“There Is No Problem In Life That Can’t Be Solved By A Really Good Sales Letter”
Quote by Gary Halbert
Everything in life is easier if you have a system to follow.
A tried and true system you can consistently go back to time and time again. And without ever having to worry about “re-inventing” anything.
If it can be avoided, you never want to go down the path of being a pioneer as it’s just too risky.
Furthermore, it’s better to take a PROVEN path forged by others rather than take chances which could lead you to go broke.
Now, when we look at copywriting structure typically, we examine the sales letter as…
The Sales Letter Is Historically The Most Effective Tool of Direct Response Marketing
This is one of the reasons I LOVE the quote above by Sir Gary Halbert. And, trust me, it is just as valid now as ever, even in the online world.
Now, in many ways, the classic direct mail sales letter has taken a backseat to online sales. (Not that direct mail isn’t as effective as ever, as it is! *** Hint Hint***)
But the elements which make sales letters so powerful are the same for…
… online sales pages…
… video sales letters…
… direct response radio or television commercials…
… or print ads as they are an actual direct mail letter.
Ultimately, it’s ALL ABOUT SELLING…
… and using the proven tactics of master salesmanship to craft a powerful sale message…
… which connects with your potential customers and compels them to take a pre-determined action.
How To Use Sales Letter Formulas
There are many proven formulas to help you write a sales letter. I’m going to cover here the ones I feel are the most effective. They all have certain similarities and there is NO one way that works.
Just make sure you always have the foundational basics of copywriting included in any sales letter you write.
Now, how you structure your sales letter is ultimately decided by the type of product you are selling, as well as the offer you are making.
First of all, we’ll start with what I consider to be an almost “Foolproof” sales letter formula. By using this as a guide to follow, it will be hard to go wrong.
Here’s How This Sales Letter Formula Breaks Down
- Say something that gets your prospect’s attention.
- Tell your prospect why he/she should be interested.
- Tell your prospect why he/she should believe what you are saying is true.
- Prove it’s true.
- Itemize and describe all the benefits of your product or service.
- Tell your prospect how to order.
- Tell your prospect to order now.
Here’s A Few More Proven Sales Letter Structures
The first is called: PROBLEM | AGITATE | SOLVE
Basically, you start by highlighting a BIG PROBLEM in the headline and opening of your sales message.
This is an example I’m just quickly making up:
Headline – “Are You Living with The Embarrassment of Warts?”
Opening – “If you have warts then you know what it’s like to be constantly trying to hide them, always afraid someone is going to make a snide comment or give you a dirty look.”
Now, we’re going to pour a little salt on the wound as we AGITATE the problem.
How do we do that? Well, we could tell a painful story like this…
Painful Story – “I’ve gotta be honest with you. Telling my story isn’t easy as it brings back a bunch of bad memories I’d rather forget. For years I’ve lived a lonely life, hiding in my bedroom, afraid to be seen due to my ugly warts …”
And then finally we introduce our product or service as the SOLUTION our prospect needs, whether they knew it before or not.
Our Product – The Hero – “Everything changed for me the day I discovered Dr. Markson’s Incredible Wart Removal Cream. I now have the confidence to go out in public and even to meet girls, in fact, I recently went out on my first date in years.”
Another Great Sales Letter – The Four P’s
This is another popular sales copy letter formula. It stands for:
PICTURE: Show your prospect a vivid picture of how their life will be better by buying your product or service.
PROMISE: Detail the promise of the Big Benefits your prospects will experience from what you are selling.
PROVE: Highlight the value your prospect will receive through the use of success stories, testimonials, and other proof elements.
PUSH: Here’s where you make an irresistible offer to your prospect and then unabashedly ask for the order.
My Favorite Favorite Sales Letter Formula
Most copywriters and marketers have a favorite formula they tend to use more than others because it’s been proven time and time again to work.
I’m going to reveal my personal “Go To” sales copy formula here.
All of these ingredients work seamlessly with each other to make the full sales message come together to effectively sell your product or service.
Okay, so here’s a quick glance at the ingredients to my “Recipe” for writing a killer sales message:
The Deck Copy
Next, we’ll look at each of these individual sales copy “ingredients” in some detail.
