Sales letters aim to stimulate the interest of prospective clients in the product or service being promoted. A sales letter can be accompanied by a brochure that provides more information. Most sales letters are unsolicited, so the receiver might not be interested in reading them. To motivate the reader, the content and language of the letter have to be well thought out.
This section focuses on what information to include in sales letters, and examines the following techniques for planning the content of sales letters:
advantage or benefit early in the letter
It is important to know what the selling points of the product/service are. These are often made clear at the beginning of the letter to keep the receiver reading. Example vocabulary includes convenient, user-friendly, high-quality, value for money, economical, affordable and stylish.
Provide news of interest to
Another way to keep the reader reading is to provide news of interest to the reader.
In general, the selling points of a product/service should be in line with human needs and wants. For example, say that your product or service will save customers’ time or money – two types of human needs or wants. For instance: 'Enjoy playing mobile games on the bus? Play and learn at the same time with our English language learning games! '
An effective way to start a sales letter is to arouse the readers’ interest/curiosity. The purpose of this is to keep them reading your letter. An example is 'Are you paying too much for your...?'
The content of the letter has to be relevant to the right person at the right time and appeal to the person’s self-interest. It does not, however, always have to be clever. Clever attempts to make your writing funny or entertaining are often of no interest to the reader.
Elaborate what the product can
Most customers care about what the product can do for them more than the technicalities of the product. For example, most mobile phone users are more interested in the functions of the phone than in its hardware specifications.
In this section, the following characteristics of the language of sales letters will be examined:
It is important to write from the point of view of the customer. You can be more successful if you understand things from your customer’s point of view. Promotional materials aim to appeal directly to the reader. They often use ‘you/your’ and ‘we’ words rather than more distant words (e.g. ‘the user’, ‘the ticket’).
Positive expressions are often more persuasive than negative ones in sales letters. Here are some examples:
Instead of saying “Don’t waste your hard-earned money”, you could say “Save your hard-earned money”.
Instead of saying “We are offering a 15% discount. Don’t be late because this promotion period will end next month”, say “This month you can enjoy a 15% discount”.
Personal and informal tone
Write in more or less the way you talk. This does not mean that the writing should be disorganised like casual chats. A sales letter is more or less like talking to the reader in a friendly, informal but well-organised manner.
Rhetorical questions are questions that do not expect or require an answer. They are often used in sales letters, especially in the first paragraph, to motivate the reader to read on. Here are two examples of such questions:
Do you dream of owning your own home but are worried about the monthly mortgage payments?
Are you tired of having to pay bills by post?
As an alternative, writing an answer, an assertion or even a further question immediately after a rhetorical question can sometimes be even more motivating or persuasive.
Here is an example of an assertion added to a question:
Have you ever despaired of finding serviced apartments which provide personalised but affordable services? If so, we have the answer to your quest for the perfect hotel-style apartment.
Here is an example of a further question added to an initial question:
Are you paying too much for your office furniture? Why overpay for essential fixtures and fittings in the workplace when you wouldn’t knowingly overpay at home?
Another way to motivate the reader to read on is to use interesting adjectives. Here are some examples:
A fantastic, ultra-modern meeting room with state-of-the-art equipment.
A brand new concept in professional financial advice for those who demand personalised services and facilities of the highest standard.
A thirst-quenching, low-calorie, sparkling, new energy-giving drink
Making follow-up action sound easy
Make the prospective client feel that everything is very easy by using words like “just” and “simply”. Here are some examples of emphasising that further action is easy and straightforward.
Just call 98765432 and ask for Dorothy.
All you have to do is email me the form.
Simply visit our show room in Times Square.
This is a particularly lively language style often used in sales letters, especially for the ending of the letter. It encourages the reader to act in the requested way. In these two sentences there are five examples of the imperative.
Book a weekend package today and show your wife how much you care!
Make sure you’re on the right track to fitness – drop in and have a FREE ‘Fitness Consultation’ today.
Business Asia Review
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30 March 2010
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