Have you ever read one of those annoying sales letters online that are blatant advertisements thinly veiled as a letter from a concerned business person who wants to help others?
Headlines such as “I made a million dollars and want to show you how to do the same!” or “I Want to Teach You What Professional Investors Don’t Want You to Know!” are commonplace, and it’s no surprise that they only tend to pull in the naïve, and don’t see much success after that. But the reality is that sales letters—whether they’re posted on a website or sent via regular mail to existing customers or new leads—can be a potential profit booster for any type of business. In fact, according to the latest industry report issued by the Direct Marketing Association, an emailed sales letter has about a 1.73 conversion rate, while a letter mailed to the home of an existing customer averaged 3.42 percent. (Cold-call direct mail letters had the lowest conversion rate at 1.38 percent.)
The key is to structure them correctly in a way that readers will see the benefits that you have to offer them, and not be insulted by a poorly disguised sales pitch. Whether you’re expanding your product line, having a sale, or just want to remind your customers that you’re still there and waiting to fill their needs, a sales letter just may the ticket. But before you write it, take a look at the six areas that every effective sales letter needs to address.
Many business owners forget who their audience is when writing a sales letter, and fill it with information about themselves. But just as in any sales presentation, you should always concentrate on the customer and their needs. WIIFM, or “what’s in it for me?” will be the one thing that the reader will be asking themselves as they read it, and the answer should be clearly stated at the beginning of the letter. You’ve probably seen the sales letters that start out by telling the reader why the writer started their business and then describe how it came about, but the reality is that the reader simply doesn’t care. They want to know what you can do for them, and it will be your job to tell them before they lose interest.
Make it Personal
No one values a letter that they feel was just printed out, along with thousands of others, and impersonally sent out. That’s why you see most of the larger companies taking the time and expense to personally address each letter that they send out. Learn from them—they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t increase their response rate.
Often a sales letter will focus on one sale or other one-time event, but in reality the way to increase profits over the long term is to build lasting relationships with your existing customer base. Do this by sending out sales letters that not only focus on one sale, but on the benefits of doing business with your company over the long haul. You can give points for each purchase, give discounts to preferred customers, or appreciation gifts for referrals, but however you do it, making them feel a part of the business family will add dollars to your bottom line.
Make it Useful
A good sales letter can have months—sometimes even years—of useful life. By including useful information in it, recipients will be more likely to hang on to it, or even put it in a place where they can frequently access the information, like on a refrigerator door. For example, if you sell baby items, you could include a list of the top 10 things to look for before calling a doctor. The same is true for any type of business, whether it be gardening, car repair or legal services.
Ask for Action
Never close your sales letter without asking the reader to do something. That may be calling to set up an appointment, sending back a pre-paid card, enrolling in a club, or going online or in person to take advantage of a sale, but you must ask them to do something. After all, the point of the letter is to make a sale.
The bottom line is, the better your sales letter is constructed, the higher amount of profits you’ll gain from your efforts. Nielsen/Net Rating’s MegaView Retail Report was just issued and they show that the retailer Proflowers is currently achieving a 14.1 percent conversion rate from their sales letters. That’s a lot of profits. And who says you can’t achieve the same.