Death of the sales letter

29 replies
I don't know about the rest of you, but it seems like whenever I see "Dear Friend..." I get immediately turned off. Do you think this will have the same impact on other users as well? This sales letter method is derived from the conventional, hardcopy sales letter. In todays time and age where people are are exposed to sales messages everyday, do you think the sales letter still work? I read in an article sometime back that it is more useful to embed your sales pitch in an article. It goes on to say that people on the web look for information rather than looking to be sold. I think there is a lot of truth in that.

Obviously, theres still a lot of people who are going down the sales letter path. Just want to throw this out there and hear what the rest of you think.

Are we looking at the death of the sales letter?
#death #letter #sales
  • Profile picture of the author markpocock
    Test by stop using the "Dear friend".

    Make your sales letter look like a blog post
    or an interesting article. Tone down your
    headline if it looks to salesy.

    Try it and see.

    cheers

    Mark
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  • Profile picture of the author randalblanchette
    From both an IM and consumer vantage point, I don't even read in them in depth anymore. If look at three things in an email and salesletter:

    Email: Sender, Subject line, type of link (if it is a bit.ly, I do not even click and if my plug-in is red I don't either because they got a poor rating)

    Sales letter: First paragraph, cost, P.S's

    That's it. I don't have time to fool around with anything else if these do not grab me right away.

    If they do, only then do I give it more than a few seconds of my precious time.

    When they do, they get added to the swipe file
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  • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
    Right on time...

    It's been at least a few weeks.
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      • Profile picture of the author perryny
        I think maybe just really long sales letters might be dying. Do short ones work better?
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        • Profile picture of the author perryny
          Sorry. Another lame attempt at being funny.

          I haven't been an active member of this forum for very long, but even I'm surprised at how often I see the two questions... "Do sales letters really work?" and "Long or Short?"

          I know you want to limit the stickys, but I think one good post covering these two questions would help out a lot of people that haven't done their reading yet.

          Just a suggestion...

          -Rob
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          • Profile picture of the author MontelloMarketing
            It's true! I'm so happy someone has finally brought up this topic!

            The long sales letter is dead.

            I don't even read them...

            They all look "scammy..."

            Too much hype...

            That's a lot of words...

            I never once bought anything from those letters...

            Each and every marketer and copywriter reading this...

            PLEASE STOP USING LONG SALES LETTERS!

            Instead, use videos. People love videos...

            There are usually pretty colors and shiny things in videos...

            And with videos you don't need those awful copywriters!

            Oh... and stop with all the elipses too!
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            • Profile picture of the author Jag82
              Originally Posted by MontelloMarketing View Post

              The long sales letter is dead.

              I don't even read them...

              They all look "scammy..."

              Too much hype...

              That's a lot of words...

              I never once bought anything from those letters...
              I can identify with these.
              .
              .
              .
              .

              Especially this:

              Originally Posted by MontelloMarketing View Post

              Oh... and stop with all the elipses too!
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            • Profile picture of the author Daniel Sanchez
              Originally Posted by MontelloMarketing View Post

              It's true! I'm so happy someone has finally brought up this topic!

              The long sales letter is dead.

              I don't even read them...

              They all look "scammy..."

              Too much hype...

              That's a lot of words...

              I never once bought anything from those letters...

              Each and every marketer and copywriter reading this...

              PLEASE STOP USING LONG SALES LETTERS!

              Instead, use videos. People love videos...

              There are usually pretty colors and shiny things in videos...

              And with videos you don't need those awful copywriters!

              Oh... and stop with all the elipses too!
              That was pretty short,

              So I'm SOLD!
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  • Profile picture of the author silverwaterfall
    what Jag82 said!
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    • Profile picture of the author Jag82
      "The moment I see them, I go to the "x" button."

      (As if readers read ALL offline/short ads with a passion)

      "Long sales pages are irritating."


      (hmmm...did the long sales page just step on your dog or something?)

      "People just will not read long sales pages."

      (Have you read and finished a novel before?)

