don't have to be an award-winning copywriter to create effective sales
letters. In fact, writing great sales letters is more of a science
than an art. Even the pros use proven "templates" to create
sales letters that get results. The following is a 12-step template
for writing foolproof sales letters.
the Hurdles Leading to Buying Resistance
person has some form of buying resistance. The objective of your sales
letter should be to overcome your reader's buying resistance while
persuading them to take action. I liken writing a sales letter to
running a steeplechase foot race. The first one to the finish line who
has jumped over all the hurdles is the winner, or in this case, gets
you're giving a sales presentation in person or on paper, the process
of overcoming the hurdles leading to buying resistance are much the
same. These hurdles are manifested in many spoken and unspoken
customer comments such as:
"You don't understand my problem"
"How do I know you're qualified"
"I don't believe you"
"I don't need it right now"
"It won't work for me"
"What happens if I don't like it"
"I can't afford it"
sales letters will need to address some or all of these objections to
be effective. The 12-step sales letter template is designed to
overcome each of these objections in a careful, methodical series of
copywriting tactics. The 12 steps are:
Identify the problem
Provide the solution
Present your credentials
Show the benefits
Give social proof
Make your offer
Give a guarantee
Call to action
Give a warning
Close with a reminder
of these 12 steps add to reader's emotions while calming their fears.
Is An Emotional Thing
important to remember that people are motivated to buy based on their
emotions and justify their purchase based on logic only after the
sale. This means that each step in the sales letter process must build
on the reader's emotions to a point where they are motivated to take
being true - - there are only two things that truly motivate people
and they are the promise of gain or the fear of loss. Of the two, the
fear of loss is the stronger motivator.
you rather buy a $50 course on "How to Improve Your
Marriage" or "How to Stop Your Divorce or Lover's
Rejection?" I have empirical data that proves that the second
title outsells the first 5 to 1. Why? Because it addresses the fear of
the promise of gain and the fear of loss are seven "universal
motivations" to which everyone responds. Whatever product or
service you are selling you need to position it so that its benefits
provide one or more of these universal motivations.
To be wealthy
To be good looking
To be healthy
To be popular
To have security
To achieve inner peace
To have free time
To have fun
motivations are what people "really" want. The product or
service is just a vehicle to providing these benefits so make sure
your sales letter focuses on these motivational factors.
12-Step Sales Letter System
that we know what impedes a person to buy and what motivates a person
to action let's review the 12 elements of a winning sales letter.
the reader has opened your envelope, the next step is to get their
attention. The opening headline is the first thing that your reader
will look at. If it doesn't catch their attention you can kiss your
letter goodbye. People have a very short attention span and usually
sort their mail over the wastebasket. If the headline doesn't call out
to them and perk their interest, they will just stop and throw your
following are three headline generating templates that are proven to
love to know how to do things. When combined with a powerful benefit
the "How to" headline always gets people's attention. In
fact, it's probably the two most powerful words you can use in a
OF _________________ REVEALED!"
always want to know "insider secrets." We love to know
things that other people aren't privy to. Knowledge is power and those
who have it feel powerful. Besides that, most of us enjoy a good
mystery, especially in the end when the "secret" is
DON'T EVEN THINK OF ___________ UNTIL YOU ___________.
that people are motivated by fear of loss more than the promise of
gain? Well, the "warning" headline screams fear. The word
"warning" demands attention and combined with something of
interest to the reader, is a very powerful headline.
Identify the Problem
that you have your reader's attention you need to gain their interest
by spelling out their problem and how it feels to have that problem.
The reader should say to himself, "Yeah, that's exactly how I
feel" when they read your copy. In fact, you shouldn't stop
there. Pretend that it's an open wound that you're rubbing salt into.
technique is called, "problem - agitate." You present the
problem then agitate it so that they really feel the pain and agony of
their situation. People are such strong creatures of habit that we
rarely change our ways unless we feel great amounts of pain. In fact,
companies are no different. Most businesses trudge along doing the
same old thing until things get so bad that they have to make a
example, if you were selling garage door openers you might agitate the
problem by telling a short story about what happens when it doesn't
nothing worse than getting home in the evening and not having your
garage door open. It's dark outside and after tripping on the porch
step you search for your front door key.
you find it only to scratch your new front door up trying to find the
keyhole. Exhausted, you get inside and plop down on the couch just
when you remember your car is still running in your driveway…."
this scenario the problem was a faulty garage door opener and the
agitation is all the terrible things that happen because of the faulty
garage door opener.
Provide the Solution
that you've built your readers interest by making them feel the pain
it's time to provide the solution. This is the part of the sales
letter where you boldly stake your claim that you can solve the
this section you will introduce yourself, your product and/or your
service. Relieve the reader's mind by telling them that they there's
no need to struggle through all their problems because your product or
service will solve it for them.
