Writing Effective Sales Messages
July 22, 2017
A sales letter is a document designed to generate sales. It is a distinctive type of persuasive letter. It persuades the reader to place an order, to request additional information, or to lend support to the product or service or cause being offered. For most sectors other than retail, a sales letter is the first and most important way of reaching new customers. The purpose in writing a sales message is to sell a product. It influences the reader to take a specific action by making an offer-not an announcement-to him. Sales letter attempts to persuade readers to spend their time and money on the value being offered. To sell, the sales letter must be specific, go to the right audience, appeal to the readers needs, and it must be informative.
Before writing the sales letter you need to plan about the type of sale campaign that you will conduct. Whether you will send a letter only or will you include brochures, reply forms, special inserts, samples, response cards etc.? How do you plan to market the product or service? Through the Internet, direct mail, email, direct sales, print advertising, etc.? Do you need other advertising or literature to support the sales letter? Who is your competition? How are they marketing this product or service? What is your advertising budget? Are your marketing hopes realistic? Another important decision is to determine the specific purpose of your letter. Whether you want your reader to call for a free video, presentation or demonstration? Or you want your reader to fill out an order form? For these you need to know and analyze your audience and the purpose for writing. Try to form a mental image of the typical buyer for the product you wish to sell. Ask yourself:
o Who is your prospective buyer?
o What motivates a person to buy this item?
o What might the reader want to know about this product?
o What does the product or service do for the one who needs it?
o What can the reader gain from buying it?
o What is unique selling point of the product or service?
o Does your offer appeal to the reader?
o Can you transform him from prospect to buyer?
A sales letter is one of the important instruments of sales promotion. The principles of effective sales letter depends on your communication skill and your ability to convince your reader to accept or act on your recommendations. You may be promoting a product, a service or an idea; your sales letter should catch the reader’s attention, build interest, and motivate him to buy the product or service offered. A good sales letter should possess the following qualities:
Emphasize good looks
Design your document for visual impact. Make it easy to navigate so your reader reaches for it first-ahead of the competition’s. You can create professional-looking templates for your sales letter that use your company logo, branding and colors.
The most effective word in a sales letter is “you”. Never begin a letter with “I” because chances are the reader won’t get to the second word. It all comes down to selling benefits – your prospects are not interested in the features of your products services, but in what how your products or services can benefit them. Then it must build a reader’s trust. It should make generous use of “you” and “your” – so it is clear the customer’s needs come first, not your desire to sell something.
The body of your letter should contain key points, shown by bullets. Use bullets because it makes the letter easy to read. As the writer or seller, you benefit by immediately pointing your reader in the direction of the important points you want to make.
Keep your letter brief
It’s rare that someone is going to read anything past the first page, so keep your letter to one page. Staying at one page will also force you to be to the point, since a wordy letter is an ineffective letter.
Using statistics shows that you understand the issues of their business, while demonstrating that your product or service can solve a problem. It also gives your prospect a reason to support your product or service within the company.
Show your prospect’s needs
Your sales letter is a very brief sales proposal, so you need to show that you are thinking about your prospect’s needs. You might be hesitant to put your best ideas in your letter, fearing that your prospect will use them but not hire your company. That’s a mistake. By putting your ideas in your letter, you will make your prospects feel like they are getting something already, and that they will benefit from your products or services. More importantly, you will be demonstrating that you are creative and have your client’s best interests in mind.
Use right tone
Use the right tone in your writing. Use active voice. Use the present tense. Be positive. Avoid negatives. Keep sentences and paragraphs short.
Proof read your letter before you send it out. This will help you determine if your letter is clear and if you’re getting your point across. Also, misspelled word or other careless mistake will give bad impression to the reader.
