The letter is the most important part of any direct mail package. Write a brilliant, compelling sales letter and your response rates can shoot up. Make a few thoughtless blunders and you're in deep trouble.
Maybe that's why so many of the questions I get from readers are about sales letters. Here are some of the many questions that have been coming my way, along with some quick responses I hope you'll find of interest ...
1. Should I use a headline above the salutation?
A headline (boxed or not) can grab the reader's attention and pull them into your pitch with a terrific benefit. You can fill up to a third of the first page with your headline/subheadline intro. If the letter is personalized or more formal, consider dropping the headline.
2. Is it worth dating the letter?
If you're going first class, date the letter. If you're going out bulk rate, you don't have to. The last thing you want is for your letter to arrive way past the date you've put at the top your letter.
3. Should I try to make the letter look as though it were typed (with the Courier font) or should I give the letter a more professional, typeset look?
Years ago, I would have said go for the typewriter look. Now, that's not necessary. Make sure you use a serif font like Times Roman or a nice sans serif font like Verdana. Readability, not "style," is what counts!
4. Does it make sense to personalize the letter?
A tough question. Personalization does improve response rates but there are important cost issues to consider. If you're writing to "C-level" executives, personalize for sure.
5. Should the tone of my letter be conversational or more formal?
It all depends, but generally a friendly, human, conversational tone of voice does work best. One of the biggest problems that beginning copywriters have is that they get uptight and start sounding pompous. Their work lacks personality and energy.