When you decide to use direct mail as a means of contacting prospective customers you need to ensure you get your message on target. Unlike email, direct mail has costs attached, not least the list with all the names and addresses of the groups of people you want to target, but also the printing, stationery, postage and design fees related to any leaflets you plan to include.

Leaflets alone are less effective, but a really good sales letter will pay dividends, so how do you go about constructing a sales letter?

There are two main categories of sales letter, a single page type and a very long ‘letter’ that is more like a small magazine! The latter type has a formula to follow and is very specialist. It doesn’t work for business to business contacts; it’s much more effective when aimed directly at the consumer.

So, let’s focus on that letter that is a single page aimed at other business owners.

Before you start writing think about what a potential client would want to know – really! Not what you think they need to know, but what would make them go ‘that’s something that will really add value to my business’.

When you start writing forget about what you do, what you are, or what you think and focus on the reader. Talk about their problems and challenges, not your solutions.

  • Start by engaging the reader, not announcing what your company does.
  • Present what your product or service does in terms of what it will deliver in the way of benefits or solutions for the reader.
  • Stay focused on the things that make a difference to human beings (not to the corporate performance, unless you can relate it to something that will make the individual reading feel good).
  • Don’t load the letter with detail – if you feel it’s necessary to give them more detail do it in an attachment, flyer, added sheet, link to a website, etc.
  • Reinforce the core benefits in a call to action.
  • When you get to the last line before you sign off don’t write anything ‘woolly’! For instance, NOT ‘We look forward to hearing from you’, but ‘Don’t forget, to get your special offer for June, please call us on 0800 111 2233 before the last day of the month.’

    If you’re not offering them any special deals or offers then you will need to have a telephone follow up built into the marketing process. Then you can finish up with ‘I’d really like to meet with you and will call you (one of my team will call you) on [DATE] to organise an appointment.’ It’s better to put a date than ‘early next week’ or ‘shortly’, it focuses their mind much more!

    Any data, details or visuals should be in a separate page. Remember, people read the first page, glance at the second page and generally won’t be bothered with anything more than that. You don’t want your call to action on the second page!
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