Four Ways to Upgrade Your Sales Letter
In a direct mail package, the cover letter acts as the anchor—even if it now often weighs less in word count than it did five or 10 years ago. Despite its increasing brevity, some of the same old copywriting mistakes that kill response are still being made. Here are four ways to help you avoid those pitfalls, as disclosed by copywriting veteran Malcolm Decker to writer Nicole Skodzinski in a November 2004 Inside Direct Mail article entitled, “How to Be Sweet as Honeysuckle, Tough as an Auger.”
#1: Engage, Immediately
Just like the screenwriter who has about two sentences to sell his pitch, you’ve got to hook your reader with a lead in the opening paragraph. If not, you’ve most likely lost her.
#2: Keep the Cat in the Bag
Too often, the offer is given right upfront. Instead, tease and hint at it to get the prospect to read on with curiosity to improve the chance of selling him.
#3: Don’t Trip Them on the Way Out
Some letters give new information in the close, which is the last place you want that information to be. “If you’ve got a sale to make, make it before the close. You hope that by the time they get to the close, they are going for their wallets,” comments Decker.
#4: Get the Boss to Sign
Don’t settle for the vice president or editor. Get the president or publisher to sign the letter if you want readers to take it, and the entire package, even more seriously.