Do you feel frustrated at lack of response to your sales letters? Do you avoid devising mailers because they are a "waste of time and effort"? Writing sales letters is an art that everyone can learn. It is an essential skill for sellers, as selling letter must do job we ourselves would do if we were present with our customer. You would not drop a brochure on your customer's desk and say nothing! And yet, that is what many sales letters effectively do. They TELL a lot, but SELL nothing.
Why do we talk of "junk mail" in derogatory terms? "Straight into dustbin" is usual comment. In fact, this belies fact of how we handle direct mail. Research by DMA-UK shows that 69% of business people read direct mail, and 81% of homeowners read theirs. Moreover, when you know how to harvest it, you can reap benefit of this potentially huge readership.
Why does direct mail suffer from such bad press? Mainly because letters tell us what they want to tell us, irrespective of what we might want to hear.
Let's look at direct mail from receiver's point of view, show you exactly how direct mail is handled when received, and show you how to garner more attention for your offers, and better response rates if you are looking for an action from your reader. How is it read? Do we automatically throw direct mail shots in bin? Actually, we don't. Consider last piece of direct mail you received. You looked at envelope. Your name was spelt correctly- or you got a little irritated that it was incorrectly spelt. You opened envelope.
Consciously or otherwise, you are likely to have scanned (in order): * The logo of sender * The spelling of your name and address. Your job title. * The headline of letter * The signature of sender * The P.S. * The first sentence of lead paragraph.
By now, over 95% of readers will have lost interest at some stage, and your letter is on its way to dustbin.
Lets' look at these elements and see how we lose them, and how you can better hold and focus your reader's attention.
Not much there to lose a reader you may think. However, if you have had a bad experience with sending company mere sight of their logo can be a major turn off. Personally, any letter from Hewlett Packard gets my immediate thumbs down, due to an horrendous experience with one of their printers a couple of years ago. Nobody at HP would take any responsibility for solving problem. It took over seven months to get a refund on a printer that was faulty from day one. Good-bye and thank you!
Customer name & address. There is NOTHING that drives people nuts way a misspelling of their name does.
As a sales coach and trainer I have learned this lesson hard way. The slightest error on a name card, say, and out comes pen to correct it. Kathleen with a "K" or a "C". Stephen with a "ph" or a "v". Anne, with or without an "e" on end. Our given name is thing that distinguishes us as individuals. We love it. We can't resist sound of it. A man named Tony will pay little attention to a shout of "Jack", but call his name and he is genetically programmed to respond. He will search for source of sound. He will tell those around him to quieten.
When sale letter starts "Dear customer" or "Dear fellow gardener" you know you are one of lucky 50,000 people getting this letter today. I'm only a number, a category. Where's that dustbin?
Personalise and go to whatever lengths it takes in order to spell your recipient's name, title and address correctly.
This is one of major milestones and is death of many mailers.
Suppose you pay an electricity / gas bill each month. You have received a letter from utility company and headline reads: "Are electricity prices causing you panic attacks? Reduce your bill by 25% per month". Into dustbin? I don't think so, because headline grabs you! Cost is a concern of every electricity bill payer. "Special FREE offer to previous Dell computer owners". You are a Dell user. Dustbin? Naaaah! Let's see what they are offering. Yes, we know it's a sales letter, but let's check anyway.
Your headline must spell out biggest Promise, Value, Benefit, Guarantee, or Merit that reader will receive in return for reading letter and taking some action. And headline must have impact! It must appeal to THIS reader. (See "Magic words" below for content ideas). Even better if your headline incorporates Problem, Solution, and Target Audience in headline. People are focussed on problems! Define target's key problem and offer a solution combined for big impact. "Do you find it difficult to find maternity clothes that really fit? Here is your answer" Problem, solution, target audience. Your target readers will want to know what it is about.
Notes for Email: Headlines Think about this. You open your Outlook Express in morning and maybe a hundred emails are downloaded. How do you decide which ninety five emails to zap? Simple. You base it on content of each Subject Line!
Therefore, if you wish to have your selling email opened by others, Subject Line becomes most important part of whole email! Getting your email opened by recipient may be your toughest task. Pay as much attention to your email subject line as you would to construction an advertisement headline (and you usually pay a pro to do that for you)....See notes above on headlines.
Signature of Sender
Again, apparently not that important. But how convinced are you by guy who signs Reader's Digest letters- "Tom Champagne". You think this is a real man? You innocent old thing. Our company sends out approximately 1200 pieces of direct mail once every six weeks and I insist that each one is personally signed with my name. (I do my share, but our staff members do bulk of signing). Each $1000 we invest in direct mail returns approximately $13000 in revenue. Real people signing in real ink is, I believe, an important element in success of this initiative.