The purpose of the pre-headline is to set the stage for the full sales message to come with a short, to the point statement which seamlessly flows into the headline.
The pre-headline should either call out a specific target prospect and/or push an emotional hot button or burning desire that the headline then follows through with.
It can also intensify the power of the headline by teasing what’s to come with a healthy dose of curiosity.
Your goal when writing headlines should be so compelling that it stops your prospect cold no matter what else they have competing for their interest.
It should make them want to IMMEDIATELY read your full sales letter, article or blog post.
Your headline should grab your prospect by the eyeball and for them to pay attention to your full sales message.
In fact, it should be harder NOT to read your sales message then to go ahead and give in to read it.
Why? Because if they DON’T read it, they’ll be up-all-night thinking about it (If you’ve done your job!).
Your Headline Needs To Be POWERFUL and MUST Be Able To Do Its Critical Job
You never want your prospect to have to work to understand the message you are trying to get across to them.
If you make the mistake of packing too many benefits or ideas into your headline, then you risk overwhelming your prospect.
And honestly, that might be just enough to make your potential buyer give up and move on to the next thing that catches their eye.
Don’t EVER risk this by over-complicating things!!!
You want to make sure you have one clear idea you hammer home OVER and OVER again.
First in your headline and then intertwined throughout the rest of your body copy.
Your headline also must SCREAM the biggest benefits your product or service promises to your prospects. And do it in a way that taps into their deepest and most dominant emotions.
If you can reach your prospect at a deep emotional level, you have the best chance at getting them to read your full sales message.
The Deck Copy
The deck copy should elaborate on the big promise, hook or big idea which is first stated in the pre-headline and main headline.
I like to use this area to start laying the real foundation of everything there is to come. I do this by loading up on the benefits of what you will be offering.
The deck copy should propel the reader into the body copy and sales story behind your product or service.
After reading your Pre-headline, Headline and Deck Copy, your reader should be hyped for what they are about to read.
Everything that’s come before now had the goal of leading your prospect into reading the opening sentence.
So, what is the ultimate job we need that opening sentence to successfully accomplish?
To read the SECOND sentence of course!
And then the same is needed of each subsequent sentence. All with the goal of getting your prospect to read as much of your sales message as possible because of the old sales saying:
“The More You Tell, The More You Sell!”
The opening of your body copy takes over where your headline and deck copy have left off. It should continue the overall Big Idea that has already been established.
I’ve heard legendary copywriter John Carlton say if your headline has done its job of arresting the attention of your ideal prospect…
… then the opening sentence should make your prospect “settle in and get ready to enjoy the ride” they are about to experience by reading the rest of your sales message.
Your opener should be very conversational, not pushy at all and it should entice your reader to want to listen to the rest of what you have to say.
Why is a good story so effective at helping to get the sale?
Stories are a powerful tool to use in your sales message because people remember stories.
I mention this again later but it’s worth repeating:
“Our Brains Are Hardwired To Pay Close Attention To and Remember Stories”
This means that your prospect might forget about every other part of your sales letter, but a good story will stick in their mind if you’ve done a good job of telling it.
With a powerful story resonating with your prospect, you have a chance of them coming back to buy later if for some reason they didn’t decide to buy originally.
This is a GREAT benefit as all of us, as part of our human nature, tend to procrastinate and put off making buying decisions.
But we all love a good story, so use this to your advantage whenever you can.
Also, a good story will make your prospect forget about everything else in their lives that distracts them from listening to your full sales message.
Now, even if you’ve done a great job of writing a truly killer headline and lead for your sales page it can still be hard to maintain a level of high excitement.
This is where the power of storytelling can be your savior. It can keep your readers interested and engaged so you will be able to present every detail of your full sales message.
Some effective storytelling techniques are to tell the story of:
- The product’s author, maker or inventor…
- How the product was invented…
- Your customers and how their lives have been affected for the better by using your product…
- What makes your product unique.
Sub-heads should act like additional headlines which cover the benefits of your product or service. They should also convey the highlights of your sales message to anyone who is quickly skimming through.
I admit to often being in this category of “skimmers” myself.
