How to start in a sales letter

16 replies
Hey,

I have a hard time starting on my copy.

I want attention in the beginning, do you have any idea how to start?
#letter #sales #start
  • Profile picture of the author OutOfThisWord
    Start by targeting your audience, their problem and making a promise for your solution in the headline.

    Pretend you are at a train station and your prospect is about to board the train and you've got 3 seconds to say 7-10 words that will make them want to wait and catch the next train, so they can listen to what you have to say.
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  • Profile picture of the author Studio13
    First, I start writing headline with the cliche headlines from the swaps, for example:

    "Who else wants to..."
    "WARNING: Don't do anything until..."
    "Announcing a breakthrough in...."
    "How to..."
    "...Things They Don't Want You to Know."
    "I'd Rather Crawl on My Naked Knees Across Broken Glass Before..."
    "They all laughed when I..."
    "Sex, Drugs and ..."

    Next, I pretense my next set of headlines pretending I am God, and can do anything regardless of physical limitations or hype:

    "Who else wants to learn to levitate, teleport and manifest matter into existence?"
    "WARNING: Don't do anything until you convert to my Internet Marketing Cult."
    "Announcing a breakthrough in the way you see everything I write!"
    "How to Cure Cancer in 1 Second and Never Die."
    "17 Tibetan Secrets to Immortality The Lamas Don't Want You to Know."
    "I'd Rather Crawl on My Naked Knees Across Broken Glass Before Going on Another "Diet" to Lose Weight."
    "Sex, Drugs and 17 More Ways to Permanently Avoid Death."

    And then I buy a $500 course on marketing.

    Finally, I summarize my unique selling point and product benefits in 17 words or less. Maybe I should have just started with that.
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  • Profile picture of the author Arock
    I like the softer touch because I think that internet buyers are getting worn down by over-reaching and unrealistic headlines. Although I do like some of your headlines, Studio 13...

    A very clever headline that draws the reader in is perfect.

    Personally, I don't like the "WARNING..." approach. It seems spammy and fake. I know that there is lots of evidence that it works, but it doesn't on me. If you go over the top in the headline, the customer is just as likely to bounce as a bland nothing headline. Maybe quicker. You need to strike a good balance.

    Now I'm gonna' go buy a $500 course on e-marketing...
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    • Profile picture of the author Julie851977
      Originally Posted by Rockwell View Post

      I like the softer touch because I think that internet buyers are getting worn down by over-reaching and unrealistic headlines. Although I do like some of your headlines, Studio 13...

      A very clever headline that draws the reader in is perfect.

      Personally, I don't like the "WARNING..." approach. It seems spammy and fake. I know that there is lots of evidence that it works, but it doesn't on me. If you go over the top in the headline, the customer is just as likely to bounce as a bland nothing headline. Maybe quicker. You need to strike a good balance.

      Now I'm gonna' go buy a $500 course on e-marketing...
      I agree with you I think people really want a bit of a softer touch and just something that is more realistic to acheive.
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      • Profile picture of the author celestrist
        Originally Posted by Julie851977 View Post

        I agree with you I think people really want a bit of a softer touch and just something that is more realistic to acheive.
        You can promise a kingdom in the headline, just make sure you prove it in your copy...quick.

        You want to make them say "Come on!"... and still they wanna read on.

        As Rockwell said, "you need to strike a good balance".

        Read my thread here because it might give you some very good ideas on how to start
        http://www.warriorforum.com/copywrit...sive-side.html
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    • Profile picture of the author shawoon98
      Originally Posted by Rockwell View Post

      I like the softer touch because I think that internet buyers are getting worn down by over-reaching and unrealistic headlines. Although I do like some of your headlines, Studio 13...

      A very clever headline that draws the reader in is perfect.

      Personally, I don't like the "WARNING..." approach. It seems spammy and fake. I know that there is lots of evidence that it works, but it doesn't on me. If you go over the top in the headline, the customer is just as likely to bounce as a bland nothing headline. Maybe quicker. You need to strike a good balance.

      Now I'm gonna' go buy a $500 course on e-marketing...
      If "WARNING...." approach works or if thats what the customer is looking for, I see no problem using this approach. However you sell, end of the day the customer will find the balance between the PROMISES & QUALITY DELIVERED. This is how you are getting returning customers and returning revenue.
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  • Profile picture of the author sanjaypande
    Originally Posted by aidenandersen View Post

    Hey,

    I have a hard time starting on my copy.