      "Long sales pages work. But I still find them irritating
      because it's long...and the headline is big and red."


      (You really make me feel like your kicking your candy ass!)
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      • Profile picture of the author perryny
        When I first got introduced to IM not too long ago, naturally I had the same question. "Who the hell reads all this?"

        A lot had to do with the fact that I wasn't interested in the product to begin with... I was just looking for examples of what a sales letter looked like. So again, naturally, why would I be interested in reading 12 pages of stuff that just didn't appeal to me.

        Also, I was looking at examples of sales letters... not necessarily good sales letters (clicking sig links all over the WSO forum). Not a lot of compelling stuff there to help me understand why long-form works.

        Several weeks ago, Gary Halbert (in an interview with Michel Fortin I believe) gave me what I believe was the most to-the-point explanation of why long form works.

        If you're buying a car... but you're not allowed to see the car... you only get a written description, how short do you want the letter?

        Do you want to know that it's stylish and gets great gas mileage? Tell me the details in two pages or less. Who has time to read more, right?

        Or do you want to know that it's Metalic Blue sexy beast of a machine, gets 11 city/ 15 hwy, has 535 hp, full leather interior, heated mirrors, 0-60 in 4.7, etc., etc.

        You want to hear the roar of the engine when you step on the gas... what the leather wrapped steering wheel feels like as you grip it tightly... how you get pushed back into the supple leather bucket seat as you ram down the throttle. (yeah, I'm no writer yet, but you get the point).

        You want that letter to give you every detail about that car. The letter should be as long as it needs to be. Give me the details.

        He gave another example about having to pick out a girl to be stuck on an island with sight unseen. I'll leave out the details on that one.

        So for my understanding... First, I need to already be interested in the subject of the sales letter. You're not going to get me to read a sales letter on a Forex product no matter how long, short or well written the letter. It's not something that interests me.

        But if I'm the proper target for what your letter is selling, then if it's eighteen pages of well-written, informative, compelling information of what your product is going to do for me... I'm reading until you lose me (which would be the fault of the writer, not mine).

        Just my take on a beaten-to-death subject.
        -Rob
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  • Profile picture of the author AustinLadyTam
    Might it be time for a sticky up top on "Is the sales letter dead?"
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  • Profile picture of the author mattlaclear
    Wait a sec??? Sales letters are dead? That's horrible news. What about all the bills I have to pay at the beginning of the month? It would seem that after the ten years I have been using sales letters to pay my bills with it seems like I would of seen this day coming.
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  • Profile picture of the author Pandan
    Originally Posted by Flareman View Post

    I don't know about the rest of you, but it seems like whenever I see "Dear Friend..." I get immediately turned off.
    Whenever I see "Dear Friend...", I always have the same thought running through my head: But you are NOT my friend (have we met, spoken, chatted?)! It almost always subconsciously irritates me. Then, being already edgy, my next thought is: aargh, another sales person without imagination... If the topic interests me, I may quickly scan through bullets, price and P.S. but I am already in a negative, distrusting state...

    I think it doesn't mater so much whether the sales letter is short or long, what matters is how it's written and if it starts with "Dear Friend", that's it for me.
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  • Profile picture of the author tswartz
    I've turned my sales letter off before, going for a more modern approach. Sales went down. I don't use the "dear friend" language, but I use the typical sales letter approach.
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  • Profile picture of the author MichelFortin
    I wrote a white paper over three years ago called "The Death of The Salesletter."

    http://www.michelfortin.com/the-deat...e-salesletter/

    Long copy salesletters will always have a place. But on the Internet, they are evolving -- because the Internet is different (or better said, the way people consume information on the Internet is different).
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  • Profile picture of the author MillionDollarCopy
    "Clutter is the disease of American writing" ~William Zinsser, On Writing Well

    To say that the long sales letter is dead is to make a broad generalization. However, I live on the edge and I'm gonna sell this.

    let's get serious here..