Present your Credentials
most cases, after you have introduced yourself and your product or
service your reader is thinking, "Yeah, sure he fix my problem.
That's what they all say." So now it's important to hit them
right away with the reason why you can be trusted.
your credentials including any one of the following:
Successful case studies.
Prestigious companies (or people) you have done business with.
The length of time you've been in your field of expertise
Conferences where you have spoken
Important awards or recognitions
reader should get the impression after reading this section that
"you've been there and done that" with great success and
that the reader can expect the same results.
Show the Benefits
it's time to tell the reader how they will personally benefit from
your product or service. Don't make the common mistake of telling all
about the features of your product without talking about the benefits.
As I already stated, people are interested, not so much in you, or
even your product or service, but what it will do for them.
a piece of paper and draw a line down the center of the paper. Now
write all the features of your product or service on the left. Think
about the obvious benefits and the not-so-obvious benefits of the each
feature and write them down on the right side of the paper. Most of
the time your product will have hidden benefits that people won't
naturally think of.
example, a hot tub not only soothes and relaxes your muscles but it
also gives you an opportunity to talk to your spouse without
interruptions. The hidden benefit is greater communication with your
spouse and ultimately a better marriage!
point each benefit to make it easier to read. Think about every
possible benefit your reader may derive from your product or service.
In many cases, people will buy a product or service based on only one
of the benefits you list.
Give Social Proof
you've presented all your benefits the reader will again begin to
doubt you, even though they secretly want all your claimed benefits to
be true. To build your credibility and believability present your
reader with testimonials from satisfied customers.
are powerful selling tools that prove your claims to be true. To make
your testimonial even more powerful include pictures of your customers
with their names and addresses (at least the city and state).
might even ask if you can use their phone number. Most readers won't
call but it is a powerful statement to include their complete contact
information. It demonstrates that you are real and so are the
Make Your Offer
offer is the most important part of your sales letter. A great offer
can overcome mediocre copy but great copy cannot overcome a mediocre
offer. Your offer should be irresistible. You want your reader to say
to themselves, "I'd be stupid not to take advantage of this
offer can come in many different formats. The best offers are usually
an attractive combination of price, terms, and free gifts. For
example, if you were selling a car your offer might be a discounted
retail price, low interest rate, and a free year of gas.
When developing your offer you should always try to raise the value of
your offer by adding on products or services rather than lowering your
price. Include vivid explanations of the benefits of the additional
products or services you are offering in order to raise the perceived
value of your offer.
Give a Guarantee
make your offer even more irresistible you need to take all the risk
out of the purchase. Remember, that people have a built-in fear that
they are going to get ripped off. How many times have you purchased a
product and got stuck with it because the merchant wouldn't give your
the absolute strongest guarantee you are able to give. If you aren't
confident enough in your product or service to give a strong guarantee
you should think twice about offering it to he public.
reality, almost all small businesses already have a very strong
guarantee, but don't realize it! If you had an irate customer that
wanted their money back would you just say, "No, I'm sorry. I
will not give your money back."? Probably not. If they insist on
getting their money back, in most cases you'll give it back to them.
see, most businesses already have a strong guarantee and don't hold it
up and trumpet it for fear that a lot of people would take them up on
it. That's simply doesn't happen. When was the last time you asked for
a full refund on something? If you're like me, it's been a while.
is an example of a guarantee that I give for one of my products:
* "100%, No Questions Asked, Take-It-To-The-Bank Guarantee"
personally guarantee if you make a diligent effort to use just a few
of the techniques in this course, you'll produce at least $4,490
profit in the next 12 months. That's right, $4,490 extra profit you
never would have seen without this course. If you don't, I'll refund
the entire cost of the course to you.
you get double protection. Here's how. At any time during the 12
months, if you sincerely feel I fell short in any way on delivering
everything I promised, I'll be happy to give you a complete refund.
Even if it's on the last day of the twelfth month!
guarantee extends for an entire year and that they will receive
specific benefits (in this case it's money). It they don't get what
they expect, they get their money back with no questions asked. This
virtually eliminates all the risk for the buyer.
Your offer may be so good that people won't believe it. You've heard
the old axiom, "If it's too good to be true, it probably
is." To avoid this thinking, give the reason why you can give
such as great offer. For example, you might have goofed when ordering
inventory and now you're overstocked and that's why you can offer such
a great price. When people read the reason why, it will help them
reconcile your irresistible offer in their mind and make it more
people take their time responding to offers, even when they are
irresistible. There are many reasons why people procrastinate
investing in a solution. The following are just a few:
They don't feel enough pain to make a change
They are too busy and just forget
They don't feel that the perceived value outweighs your asking price
They are just plain lazy
motivate people to take action they usually need an extra incentive.