One of the most effective strategies to plan and write effective sales letter is to follow the four steps in your letter which are:
o Catch attention
o Build interest
o Establish credibility
o Motivate action
To be effective, a sales letter must catch reader’s attention. Design your document for visual impact to catch the reader’s attention by using graphics such as layout, colour scheme or illustrations. You can grab attention with an eye-catching headline or an interesting opening. This might be a question or statement. The opening should be short, honest, relevant, interesting and stimulating. Keep it quite general to appeal to as many people as possible. There are many possibilities for opening your sales letter that could persuade the reader to buy. Make a compelling promise for the reader, tell a story that the reader can identify with, make an announcement of a new product or service showcasing your unique selling point or ask a question.
The headline encourages your prospects and leads them to your next line. There you start to build their interest and ensure they read the next sentence and each subsequent one.
Besides a powerful headline, your sales letter must have an immediate clear benefit for the intended audience. To build interest in your sales message you should highlight your product’s central selling point, the single point around which you will build your sales message. Be upfront and bold about promising a prize or a tangible reward in exchange for time and attention. Whatever product or service you are selling you need to position it so that its benefits provide one or more of the following common desires:
– To make or save money
– To be healthy
– To be popular or to maintain a social status
– To have security
– To have free time or save labour
– To get entertainment, comfort or amusement
– To take advantage of opportunities
– To be good looking
– To achieve inner peace
Show them how your product will benefit them in making their lives better, safer or easier. How will it save them time, trouble, worry or money? Look at their ultimate goal and relate it to that. Why should they buy from you?
For example, state what makes you an expert in your chosen field. How can you prove what you are claiming is true? Once you have listed down the key benefits of the service or product and positioned yourself as the person to deliver it, the time is right to deliver your sales pitch. Persuade your reader to buy based on the grounds of what the product or service does for him or her (benefit), not what the product or service is (feature)!
A benefit is what the product or service does, and what the buyer gains from the feature. A benefit is the specific outcome of the feature. A feature is something the product or service already has. Benefits are what motivate people to buy. Bullet point each benefit to make it easier to read. Think about every possible benefit your reader may derive from your product or service. In many cases, people will buy a product or service based on only one of the benefits you list.
Besides the benefit stated at the letter’s opening, you can bolster interest by adding high-profile testimonials from associates or former clients. Testimonials from happy customers are very useful for this purpose, as are quotes from established third parties such as industry leaders or reputable specialists. Opinions, figures and independent statistics are also likely to reinforce your message. Ultimate motivations are what people “really” want. The product or service is just a vehicle to providing these benefits so make sure your sales letter focuses on these motivational factors.
You need to establish credibility and be believable by the second paragraph. You must anticipate the reader’s objections and doubts and offer counter arguments. There are several ways of overcoming reader’s doubts which must be used with good judgment and should be related with the main appeal of the letter. You can provide testimonials, money-back guarantees, trial offers, attractive warranties or free samples. Using too many points to establish credibility will not be effective. To gain credibility for you and your request, present just one fact, strengthened, if necessary, by an opinion or fact as a proof.
It’s important to remember that people are motivated to buy based on their emotions and justify their purchase based on logic only after the sale. This means that each step in the sales letter process must build on the reader’s emotions to a point where they are motivated to take action. Encourage the reader to act by an easy and clear method of responding. Close with summarizing the central selling point and clear instructions for an easy action to be taken. To motivate, you can offer a gift, limit the offer, guarantee satisfaction, or promise an incentive.
End with an action: What result do you want from your letter? Are you looking to get a face-to-face appointment? Are you answering questions raised at a previous meeting? Do you want to make your prospect better informed? Do you need to get a signed contract? You need to close your letter by requesting a specific, quantifiable action. For example: “I will call you on Thursday, May 18 at 10 a.m. to schedule meeting” or “Please return the enclosed contract by Friday, April 21, or call me if you have any other questions”.
