Is the long form sales letter an endangered species?

9 replies
When was the last time you received one? When was the last time you read one (other than for learning purposes)?

I haven't stumbled across one in a very long time.

I think internet content -- VSLs, blogs, etc. -- have replaced the long-form sales letter.

...And (dare I say it?) -- tl&dr is a very real thing in the internet age. Yes, if you can make a sales letter interesting enough, some will read it. But in the age of "tl&dr", that's becoming harder and harder to do.

Other than pieces like brochures (which your prospect actually requests), sales writing is becoming "slicker" and more "soft sell" -- which I think signals the downfall of the classic long-form sales letter.

I think one of the ramifications of this is new copywriters should update their "go to" examples of great sales writing.

Sales writing, like everything else in marketing, is changing, thanks to the internet. Sales principles may not change much, but sales writing is changing drastically. What do you think?
#endangered #form #letter #long #long form sales letter #sales #sales writing #species
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  • Profile picture of the author Jeffery
    My sales letters come in two types: long and short. My target market determines my type of sales letter: generic and brand. All sales letters are designed to convert. All sales letters are split tested, i.e. A & B.

    1. The target market type off sales letter.
    In my business there are two sources of prospects: Converted and Unconverted, i.e. Paid and Unpaid. Anything less is not a consideration and worth my time and my businesses overhead.
    1a. Converted TM is a previously paid customer and the product is high cost I use a long sales letter.

    1b. Unconverted TM is generic and the product is generic and the product cost is low I use a short sales letter, i.e. bulleted point opt-in form.
    My business model is for my business and other types of businesses will elect to utilize different models, obviously.

    My intent (very important) is to Keep It Simple.
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    Entrepreneurs starting out and small businesses without giant staffs and budgets.

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    • Profile picture of the author splitTest
      Originally Posted by Jeffery View Post

      My sales letters come in two types: long and short. My target market determines my type of sales letter: generic and brand. All sales letters are designed to convert. All sales letters are split tested, i.e. A & B.

      1. The target market type off sales letter.
      In my business there are two sources of prospects: Converted and Unconverted, i.e. Paid and Unpaid. Anything less is not a consideration and worth my time and my businesses overhead.
      1a. Converted TM is a previously paid customer and the product is high cost I use a long sales letter.

      1b. Unconverted TM is generic and the product is generic and the product cost is low I use a short sales letter, i.e. bulleted point opt-in form.
      My business model is for my business and other types of businesses will elect to utilize different models, obviously.

      My intent (very important) is to Keep It Simple.
      I'm curious -- what are you selling with long-form sales letters these days?

      My point is the utility of long-form sales letters is diminishing, especially as other mediums become more effective.

      A long-form sales letter, chocked full of benefits etc., is being replaced by a short message directing interested prospects to online content, white papers, etc.

      I think the utility of the long form sales letter is diminishing in the internet age. When was the last time you got one in the mail? When was the last time you clicked to one online in fact? And we all know that "long form" is a no-no in emails...
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      • Profile picture of the author Jeffery
        Originally Posted by Jeffery View Post

        My sales letters come in two types: long and short. My target market determines my type of sales letter: generic and brand. All sales letters are designed to convert. All sales letters are split tested, i.e. A & B.

        1. The target market type off sales letter.
        In my business there are two sources of prospects: Converted and Unconverted, i.e. Paid and Unpaid. Anything less is not a consideration and worth my time and my businesses overhead.

        1a. Converted TM is a previously paid customer and the product is high cost I use a long sales letter.

        1b. Unconverted TM is generic and the product is generic and the product cost is low I use a short sales letter, i.e. bulleted point opt-in form.

        My business model is for my business and other types of businesses will elect to utilize different models, obviously.

        My intent (very important) is to Keep It Simple.

        Originally Posted by splitTest View Post

        I'm curious -- what are you selling with long-form sales letters these days?

        My point is the utility of long-form sales letters is diminishing, especially as other mediums become more effective.

        A long-form sales letter, chocked full of benefits etc., is being replaced by a short message directing interested prospects to online content, white papers, etc.

        I think the utility of the long form sales letter is diminishing in the internet age. When was the last time you got one in the mail? When was the last time you clicked to one online in fact? And we all know that "long form" is a no-no in emails...
        1a. Converted TM is a previously paid customer and the product is high cost I use a long sales letter.


        A previously paid customer in a target market is a prospect for repeat sales and that customer paid for the initial product from a long sales letter. Almost all of my paid customers that buy high cost products through the long sales letters simply because the sales letter is more detailed.


        The products cost from $1000.00 to $1500.00 on average. Hosting and server management and Annual memberships are the high end products.
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        Entrepreneurs starting out and small businesses without giant staffs and budgets.

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        • Profile picture of the author Jerrico
          there you go... memberships that provide real value are longer form because your customer wants as much information about it as possible, while some products can be summated in a smaller sales page. I guess it really depends on, like he said, what your selling or how much information people crave, in this day and age more people are busy and want the fast answers but some products, especially higher priced products, beg for more information before making a decision, so I don't think the long form sales page is dead by any means, but it may be more segmented to other markets than it used to be (saturated). Even a long form, however, requires you maintain interest and build excitement, so perhaps using videos, pictures, and very cleaver writing. The blog and the funnel have taken over though, we live in different times than just 10 years ago.
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      • Profile picture of the author Jerrico
        Seems the funnel format may also be replacing the long form
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  • Problem we got right now is how hoomankind has evolved all stoopid.

