B-to-B Insights: How to Succeed in Sales Letters
As a columnist, my job, more or less, is to let you pick my brain every other month. And while I’m more than happy to oblige, I do think a bit of full disclosure is in order.
Frankly, much of what currently resides in my brain—or at least much of the stuff that relates to direct marketing—has been shamelessly picked from the brains of others—from John Caples’, from Victor Schwab’s, from Stan Rapp’s and many, many others.
Over the years, a healthy percentage of my spare time has been spent reading the writings of direct mail’s “grand masters.” Then reading them again. And in some cases, yet again.
Why do I do this? After all, this is the digital age, right? What can a bunch of stiffs who composed sales letters on typewriters teach us about the techniques of motivating human behavior in the era of e-mail?
Deleted or Tossed: Either Way, It Didn’t Sell
In case you were in any doubt, e-mail has not replaced the printed sales letter. Never will. And what is an e-mail anyway, but a digital sales letter? Both vehicles employ words to engage, persuade and motivate. Both struggle to attract the attention of customers who are inundated with incoming sales messages of one kind or another. Both represent the front end of the sales process.
But perhaps the most salient thing print and digital messages have in common is this: Unless they’re written the way they ought to be, they’re both destined for the trash—whether it’s that little on-screen icon or the basket under the prospect’s desk.
To prevent this from happening to your communications, you might want to flip through “2,239 Tested Secrets for Direct Marketing Success,” in which Malcolm Decker reveals what goes through his head when he writes a sales letter: “I develop as clear a profile of my prospect as the research offers, and then match it up with someone I know and ‘put him in a chair’ across from me. Then I write to him conversationally.”