I’ve run a handful of workshops recently on the subject of ‘writing great sales copy’. As part of the exercise I’ve asked for people to submit their efforts in advance – we use them in the group to dissect what’s going on and how they can be improved, and I offer my rewritten version to show a VERY different approach.
It’s been an interesting exercise!
Notable issues that have arisen …
Something of an obsession with keeping the letter to just one page – because ‘people will lose interest’ – which is an interesting analysis, assuming that length rather than content is the key to commanding someone’s attention!
An almost universal failure to bring the letter to any viable conclusion – other than to ‘call me if you are interested’. The risk here is that most people will come to the conclusion that ‘direct mail doesn’t work for me’.
Most people want to sound ‘professional’ when they write to people – the inevitable result being that they sound ‘dull’. Certainly they fail to evoke any form of curiosity or reaction at all. The assumption it would seem that not sounding ‘professional’ is risky – whereas I would suggest that sounding anything other than ‘interesting’ is the biggest risk of all.
The GREAT COPY checklist…
So, without the full nine yards of explanation, here’s my ‘sales letter essential checklist’. I suggest you print it out and use it to check against what you are sending out – and, by the way, sales letters don’t just go in envelopes … they can be video scripts, or web pages, or emails too.
- Start with a GREAT headline – summarise WHY they will want to read on
- Throughout the copy, anticipate and answer the reader’s questions – WHY should I be interested?
- Always write engaging and compelling copy – you’ve got to keep them interested through to the end! Don’t be afraid of being colloquial, funny, challenging…
- Maintain sense of energy and momentum – one paragraph should drive you forward to the next
- Remember the Dual Readership Path – in other words, most people will ‘scan read’ first and THEN decide if they want to read it all. Make it easy for them to pick out what’s important …Bullets & lists / photos / graphics / cartoons / iInteresting fonts for headings and annotations
- Always include your credentials – why should I even consider working with you? I don’t mean write a list of your awards and qualifications, but make it clear from your content that you are good at what you do and that your industry thinks so too.
- Always show social proof: Who else – like me – is doing this? Either by inserting testimonials, or referring to key customers that are meaningful to your audience – or both!
- Answer the question – ‘I don’t know you from Adam – why would I work with you? What guarantee can you offer?
- Make it easy for them to start a relationship with you. What’s the compelling offer? And the deadline?
- Make sure you give only ONE offer but MULTIPLE ways to access it.
- For many of you, you’re not selling anything but a meeting. Don’t ‘sell what you do’ – sell the idea of meeting with you – tell them why they’d be daft not to.
- Always have a PS – it will be one of the most read bits
- Meaning that a PPS works too!
Which is why one of my course delegates said… ‘no wonder your letters are longer than one page!’ Too right! Done well, your sales letter is likely to be AT LEAST two pages long. And if it’s good – they WILL read it. Trust me.
Worth bearing in mind …
Don’t just talk about YOU – 3:1 ratio of YOU to I/we
Craft you letter: don’t just write it
Challenge every word, paragraph and statement for its right to be there
Always ask … “how can I make this better?”
Be engaging, interesting, controversial, challenging, witty, memorable, obnoxious even … but NEVER – EVER – commit the cardinal sin of being DULL!
Have fun – and remember, I’m always happy to look at your copy if you send it to me …