1. Adapt letter-headed paper
If you’re using company letterhead for direct mail then adapt it to your requirements. The company name and selling benefit should stand out. If you want people to email you, then the email address should stand out. If you want them to phone, then make the phone number prominent. Use the footer as a place to increase sales by drawing attention to a trade association or quality control mark. Make legal information as small as possible.
2. Postal replies
Do you want potential customers to reply by post? Include a pre-paid envelope.
3. Long letters
Don’t be afraid to write long letters (over a page). Nobody will buy something without enough information to make a decision. Keep selling until you have run out of sales points. Every word should be relevant – no rambling.
4. Be friendly
Address your letter to a known person if at all possible because it shows that you care who they are. Second best is to address them by their job or interest, eg. ‘Dear Dog Owner’. The worst salutation is ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.
Sign off in a friendly way. Instead of a secretary signing the letter on your behalf, sign it yourself. Include your Christian name and a friendly title. ‘Customer Services Manager’ says that your company cares about its customers.
5. Powerful headlines
At the top of the letter write a headline that communicates the product’s main benefit. It gives the potential customer a reason to read on. Keep it clear and simple – think communication not clever word play.
6. Powerful openings
Grab your reader’s attention. Study magazine articles and newspapers. How do they it? What works? Use your research. Here is a list of letter openers to get you started:
Subheadings make letters digestible. Each subheading should sell the product.
8. Ask for what you want
Don’t beat about the bush. If you want your reader to buy your soaps then tell them so. If you want them to take out a subscription, ask them to sign up (and make it super easy). Ask straight away – don’t leave it until the middle of the letter.
9. Talk benefits
Know the difference between features and benefits. Instead of saying ‘the X65 lawnmower has a barrel of sixty rotating blades’ say ‘the X65 lawnmower develops a healthy lawn within weeks’. Decide which is the most important benefit and put that first. All the other benefits follow.
10. Make it personal
Address the reader as if you were sitting beside them. Make it about them and not you. Every time you write ‘we’ try and change it to ‘you’.
11. Emphasise important points