    As a barely functional Millennial airhead musself, gotta tellya if'n stuff ain't instantly engagin' in ways don't tax no brain cells, likely ima pass.

    An' FFS centennials are even worse.

    They don't even get they got brain cells they too lazy to frickin' use.

    So, in our ADD-led zeal, we meander toward the darkness that is ... cinematic infoblitz soundbiteland.

    Short stuff. Punchy. Quick on its feet. Surprisin'. Yeah ... an' prolly real lame also.

    Like 8sec explainer vids, short ads for insta & FB, flashin' kitten images etc.

    An' it is not jus' copy where a trend for longer messagin' is bein' superceded by shorter shock tactics.

    Go watch a movie from even 20 years ago an' often the pacin' feels real slow.

    Compare Stephanie Meyer to Bram Stoker.

    Across the board, all kindsa discourse are switchin' from the more formal & ponderous style of "long" to the more mainliney "short".

    So does this mean long form is dead?

    Hell no!

    Evrywan understands sum things gotta be thought about for more'n 15 seconds.

    So, big life stuff like marriage, insurance, health, big purchases, big decisions -- here's stuff don't resolve into instantaneous purchasin' decisions so easy as

    KITTY-FISH SNACKS FOR FRESHER SMELLING KITTY POO

    might makeya wonder ... how in hell ima evah sell my stinky cat on EBay?

    With big decisions, you gonna seek advice, ask friends, mull it ovah ... an' keep comin' back to the long form again and again.

    An' each time you return, the power-packed emotes gonna soak into your brain.

    Phrases gonna stick, an' you gonna return to fam, friends an' internet with your questions mebbe already inflooenced by what you read.

    Effective copy always works bcs how people work, so if your long form got class, you mebbe gonna see fam & friends & internet chimin' with what the long form says ... alla which adds to the persuasive powah when you look key sections ovah one more time ...

    Know what I'd love to see?

    The detailed pre-launch pitch deck for Snapchat.
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    Lightin' fuses is for blowin' stuff together.

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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
    Originally Posted by splitTest View Post

    When was the last time you received one? When was the last time you read one (other than for learning purposes)?

    I haven't stumbled across one in a very long time.

    I think internet content -- VSLs, blogs, etc. -- have replaced the long-form sales letter.
    Online, long-form sales letters haven't gone away.

    The delivery medium has changed, that's all. Video has replaced text.

    It takes approximately the same amount of words to write an effective VSL as it does an equivalent long-form sales letter.

    Offline, long letters and bookalogs/magalogs continue to abound.

    Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author Paul Hancox
    I don't think much has changed, really.

    Savvy marketers 10 or 20 years ago already knew that "funnels" were equally or perhaps even more important than the sales letter. It's just that more marketers are aware of this now.

    VSLs may convert better in some cases, but they're still sales pitches with words that you have to plan out in advance... much like a sales letter... unless you plan to make it a silent movie.

    Also, what you're selling makes a big difference as to how you sell.

    If you're selling ice cream, don't give them a list of bullet points, or a 20 minute video of a guru trying to pre-sell the idea of tasty ice cream... just give them a free sample!

    But if you're trying to sell a new $5,000 trading system, giving out a small tub of ice cream... might not do it
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  • Profile picture of the author 1Bryan
    It depends on demos. Sorry, but millenials ain't responding to what 70+ responds to. That's why the top dog copywriters have almost always sold to the aging demos. Clayton used to talk about the average age of his demo being like 65-75 years old.

    I would not send affluent 25-35 yr olds who already have a scarcity of time ... to a long ass old school letter.

    A retired 70 year old has way more free time to read/listen to sales pitches than a 35 yr old corporate climber.

    Some of the old folks here probably don't know any 35 yr old corporate climbers all that well ... But that's my demo I'm part of and sell to.

    These are folks who don't have 10 minutes a day to sit down and talk with their spouse.

    Are they really gonna get lost in that old long form sales letter?

    Plus ...

    One of the patterns that I saw with old school copywriters was they sell to really old demographics.

    Like 75+.

    Clayton said that for one of his newsletters.

    75+ males have high rates of dementia/alzheimers. And one of the signs of that is falling for get rich quick products. AARP had an article about that.

    So some of these old schoolers with their long form letters ...

    It has to be true that a certain percentage of their sales went to folks with mild/moderate forms of dementia/alzheimers.

    Make of that what you wish ...

    But it has to be true that some of these A-listers that sell to really old pops ...

    Make a significant chunk of it from folks with Alzheimers and Dementia.

    Once I realized that ... I stopped paying attention to them. Because they don't sell to who I sell to and really? They have to know that some of their sales come that way. From the dwindling retirement monies of folks who probably shouldn't be making financial decisions anymore.

    It might be nice to make a million bucks off a letter about Pink Sheets Stocks to old fogies who can't remember their grandchildren's names ...

    But I don't wanna any part of that.

    And the less I paid attention to the old schoolers (who didn't sell to the demos I do) ...

    The better my shit performed.

    P.S. I don't sell money making stuffs. So I also can't sell the overworked corporate climber an "out" ... So I have to play in the frame of his/her lifestyle This is why it is so important to get an ACCURATE idea of who your ideal customer is and what their life is like. If they legit don't have 10 minutes a day to spend with their spouse? That 30 page letter ain't ever getting read and that 48 minute VSL ain't ever getting watched.
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