The Sales Letter

The Writing Process

Put as much effort into the letter as you did into the brochure. Research shows the letter is usually the 1st thing people read. Get it right and people will read and keep your information. Get it wrong and they won’t.

Know your customers

If you don’t know about your market, their needs and anxieties you will not know "which buttons to press" and your response will be minimal.

Reread and re-edit

Never send your 1st draft. Put it in an envelope, leave it for an hour or even a day, reopen it and reread it. Ask other people to read it. Think of a couple of customers you know well and try to imagine their reaction to your letter. Your 3rd draft will be a great improvement over the 1st.

The writing style

It is no good just providing interesting information about your product or service. To get a response you need to sell, sell, sell – but remember some styles work better than others.

Write as you speak

Use a conversational tone and keep sentences short. Avoid long, uncommon or unnecessary words. Correct spelling is important but colloquial grammar can actually aid readability – you don’t get bonus marks for correct use of the subjunctive.

Use the "active" – not the "passive"

People tend to do what they are told but only if it is a clear instruction. So you will get a better response by saying "Call us now on 0845 345 7755" than if you say "We await your call on 0845 345 7755".

Write a long letter

Research suggests that long copy sells better than short copy. In B2B it is best to stick to a single page but to use it all. Some of the most responsive consumer mailings are several pages long. Remember those old 4 page Readers Digest letters?

Make it easy on the eye

Don’t crowd your text onto the paper. Break your letter up by using short paragraphs. Use bulleted or numbered lists to emphasize key points.

Beware of humour

Be very careful of trying to be funny. Something you find killingly funny may at best leave your reader cold, at worst be deemed offensive.

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