How to Write Killer Sales Letters

“How to Write Killer Sales Letters, emails and Website Copy in Order to Grow Your List and Attract New Customers.” 

I got into making serious money almost by accident.

I was running a medium-size electronic design company and getting pretty fed up with the long hours, employee problems and the stress of it all. I was looking for a better way. Sometime previously I’d read a great book called The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches by Joe Karbo. I filed it away my mind that one day I would write a book like that. Well, the day came, so I wrote what was to become a bestselling book called The Midas Method. It was a book on motivation, positive thinking and goal-setting (one of the secrets to success).

I had 1000 copies printed I was feeling pretty smug as a ‘published author’! The trouble is I had no idea how to sell them. I’d still have them in my garage now if I hadn’t forced myself to learn the secrets of copywriting.

My very first attempt was an advert in the press with the headline “How You Can Give up Your Job and Make a Million Pounds Instead!” The advert had a clip-off coupon for people to send in £10 for the book.

Here’s the key point: it didn’t take any great genius on my part to write that advert because basically it was a ‘knock off’ of the original Joe Karbo advert. That’s a broad hint about how you can get started yourself! Not plagiarizing of course, just copying the style and the idea.

Soon I was selling books faster than I could get them printed – and that was a great feeling. I never looked back from there and have gone on to write hundreds of highly successful adverts and sales letters which have made me millions of pounds.

Newbie Mistake

The biggest mistakes people make when writing sales copy (and that includes webpages by the way) is to think you need to be ‘a writer’ with all the mythology which surrounds that. The result is that their writing is stiff, formal and correct.

To write a successful sales letter you need to write like you speak. It needs to be friendly, warm, sincere and with a reading age of about 12 years old (the average reading age of the adult population!)

I teach sales letter writing in my seminars and there is almost a formula for writing a successful letter which sells services and products. The main secret is to have a big, fat, juicy benefit-driven headline right there at the top of the page. And remember – benefits not features! The rest of the letter should reveal benefit after benefit and answer the main objections the reader may have. Then you add a cast-iron guarantee, ask for the order (maybe by adding a free gift or bonus if they reply immediately) then add a PS which restates the major 1, 2 or 3 benefits. Remember, the reader does not really care about you or your company. They are 99% obsessed with themselves and what your product or service can do for them.

Can This Work For Anyone?

I’m often asked if this formula works for anyone in any industry. The answer is yes – but naturally you have to alter the tone of the letter slightly depending on what you’re selling. If you’re selling a course on learning street magic, your letter will have one tone (maybe quite chatty as if you were talking to someone down the pub). If your letter is business to business, selling a weighty product or service, you may need to make the language somewhat less common. But don’t make the mistake of making too highbrow.

Selling on the Internet?

Here’s something you need to know if you’re trying to sell on-line. Your landing page must like a sales letter, with the benefit driven headline right at the top. Be clear, I’m talking about websites which sell things here. You can do what you like with your choral society webpage!

People rarely get this right. You go to their site and it’s a riot of colours, graphics, confusing information boxes and suchlike. Strip all those off your landing page and make it look like a sales letter. If you want to see an example go to www.beyondwealth.co.uk.

How long does it take to write a decent sales letter? Well first of all realise we’re talking about 12 to 16 sides of A4. Yes it’s fairly well spaced but that’s still quite a lot of writing.

Long copy sells, short copy doesn’t. If you take nothing else away from this article please believe me on this one. As a rule of thumb it will take you one or two days to write the letter and another one or two days to edit it up to 10 times before you release it. Cut out all extraneous words. One beginner mistake I see over and over again is sales letters that are too ‘wordy’.

How to Begin?

Here’s a tip for getting started: write out all of the benefits of your product on 3 x 5 cards, one benefit per card. You should be able to think of at least 10. If you can’t, you’re not selling the right product! Now order the cards in terms of most important benefit first and least important benefit last.

When you come to write your headline, use the first three benefits on your list. For example “Make £4,570 a week, from home in under 30 minutes a day”. You can see that there are three benefits in that headline. Then, as you’re writing your body copy, introduce the other benefits from your 3 x 5 cards one by one. That’ll get you started in the writing process.

Here’s another tip: save all your ‘junk’ mail and uses these as templates for your own letters.

I have taught hundreds of people to write successful sales letters and I’ve never had a failure. That tells you something important – that anyone can learn this skill; it doesn’t depend on ‘natural talent’ (the most difficult students are those with degrees in English!). Don’t forget I was an electronics engineer not a writer!

If you’re interested in taking this further, I run very occasional workshops on the subject. You can also buy my manual “How to Write Million Pound Sales Letters” from the ‘books and courses’ area of my website www.stuartgoldsmith.com.

Good luck with your own letter writing efforts – it’s actually easier than you might think.

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