Much has been written about how to write a sales letter, but more often than not, those writings never deal with more than the mechanical aspect of sales letter writing. There’s nothing wrong with having great prose, but when it come to sales letters – emotion is what really sells. The first step to writing powerful sales letters is to know as much about who will read your letter as you can.
- What is most important to my prospect in this area?
- What problem will this product or service solve for them?
- What will happen to them if they don’t solve their problem?
Once you have a very clear idea of what things you can use to motivate your audience emotionally, set out to design your sales letter. If you need more information, ask for it. Ask the person for whom you are writing, or ask yourself if the sales letter is for something you am selling.
Write out a list of the most important emotional reasons why a person would buy what you are selling. On that list, find the most powerful emotional reason. Remember we are not talking about logical reasons here. All we really care about at this point is what really moves people emotionally.
So for instance, you might have reasons such as: loss of income, loss of health, fear of failure, etc. These things are purely emotional in nature and have the effect of dynamite in terms of their sales power.
From that single most powerful emotional reason, begin your sales letter by creating a powerful, attention-grabbing headline. Use bold type across the top of the page for this part so that, if nothing else, at least the headline is seen by your prospects.
Sales Letter Headline
Since more than 85% of the power of any sales letter is in the headline, make sure, first, that you use one. And second, make sure it is a moving, emotional statement. You might look at these powerful examples:
- “Stop Letting Other People Cheat You Out of the Income You Deserve”
- “Your Health May Depend on the Information in This Letter”
- “Add Years to Your Life with Newly Discovered Super Vitamin”
Just under the headline, use what is known as a sub-headline. This is a short phrase that further acts as a hook to bring the reader into the letter. The headline catches their attention and the sub-headline “sets the hook,” so to speak.
So where does the sub-headline come from? It’s usually another emotional reason, or it can also be a supporting benefit to the main headline. Let’s take the Super Vitamin headline we just looked at. A great sub-headline might be:
“Just one capsule a day can extend your life by a whopping 25%!”
Notice how we are appealing to a person’s emotions rather then their logic. We did not talk about anything about what is in these miracle vitamins; we simply spoke about the benefits these vitamins give to your life.
Writing Your Sales Letter
Now you are ready to begin writing your sales letter. Put yourself in the position of the reader when you write. Look carefully at your headline and your sub-headline. Ask yourself:
- What is the reader thinking right at this point?
- What questions might they be asking?
- What fears might they have?
- What might be pushing them away at this point?
When you begin your letter by asking questions, the text just flows because it really is nothing more than answering those questions with benefit-laden sentences and paragraphs. You may even want to ask the questions out loud in the letter and then answer them. This is a great way to lead the reader down your train of thought.
But you can’t write an emotional sales letter unless you are in the same place emotionally as your reader! If you want to talk to your reader in a tone and language that they will respond to, you have to put yourself in their head as you write!
One effective means is to first stand up and picture yourself as one of the people getting this sales letter about whatever product or service it is you are writing about. Think about how it would feel to be living with a limited income for example. How would that affect the way you make a buying decision?
Picture yourself living in a crowded apartment, or maybe as a person who sees ten sales letters every day. How can you make your sales letter stand out? What can you say that will really capture attention, address all the readers’ fears, and make them feel good emotionally?
When you have answered all the questions that you can come up with, sit down and quickly take some notes. Write out all the questions that you need to answer in your sales letter. Also write down all the possible fears and objections your offer might face. The goal is to answer each and every one of them in the letter.
How long should your sales letter be? Our feeling is, and has always been, as long as it takes to tell your story. You will not lose your reader’s attention if your writing is conversational, upbeat and provides answers to the questions they might be asking. This is the only way your sales letters will be read by the largest number of people possible.
The last part is to make sure you use a “PS:” at the end of your letter. You can use this space to make the reader a special offer or to reiterate an offer you already made in the letter itself. Often use this space to also restate a deadline when the offer will expire. Believe it or not, this one part of your sales letter is read more often than the sales letter itself! Use it to your advantage!
So, remember to use a headline, followed by a sub-headline. Then, before you begin to write, put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. Try to find out what questions they might be asking. Ask them and answer them in your letter. Always answer with a benefit that your product or service offers and that clear answers their question. Finish up your letter with a “PS:” and you’re all set. Have friends and associates read your letter. But before you do, pre-frame them to act as if they were your intended prospect. Now have them read your letter and give you feedback. If this all seems like too much work, it’s not! Writing emotionally moving sales letters making tons of cash and turning prospects into life-long customers is easier than you think!
Article originally published in 1999
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