This article will show you how to write a winning sales letter using this 12 step foolproof sales letter template.
To write effective sales letters, you don’t have to be an award-winning copywriter.
Writing great sales letters is, in fact, more of a science than an art.
Even the pros use tried-and-true “templates” to create effective sales letters.
The following is a step-by-step guide to creating foolproof sales letters.
Table of Contents
Overcoming the hurdles leading to buying resistance
Everybody experiences some level of purchasing resistance.
Your sales letter’s goal should be to overcome your reader’s buying resistance while persuading them to act.
Whether you’re giving a sales presentation in person or on paper, the process of overcoming the obstacles that lead to buyer resistance is similar.
These roadblocks are reflected in numerous spoken and unspoken customer comments, such as:
- “You don’t understand my problem”
- “How do I know you’re qualified?”
- “I don’t believe you”
- “I don’t need it right now”
- “It won’t work for me”
- “What happens if I don’t like it?”
- “I can’t afford it”
To be effective, results-oriented sales letters must address some or all of these objections.
The 12-step foolproof sales letter template is intended to overcome each of these objections through a methodical series of copywriting tactics. The 12 steps are as follows:
- Get attention
- Identify the problem
- Provide the solution
- Present your credentials
- Show the benefits
- Give social proof
- Make your offer
- Inject scarcity
- Give a guarantee
- Call to action
- Give a warning
- Close with a reminder
Each of these 12 steps heightens the reader’s emotions while alleviating their fears.
Motivation is an emotional experience
It is critical to remember that people are motivated to buy based on their emotions and only justify their purchase based on logic after the sale.
This means that each step in the sales letter process must build on the reader’s emotions until they are motivated to act.
That being said, there are only two things that truly motivate people: the prospect of gain or the fear of loss. The fear of loss is the more powerful motivator of the two.
Think about this…
Would you rather pay $50 for a course on “How to Improve Your Marriage” or “How to Avoid Divorce or Lover’s Rejection?”
I have empirical evidence that the second title outsells the first by a factor of five.
Because it deals with the fear of loss.
Seven “universal motivations” to which everyone responds lie beneath the promise of gain and the fear of loss.
Whatever product or service you are selling, you must position it in such a way that its benefits satisfy one or more of these universal motivations.
- To be wealthy
- To be good looking
- Be healthy
- To be popular
- To have security
- Achieve inner peace
- To have free time
- To have fun
People’s ultimate motivations are what they “truly” desire.
Because the product or service is just a vehicle for delivering these benefits, make sure your sales letter focuses on these motivating factors.
The 12-step foolproof sales letter system
Now that we know what prevents people from buying and what motivates them to act, let’s go over the 12 elements of a winning sales letter.
1. Get Attention
Assuming the reader has opened your sales page, the next step is to hold their attention.
The first thing your reader will notice is the headline. If it fails to pique their interest, you can kiss your sales letter goodbye.
People have short attention spans. If the headline does not catch their attention and pique their interest, they will simply stop and close the page.
The three headline-generating templates listed below have been proven to get attention.
“HOW TO _____________________”
People are fascinated by knowing how to do things. When combined with a compelling benefit, the “How to” headline always captures the attention of the reader. They are, in fact, the two most powerful words you can use in a headline.
“SECRETS OF _________________ REVEALED!”
People are always interested in “insider secrets.” We want to know things that other people don’t.
Knowledge is a form of power, and those who possess it feel powerful. Aside from that, most of us enjoy a good mystery, especially when the “secret” is revealed at the end.
WARNING: DON’T EVEN THINK OF ___________ UNTIL YOU ___________.
Remember how fear of loss motivates people more than the promise of gain? The “warning” headline, on the other hand, screams fear. The word “warning” commands attention and, when combined with something of interest to the reader, creates a very effective headline.
2. Identify the problem
Now that you have their attention, pique their interest by describing their problem and how it feels to have that problem.
When they read your copy, the reader should think to himself, “Yeah, that’s exactly how I feel.” You shouldn’t stop there. Pretend that you’re rubbing salt into an open wound.
This method is known as “problem – agitate.”
You present the problem and then agitate it so that they truly feel the agony and pain of their situation.
People are such hardened creatures of habit that we rarely change our ways unless we are in excruciating pain. In fact, businesses are no exception.
Most businesses plod along doing the same old thing until things deteriorate to the point where they must make a change.
For example, if you were selling garage door openers, you could aggravate the problem by telling a short story about what happens when it fails.
“Nothing is more inconvenient than arriving home in the evening and discovering that your garage door is closed. It’s dark outside, and you’re looking for your front door key after tripping on the porch step.
Finally, you discover it only to scratch your new front door while looking for the keyhole. Exhausted, you enter and collapse on the couch, only to realize your car is still running in your driveway….”
The problem in this scenario was a faulty garage door opener, and the agitation was all of the terrible things that happened as a result of the faulty garage door opener.
3. Provide the solution
It’s time to provide the solution now that you’ve piqued your readers’ interest by making them feel the pain.
This is the section of the sales letter in which you boldly assert that you can solve the reader’s problem.
You will introduce yourself, your product, and/or your service in this section.
Relieve the reader’s mind by informing them that they don’t need to struggle through all of their problems because your product or service will solve them.
4. Present your credentials
Most of the time, after you’ve introduced yourself and your product or service, your reader will be thinking, “Sure, he can solve my problem. That’s exactly what they all say.”