WRITING A SALES LETTER:
Like any other business letter, a sales letter has three parts – introduction, the body of the letter and the concluding paragraph. Let us examine in detail how to draft these three components of a sales letter. The important thing in a sales letter is the sequence which is as following:
Body of the letter
The introductory paragraph of a sales letter starts with an opening sentence which has a vital role to play. In many instances, the opening sentence is the only sentence that is read, so it must immediately appeal to reader’s interests. There are several ways of writing an opening sentence in a sales letter, some of them are listed here with the examples:
A provocative question: What would the leaning tower fall for? The leaning tower of Pisa would only be put to shame by architectural splendor that outshines its own like the new range of luxury bathroom accessories.
What can you get these days for Rs. 15? Enjoy the finest that life has to offer just for Rs. 15 every month!
A striking information: We are the Number 1! We are the number 1 in revenue, customer base and customer satisfaction.
A story or an anecdote: Mr. Bala went shopping with his saving with our VISA credit card. What will you do with yours? Our credit card offers 5% bonus savings on all purchases for first six months.
A significant fact: Hearing Loss – you may not be aware of… Only about 25% of people who need hearing aid use them.
Most people have a vocabulary of 2-3,000 words and even a scholar uses no more then 5-6,000 words in his daily life. But there are around 500,000 words in English language and you can use many of them to enrich your vocabulary by using our ‘Vocabulary Builder’.
Split opening: You know English, but are you quite fluent in it? It may sound incredible but classrooms can’t help you achieve fluency. No, they can’t. No! Nor can audio video sessions. Nor translation. But ‘Rapid English Fluency’ can help you.
A conditional sequence: If home is where the most number of accidents take place, think of Woodcoat Paint as insurance.
Special offers: Free gifts! Yours for giving the digest as a gift this Puja and Diwali – free diary for the year 2005 whether you order several subscriptions or just one will receive this big, handy year 2005 desk diary free.
Wings to give your children’s career a head start! Avail the special offer of financial assistance for spectrum of educational opportunities in India and abroad.
Body of the letter
You may have a lead paragraph in the body of the letter. This part of the sales letter can be used to expand the promise made in the headline or used to deliver a second major benefit of the product or service. A sub-headline can also be used as the second part, to answer a question posed in the headline. For example, Part 1 could say: “Want to learn Kannada in 30 days?” Part 2 could say: “Well, here’s how to . . .”
In the body of the sales letter you will begin to offer proof. You expand the theme, fill in details, offer proof, and show how you plan to fulfill the promise you made in the headline. Here, you give details of your unique selling point. You continue talking about the benefits and offer proof of the claim you made early. You share the details of the benefits. Prove your claim or statements by facts, logic or testimony. There are several ways of doing so, choose one that suits your products best. Following are some examples:
Trial offers: Get on the fitness trail! Enjoy our free offer to use our machine in comfort of your house for a week. If you are not satisfied we will take it back, no questions asked.
Guarantees: Guarantee of satisfaction
You always come first with us and your complete satisfaction is our prime concern. If you are not delighted with our product you may return it anytime for 100 % refund.
Free samples: To enable you to see for yourself how convenient it is to handle closet organizers, we are sending you a free sample.
Testimonials: Ritu Sharma, Bangalore: “How the web changed my world! It can change yours too. The Sify internet connectivity provided me the ability to communicate with people all over the planet and gave me access to information all around the world.”
You need to explain the qualities of your product and its special features and convince your reader that your claims are true. Remember, by the end of the body, the goal is to create an emotional response that will cause the reader to do what you are now going to tell him to do.
In the closing part of your sales letter your goal is to motivate action. Recapitulate your points and make a final appeal. You may give a limited time offer, or limited quantity offer or special bargain etc. Use a Post Script. For example, “If you order before March 1, we will include a free . . .” Or “Money back guaranteed . . .” Or “Discount is good until . . .” If you ask the reader to order, support, or to contact you for the specified reason you must make it easy for him to reply. Support the sales letter with a post card or an order form. If appropriate, supply a toll free telephone number, an Email link, and or your URL. Always close with a thank you and use a signature at the end of the letter. Save one of the best points for last.