You still can't beat a well-written piece of direct mail!Marvellous though the Internet is, it still can't beat a
well-written, well-targeted piece of direct mail

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How to write an excellent sales letter

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You still can't beat a well-written piece of direct mail!

Marvellous though the Internet is, it still can't beat a well-written, well-targeted piece of direct mail (see our two feature articles on Targeted Marketing).

Here's a powerful but easy six-point plan to help you to produce a powerful sales letter to use as part of your direct mail:

  1. What is the objective of the letter? Think very clearly about what you want the letter to do:
    • Get a direct order?
    • Generate enquiries?
    • Get a sales interview?
    • Get filed for future reference?
    • Inform and educate?
    • Get the reader to expect a telephone call from you?
    If you don't start off with a clear objective, how can you expect the reader to respond in the way you want?

  2. Get attention quickly You have about 5 seconds to get the reader's attention - to persuade him/her to read the rest of the letter rather than chuck it. So use a headline to great effect. Try one of these attention-getters:
    • Ask a how or why question
    • Offer a benefit.
    • Offer a challenge.
    • Make it BIG (but don't go over the top!)
    • Make it relevant - don't disappoint people by promising something in the headline that isn't justified in the rest of the letter.
    • Name a price - if that's a major benefit of what you are selling.

  3. Make it easy to read:
    • Keep the first sentence short.
    • Keep the paragraphs short.
    • Use wide margins.
    • Break up the text - use indents and sub-headings.
    • Write with one person in mind - make it personal without being too chatty.
    • Get someone else to check your letter for easy-to-read appeal.

  4. What benefits will the reader gain?
    • Concentrate on benefits rather than features all the time. (See our article on Selling the sizzle! to see the difference between 'benefits' and 'features').
    • Make the letter as personal to the reader as possible. Talk in terms of their industry and their interests - again, part of the targeted marketing approach.

  5. Try to build a partnership between you and the reader:
    • Talk in terms of the reader, not you.
    • Avoid too much use of "I" and "me"
    • Start with "I", move to "you", and with "us".

  6. Get the reader to act in the way that you want them to - don't leave them trying to guess the purpose of the letter. If you want them to read a brochure, tell them. If you are going to phone them, tell them.

No-one has yet written the perfect sales letter that gets results every time. But this six-point plan may 0help you to write more effective letters.

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