So it’s critical to impress them right away with the reasons why you can be trusted.
List your credentials, which should include at least one of the following:
- Case studies that have worked.
- Notable companies (or individuals) with whom you have done business.
- How long have you been in your field of expertise?
- Conferences at which you have given a presentation
- Significant honors or recognitions
After reading this section, your reader should have the impression that “you’ve been there and done that” with great success and that the reader can expect the same results.
5. Show the benefits
It’s time to tell the reader how your product/service will benefit them.
Don’t make the common mistake of focusing solely on the features of your product without mentioning the benefits.
As I previously stated, people are more interested in what your product or service will do for them than in you.
Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the center.
Now, on the left, write down all of the features of your product or service.
Think about the obvious and not-so-obvious advantages of each feature and write them down on the right side of the paper.
Most of the time, your product will have unnoticed benefits that people will overlook.
A hot tub, for example, not only soothes and relaxes your muscles but also allows you to talk to your spouse without interruptions.
The unspoken benefit is improved communication with your spouse and, as a result, a better marriage!
Consider every possible advantage your reader might gain from your product or service.
People will often buy a product or service based on only one of the benefits you list.
6. Give social proof
After you’ve presented all of your benefits, the reader will begin to doubt you again, even if they secretly want all of your claimed benefits to be true.
Present your reader with testimonials from satisfied customers to increase your credibility and believability.
Testimonials are effective selling tools that demonstrate the veracity of your claims.
Include pictures of your customers, as well as their names and addresses, to make your testimonial even more powerful (at least in the city and state).
You could even ask to use their phone number.
Most readers will not call, but including their complete contact information makes a powerful statement.
It shows that you are genuine, as are the testimonials.
7. Make your offer
The most important aspect of your sales letter is your offer.
A great offer can outperform a mediocre copy, but a mediocre copy cannot outperform a great offer.
Your offer should be too good to refuse.
You want your reader to think, “I’d be stupid not to take advantage of this deal.”
Your offer can come in a variety of forms.
The best deals are usually a compelling combination of price, terms, and freebies.
For example, if you were selling a car, you could offer a lower retail price, a lower interest rate, and a free year of gas.
Hint: When creating your offer, try to increase the value of your offer by including additional products or services rather than lowering your price.
In order to increase the perceived value of your offer, include vivid explanations of the benefits of the additional products or services you are offering.
8. Give a guarantee
To make your offer even more enticing, remove all of the risks from the purchase.
Remember that people have an innate fear of being taken advantage of.
How many times have you purchased a product only to be stuck with it because the merchant refused to refund your money?
Give the absolute strongest guarantee you can muster.
If you are not confident enough in your product or service to provide a strong guarantee, you should think twice before offering it to the general public.
In reality, almost all small businesses already have a strong guarantee and are unaware of it!
Would you simply tell an irate customer who wanted their money back, “No, my apologies. I will not refund your money?” Most likely not.
If they insist on getting their money back, you will usually give it to them.
9. Inject scarcity
Even when the offer is irresistible, most people take their time responding to it.
People put off investing in a solution for a variety of reasons.
Here are a few examples:
- They do not feel enough pain to change
- They are too busy and simply forget
- Maybe they do not believe that the perceived value outweighs your asking price
- They are simply lazy
An additional incentive is usually required to motivate people to take action.
Remember how I said that the fear of loss motivates people to act more than the desire for gain?
When you inject scarcity into your letter, you are doing exactly that.
When people believe there is a limited supply of something they need, they usually rush to get it.
Create a sense of scarcity by telling your reader that the quantity is limited or that your offer is only valid for a limited time.
10. Call to action
Do not assume that your reader knows what to do to take advantage of your offer.
Explain how to place the order in clear and concise language.
Tell them exactly how to order from you, whether it is by picking up the phone and dialing, filling out an order form, faxing the order form to your office, etc.
Your rallying cry must be “action-oriented.” This can be accomplished by using phrases such as “Pick Up the Phone and Call Now!” or “Tear Off the Order Form and Send It In Today!” or “Come to Our Store by Friday and…” Make your instructions clear and concise.
Include a call to action throughout your letter.
If you want the reader to call your free information line, some of the testimonials could say, “When I called their free information line,” or you could say in your offer, “When you call our free information line…”
People will not be surprised or confused if you include a call to action at the end of the letter.
It will be consistent with everything you said in your letter.
11. Give a warning
A good sales letter will continue to elicit emotion all the way to the end.
In fact, even after your call to action, your letter should continue to elicit emotion.
Using the “risk of loss” strategy, describe what would happen if the reader did not take advantage of your offer. Maybe they’ll keep doing it:
- Struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis
- Work too hard just to get a few customers
- Forego the opportunity to receive all of your valuable bonuses
- Continue to get what they’ve always gotten
- Watch other companies get all of the business
Paint a vivid picture in the reader’s mind of the consequences of not acting now.
Remind them how bad their current situation is and how it doesn’t have to be that way.
12. Close with a reminder
Include a postscript whenever possible (P.S.).
Your P.S. is the third most-read element of your sales letter, believe it or not.
Good copywriters use multiple postscripts rather than just one (P.P.S).
You want to remind them of your irresistible offer in your postscript.
If you used scarcity in your sales letter, include a call to action followed by a reminder of the limited time (or quantity) offer.
Although it appears to be a simple step, postscripts are noticed.