What never, EVER to do in a sales letter

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If you write sales letters for yourself or for a client, there are common mistakes you should avoid like the plague!  Making these mistakes will cost you sales and probably the opportunity to ever make another offer to 50% or more of your readers.

These mistakes are so common, and so obvious, that you’d think everyone would know about them and already be avoiding them.  Not so.  It’s amazing how many people, including professional writers, sit down and write a sales letter without paying the least attention to avoiding these fundamental flaws.

In fact, you might have even been guilty of making some of these mistakes yourself!  But not anymore.  Once you’ve read through this list, you’ll be thinking to yourself, “Of course, it’s so obvious!”

Make a checklist for yourself so that next time you write a sales letter you can ensure that you’re not making any of these mistakes:

1. No headline in the letter.

Headlines are very important.  It’s amazing how many people write sales letters and simply jump into the explanation of why they’re writing without thinking of a headline.

Why is a headline so important?

Headline’s trumpet the main message of the letter loud and clear.  When I say ‘main’ message, I don’t necessarily mean that they spell out the core reason for the letter, but rather they are an ad for the letter.  A good headline will usually promise a benefit.  Something quantifiable.  Something desirable.  Something attractive enough that it will make the reader want to know the rest of the story.

In order to hit the right note, usually you’ll want to appeal to a basic emotion, such as curiosity.  You would want to promise some information that would be of the greatest interest to the reader.  An example of this would be the old classic, “When sat down at the piano everyone laughed – until I began to play.”  Or “How you can retire anywhere in the world and earn a 6 figure income with no job.”

Even B2B sales letters benefit from a strong headline.  Take these for example, “Just 2 hours a week implementing this simple system will bring you a flood of business over the next 12 months”.  Or, “Are your staff cheating on you?  One question you can ask that will uncover the truth.”  Or, “Improve your machinery reliability and avoid unscheduled downtime immediately.”

All strong headlines grab the readers attention and cause them to scour the letter for the ‘rest of the story’.

Not using a headline is simply foolhardy.

2. Don’t make a specific, time limited offer.

If you don’t make an offer, or if your offer is too vague or wishy-washy, you’ll find your response will also be that way.  When you make an offer, make certain that you’ve spelt out the benefits of what you’re selling and that you spell it out again, in point form in your offer.

Of course, making an offer is not always that easy.  And there’s a lot of skill involved in skillfully making ‘pre-offers’ before closing.  There’s not room here to discuss all the in’s and out’s here.

When you make your closing offer, ensure that the reader knows

  1. exactly what they’re being asked to buy
  2. what they will get (that may look like the same thing, but it’s not always)
  3. your guarantee
  4. for how long the offer is valid

3. Don’t tell them exactly how to order.

Even if you make a wonderful, impossible to refuse offer, but you don’t

  1. tell the reader how to order
  2. tell the reader how to pay
  3. provide at least 2 or, preferably 3 payment alternatives

you will find that your response will suffer.  People generally need to be given step-by-step instructions and if they don’t get them, they’ll set your letter aside until they have more time to figure out how to respond.  The problem is, most won’t ever go back to it, and those that do will have lost the momentum to order that your letter built up originally.

Remember to avoid these mistakes and your sales letters will be stronger and more profitable.

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