How to Write a Sizzling Sales Letter, Part 1

When you sit down to write a sales letter to your prospects, it can be difficult to know just where to start. Regardless of the purpose of your letter, it has to accomplish several things:

  • capture the attention of the reader
  • speak to the reader's individual needs
  • give good reasons why your prospect can trust you
  • communicate your offer succinctly and clearly
  • encourage your prospect to act now

And furthermore, it has to have sizzle. In other words, it needs to grab your prospect's attention and appeal to them emotionally so that they want to respond.

Here is my step-by-step guide to writing a winning sales letter:

1. Establish your letter's main purpose.

First of all, what do you want to achieve by sending out a sales letter? Be specific.

Do you want to generate leads? Sell your services or products outright? Use your letter as a "get to know you" device for prospects who have been referred to you by trusted colleagues?

Second, what is your offer? Any time you contact prospective clients, you need to have something to offer them. It's a busy world, and your prospects are barraged with too much information as it is. So simplify their lives by narrowing down what you are marketing to them in a way that is easy to follow.

If you're a life coach, perhaps you would be giving away a half-hour coaching session as an introductory offer.

Do you want your prospect to contact you regarding her upcoming consulting needs? Your offer might be a special report on how to get the best results from your consultant. Giving away information is an excellent way to show your expertise without having to sell your services outright.

If the latest version of your software is about to launch, you might send current-version owners a letter offering an inexpensive upgrade if they act quickly.

The important thing here is to figure out 1 main offer for your letter. Just 1. Keeping it simple will make it easier for you to write the letter to begin with; plus, your readers will easily grasp what you're asking them to do as well.

What is most successful for your prospects will depend on how well you ...

2. Give the people what they want.

Who will be receiving the letter? Outline the types of prospects you'll be contacting.

Then list their individual needs based on what you're selling. This will help you determine not only how to appeal to your readers' emotions, but also lets you figure out how many different messages you have to have to reach your targets.

For example, if you're a real estate agent wanting to market to prospective buyers in a ritzy neighborhood, as well as to less financially able individuals who are looking for homes in a more upscale neighborhood than their own, you're going to be writing 2 different letters, or at least 2 different permutations of the same letter.

Why? Because the wealthy prospects already have established themselves and are looking for downright luxury in their new homes, whereas the latter group wants to find a home in a more comfortable neighborhood where their kids can play outside safely and go to good schools. (The well-off prospects pretty much take these aspects of home-buying for granted, though they are still important benefits.)

Ask yourself:

  • What do my prospects need that I offer?
  • What do they want?
  • What do they desire deep down inside?
  • What do your prospects fear will go wrong if they buy?
  • How can you put their fears to rest?
  • Why should they choose you (from their perspective)?
  • What would make them absolutely thrilled with what I am selling?

In other words ...

"What's in it for me?"

Your prospects are concerned about their own needs and no one else's, and they're not out to do you any favors, so your job is to show them what only you can can give them.

If you keep in mind both the rational and emotional needs and wants of your prospects, you're already a step ahead.

3. Structure your letter properly.

Although the structure of your letter is important, steps 1 and 2 lay the foundation for everything else to do with your letter. So make sure to work through the above-mentioned steps prior to getting started writing.

What's the right structure for a sales letter? The good news is that every good sales letter has several elements in common:

  • a headline, or Johnson box
  • a salutation
  • a powerful opener
  • an easy-to-follow internal structure that guides your reader from one point to the next
  • a solid offer
  • a P.S.
  • credibility boosters

In Part 2 of this article, I will go through all the particulars of each element to ensure that your next sales letter is perfectly persuasive. See for the full sales letter tutorial.

Copywriter/marketing strategist Jennifer McCay helps individuals and small businesses turn their expertise into marketing success stories. She is the publisher of the Avenues to Marketing Success Newsletter, which delivers tips to help you rev up your small business marketing. To subscribe and receive a FREE special report on 7 ways to improve your sales copy, head to

  • home | site map
    © 2013