5 Deadly Sales Letter Writing Mistakes

by Ernest W. Nicastro

More sales letter mistakes:

Read Sales Letter Mistakes 1, 2 and 3 here

Deadly Sales Letter Mistake # 4 -- Giving The Reader a Reason For Not Reading. Beware of the "so what" reaction of your typical prospect. Simply stated, they don't care about you, they don't care about your product or service and they don't care about your company.

Indifference is the order of the day. So you must grab hold of your prospect's mind with a startling statement, a provocative question; some volley of words that will stir them from their apathy and make them pay attention to your letter.

But capturing the prospect's attention will do you no good unless you hold onto it. And you do this by focusing your copy on one or more of the fundamental urges which motivate people -- fear, exclusivity, greed, guilt, the desire for love, beauty, health, salvation and so on.

Among these you must find or create the symptom or symptoms which your product or service cures. If your letter does not clearly and convincingly articulate your "cure" you have given your prospect an excellent reason for not reading it.



Deadly Sales Letter Mistake # 5 -- Not Offering Proof That Your Product or Service Does What You Say It Will Do. Not only is your typical prospect indifferent, in the vast majority of situations he is also highly skeptical. That's why you always want to offer the reader proof that your product or service will do what you say it will do. This will serve to validate your claims and minimize your prospect's skepticism. Most important, it will establish your salesperson -- the sales letter -- as a more credible and believable source of information.

The proof you offer up in your sales letter can take several different forms. Here are two forms of proof that I have found to be very effective:

1. Customer Testimonials -- A testimonial from a satisfied customer with a well-known, well-respected company is some of the most valuable proof you can offer. But make sure that the testimonial copy speaks to specific and relevant issues and concerns your typical prospect is likely to have.

For example, you sell training services and you know that one of the biggest concerns your prospect has is whether or not the training will produce meaningful, measurable results. So you go through your thick packet of glowing testimonials and find a statement that speaks directly to the prospect's concern. This is what it says:

"When you compare 6 month's of results prior to your training with the 6 months after, we have improved our market share by $2,261,000 and have established numerous new dealer relationships. Thanks to you, we are the only district in our region to experience any type of retail growth."

2. Tell A Success Story -- As a salesperson you know that stories sell. That's because, as skeptical as the typical prospect may be, she knows that few people will stoop so low as to fabricate a story.

Like any good story yours has to have some drama to it. And of course the hero of the story is you, your company and your product and/or service. Here's an example of what I mean. It's from a letter I wrote for a broker at a commercial real estate firm and this is exactly how the letter opens:

"They had accepted our purchase price. But when the building inspection revealed many small details that needed repair their response was, 'No way, this is an as-is purchase.'

"My clients just did not have the time to "lock horns" on this issue. Fortunately, they didn't have to. As their representative it was my job to get them what they wanted.

"I persisted. In phone call…after phone call …after phone call. In meeting…after meeting…after meeting. I met with the broker. The property manager. The corporate ownership's management. Their attorneys (ugh!). I persisted. And, I negotiated.

"The bottom line? My clients got everything they wanted; every repair they asked for. Some $40,000 worth!"

Stories sell, in person and on paper. They sell because they offer the prospect believable and credible proof that your product or service will do what you say it will do.

Your sales letter is the pen-and-ink embodiment of YOU, the professional marketer or salesperson. So when writing your sales letter think of yourself first and foremost as a salesperson, not a writer. And that means communicating with the prospect in much the same way and selling to him or her using many of the same tools as you would in a face-to-face meeting.

© 2006 Ernest Nicastro

About the Author:
Ernest Nicastro, a direct marketing consultant, copywriter and lead-generation specialist, heads up Positive Response, an award-winning marketing firm specializing in B-to-B marketing and lead-generation. He also publishes a free monthly newsletter, AIM For Positive Response. For more information visit http://www.positiveresponse.com/. Contact Ernie directly at ENicastro@positiveresponse.com or by phone at 614.747.2256.
 
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