We’ve never met.
But we have something in common.
You have a sales letter or you’re thinking about writing one. I’ve been selling online with sales letters since before the WWW (back on AOL). I’ve sold millions online so I do know a thing or two about what does and doesn’t work.
Here are few steps for you to follow:
1. Your hook is all important
I learned copywriting originally from Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples. Most guys and gals who are old school learned it from there also.
Caples taught that your HEADLINE was the key to the ad. It’s the ad for the ad. But the newer thinking epitomized by Michael Masterson and my friend Jason Fladlien is that the HOOK of your ad is ALL important.
Masterson calls it the “Big Idea.”
Fladlien calls it a hook.
The thing it MUST do is hook the reader’s attention with something dramatic, compelling or intriguing. For example, for my Sales Letters Software I once used a shocking USP, or unique selling proposition.
I said that if you wrote a letter using my software, your products would sell or I’d send a picture of me kissing the elephant’s behind. It showed the picture of the elephant’s tail end.
Then we followed that up with a number of other riffs. Here’s one:
That happened to be sent as an html email but we could have just as easily used it at the top of a web page.
So step one is to come up with a potent hook or angle.
Step two will come tomorrow or the next day.
Most attention in how to write sales letters info products focuses on writing headlines. But your first paragraph is very important.
Here are a few ways to begin. I’m borrowing liberally from John Caples’ classic Making Ads Pay. A lot of people don’t realize that in addition to Tested Advertising Methods he also wrote two other books: Making Ads Pay and How to Make Your Advertising Make Money. Both are awesome in classic John Caples style.
1. Continue the thought of the headline and expand on it
Whatever your main thought in the headline is, continue this in your opening paragraphs and expand on it. The headline is a promise of a result. So you open by elaborating on that result by painting a picture of it or telling a story that illustrates it. Or simply by explaining more about it.
2. The Gary Halbert If You-> Then Opening
This is one of my favorites. Gary didn’t originate it but he sure made it famous. And he always executed it so well.
Back in the day, the opening to Amazing Formula read If you’d like to sell your products by the hundreds or thousands, listen up. This might be the most important letter you’ve ever read.
That’s vintage Gary Halbert style. For those of you who don’t know who Gary was, he was a legend of copywriting and a hero to many entrepreneurs, in spite of his checkered history.
3. Begin with an authoritative quote
The classic sales letter for Dale Carnegie’s timeless book How to Win Friends and Influence People began with a John D. Rockefeller quote.
John D. Rockefeller, Sr. once said: “The ability to deeal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee. And I will pay more for that ability than any other under the sun.”
That’s beginning with an authoritative quote.
4. Hit ’em With a Challenge
This works well in the Internet age of skepticism. Instead of coming across hard sell, begin with a take away right off the bat questioning whether or not the person qualifies.
Here’s a classic quote by Bruce Barton:
“About one man in ten will be appealed to by this page.. The other nine will be hard workers, ernest, ambitious in their way, but to them a coupon is a coupon; a book is a book’ a Course is a Course. The one man in ten has imagination.
And imagination rules the world.”
Wow! What a great opening.
5. Lead off with a blockbuster testimonial
This is another one that works great in the Internet age. Lead off with your best testimonial.
You just can’t provide too much proof of credibility in the Internet age.
6. Spin a story that illustrates the main benefit
That’s another classic way to begin a letter.
John Carlton does this better than just about anyone. He’s the master of leading with a story that pulls you into the letter.
Now, once you get that killer sales letter written, you need a web page for it.
That’s an article I wrote over on Go Articles.
I created a category or genre of software called Sales Letter Software. It’s what some people use as training wheels to write sales letters with. A pro doesn’t need it. But a newer person sure does.
Here’s WHY I created this software:
1. I created a 12-step formula for writing copy.
What I found is that MOST people didn’t follow the formula, no matter how much I encouraged them too. That’s when I got the idea to practically force feed people the formula.
Push Button Letters was born.
2. It uses a proven formula
There are many formulas for writing sales letters. The oldest one I know and, in my estimation the least useful, is AIDA. Attention-Interest-Desire-Action. That’s a dumb formula because it doesn’t explain HOW to do those things.
My 12-step formula lays it all out.
3. You need to start with structure
A little structure to start with is good. Before you learn to break the rules, learn to follow them.
If you believe what you hear in the news, many countries of the world have gone through a bit of a recession.
Let’s say that you want to boost sales without spending a lot of money. How can you do it? You already know the answer. Marketing. More marketing.
Here are the steps:
1. Ask yourself, “What do my customers really want?”
Even if it’s something not directly related to your product or service, perhaps you can find a way to tie it in. I remember reading a great story about how one marketer for a minor league baseball team in Hawaii needed to drum up attendance. It seemed that everyone loved attending picnics.
So this enterprising marketer created a picnic night at the ballpark. People ate it up.
2. Target a specific segment or group of your customers
You can’t develop a great offer for a nebulous blog of people. Instead, select a sub-group of your customers, so you can create a great offer for them.
