Perfect Pitch

Get To The Point

Each time you sit down to write, clearly define the purpose of your sales letter, brochure or ad before putting anything on paper. Be able to answer these two questions:

1. What is the purpose of this communication?

2. What compelling words can I use to best get the reader's attention?

Then start writing. Don't stop to evaluate your first draft. People who tell me they can't write well are usually people who stop and think too much. Just get it on paper.

Here's an excerpt from a sales letter with one purpose--to sell a particular product from my line and to prove its value. The letter generated an income of more than $7,000 per month for a six-month period. The letter started out this way:

"It's a system I know you can use, and it has an ironclad, money-back guarantee. So the only question is, Do you want to add to your income this year? (More about that later.)"

The "More about that later" tickles a reader's curiosity and keeps him or her reading. The letter continued:

"The most important product we sell is ourselves. It is a fact that people do not do business with people they do not trust. That's why the first part of my course is a comprehensive study about authentically earning the prospect's trust." The letter goes on to detail how the product accomplishes that goal.

Since all good sales letters ask for the order many times throughout the body of the letter-especially at the end-this one continued, "You take NO RISK with my you-be-the-judge FREE-TRIAL OFFERING. I want you to order it now-and to make sure you don't procrastinate, this offer is only good for a limited time."

Strong sales letters are specific about how the order can be accomplished now. Write in the present tense. Avoid the passive.

I like ending a sales letter with a P.S. Sometimes I handwrite the postscript myself. Here's the one I used on the above letter:

"P.S. Do not treat this offering like another sales pitch. I know with certainty this is going to help you. If you were my best friend, I would tell you not to pass up this offer. Someday you will thank me, so ORDER NOW."

If you're still struggling to write a compelling sales letter, here's an exercise that can get your creative juices flowing: Write a passionate letter to your spouse or significant other. Because your feelings run deep, your "voice" comes through on paper. Don't hold back. Next, with the same intensity, compose a letter to a customer describing your products or services.

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This article was originally published in the June 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Perfect Pitch.

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