Often a headline for an ad will catch my attention but due to being busy with something else I’ll quickly skim through the sub-heads to get an idea of the details of the product and the offer.
Now, if the subheads are truly effective and have worked at piquing my interest then I’ll be convinced to go back and read the entirety of the sales message later…
… or then sometimes even stop whatever I am doing to go back and read the FULL details before often making the purchase.
I LOVE using bullets in my sales copy.
In fact, the more bullets the better. Why? Because there is nothing more effective at getting your prospect ready to buy than a whole list of benefits…
… presented one after another in a way that provokes curiosity…
… and gets your reader almost BEGGING you to take their money due to being SO worked up about what your product or service is going to do for them.
The great Eugene Schwartz (Author of the excellent Breakthrough Advertising) called these “Fascinations” because that’s what they do IF they are written right.
They fascinate you, intrigue you, tease you and lastly, they make you NEED to buy!
Here’s a point to remember which I heard from Gary Halbert:
“It’s Not Direct Response Advertising If There’s Not A Clear and Specific Offer”.
It’s also not going to be very effective no matter how good the rest of your copy is.
This is the true “death of a salesman”.
If a salesperson is timid and is afraid to BOLDY make an offer and ask for the sale, then they aren’t going to last long before having to look for another line of work.
So far you have:
- Attracted the attention of your perfect prospect with a powerful headline…
- Created a deep connection over their biggest WANTS, NEEDS, DESIRES or PROBLEMS they are concerned with…
- Told the story of either how your product came to be created or your account of a life-changing event (Maybe an amazing transformation one of your customers has experienced)…
- Unloaded an earth-shaking amount of benefits in the form of punchy little, defense penetrating bullets (Bullets which should have given your prospect multiple reasons to buy from you)…
Now, it’s time to present to your prospect…
“An Offer They Can’t Refuse”
An offer which says: “Here’s why you need to buy this and buy this RIGHT NOW!”
Just as important, when you are structuring your offer, it’s important to think of ways where you can create urgency.
Urgency can be created by using tactics like:
- Putting limits on the number of units you will be selling…
- Making special bonuses available for only a certain number of buyers…
- Having a special lower price for a limited time…
These are proven to be VERY effective at enticing your prospects to pull the trigger on purchasing your product or service.
A BIG warning though. Always be 100% honest when using any of these urgency factors. Because if your buyers find out you were “pulling the wool” over their eyes then they’ll feel ripped off and you’ll never sell them anything again.
A good rule to remember is “The Stronger the Guarantee = The Bigger the Profits”.
Even if you have done a great of selling there still may be a reluctance to buy from you… if there isn’t already an established customer relationship.
So, how do you defeat that reluctance in order to close the sale?
You MUST do whatever you can to transfer all the risk from the buyer to yourself by offering as strong a guarantee as you possibly can. One which puts your prospect’s mind at complete ease with a dead simple, almost impossible to say no to deal.
OK, so what if the guarantee is TOO strong? Will there be a risk being taken advantage of by unscrupulous buyers? Of course, there is always a chance of having someone buy from you with the intention of squeezing all the juice they can out of your product, only to then ask for a refund.
On the other hand, most marketers who use strong guarantees in their business will tell you that the increase in sales more than makes up for the few bad apples who take advantage of you.
In my opinion, be BOLD with your guarantee and you will reap the rewards!
In many ways, the P.S is the second most important piece of “real estate” in your sales letter next to only the headline.
Why? Well, it’s because testing has shown a good majority of people will skip right to the end of your sales letter after reading your headline as that is where your price and the bottom line on your offer is revealed. I actually have found myself doing the same thing when a particular product has grabbed my interest.
I’ll skim through the sales letter and head right to the P.S to see if the product is in a price range I would even consider and to see if there are any premiums or special offer that was saved for the end of the sales letter. Then if I am further intrigued by what I’ve read, I’ll go back to the beginning of the sales letter and read all of the details before I make a buying decision.
So, now that you know how important the P.S. is to your sales letter, make sure and end “With a Bang”.
Save a good amount of your most persuasive arguments for this highly read part of your sales letter and you will up your chances at closing the sale.
Okay, well I hope you have enjoyed this article on writing sizzling sales letters for your product or service.
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