The advertising industry has been doing this to us for years. Remember how Listerine convinced all of us we have “halitosis”? (It’s the clinical term for bad breath, but it sounds like the plague!) Direct marketers call this “pushing the ouch button”. You’d be surprised at how many situations you can use it in, and it works like a charm.
5. Mention someone the reader knows.
Example: “Your friend *Jenny Smith* told us you could use a little ‘R&R.’ That’s why we’re inviting you to the grand opening of our new ‘Bath and Beauty’ Web store, featuring home spa products to help you relax.”
If you operate a referral program, this is an extremely effective way to reach out and touch your prospects. When I was a copywriter in New York City, I wrote a letter using this format for a prominent day spa, and it generated quite a bit of attention. Why? The reader immediately sees the name of someone she knows — the letter makes an instant, personal connection.
(TIP: Ask your clients for the names of a few people who may be interested in your products/services, offering them an incentive if those people respond. These types of referral programs — or “affiliate programs”, as they’re called online — take some time to generate, but they’re well worth it!)
One Final Note:
Remember that your #1 goal is to “hook” your reader right away! We’re all bombarded with tons of e-mail and snail mail every day, so you have a limited amount of time to grab our attention.
Your best bet is to keep your e-mail sales letters within one or two computer screens, and your snail-mail letters to one or two pages. There are exceptions, but keeping it to the point is the best way for you to get started.
© 2003-2009 Alexandria Brown International Inc.
Self-made multimillionaire entrepreneur Ali Brown is devoted to creating financial freedom for women globally through the power of entrepreneurship. To learn how to create wealth and live an extraordinary life now, register for her free weekly articles at www.AliBrown.com