Sales Letters are one of the simplest and most effective marketing tools available to any business. The problem is, so many businesses get them wrong. There’s no mystery to writing a sales letter that sells, or any marketing communication for that matter. It’s simply about creating content that is relevant and valued by the reader, and is written in a style that engages and motivates them.

Following are a couple of useful tips to help you understand what readers really want to read in your sales letters, and how they respond to this form of marketing communication.

Don’t destroy the reader’s expectations

Throughout life, we are conditioned to think of letters as an important and unique source of news and information from organisations that are significant in our lives such as schools and universities, statutory authorities, or letters from family, friends and associates.  The news is often exciting, sometimes disappointing, and occasionally sad, but almost always relevant. A letter is also an effective form of non-verbal communication that expresses the authors sentiments in a way a conversation never can, such as a romantic note from a lover, or special praise and recognition from an employer. The content is memorable and treasured, and can be read over and over again.

Whatever way you look at it, a letter is something that most of us have learned to value. If you decide to write a sales letter, just remember that you are using a media where the expectations are high, and it is easy to disappoint. Disappointed readers can easily associate the negative experience with a negative perception of your brand. Your sales letter needs to be a dialogue with the reader that says they matter, and promises to make their life or business better than it was before. Anything less is a waste of the reader’s time.

Make it relevant

Many sales letters are nothing more than a catalogue of points about a business from the owner’s perspective.  Well guess what? Readers couldn’t care less. Research shows that consumers increasingly distrust the messages that businesses communicate about themselves in any case. But they do value information from a business that is relevant and helps them to solve a problem, get what they want, improve functionality and convenience, and offers unique ideas and quality information to help them to make an informed buying decision.

If your mailing is accurately targeted, your message is going to hit a nerve, get your prospect’s attention, and even get them excited. Talk their talk, question and engage them in your  dialogue so they know you understand their needs and aspirations, and have something to offer that they are going to value and want.

Give them an action step and a reason to say yes!

A sales letter needs to make sense, and many don’t. It’s surprising how many sales letters discuss an idea, product or service that may actually interest the reader, but fail to give the reader an action step, or something that gives purpose to the letter.

For example, if you operate a service business or sell products that are complex and need explanation, then it’s impossible to cover everything in one letter. Your goal is simply to get the reader excited about how the product or service can add value to their life or business, not the process.

Create a logical next step such as directing your prospects to a web site, landing page, or even a campaign specific mini-site where the dialogue is seamlessly continued. And of course, always give them the option and ability to begin the buying process at any stage by including contact details (preferably with a real person), provide online functionality where they can make an enquiry, request information or even request an appointment or contact. And if you want them to buy online, give clear instructions on how to get straight to your shopping cart, or at least a product specific landing page if some explanation is required.

Millions of sales opportunities are lost every day simply because marketing communications leave the prospect to figure out what to do next, and as you probably guessed, they rarely do.