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April 14, 2009
Issue 535
 
 

The 10 Most Common Mistakes That Are Crippling Your Sales Letters

Sending out sales letters to prospective customers or potential clients can be one of the most effective ways to create loyalty and get your market to buy.

But so many sales letters are regarded as junk mail by today's consumer - and they are right. When was the last time you opened a sales letter in the mail and actually read it? Why not? Because the bulk of today's sales letters don't entice you, they don't speak to you, and most importantly, they don't give you any reason to bother. Here are ten mistakes that you might be making now that is costing you thousands of dollars:

#1. Your letter doesn't speak to anybody in particular.

Okay, you bought a mailing list and you shipped out a letter. Who is receiving it? Is it a specific gender? Do they have a particular career? How much money do they make?

Companies fail to get to know their market, and it cripples not just their sales letters, but their marketing in general. Take some time to study your target - what makes them tick? Then you can craft a sales letter that speaks directly to their wants and desires.

#2. It's missing a headline.

Sales letters need to attract the eye. Without a headline, a sales letter is just a block of words that can easily be ignored. Just look at the headline of this article: it speaks directly to YOU, doesn't it? It speaks in the present tense, and it implies that there is information in this article that you need to read now (and it's true, too!). That's a big reason why you are reading this, isn't it? Motivate your readers to keep reading!



 

#3. You don't know the difference between FEATURES and BENEFITS.

This is the biggest, most common mistake that companies make in their sales letters. If somebody writes me a letter and says, "Hey! Look at what we've got! Look what we've done! Aren't we great?!?", I'm going to throw it away in a heartbeat.

What do people want to hear about? They want to hear about themselves. It's simple human nature. We all have egos, and they need to be stroked. So talk about them: "Hey! You know that problem you have? This is how we can help you out..."

If you are writing about your business, you are writing a FEATURE. That's not what you're supposed to be writing. If you are writing about the consumer, you are writing a BENEFIT. That's what people want to hear about - what's in it for me?

#4. Give them a reason to respond.

If your response rates are down, you may not be giving your market enough of a reason to contact you. Where's the offer? If the consumer reads your entire sales letter, but they are not motivated to take action IMMEDIATELY, you did it wrong.

Give them a discount or some form of special offer for responding to the letter. You need to motivate them.

#5. You are assuming they'll take your word for it.

You need proof. That means statistics that show it works. That means testimonials from people who have enjoyed the benefits. People won't just listen to you based on what you say - show them what others are saying.

#6. Your letter is unpleasant to look at.

Beyond the headline, how have you formatted your letter? Is it just a bunch of words? Then forget it. You might as well have mailed them a 700-page Charles Dickens novel, because that's what they will relate this to. You don't have to put in pictures necessarily, but at least put in some sub-headlines or lists. They need something they can easily scan to get the gist of the letter beforehand. It will increase the odds of them reading the whole thing.



 

#7. You didn't break down the barriers.

Barriers are things that keep the consumer from buying from you. Most of the time, this refers to risk: they worry that they are investing their time or money in something that won't work. You need to guarantee them that it will be worth it. Offer them a 30-day, money-back guarantee. Give them a reason to take the plunge, risk-free, and there's a good chance they will.

#8. You don't have a "P.S." at the end.

The "P.S." is a great way to hit the last few skimmers - people who aren't reading. Sum up your biggest benefit, combine it with your offer, and throw it in as the last line in your letter. Watch those response rates grow! For example:

"P.S. Stop wasting your time resharpening those old knives! Order your complete set of 6 Revolution Steak Knives and use them for 60 days at no cost!"

#9. Nothing makes you stand out.

Who are you targeting and why? You need to position yourself as something unique. If you are just like the others, then no one will buy. Remember that when you make your offer and explain your benefits. They need to have something different about them to motivate your specific target market.

#10. They're not even opening the envelope.

If your letter comes in a plain white envelope, you're going to lose. Put a killer headline on the outside of the envelope. Consider hand-addressed envelopes. Or, as many companies do, take advantage of the "lumpy mailer", where you put something in the envelope that makes it feel bulky - so people will tear it open just to find their free gift. Your envelope needs to stand out from the rest of the mail in their mailbox. How is your sales letter standing out?


 

About the Author: Peter Geisheker is the CEO of The Geisheker Group of marketing companies. The Geisheker Group marketing firm performs strategic marketing and copywriting for mid-to-large companies. For more information, please call (920) 471-1638.



 
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