For example, in my business I have a segment of customers who are under age 30, have graduated from college but are disillusioned with the corporate world. For these people, I could put together a special package called the “Up-And-Comer’s Kit For Escaping The Corporate World and Finding Fulfillment.”
What OFFER could you put together for a specific group of people that would uniquely meet their needs? Maybe you get a few other businesses to throw in a few things to make your package more attractive. And in return, you give those businesses something of yours they can package in.
For a specific group or segment of customers, you’re creating the ideal offer.
3. Create a sales letter, teleseminar, webinar or web page that systematically gives the benefits of taking advantage of the offer today.
I’ve always felt that good sales letters are me-to-you communications. In other words, a good sales letter sounds just as though we were sitting down over coffee and I was explaining the offer to you, casually and without sales pressure or hype.
That’s what a great sales letter does. It’s a conversation. Now, that sales message can be printed on paper, put on a web page, sent in an email or delivered via fax. The VEHICLE that sends the sales message is far less important than the message itself.
Are you an entrepreneur who intend on selling your product and service via the internet? Are you unsure of how to write an effective sales letter of recommendation to grab the attention and interest of prospective customers? This article will provide effective tips that you can use when writing a sales letter of recommendation.
A killer sales letter of recommendation must consist of eight (8) components. And it is critical that you use all these items when writing your sales latter because this will ensure that it has a maximum input. Following is the list of eight essential components that are required in your sales letter of recommendation.
If you consider these eight pointers when writing your sales letter of recommendation then you are on the path to writing an effective and successful sales letter that can guarantee you customer’s interests to your products and services. You must also ensure that you take the time to brainstorm effective headlines that are necessary for successful sales letter of recommendation.
Need more help in writing your sales letters?
When I started as a copywriter back in 1983, there was
precious little to learn from.
A few John Caples books. “The Robert Collier Letter Book.”
Dan Kennedy’s book. Victor O. Schwab. A few others. Great
books in their own rights. But lacking in terms of a
step-by-step, actionable formula in my opinion.
And my perspective is as one who ONLY had those books to
learn how to write sales letters from.
It took me a long time to learn what you can grasp in a
few dedicated months of study today. If you read much
about how to write sales letters on the Net, you’ll see
over and over a 12-step formula for writing sales letters.
This is my formula. I created it. It’s spread without
attribution. But I want people to know the truth. That’s
I’m the ONLY person who can tell you where this formula
came from and how it was developed. I can ALSO tell you
that prior to this formula, the only things that existed
as sales letter formulas were grossly lacking.
How about this barnburner: Attention, interest, desire,
action. That’s one that I had to learn from. No wonder it
took me so long to learn.
Or here’s another one: Problem, agitate, solve. Alright.
Nice formula. Totally lacking. There were other formulas.
The thing is, I felt a formula was needed that expressed
how I had learned to write sales letters through the
school of hard knocks.
I created a 12-step formula and later codified it in “The
Amazing Formula” as as chapter. And broke it out into a
separate product. Actually, I first sold it in an ebook
called WSOTM, Web Site Order Taking System. But that’s
going way back.
As proof, I might site the fact that I OWN
salesletters.com. And I HAVE owned it a long freakin’
time. That’s for all the skeptics who think I take credit
for things that don’t deserve it.
Anyway, I taught this formula at a lot of seminars. The
old Boulder seminars with Jonathan Mizel and Declan Dunn.
The Carl Galletti seminars.
Before long, everbody and their dog grasped onto the
12-step formula. Wrote it up in free ebooks. Wrote it up
in articles and posted it on the Net.
All fine. All well and good. Would have been NICE to give
attribution. I guess they argue they changed SOMETHING.
What? I’m not sure. But something.
Anyway, to make a long story longer, I found out at some
point that even though I was teaching the 12-step formula,
people were NOT following. That is how I created a whole
entired category of software and products referred to as
“sales letter generators.”
I created a product called “Push Button Letters” that
forced people to follow the 12-step formula.
It was a blockbuster hit so many people created their own
sales letter software programs. More power to them. As
long as it helps people.
There are so many things that have been invented on the
Internet, you could never keep track of who invented what.
Or it would sure be tough.
I don’t even know that it’s important that I get any
credit. I can tell you that Bob Serling deserves a lot for
figuring out what he did. Corey, when he was living,
bought the rights to Bob’s outstanding sales letter
The point of this article really isn’t to pat myself on
the back, although I reckon I’ve done that a little too
It’s really about you, your sales letters and your sales.
Here are a few take aways I hope you find valuable.
1. You can now learn to write basic sales letters in a
month or two, versus the 20 years it took me.
2. There are formulas you can learn that greatly speed
3. If you struggle, there are software programs that can
help you follow proven formulas.
Sales letter headlines are very important.
A great headline reaches out, grabs the reader’s attention and YANKS them into the first sentence of the sales letter — kicking and screaming if need be.
The purpose of the headline is NOT to sell your product or service. The PURPOSE is to get people to read the FIRST sentence of your marketing letter. That’s it!