    I want attention in the beginning, do you have any idea how to start?
    Try this ...

    Get a pen (not pencil) and paper.

    Imagine you want the product you're writing about really badly but don't have the money for it.

    Write a letter to your mom convincing her to buy this for you, explaining why she should and why you want it so much that you even decided to ask her for the money.

    Just do this simple exercise and see what you come up with.

    You should be able to extract quite a bit out of it for a pretty decent sales letter.

    Yes, it doesn't follow copy formulae yet, but it will be more emotionally charged than you can ever get it if you try and build skin on a skeleton.

    Remember, it's your first draft. Not your finished version.

    It will go through many iterations afterwards.

    Remember, just write. Don't worry about getting attention etc. Just start writing and see where it goes. The fun usually starts a few pages down when you get into the flow.
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  • Profile picture of the author Elle Davies
    An attention grabbing title!

    Something that suggests urgency and provokes a desire for your product.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    10 Ways To Start An Internet Sales letter

    The first sentence of an internet sales letter is like a
    hook. It must grab the reader’s attention and lead them into
    reading the entire letter.

    According to copywriter Joseph Sugarman, the purpose of the
    first sentence of a salesletter is to get the reader to read
    the next sentence. And the second sentence? To get the
    reader to read the third sentence.

    This becomes even more crucial on the internet than in
    print, since attention spans are very short online.

    There are certain types of letter openings that prove very
    effective in pulling the prospect into the rest of the copy.
    We’ll briefly look at the ten most effective ways.

    1. Tell a Story

    Stories have been used for ages to relate lessons. From
    bedtime stories to the greatest philosophers, we all love a
    good story.

    A story creates empathy with the reader and helps to draw
    him into the sales pitch. This works best if the story
    identifies with the problem that the prospect is now
    experiencing for which you’ve found the solution. Some of
    the most effective direct mail pieces used this technique.

    2. State the offer upfront

    If your product or service is well known to your audience
    and doesn’t need any special introduction, then you can just
    state the offer right away. This serves best if your offer
    is a very attractive one. In this case the real appeal is in
    the offer itself.

    A common example is if you have a free offer or deep
    discount on products your target audience is already
    interested in. Your entire salesletter can then be based on
    the offer and not on the product features or benefits.

    3. Use a startling quote or statistic

    This type of opening is really intended to get the reader to
    sit up and pay attention. It should be ‘newsy’ and have some
    ’shock value’. It should raise a question in the prospect’s
    mind and build some curiosity to read the rest of the
    letter.

    4. Make an announcement

    This will work best if you have a new product that you are
    introducing to the market. This should sound like a press
    release. In other words, there should be little ‘hype’ and
    more factual type statements emphasizing what’s new about
    this product.

    5. Ask a question

    Questions are very effective in pulling the reader into your
    salesletter. This is especially true when the answers to the
    questions are very important to the reader. These questions
    also force the prospect to think and get involved with your
    copy. The questions remain unresolved until you answer them
    in the copy. Questions also make the letter sound
    conversational and more personal.

    6. Write to the reader as a colleague

    If your target audience consists of a narrow special
    interest group then you can address the reader as such. You
    may address the reader as “Business Owner”, or “Webmaster”.

    Right away this qualifies the prospect and saves them having
    to read further to know if the letter is of interest to
    them. It also serves another purpose: to make the reader
    feel as part of a special group-a type of flattery.

    7. Offer a free report

    This will work best with higher ticket items. In this case
    you want the prospects to send for the “special report” that
    will further sell them on your product or service. The
    report must not be pitched as a salesletter but as providing
    genuine information that the reader can benefit from

    8. Pinpoint the reader’s problem

    Most products or services provide a solution to a problem.
    You can therefore start the letter by stating the problem
    that your product solves. This will immediately qualify the
    reader and provide a logical transition for the letter in
    explaining how the product solves the problem in the next
    section.

    9. State your strongest benefit

    If your strongest benefit has a real striking appeal to your
    prospect then you may start by stating this benefit upfront.
    This benefit must reach out to the reader’s self-interest
    and go beyond just addressing a feature of your product.
    Copywriters commonly refer to this as selling the sizzle and
    not the steak. Just think about it, if your strongest value
    you are offering the reader doesn’t capture his interest
    then the others will fail also.

