I’ve noticed that more and more of my clients are asking me to write direct mail letters. The good old sales letter seems to be making a comeback – and it’s not just for business-to-consumer (B2C), but also for business-to-business (B2B) marketing.

I’ve recently received a lot of B2C letters from local builders as I’ve been managing a project for a friend who has lodged plans to get planning permission for an extension on his house – they were uniformly dreadful! They were all focused on themselves and full of ‘we are reliable …’ and ‘we’ve been building houses for 12 years’.

How much more effective would they have been if they’d been focused on me and what my experience would be – and included a testimonial or two that told me what other clients had experienced? I felt as though they had no interest in me at all, beyond getting some money out of me (well, not me, but you know what I mean)!

Direct mail is very effective when it’s good – but to be good it needs to be written specifically for the reader. That doesn’t mean that every letter needs to be crafted individually, but you do need to be clear about who your target market is and what they are looking for.

If you have more than one market, then you probably need more than one letter.

An effective sales letter is often as much about layout as copy. It has to look good and be easy to read so big blocks of text don’t work. Bullet points, sub headings and short paragraphs all help the reader to stay engaged.

Then the copy must address the reader and their needs directly. We’ve all received sales letters, how many do we actually read? You need something that catches your attention or it goes straight into the recyling sack.

However, a good sales letter can be highly effective in generating leads if you get it right and use it effectively as part of a campaign. If you’re planning to launch a marketing campaign, do your homework and think about a really good sales letter as a means of pulling higher responses.
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