A salesletter can be a traditional printed piece, or online
Either way, it has only one job. To sell your product.
And to do that, you typically need to know your reader very well before writing a single word.
Sure, that’s true of every piece of sales copywriting. But the salesletter gets to carry the burden of proof.
Because it’s usually the spot where the buying decision is made. And measured.
So whether your reader has come to your salesletter with a proper introduction and warm-up sequence, or hits it cold, it has to tell enough of the story to inform and convince the reader that they need to “Buy now.”
Because you probably won’t get a second chance to hold their attention so completely.
You have the floor. So inform, but don’t bore.
In fact, one of the greatest greatest ad copywriters the world has ever known had a winning approach for writing salesletters.
When he was asked how long a salesletter should be, Claude Hopkins included a chapter in his book Scientific Advertising called “Tell your full story”. It makes the case that people who test their results usually find that limiting what you say is a losing proposition.
Sure, if someone’s not interested in what you’re offering, they won’t read beyond the first couple of sentences. But if you’ve targeted your audience well, the people with your letter in front of them are passionately interested in your subject.
And they’re hungry for every delicious detail you can give them that satisfies their need for knowledge. So don’t leave out anything they need to know to understand you… appreciate you… and make a decision to buy what you’re offering.
How long should your salesletter be? Exactly as long as it needs to be to sell the product. And no shorter.
But here’s the catch…
You have absolutely no room to ramble.
Every sentence, every word is there to do that one job.
So a salesletter is best written by someone who’s actually sold stuff. Because the process is the same as face-to-face selling… only it’s amplified about 10 times. Since it’s not considered rude to drop a letter, like it might be to walk away from somebody in front of you.
When I compose a salesletter — whether it’s designed for an envelope or a computer monitor — I start with my own outline of the process I want to use for that particular situation.
By the way, you might be surprised to hear that it’s a psychologically-based outline.
Not a list of power words, or even a headline. That comes later.
With that in hand, I research the hell out of your market… your customer… your prospect… their needs and passions. Their language, and their interests.
And the reasons they buy from you. Or not.
I’ll keep digging until I find everything we’ll need to satisfy each of those psychological ‘triggers’ that I believe are most important to your audience.
They’re not all the same, from person to person. Or from one week to the next.
From there, it’s time to start writing and re-writing drafts of your letter until it flows well enough to sell ME on your product. Often, that’s an accomplishment in itself. Because I may not even be your customer!
That’s when you’ll see the draft for the first time, in an ideal world where I have the luxury of time. If you insist, you might see the 2rd or 3rd draft early if you’re in a hurry. But rarely the first one.
And from there, we’ll massage and refine the details to create a silent selling machine in a letter.
Why do I put in all this time and effort?
Because a salesletter has to stand in for a living, breathing, speaking salesperson. So it’s got a lot of thinking to do to be as convincing as it needs to be for you. To do the job right, that is.
Fortunately, I’ve done enough of them to know that I enjoy a love/hate relationship with the salesletter-writing process. But when the sales start flowing in, that’s a special kind of reward that goes way beyond the cash it generates for us both.
It’s a feeling I never get enough of, no matter how many times it keeps happening.
Can I build one for you?
Click the big yellow button here, and let’s talk about it…
P.S. – You can probably tell that I love writing a good salesletter, on paper or online. Fortunately, a few people in the Success Stories section have found my letters work pretty well for them, too. Check them out…