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The Difference Between a Sales Letter and an Ad

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.

People often get the terms ad and sales letter confused. It's understandable. Both are designed to get new leads or sell a product, service, or idea. But there are important differences in how they work.

A sales letter is a more personal form of advertising than an ad. An ad in a magazine or newspaper will be seen by thousands or perhaps millions of readers. A sales letter is for the reader's eyes only. Even though a sales letter is often mass-produced, the reader still views mail as more personal than an ad in a newspaper or magazine.

Unlike an ad, a sales letter can use the first person. This conveys a more informal, natural tone. This way the reader gains a better sense of the writer's personality, enthusiasm, and sincerity.

Too many sales letters sound like advertising. The words should flow in your own voice, as though you were writing to a friend. The reader should feel like they know you though reading your sales letter.

© 2002

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