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Write Sales Letters That PULL

By: Kevin Nunley

Kevin Nunley provides marketing advice, copywriting, and promotion packages. See his 10,000 free marketing ideas at Reach Kevin at or 801-328-9006.

Sales letters can be a terrific way to get your message out. Mailed, faxed, emailed, simply hung on doors--you and I get sales letters everyday. My regular mail box is constantly filled with "junk mail."

A friend reports several hundred unsolicited email messages each day.

Why do so many businesses--both large and small--use sales letters? It's simple. Well-written direct mail works. Here's why.

Letters are a very personal form of communication. Even when you know the same letter was sent to thousands of people, it still has some of the feel of a personal note from a friend. People who are good at writing sales letters know this and use it. They do their best to create a personal bond between the letter and the reader.

Your sales letter should talk intimately with the reader. Chat informally with short sentences and simple words. Make it easy for the reader to QUICKLY understand your offer. Most people will only give your letter a three second once-over before deciding to read further or toss the letter into the trash. Make your offer attractive and put it right up front.


One of the great things about direct mail--regular or electronic--is that you get an immediate and measurable response. Sales letters that work bring in a measurable number of return messages, phone calls, return cards, and sales. Over the years, direct marketers have landed on some favorite formulas that always seem to work. Here are five of my favorites.
  1. Tell a story. Notice how many of the email sales letters you get follow this format. One I get over and over from different people goes "Six months ago my company was downsized and I found myself out of a job. I expected the worst. Then I heard about the XXX Company. Now I'm an independent agent making three times what I did on my old job. And I'll never be downsized again!" It's hard to resist reading a story, especially if it sounds like someone who has a situation similar to our own. People love success stories when they tell us how to get success ourselves.

  2. A message from the president. People respect a note from the head of the company. It lends authority to the message and makes the reader feel important. That's a good way to make a sale. This formula can also be used to let the reader in on some inside information, another sales letter favorite.

  3. Offer something free. Maybe it's a free or discounted visit to your store or office. A doctor who lives down the street from me built his patient list by sending out several hundred postcards offering "10% off your first visit." The prospect who is interested in your product or service will appreciate more information. Offer it in the form of a free Special Report, brochure, or booklet. (By the way, write me at or call (801)253-4536 for my free info-packed Special Report on marketing your business!)

  4. Ask a question. "Are your days hectic and frustrating?" This is good old-fashioned psychology. When you ask a question, the reader is enticed to answer it. It mentally involves the reader in your sales letter and offer. Some experts say to ask a series of questions, each likely being answered with "yes." The final question has the reader saying "yes" to a sale.

  5. Point out a problem that the prospect has. This is the adverting classic. Watch for it in marketing and commercials everywhere. Direct the reader's attention to a problem, then make the problem seem worse. Once you've established the problem as a major impediment in the reader's life, introduce your service or product as the solution.

Most sales letters begin with a headline that quickly presents the major points. It can be typed in all capitals like a newspaper headline:


You can also write the headline in paragraph fashion just above the salutation:

The new widget 2000 will simplify your life!

And it's 40% off this month only!

Dear Computer Enthusiast,

And that brings us to another point. When you're sending out lots of sales letters, a salutation to the general jobs or interests of your readers works just as well as typing in each reader's name. Instead of "Dear Friend," use "Dear Parent," "Dear Basketball Fan," "Dear Auto Owner."

Include a P.S. at the end of your letter. Studies show that most readers skip to the P.S. before they read anything else! The P.S.should briefly restate the main points of your offer.

Finally, stress benefits rather than features. How do the features of your service or product improve the customer's life, work, or pocketbook. The benefits of your offer may be obvious to you, but don't leave it up to the reader to figure them out, no matter how obvious they may seem. Stress benefits. Link them to the features your offer.

Sales letters can be a wonderfully personal way to introduce people to your product, service, organization, or idea. By using some of the ideas and formulas I've mentioned above, you can produce sizzling sales letters that produce results.

© 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996

Other Articles by Kevin Nunley

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