Writing Effective Sales Letters
Neil Bromage has run his own small business and is a freelance business writer working on a range of newspapers including The Times, Sunday Times, Telegraph and Financial Mail on Sunday. This book is based on a wide range of columns and Q&As written and answered by Neil for Business Link over a number of years. He is based near Preston, Lancs.
Writing letters is something we all do, often without a second thought. It’s something we easily take for granted. As a result, sales letters are frequently dispatched in less than perfect form and fail to produce the desired result.
The real purpose of a sales letter is often overlooked. Most sales letters, for instance, are intended as ‘door openers’ rather than actual sales documents – seeking to begin a dialogue rather than make an immediate sale. It’s important, therefore, to define your aim precisely before writing the letter.
- Keep it simple and brief: avoid using long or technical words and don’t use three words where one will suffice. Keep the length to a minimum – readers don’t want to read two pages of waffle which could have been summed up in less than a page.
- Openings are vital: get the readers’ attention immediately, otherwise they will switch off.
- Relate to readers’ needs: clearly show the benefits the reader could gain.
- Split the content up: use bullet points and highlighted headings to add clarity to the letter.
What to send
Whilst people are generally more willing to open direct mail these days, it soon goes into the bin if they don’t like what they see. Research suggests that around 70% will not read something that looks cluttered. So give consideration to the look of what you are sending. It is worth asking people who fit the profile of your target about what impresses them in a mailing or sales letter.
Even the best writers expect to rewrite something in order to get it right. It may seem like wasted time, but try to think of it in terms of increased sales. That extra five minutes spent rewriting a letter may bring in the best contract you’ve ever had. If you need more guidance, go through the ‘seven steps’ that follow.