Writing the Sales Letter

HOPPP to It and Write a Sales Letter That Will Wow Them

A Good Sales Letter Beats a Brochure or Postcard. Image (c) Rob Friedman / Getty Images

Sent out any sales letters lately? Sales letters can be extremely powerful; marketing studies show that they outperform other direct mail formats such as brochures and postcards. But before you get to see how effective they are, you have to write one. Here’s how to write a sales letter that will wow your readers and persuade them to buy your product or service.

H Is for Headline

The headline of the letter needs to get the reader’s attention.

Its job is to make the reader want to know more (and actually read the rest). The secret? Make sure the headline makes a specific promise that relates to your prospects’ needs or interests. If, for instance, you offer domestic cleaning services, don’t use a headline such as “Want Cleaning Services?” in your letter. Instead use something such as, “Your Whole House Sparkling Clean – We Do It for You so You Don’t Have to!”

As the headline is so important, brainstorm several and pick the best. Place the headline before the salutation in your letter.

O Is for Offer

Now we’re into the body of the sales letter. You need to tell your prospective customers what you’re offering them first. The trick is that you have to make them want your product or service. So think like a prospective customer or client when you’re writing this section of your letter and answer the question “What’s in it for me?” In other words, what are the benefits to the customer of making this purchase?

For instance, “For less than $100 you can have your entire home clean and sparkling, without enduring the nasty stink of chemical cleaners.”

Don’t be afraid to expand on the benefits of your product or service. People who are interested will read the details. (You can bet that I would have a lot more to say about the benefits of having a home professionally cleaned if I was writing this sample sales letter!) Use bullet points or arrows where appropriate to make your sales letter easier to read.

And remember that the letter does not have to be limited to a single page. You can send out an eight page one if you want! (What’s the best length? That will depend on your target market and your product or service. Many businesses that use sales letters find that longer ones are more effective. If this is your first, I advise not going over three pages.)

P Is for Proof

Another thing you need to do in the body of the letter is assure your readers that they will be satisfied with their purchase. Testimonials (statements of satisfaction from past customers) are an excellent way of doing this (see 10 Ways to Grow Positive Word of Mouth). Or offer your reader a “fail-safe” such as a money-back guarantee, or entice them with a free trial offer.

P Is for Persuade to Action

The most important thing that you need to do in the body of your sales letter, of course, is persuade the reader to act. First, be sure you come right out and say what you want the reader of your letter to do, whether it’s to call you, or come into your store.

Second, make it easy for your customer to act. Set a deadline for the expiration of your offer, throw in a free gift, or, if it’s appropriate, make a moral plea.

P Is for P.S. (Postscript)

You’ve asked your reader once. Hopefully he’s thinking about it. Add a P.S. to your letter to light a fire under your customer and get him to act right now. Use a carrot such as throwing in an additional bonus (such as, “If you act right now, you’ll also receive….), or a stick, such as reminding the customer that quantities are limited, or that the price will only be as stated in the offer for a certain period of time (set a date).

Using the HOPPP outline that I’ve laid out above will help ensure you write a sales letter that will persuade your prospective customers to buy your product or service. What’s next? Before you send it out, see 10 Tips for Maximizing Your Sales Letter Response for tips on how to get the best return from your sales letter campaign.

Looking for more ways to reach your customers? See also:

10 Low-Cost Ways to Promote Your Business

How to Ask for Referrals and Get More Clients

5 Tips for a Great Brochure

How to Create a Social Media Plan to Market Your Business

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