It’s Monday, which means it’s time to dig into the ol’ mailbox!
Remember, every Monday is Mailbox Monday, where I answer YOUR most pressing questions on marketing, selling, copywriting, business-building, and the like.
To have your question answered in an upcoming issue, simply shoot me an email at [email protected], and I’ll add you to the queue.
Since a large portion of my audience is at least somewhat involved with sales letter writing (or, writing any sales message, in any media, that has to sell like a sales letter), I think today’s issue is going to be a popular one.
Can you walk through your process or thinking that goes into writing a compelling sales letter?
Hold onto your hats, boys and girls!
I’m going to walk you through the initial couple research steps and flow straight into the outline of the compelling sales letter.
Get clear on your audience.
Know with crystal-clarity exactly who you’re speaking to, who you wish to persuade, who would be the perfect customer for your product.
Don’t stop at superficial details like demographics — think like they think, feel what they feel, believe what they believe (at least temporarily, in your imagination).
You should be able to see the world through their eyes — only when you can, move on to the next step.
Make sure you understand their single-most pressing problem or challenge.
Here we’re speaking in relation to the product you offer.
What challenge or problem exists in their life, that they need to have solved? And that your offer is able to help them solve?
If you need to, use an approach like Ryan Levesque’s Ask Method to right at the core challenge they see and want to have solved.
Whatever you do, the better you understand your prospect’s single-most important challenge or problem they’d like to have solved, the better position you’ll be in to actually write a compelling sales letter.
So, once you understand the problem, you can start writing…
Speak directly to the problem.
Here I’m going to skip the whole “big idea” discussion — which certainly has its place when talking about sales letters.
But a big idea is nothing more than a creative way to get at the problem you’re really trying to discuss. If you don’t get the problem right, it doesn’t matter how interesting or curiosity-provoking your big idea is — it’s still not going to sell. And in many markets, you can write a sales letter where “solving the problem” is a big enough idea to really move your prospect to purchase.
Whatever you do, start by making it crystal-clear that you understand the problem your prospect wants to solve, and are going to talk about a solution.
You can do that very directly, such as with a clear promise that you’ll show them how to solve the problem. Or, indirectly, such as with a story of solving the problem.
If you’re looking to go deeper on the best ways to start a sales letter, there are few better books on the subject than Great Leads by Michael Masterson (aka Mark Ford) and John Forde.
Agitate the bad feelings that come with the problem being unsolved.
It’s not enough to know the problem. If you acknowledge logically to your prospects that you understand their problem, a few will be interested in your solution. But that’s the novice approach.
A real pro who knows how to write the most compelling copy goes straight for the emotional jugular, by making the prospect feel the pain of the problem unresolved.
My favorite tool for this, by far, is story. There’s a million ways to tell stories in selling (covered in my Story Selling Master Class, currently closed for new registrations).
But the long and the short of it is that you want to put your prospect in the experience of pain and agony of the worst parts of having the problem not solved.
Address the fact that other solutions haven’t provided the solution they needed.
Here you must exacerbate the pain by pouring salt in the wound.
Your prospects, by and large, have tried to solve most of their problems before. And failed.
They’ve tried other solutions that haven’t worked. That’s why they’re currently looking to you.
You have to explain clearly why other approaches have failed. You have to show them the problems with everything else they’ve tried.
This is establishing buying criteria that you can later use to make your solution unique.
Make it clear why you’re able to provide a definite solution.
Here you start to present your solution. Not necessarily the product, yet. But make it clear that you have the solution.
Then, and this is the important part, explain what makes your solution unique and different from everything else they’ve tried.
You set up the buying criteria in explaining why other approaches didn’t work — now go through that list again and explain how you’ve overcome all the shortcomings of everything else they tried.
Prove that you’re not making empty promises, that you’re going to actually solve the problem.
Volumes can be and have been dedicated to types of proof and credibility enhancers. This goes well beyond testimonials, but they are a start.
Dig in. Make sure you tie all your promises and claims to irrefutable, compelling, convincing proof that you’re able to deliver.
Your goal, by the end, is to have undeniable believability for what it is you’re promising.
Paint a picture of their future once the problem and pain associated with it are no longer in their life.
Once they believe you can fulfill on your promise, it’s time to put them into that ideal future.
You want to make them feel what it will be like to have the problem solved, as viscerally and emotionally as they felt the agitation of not having it solved.
The highs you take them to here should be as great or greater than the lows of the agitation.
Ask them to follow you on a journey of imagination — if you’ve done your job up to this point, they’ll gladly comply.
Speak to them directly and make it clear that this isn’t just a general promise, but one that they can personally experience.
Here you have to overcome the universal objection…
“But my situation is different.”
We all want to believe that we’re unique. One snowflake in the almost 8 billion on this planet.
And so we come up with all the standard reasons to not believe, that mostly hinge on, “Even though I now believe it will work for others, I doubt it will work for me.”
There are a lot of ways to address this. Many involve stories, on at least some level.
My favorite is to actually present them with a past customer who shared the sentiment, tried the product, and was pleasantly surprised how well it did indeed work for them.
Give them an out for all the times they’ve tried to solve the problem and it hasn’t worked.
Even if they’re starting to believe that they’ve finally found their solution, there’s still the lingering fear that they’re going to try yours and be made a fool.
You must help them overcome it.
“It’s not your fault…” If they’ve tried a thousand other solutions and none of them worked, it’s because none of them contained your special sauce, your magic ingredients that will help them finally solve that problem for good.
Make an irresistible offer for them to try the solution.
By now, they should be frothing at the mouth to try what you’re offering.
Pile on the value. Show them all the ways you’ve gone above and beyond to provide not just A solution, but THE IDEAL solution.
Then, offer them even more, at far lower cost than they could imagine.
Tilt the scale of value so overwhelmingly in their favor that it would feel dumb at this point to say no.
Eliminate the risks associated with them taking action.
Make it easier than they expect. Take away the risk of the transaction. Give them the opportunity to try it without any obligation, until they’ve proven that yes, it WILL work for them.
Make your offer as generous, one-sided in their favor, risk-free, and zero-obligation as humanly possible.
Ultimately, they should feel as if the only commitment they’re making today is to TRY the product and make sure it lives up to every lofty promise you’ve made — and they’re out absolutely nothing if you don’t deliver.
Limit the time for taking action.
Limit the time with a deadline. Limit the quantity if applicable. Find an internal reason, in their life, that they want the problem to be solved YESTERDAY. You want to take away the time available to them to make their decision and delay.
If you give them a cooling-off period, they won’t respond.
Somehow, some way, make it as urgent as possible to respond NOW.
And don’t fake it. They’ll know.
Clearly and directly ask for the purchase.
“Run through the tape.” It’s a rule of track. You don’t want to slow at the finish line, or you’ll lose the race.
The same applies to selling. You should have a sense of urgency in your voice, and crystal-clarity as you tell them to respond NOW, and how to do it.
That’s it — now, watch the moolah roll in!
I got a note from a client who is in the middle of a campaign. Without going into too many details, yesterday, a Sunday, my sales letter for them generated almost $50,000. This is another million-dollar campaign.
Did I follow the exact outline above? Close. The thinking behind the letter was definitely the same.
So, you should try it. Who knows — maybe you’ll write a million-dollar winner, too!
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,