    The reader is LAZY, and there's nothing wrong with that. They can be. It's their time, after all. In a country where it takes longer to sit through the line in the drive through than to get out of the car and walk inside to get your dunkin' donuts, what makes us think people are so compelled to read every last word of a 20 page sales letter?

    Isn't this why we've all worked so hard at being able to write jaw-dropping headlines, killer bullets, eye-bulging hooks, and wallet-whipping PS's? We know they're skimming!

    Video is where it's at. they don't even have to read anymore! They can have the information they're craving on demand and they can have it with their eyes closed if they want to (and they do).

    That's the bandwagon I'm on, and it's a pretty sweet ride.
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    • Profile picture of the author perryny
      Originally Posted by MillionDollarCopy View Post

      The reader is LAZY, and there's nothing wrong with that. They can be. It's their time, after all. In a country where it takes longer to sit through the line in the drive through than to get out of the car and walk inside to get your dunkin' donuts, what makes us think people are so compelled to read every last word of a 20 page sales letter?

      Isn't this why we've all worked so hard at being able to write jaw-dropping headlines, killer bullets, eye-bulging hooks, and wallet-whipping PS's? We know they're skimming!

      Video is where it's at. they don't even have to read anymore! They can have the information they're craving on demand and they can have it with their eyes closed if they want to (and they do).

      That's the bandwagon I'm on, and it's a pretty sweet ride.
      You know... I'm no expert, but I'm going to disagree with you on this, and I'm compelled to do so because...

      I've just read my fourth long sales letter in a row. I'm looking for something specific. Someone to help me with my project. Reading these sales letters gives me the info I need to make a decision. The more info provided, the better. Skimming to the bottom of the page for a price doesn't help me. I need to make an evaluation based on the entire message.

      As far as your view on video and them doing it with their eyes closed... I think that's a fundamental flaw with a lot of today's videos. What I found recently when "viewing" some videos was that because it was basically a powerpoint slideshow with a voiceover, I decided to multitask by opening another browser window and continue listening to the video while reading other stuff.

      That's when I discovered how difficult it was for me to read one message and listen to another simultaneously.

      Unless I'm deeply interested in the message the video is selling, then I'm sure I'm going to miss a lot of key points. And from what I'm learning about copywriting... every point should be a key point.

      Unless the videos give me a real compelling reason to keep me watching (and not just "listening"), then I really question if they'll ever be as effective as a sales letter, where I'm forced to devote 100% of my attention if I'm interested in hearing the message.

      Back to search for sales letter #5...
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  • Profile picture of the author Daniel Scott
    But Perry... I'm guessing you skim those letters.

    That's not a bad thing... I do the same thing usually.

    But not everyone is as focused as us.

    Heck, I've got a friend who reads about half (or less) the speed I do. Video would probably engage him a lot more.

    IMHO the best option is to have a link under the video that says "click here for text only version".

    Having said that, haven't tested it.

    And as for video... the reason I think those "PPT" ones work so well is people are getting both an aural and visual message... like when you did reading comprehension in school.

    I'm not saying video is the way to go, nor am I saying "long form" salesletters are the way to go.

    Both can work very well... but personally I'm leaning towards doing both.

    After all... once you write the copy... the video is easy.

    -Dan
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  • Profile picture of the author Flareman
    Has anyone ever tried writing their sales letter in an article format? Maybe do a split testing and see if the conventional sales letter converts better or the article format?

    I've read that the long sales letter puts the reader in a hypnotic state whereby he is more inclined to purchase. But how long is too long before our readers gets from hypnotic to sleepy? Do certain product types work better with longer sales letter than others?
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  • Profile picture of the author kos818
    Hi,

    I´m also not the hugest fan of "dear friend". Actually it is annoying how many "friends" I have on the internet. Also that "my good friend, XY, just launched his 10.000US$ course, you must see this" is out of time.

    But are there alternatives to "dear friend"?

    Whenever I open a sales page, the first thing I do is copy the URL. Why? Because I´ll close the site nearly immediately. Then, in 99% of all pages, I get some "wait, I have some special discount for you". So I stay on the page, have a look for the discount, open the original version and skim through it. If I´m interested I buy it with my discount.

