Succinct And Profitable: Good Sales Letters

Boiled Peanuts and Bigfoot Crossing. Tallullah Gorge, Georgia.
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In this age of the Internet, fast web searching, and even faster email, good letters can be difficult to come by. With the convenience brought about by instant messages, as well as letters that can be sent halfway around the globe before you can breathe another word, the art of prose and proper letter-writing can get lost in the hubbub. In this age of swift questions and curt replies, good sales letters will certainly be hard to come by.

In the olden days of typewriters and the printed word, sales letters had to appeal to the recipient quickly. He or she had to catch the gist of the letter, and then drop it by the last paragraph so that he or she could buy the product or purchase the service that the sales letter offered. The high cost of paper and printing made it all the more imperative for sales letter writers to make an art out of selling.

Today, sales letters can often be reduced to a few words sent through email, perhaps to the tenor of subtle pleading for a customer to get something online. To make a sale, many online marketing mavens preach, you have to be succinct and quick with your words. Can such exhortations mean the demise of truly good sales letters?

Happily, good sales letters can still be had in this day and age. All you need to know is how to format the sales letter, and what to put in it so that your voice can easily be heard and listened to. In this world of get-rich-quick schemes and sometimes overblown but empty promises, a good sales letter can be a breath of fresh air for the recipient.

Good sales letters follow a print format, whether they are printed onto real paper or shown to you through your computer monitor. Mind you, such formats are not simply formalities: they give the reader a chance to get straight to the meat of the letter, simply because the reader will already know where the meat is if the letter is well-organized.

As in any letter, good sales letters begin with the name and address of the sender, then the name and address of the recipient. Placing a sender’s name before the entire letter can tell the recipient immediately what the letter may be about and what the sender is selling. Placing the recipient’s name immediately after can show a sense of personal touch, so that the recipient knows that he or she is not simply receiving a shotgun marketing letter that many sales offices can blindly make.

The main letter then begins with an address, followed by the body of the letter. Good sales letters will often be only three to four paragraphs long. In the first paragraph, good sales letters greet the recipient and make the sender’s identity known. In the second paragraph, good sales letters identify needs that the recipient may have, and may perhaps ask questions related to such needs. For instance, some sales letters may ask: are you satisfied with how your house looks like right now? Or they may ask: Do you sometimes get tired of listening to your high quality music CD’s on low quality speakers?

Once a need is identified, the recipient’s curiosity is piqued. The third paragraph can then go on to describe what the sender is selling, and at what price. Sometimes, a fourth paragraph can give the recipient incentives if he or she buys the product or service immediately. The final paragraph will then give instructions on how the product or service can be purchased, and from whom. Often, good sales letters give the recipients reassurance that they are purchasing the best product or service, that they can get their money back if they are not satisfied, and that they will do themselves a disservice if they do not buy the product or service.

Writing down all this is easier said than done: in fact, sales letters have to contain all these and be very brief and terse. Within the first fifteen to twenty words, good sales letters grab the reader; in the next hundred, good sales letters should convince the reader to buy the product or service. Good sales letters are also no more than a page long, or a page and a half if the product or service has to be described in detail.

If you want to write good sales letters, practice selling simple things to your friends. Read sales letters that you might have received in the past, and pick the ones that grabbed you and made you want to buy the product or service. In this day and age of digital communication, good sales letters can still exist if the senders have good consumer and marketing sense.