    10. Offer some ’secret’, privileged information

    You can make an offer that is not open to the ‘general
    public’ but only to a select few. This will work well with
    your present customer base who may receive this announcement
    ahead of other people. The point here is that the reader
    feels special because they are getting the ‘inside deal’.
    This will also work well with any select group such as new
    subscribers, repeat buyers or any group you care to
    ‘invent’.

    This list is not exhaustive but shows those techniques that
    I find most effective as I create salescopy for my online
    clients. If you fail to grab the reader’s attention in those
    precious few opening seconds then the entire battle is lost.
    The majority of online readers simply scan before they
    choose to read the entire letter. If the start of the letter
    doesn’t capture their attention then they are lost for
    good.

    Sometimes the conversion rate for a website can be
    drastically increased by just changing the opening paragraph
    for the copy. Use anyone of these ten techniques to boost
    your online sales.

    -Ray Edwards
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  • Profile picture of the author Studio13
    Originally Posted by Ken_Caudill View Post

    Study the competition and find your USP. Everything will flow from there.
    I believe this should be paramount.
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  • Profile picture of the author BartsTreasures
    Start by not actually trying to write the copy...instead brainstorm every possible feature/benefit of your product...then narrow the features/benefits (or modify them) to a specific strong sub niche of your market.

    Take your strongest benefit and use it as a basis to create your headline/subheadline...make this headline HOOK the reader into reading onward...use the rest of your benefits in your copy and build value and create an irresistable offer...close with a strong call to action.
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  • Profile picture of the author YasirYar
    When you are writing a sales copy it is good to start with some problem that the reader can relate to. Or start with what you are offering.
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  • Profile picture of the author RHert
    It's like when writing a story. The goal of your first sentence is to make the reader move on to the second, and then the third. If you start into a story that relates to your audience and what they can get out of it you'll hold their attention much longer than stating facts or using gimmicks. Your conversions will also be higher.
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  • Profile picture of the author BarryADensa
    I don't mean this to sound self-serving, but if you don't know how to start a sales letter, you'll be far better served by hiring a professional to write the sales letter for you, if, of course, you can afford to.

    As so many great marketers have confirmed, if you can get them to read the first 300 words, it'll be a cinch to get them to read the next 3,000.

    And others have proven, the headline is 80% of your ad.

    Platitudes possibly, but therein lies the truth -- if you can't grab their eyeballs at the outset, they'll never stick around to read your offer.

    Now to your truth...

    Who are you marketing to? How are they accustomed and predisposed to being approached?

    Soft sell, hard sell, hype, advertorial -- all will work for that audience that can be persuaded to act by that particular approach.

    Coming right out and telling the audience what to do, will work too, if the audience is amenable to being directed.

    Intrigue, controversy, will work for certain audiences, too.

    Then, on the other hand, are you a known quantity to them, or a stranger?

    Should you first establish your credentials?

    Should you start with a testimonial?

    Maybe.

    Should you discover what has worked best with your audience before? Absolutely. A little market research goes a long way.

    Telling you how to begin a sales letter without knowing whom you are addressing is like asking someone to drive down a country road in the dead of night without headlights, and no brakes.

    More than likely you'll end up in a ditch.

    If you have a way with words, and you know how to motivate a reader to action, just start writing, and when you're finished with your sales letter -- throw away the first page.

    Why?

    Guaranteed, your sales letter will actually start on the second page; the first page was just getting you warmed up.

    I've edited enough sales letters -- professionally written sales letters -- to know that to be the absolute and inevitable truth. So for you it cannot be any less so.

    Good luck, and to quote Hemingway: slice open a vein and start bleeding all over the page.

    --Barry
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    Barry A Densa - Freelance Marketing & Sales Copywriter - WritingWithPersonality.com

    Download a FREE copy of my new eBook, containing 21 of my most outrageous rants, when you visit my blog: Marketing Wit & Wisdom

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  • Profile picture of the author Riggs
    I wouldn't say I'm an expert, but I typically start with asking a question I already know the answer to (this is obviously easier if you're targeting a specific audience). Then I make the beginning positive, the middle neutral, and the ending positive. This is so my readers value the authenticity of my statements more than if I keep them consistently biased.
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