Writing the perfect sales letter is the Holy Grail for business development professionals.
But in practice, it can seem as if there are a million and one reasons why your ideas don’t flow as well on paper as they do in your head.
Our checklist is designed to help you write a winning sales letter – from structure, to content, to compliance approval. Follow our seven tips and your sales letters will be easier to write, and deliver better results.
- Are you thinking like your customers?
One of the best pieces of advice is ‘Don’t tell me about your grass seed, tell me about my lawn’.
This soundbite encapsulates two key aspects of human nature – people are self-interested, and interested in what you can do for them. They don’t want to hear the detail of your product or service, they want to know its benefits and end results as they relate to their own needs.
Remembering this is an essential start point for anyone setting out to write a sales letter.
- Have you done your planning?
Planning out your sales letter before you start is also vital. Just putting pen to paper without any forethought won’t give you the results you need. You’re likely to end up with a rambling letter with no structure or ‘story’.
Your letter should start with a clear introduction – explain why you’re writing. Grab the reader’s attention in this opening paragraph by letting them know (briefly) what’s in it for them.
Expand on this in your second section, outlining your unique selling points; the things that differentiate you from your competitors.
Lastly, round off your letter by reminding your reader of your offer, why it’s relevant and better than anything else they might have seen. Importantly, include a clear call to action. Make it easy for customers to take the next step, whether that’s visiting your website, phoning your order line or downloading further content.
- Is it easy to read
Many business writers tie themselves in knots trying to write ‘properly’.
Don’t feel you have to make your letter formal – this can put your reader off. It can make your product or service sound too complex or obscure its benefits through jargon or complicated terms.
Short sentences and paragraphs work best. This is particularly true if you’re writing via email. Online, people expect their text to be broken up into short snippets even more than they do on paper.
- Have you grabbed your reader’s attention?
Use a bold opening sentence – something that will attract and hold your reader’s interest.
And don’t forget your layout. Letters don’t just have to be paragraphs of text. Use headlines, bullet points and even infographics to visually break up your writing and make it easier to read.
Quirky devices like a PS, an arrow or pretend Post-it Note can direct readers to parts of the letter you particularly want them to read. But use these carefully – you want to avoid being gimmicky.
- Have you got a ‘story’?
Make sure your letter flows (this is where your planning will help) and tells a story. A start, beginning and end will encourage your audience to read on.
Make sure every sentence – and every word – plays a role. Edit and edit – your first draft will undoubtedly be too ‘flabby’. Cut out all the unnecessary words until you’re left with a tightly-worded letter where every word counts.
- Is there a clear call to action?
We touched on this in point 2 – but it’s vital. Your readers don’t know what to do next unless you tell them. Make your web address, email or phone number clear. Let them know what they will get by taking the next course of action (‘Want to arrange a free online demo? Email us at…’ ‘If you’d like to read more, download our free tip sheet at…’).
If this is a limited offer – in terms of time or availability, make that clear. Nothing focuses the mind like the thought of missing out on a good deal.
- Is your letter compliant?
There’s no point writing the best sales letter if your Compliance team is going to tear it apart. If you work in a regulated industry, ensuring you comply with the requirements of your regulator – the FCA, if you’re in financial services – is crucial. Failing to do this can lead to penalties, fines and the withdrawal of financial promotions, as well as the brand and reputational damage that results.
Make sure you work with your Compliance team to ensure that the data in your letter is accurate and the claims you make can be substantiated. The FCA’s rules on marketing compliance are pretty clear; familiarise yourself with them and you can write sales copy that will get the Compliance seal of approval first time – meaning you can get your letter out to prospects and clients as quickly as possible.
Writing a good sales letter can seem like a challenge – even a chore. But by asking yourself these simple questions, can make the letter-writing process easier – and make sure your letters win you business.
Whether or not you work in a regulated environment we offer a complete solution with a range of cost effective, compliance and marketing products and solutions including copy advice that are uniquely suited to supporting firms.