How to End a Letter the Right Way!
Every copywriter knows that it is extremely important to start a sales letter (paper or e-mail) correctly. In the first couple of sentences you have to grab the reader's attention and get him on your side. If you don't, the greatest product features and the most wonderful benefits in the world, won't get you anywhere.
What is not as widely appreciated is the fact that you also must handle the ending of your sales letter with equal skill. All too often, writers seem to run out of steam and settle for a flabby, weak ending which really can hurt response.
Let me show you what I mean.
Here is the last paragraph from an old Symantec sales letter intended to upgrade its WinFax Pro installed base to the latest version:
Don't wait . . . call 1-800-631-8118 today to upgrade to the new WinFax Pro 9.0 for only $49.95. I guarantee you'll enjoy its new features right from the start! If not, return it within 60 days for a full refund (excluding shipping and handling).**
**Subject to the terms of our license and warranty.
What a downer! Out of all the upbeat, motivating ways to end a letter, why highlight the fact that you are excluding shipping and handling from your guarantee, and then add insult to injury by using asterisks that refer customers to the terms of your license and warranty?
Not a good choice! You should never end your letter with a reference to a legalism. Another thing to avoid is ending with your fax or phone number. That information is fine for your P.S., but it's a flat, boring way to close out your letter. It's much better to end on an upbeat note that really has some energy, some spirit and some motivating power.
Let's take a look at the ending of a Quicken sales letter that works much better:
After all, you've worked hard getting where you are today. You deserve to have your money work hard for you. And there's no better, easier way to do that than with Quicken - the indispensable financial tool that helps you recognize when opportunity is knocking . . . and opens the door to a brighter, more comfortable, more secure future!
Intuit used a writer who stayed awake on the job all the way to the end and it shows!
Just as a method actor has to discover the "emotional truth" of the scene and make it come alive for the audience, the copywriter has to discover the core "truth" of the selling proposition and make it shine in the final paragraph. That's exactly what the writer did in the Quicken letter quoted above.
As a writer, sometimes you have to struggle to figure out what this truth is. For example, some years ago I wrote a direct mail package for the Atlanta Golf Classic. I kept writing glowing prose about the great golf that the reader would see at the Classic, but I just didn't feel that I was connecting; I hadn't found the "hot button" that would get big companies to buy scores of tickets.
Then it dawned on me that the Atlanta Golf Classic was offering corporate attendees far more than golf. It was giving companies the chance to build relationships with valued clients by inviting them out for the day. This was a chance for executives to kick back and get away from the office, have a few drinks and make some deals. This human dimension is what had to be massaged in the letter's ending. The light bulb lit up, and I knew I was on to something. The ending wrote itself:
On a personal note, let me add that the BellSouth Atlanta Classic is a truly magnificent sporting event that I know you, your clients, and customers will enjoy tremendously.
If you want to have a fabulous time, while you create or strengthen important business relationships, I urge you to pick up tickets while they're still available.
The dogwood will be in bloom. The weather will be beautiful. These are the days you always said you owed yourself!
This is so much better than simply saying, "To order your tickets call 1-800-224-8976."
Next time you write or review a sales letter, make sure it ends with impact. It's easy to do and makes a tremendous difference!
Ivan Levison is a freelance direct response copywriter who works for companies like Bank of America, Fireman's Fund, Intel, Microsoft and many others. Levison writes direct mail sales letters, e-mail letters and ads. For a free subscription to his monthly e-mail newsletter for software marketers, visit his Web site at http://www.levison.com. He can be reached at (415) 461-0672 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.