    So any thoughts on my dear friend problem? I´m just writing some initial posts fo rmy new blog, and one of the postings, that one that was the most fun of all, has a title like "F..K you, I have enough friends ;-)". This is what I have on my beach cruiser (I´m 31 btw and have a driving license)...

    Cheers
    Sven

    Ps: I think a combination of video and copy works. I´m living in China right now and only the fact that there are some "restrictions" while using the internet makes it easier to read. There are different types of consumers, so give everybody what he likes...
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  • Profile picture of the author NicholasCarter
    Well i personally believe it still can be effective. I don't know about the "dear friend" title but I personally believe if your a great copywriter you can connect with someone's emotions. Lol I think we are an a.d.h.d nation so videos can be more effective because it takes less time to watch. it also allows you to build report with people as opposed to blind text. I don't want to sound contradictory as I believe sales letters are effective but the cookie cutter sales letters are not because your right people are sold to and talked at all the time, they build up defenses. Sales letters that connect with peoples emotions in the right way in my opinion are effective.
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    • Profile picture of the author kos818
      Hi,

      just preparing a new product launch (mini launch as a dime sale) and told my copywriter, that I don´t want that "dear friend" introduction. The sales copy isn´t ready yet, so I have no glue what he will deliver ;-)

      Also might include some video and split test all 3 versions (sales copy only, sales copy with video, video only) and report back with my results!

      Best
      Sven
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      Nothing to sell...
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  • Profile picture of the author Powers
    Banned
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    • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
      Originally Posted by Powers View Post

      Might it be time for a sticky up top on "Is the sales letter dead?"
      This thread actually started in the main forum and was moved here...

      More importantly, it's not like the people who start these threads are looking for answers... they've got OPINIONS.

      Brian

      EDIT: This was not intended as a swipe at the OP, just a general statement.
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  • Profile picture of the author Johnny12345
    Yes. Sadly, the long-form sales letter is dead. Gone. Played out. Over.

    I can't mention any names, but I have it on very good authority that the next big thing is gonna be...

    ...smoke signals.

    It's going to be HUGE. You heard it here, first.

    John
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    • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
      Death of the sales letter? LOL

      More like the salesletter's family is growing and adding a bunch of new offspring.

      It's no longer just the long copy direct mail letter.

      There's countless variations online... some with video... some without.

      There's countless variations offline. Except for magalogs, almost of them are still going strong.

      It's just different media and you need to just pick the right media to hit your target market most effectively.

      Case in point: I recently wrote a 14 page direct mail salesletter for a client, selling a $1500 per head seminar... it was supposed to be 10 pages but I needed the extra space to properly sell the 2 day seminar. After some gentle arm-twisting, my client agreed.

      That "too long" sales letter pulled $70K in sales in the first 3 days alone.

      The same client has booked another project with me for later this month. Guess what? He wants me to write another 10+ page direct mail salesletter for him to sell another product of his.

      Food for thought,

      Mike
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    • Profile picture of the author Jodie Thompson
      Originally Posted by Johnny12345 View Post

      Yes. Sadly, the long-form sales letter is dead. Gone. Played out. Over.

      I can't mention any names, but I have it on very good authority that the next big thing is gonna be...

      ...smoke signals.

      It's going to be HUGE. You heard it here, first.

      John
      Now that's the way to go ... it'll be like trust your intuition and curiosity (if you can breathe that is)
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  • Profile picture of the author Dan Axelrod
    Remember that as a marketer, or even being on a number of marketing related mailing lists, you're likely to be turned off a lot faster by the hype than the average population.

    The biggest fallacy in marketing is "That wouldn't work on ME."

    It's a great idea to test variations out, but don't change it just based on your own cringe-factor.

    --Dan
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  • Profile picture of the author vivifoster
    make sure you put a very compelling and interesting subject. i don't think it's the death of the sales letter. rather, i think, it's a call for them to be more creative and interesting. it forces them to abandon the boring "dear friend" start and make it something worth reading.
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