Here are a few secrets of creating killer, drop dead sales letter headlines:
Secret one: Use tested, proven formulas
There are certain sales letter headline formulas that have worked for 100 years. Here are several:
a. How to + get benefit
Promise the reader they’ll learn how to get a big benefit they really want.
Your readers do NOT likely care about your product, service, idea or cause. But they DO care about getting benefits they want or solving their problems. So you start at the point of their interest — what’s on their mind in the forefront of their consciousness.
Problems tend to suck up a large portion of your field of conscious awareness because you’re preoccupied with solving them. The reticular activating system becomes acutely sensitive to data that can help resolve the conflict, pain or problem.
As a marketer, you feed right into this by putting their problem in the headline of your ad and promising exactly what their reticular activating system is looking for — a solution!
Action: Make a list of ALL the problems your readers or potential buyers have and then write a headline for each one that hints at or promises a solution. Out of that batch of headlines, you should find one or two gems.
If you’re a scientific online marketer, you can split test the different headlines to see which problem your prospects respond to most readily.
b. News + benefit
The word “announcing” is a tested, proven word because it screams “news.” People are addicted to news.
So put something “newsy” in your headline and there’s a good chance you’ll snag the attention of your potential buyer or responder. I use the words “buyer” and “responder” interchangeably. If you’re selling a product or service, you’re looking for BUYERS.
If you’re selling an IDEA, you’re looking for responders.
Either way, is there a news hook you KNOW will reach out and pull in the eyeballs of your target audience? If so, stick it in your headline and watch your readership soar.
3. The impossible made possible
My friend and copywriter extraordinaire Jason Fladlien calls this the incongruent juxtaposition. The famous example is the ad by John Carlton about the one-legged golfer who hits incredibly long drives because of some secret he has.
A one-legged golfer shouldn’t be able to hit a golf ball a longer distance than folks with both legs. It seems impossible. As a result, people will read your letter to find out how and why what should be impossible is actually possible.
4. Feature your guarantee.
My product “The Amazing Formula That Sells Products Like Crazy” features a triple-your-money-back guarantee in the headline. This powerful proof element screams boldness and confidence and pulls people into the letter.
There are other tested, proven headline formulas. But these are several great ones to start with.
I always like to ask myself, “What’s the big benefit here?” Then you put that giant benefit in the headline.
Another tip is to pay attention to headlines that grab YOUR attention and ask yourself is there’s a way you can turn the headline into a formula you can use in YOUR ads.
This way, you parlay what you already know works into your own ads and sale letters.
Sales letter bullet points were the specialty of Gary Halbert.
If you’re an old-timer in direct marking, you know about Gary Halbert, the Prince of Print. If you’re new, then Gary was a legend in this business. And one of his favorite topics was talking about how to write super powerful bullet points for your sales letters.
In fact, bullet points are so powerful, I’ve seen entire sales letters written exclusively from them.
The idea behind bullet points depends on the type of product you’re selling.
If it’s a physical product, you summarize the features and benefits of your product. If you’re selling an info product, you use the bullet points to really arouse curiosity, a very potent motivator.
If you’re unfamiliar with bullet points, here are some from my sales letter for “The Amazing Formula That Sells Products Like Crazy”:
Are you looking for a terrific product to sell that won’t die? How about this? I found out about a guy who started a very specific kind of mail-order business. He thrived during the worst economic time of the last 100 years! It’s evergreen and tailor made for the net.
A down-and-out insurance salesperson changes tactics. One crucial discovery gives him a billion in sales. He ends up buying the company he was working for. How I installed his system into my formula.
An ex-computer salesman in California applied my formula with a genius twist and developed an incredibly thriving online business. Find out about the ummmph he added and how you can use it too.
New ways to send your traffic through the roof. I’m NOT talking about the same old rehashed, regurgitated search engine stuff. These are new and different.
How to develop new products, back-end profit centers, lead generators and repeat business money machines in only hours.
Where to spend a limited advertising budget. What NOT to waste money on.
A complete, step-by-step explanation of my crazy formula. Why it’s different from what most people do.
END OF BULLETS
Can you see HOW those bullet points arouse curiosity? That’s their sole purpose. Some people will buy just because of ONE bullet point! That’s why in products it’s a good idea to devote a whole chapter to your bullet points so people know that you covered every one of ’em.
How do you learn to write great bullet points?
The best way is to keep what marketers call a “swipe file.” And NO you don’t literally swipe bullet points. That’s a copyright violation. What you DO is use the bullet points as the foundation of your own creative ones.
Think of examples as the raw clay you use to fashion your OWN bullet points from.
In my office, I have a notebook where I printed out tons of bullet points from great sales letters. And if I ever get stuck writing bullet points, I just go to that book and read a few pages until inspiration strikes.
One time I got paid $500 just to help a client write bullet points for a sales letter. That’s how valuable great bullet points are.
Next time you read a sales letter, see if it has bullet points. If it does, see if they grab your attention or not. If they don’t, ask why not? If they do, ask why?
The answers to those questions will help you as learn to craft drop dead, mouth watering bullet points for your own sales letters.