Remember when I said that people are more motivated to act by the fear
of loss rather than gain, that's exactly what you are doing with you
inject scarcity into your letter.
people think there is a scarce supply of something they need they
usually rush to get some of it. You can create a feeling of scarcity
by telling your reader that either the quantity is in limited supply
or that your offer is valid for only a limited time period.
offer could sound something like this:
you purchase by (future date) you will get the entire set of free
supply is limited to only 50 (product or service) and will be sent to
you on a 'first come, first served' basis. After they are gone there
won't be any more available."
offer is only good until (future date) after which the (product or
service) will return to its original price."
word of caution: If you make an offer you need to live up to it. If
you go back on your word after the deadline date you will begin to
erode the trust and confidence your customers have come to expect from
Call to Action
not assume that your reader knows what to do to receive the benefits
from your offer. You must spell out how to make the order in a very
clear and concise language. Whether its picking up the phone and
making the call, filling out an order form, faxing the order form to
your office etc…. you must tell them exactly how to order from you.
call to action must be "action-oriented." You can do this
using words like 'Pick Up the Phone and Call Now!" or "Tear
Off the Order Form and Send It In Today!" or "Come to Our
Store by Friday and …" Be explicit and succinct in your
your call to action throughout your letter. If you are asking the
reader to call your free information line then perhaps some of the
testimonials might say, "When I called their free information
line" or in your offer you might say, "When you call our
free information line…" Then when you give the call to action
at the end of the letter, people won't be surprised or confused. It
will be consistent with what you said all throughout your letter.
Give a Warning
good sales letter will continue to build emotion, right up to the very
end. In fact, your letter should continue to build emotion even after
your call to action. Using the "risk of loss" strategy, tell
the reader what would happen if they didn't take advantage of your
they would continue to:
Struggle day to day to make ends meat
Work too hard just to get a few customers
Lose the opportunity to receive all your valuable bonuses
Keep getting what they've always got
Watch other companies get all the business
to paint a graphic picture in the mind of the reader about the
consequences of not taking action now. Remind them just how terrible
their current state is and that it just doesn't have to be that way.
Close with a Reminder
include a postscript (P.S.). Believe it or not, your P.S. is the third
most read element of your sales letter. I've seen good copywriters use
not just one postscript, but many (P.P.S). In your postscript you want
to remind them of your irresistible offer. If you've used scarcity in
your sales letter, include your call to action then remind them of the
limited time (or quantity) offer. It sounds like a simple step but
postscripts get noticed.
You now have a powerful sales letter. Using this 12-step formula
anyone can write an effective sales letter that sells. The following
are a few extra tips to help you write an even better sales letter:
#1: Write the
Features/Benefits - The biggest hurdle to writing a great sales
letter is just getting started. Many people have a fear of writing.
One way to get your letter started and develop a helpful guide for
your letter is to write a feature/benefit list.
a set of 3 x 5 cards and write all the features you know about on one
side of the cards. Then turn the cards over and write a benefit for
each feature. You'll have started your letter and produced a list of
benefits you can use to write your letter.
#2: Let Your Letter Cool Off -
Once you have completed the letter, let it sit for a day or so. This
will allow you to be more objective you when you edit your letter. If
you've just spend the last few hours working on your letter you will
find it hard to catch the mistakes or edits in the letter because
you're just too close to it.
#3: Develop a "Swipe File"
- Your swipe file will be a source of great ideas and help get your
creative juices flowing. When you see a great ad or receive a
particularly effective letter in the mail, keep it in a file that you
can refer back to again and again. Companies pay thousands of dollars
to develop their marketing materials; you might as well take advantage
of that by using it as a model for your own work.
#4: Develop a Customer Profile Sheet
- Before you start writing your sales letter, develop a customer
profile sheet by documenting every thing you know about your target
customer. Some great copywriters put a picture of a typical customer
in front of them as write their letter to help them remember to whom
they are writing the letter.
#5: Don't Worry About the Length
- I often get the question, "How long should my sales letter
be?" and my answer is, "As long as it needs to be."
Each part of your sales letter should be building your case. If it
takes ½ page to build your case then that's how long your letter
should be; however, I use a 24-page sales letter to successfully sell
one of my products.
anyone can write a powerful sales letter by just following this simple
12-step process. Make sure that you include each of the steps because
each step builds your case in a unique way and adds to the reader's
Frey, President of Marketing Best Practices Inc. is the senior editor
of the "Marketing Best Practices Newsletter", the web's
leading small business marketing newsletter. Get your free
lifetime subscription at http://www.MarketingBestPractices.com
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