Sales Letter Tips - Dunhill International List Co., Inc.
Sales Letter Tips
State major benefit in opening sentence.
Put headlines in quotation marks.
Put benefits at the beginning of a headline,
sentence or paragraph.
Use a one sentence, fast reading first paragraph.
Start headline with active verbs.
Use copy to sell your offer, not your product.
Repeat your major benefit several times using
bullets, testimonials, photo, captions, etc.
Spotlight an important deadline or new service.
Print important inserts on colorful paper.
Create sidebar copy. Use a dotted-line border like a cutout coupon.
Use a yellow highlighter to draw attention to a valuable offer.
Use testimonials whenever possible.
Remember, personalization increases response.
The best way to emphasize important material in a sales letter is
to paragraph it and indent it on both sides. But don't overdo indenting
or it will lose its effect.
When writing a sales letter, use underlining sparingly and only for
a few key points in intermittent paragraphs. When overdone, too many
underlines tend to weaken the overall effect of the sales letter.
You can give a sales letter a sense of movement by using transitional
sentences or phrases at the end or beginning of paragraphs. Some popular
examples: Better yet...So that is why...And in addition...More important
One of the most widely used techniques for directing a reader's attention
to key points in a sales letter is to underline them.
Indented paragraphs with double spacing between them make for a more
attractive and readable sales letter.
You can improve the readability of a sales letter by varying the lengths
of the paragraphs. Following a very long paragraph with a very short
one can lend emphasis to the longer paragraph.
Your sales letter will have a better chance of getting read if you
come to the point quickly. As a rule, never start a letter with an irrelevant
story or anecdote no matter how interesting it may be.
Your sales letter will be more effective if the lead-off sentence
is reasonably short and promises a benefit.
If you state the offer in the opening paragraph of a sales letter
and again in the postscript, you will have gotten your message across
even if the reader does not proceed beyond the letter's opening.
As a rule, a sales letter is most effective when it enhances the accompanying
flyer and has a message that is not a duplicate of what is said on the
When you are dating a sales letter, use an exact date. For first-class
this is usually the mailing date. For third-class mailing, use month
and year only.
As a rule, a sales letter looks more personal if it has a dateline,
a salutation, short indented paragraphs, a complimentary close and signature
and a postscript.
When you use a salutation in non-personalized letters to high-level
business professionals, the best salutation is Dear Reader. It directly
targets the individual holding the letter and asks the recipient to
A successful sales letter is easy to read, has short paragraphs, is
broken up by underlined words and phrases and has no complex or hard-to-understand
words and phrases.
As a rule, most people prefer to deal with other people - not with
companies. Consequently, your sales letter should aim to be as personal
as possible... conversational... intimate... and specific.
A weak offer to a well-targeted file will produce a better response
rate than an excellent offer to a poorly targeted file.
As a rule, you should obtain legal advice before attempting a sweepstakes-type
offer. There are complex legal ramifications concerning such offers,
as well as varying laws concerning such offers in individual states.
As a rule, pricing for any mail offer should be in a range that is
common or deemed reasonable for the type of product offered. Offers
priced beyond what the market deems reasonable rarely succeed.
"A good sweepstakes," says Walter Weintz, a direct marketing pioneer,
"will as a rule increase pull of any mailing by at least 25 percent
- more likely 50 percent, or even 100 percent...the big drawback is
the legal obligation: you have to distribute all prizes...even if you
abort the effort after a test."
As a rule, never mail a dated special offer that has a very short
cutoff date. There is always the risk that because of printing or mailing
delays - or slow postal delivery - the dated offer could be delivered
with insufficient time for a response, or even after the offer has expired.
As a rule, price-appeal offers do best when they fall below a price
break. i.e. $9.95 instead of $10. On prestige-related offers, however,
Ed Nash, a highly regarded marketing authority advises using rounded
figures. Nash cautions: Decide what's appropriate for your business
and stick to it.
"By placing a time limit on the offer," says Andrew Svenson, "you
can lend urgency to a sales message and overcome a prospect's natural
inertia. Asking for the order by a specific date helps the prospect
face the buying decision immediately while the benefit-filled sales
presentation is still fresh."
Money-saving offers, as a rule, work best with consumers or individuals
likely to enjoy a personal benefit. In business offers, saving money
is not a strong primary appeal.
An offer of a premium will sharply increase response. However, as
a rule, as the response rate goes up, the response quality goes down.
You pay for the increased response with more bad debt and larger merchandise
If your direct mail offer includes a free gift, as a rule, making
the gift offer a separate enclosure along with the flier or brochure
usually will make it more effective.
As a rule, the headline is the offer. If the offer is appealing enough
in the headline, the reader will proceed to the first paragraph to learn
how he or she can benefit from it.
The offer encourages the reader to seek a worthwhile benefit by taking
As a rule, a free gift or premium will stimulate response to a mail
offer. The most popular type is one that offers a gift incentive just
for examining the product. The other kind is one that must be returned
if the product is not purchased.
As a rule, a consumer offer of an attractive free gift will have greater
appeal than a discount of the same value.
As a rule, a mail offer can succeed with a free trial offer as a substitute
for a money-back guarantee, since it eliminates the burden of risk.
However, if prepayment is an option, a money-back guarantee should be