Here is how to start your sales letters.
Without a strong start, your sales letter will be relegated to the “round file” in a couple of seconds.
But if you can write a solid start, one that grabs your prospect’s interest and makes them want to read more, you’ll have a fighting chance of success.
As soon as your prospect lands on your webpage, your ad copy has cleared a huge obstacle.
One hand delves into the envelope and pulls out the letter, while the other put it aside.
The reader reads the initial two lines, which are now in full view.
The decisive time has arrived.
And the following three to five seconds will primarily define the success or failure of your marketing attempt. Because it is during these crucial initial few seconds that your prospect decides whether or not to read more.
As a result, the primary goal of your opener is to pique the prospect’s interest.
Every skilled salesperson understands that this is the first stage in the selling process since, without attention, there can be no —
“OK. Show Me What You’ve Got.”
Have you ever experienced this in a face-to-face sales presentation?
You’re being led into the office of your prospect.
And as soon as you shake hands and sit in your chair, the prospect looks across the desk at you, arms folded over his chest, and says: “Okay. Show me what you have.”
While this sort of “show me what you’ve got” reaction is uncommon in face-to-face sales presentations, I can tell you from personal experience that it does occur.
When “selling on paper,” on the other hand, the predominant attitude is likely to be “show me what you’ve got.”
Keep this in mind while you write your letter opener, and you’ll avoid the boring and irrelevant openers that we all encounter much too often.
Most importantly, you’ll take advantage of the essential initial few seconds when your prospect’s attention is drawn to your message.
Three Effective Ways to Open a Sales Letter
There are hundreds of successful, attention-grabbing sales letter openings.
Here are three that I’ve discovered to be lucrative, and they’re all easily adaptable to a variety of direct mail marketing situations:
1. Ask a question
A smart question immediately engages the reader; it prompts thought and draws the reader into your message. Here are a couple of samples:
If I could teach you how to cut your health insurance expenditures by 40% while still receiving high-quality treatment…
Do you want to know more?
A variation on the same opening:
Tired of the exorbitant costs and onerous governmental regulations of traditional health insurance plans?
Here’s another question-asking opportunity. One that’s been skillfully set up with a provocative lead-in:
This may be considered “none of my concern.” But I’d appreciate it if you took the time to consider these facts before coming to that judgment.
Here’s a question: Are you overpaying for payroll services? And being underserved in terms of service?
2. Be direct and to the point.
In many situations, you’ll be writing to the traditional, type A, dominant-driver personalities who make up the vast majority of business owners and top executives throughout the world.
One efficient strategy for reaching this demographic is to begin your message in a direct and to-the-point way, such as –
You’ve already had enough people try to waste your time with things and services you don’t desire or need. I’m not one of those individuals.
I want you to know something right away. I’m not going to waste your time.
Every line of this letter is about how my firm can help your firm generate more money and be more competitive.
Are you offering an award-winning product that has received positive feedback?
If that’s the case, here’s another method you may put your excellent press to good use… using this direct introduction that cuts to the chase and gets right to the point:
It was named the Best Windows Utility of 2004 by Windows User Magazine. According to PC Magazine, it is “…essential…difficult it’s to fathom operating Windows without it…” According to PC Computing, it’s “…a lean and mean program-launching machine that should be on every Windows user’s computer…”
This is what Herschell Gordon Lewis, a famous copywriter, and direct marketing guru, refers to as the “here’s what the experts say” opener, and no lead-in is required.
You begin immediately after the greeting by mentioning the positive opinions of industry experts.
3. Establish Rapport
As you are aware, at the start of every sales presentation, you make a concentrated attempt to establish rapport with your prospect.
You try to identify a point of agreement.
Interests that you and your partner share.
Similarly starting your sales letter might be an excellent strategy to attract your prospect’s positive attention.
For example, suppose you’re a tour guide who specializes in scuba diving adventures.
You address your letter to a list of well-known scuba divers, and it begins as follows:
You and I are members of an extraordinary community. Someone who has never gone on a scuba dive would have no idea.
Notice how the writer establishes an instant relationship with the prospect?
The main point here is that “you and I are members of a highly elite and extremely wonderful group.”
What if the author had opened by stating, “You are a part of a fantastic club.”
Would the impact have been nearly as powerful?
That’s because “You and I” adds a wonderful aspect of rapport to the statement.
Here’s another sample from a business-to-business mailing:
If you’re like me, you make sure you have all the information before making a huge decision. Isn’t that logical? There is no such thing as “too much knowledge” when the stakes are great. (However, we frequently receive insufficient information.)
The underlying message is, “You and I are both wise men. We conduct our research before making a major decision.”
Paying someone genuine praise may also be an effective rapport builder and letter starter.
Just make sure the compliment is justified. (This emphasizes the significance of appropriate list selection.)
Here are two instances, the first from a Bon Appetit Magazine subscription solicitation letter:
You are more knowledgeable about good eating and wise consumer buying than any previous generation. You cook with greater creativity and you serve with more panache.
The following is an example of a letter sent out by a collision repair company to establish new referral connections with insurance agents.
You did not become as successful as you are by chance. Not at all. You got there by being knowledgeable about your field. And by understanding what’s essential to your customers.
Think long and hard about what style of start would work best for your sales letter before you write it.
Because the initial few seconds when your prospect is face to face with you and your firm —- in the form of your letter —- will primarily influence whether:
- Checks arrive
- The phone is ringing
- Your follow-up phone call is answered.
Maku Seun is a freelance copywriter and Direct Response Marketer. He helps digital marketers, coaches, and course creators boost sales by writing compelling sales letters for their products and services. If you’d him to write a sales letter for your business, click here.