My first ebook flopped because I didn’t do this.
I still remember the first time I wrote an ebook. The topic was “changing careers at midlife.” I didn’t pay any attention to features, benefits, or headlines. I just wrote about what was interesting to me.
When it was time to promote the ebook, I had to write a sales letter.
But I was stuck. Now I had to give people a reason to buy the book. The content was filled with information — terrific information. But it was up to me to make the connection between the awesome content and the buyers’ urgent needs. It was up to me to figure out how the buyers would benefit. How would they change careers more easily? How could my book help them look forward to going to work each day?
As I wrote the sales letter, I kept thinking of benefits that really needed to be offered. If I’d written the sales letter first, those benefits would have starred in my first draft. But now I had to decide: do I make the book less valuable – and there fore sell fewer copies? Or do I go back and do some painful revising?
If I’d written the sales letter first, I’d have saved HOURS of time.
When I first started working on the Internet, I had no idea what a sales letter was. When I first saw sales letters online, I figured they were something other people wrote. Me? I’d just list my ebook and people would rush to purchase it.
The truth is, learning how to write a sales letter will not only help you sell products. You’ll build relationships through all your marketing content: blog posts, white papers, articles, and website pages.
So what is a sales letter?
A sales letter is a piece of copy, on a single page, promoting a program, product or service. There’s no mystery about the mission. When you see a sales letter, you know you’re being asked to buy. In fact, you probably see just two options on the page: click a link or click away. The idea is to get the reader focused 100% on the offer.
A good sales letter might also contain information and instruction. But it’s designed to appeal to readers who are genuinely interested in what’s being offered. It’s not an article.
Most copywriters agree that sales letters follow a structure. It’s not that hard to learn the structure, although you’ll find variations among industries, products, clients and copywriters. Today we’re seeing more video sales letters (sometimes with a video replacing the text completely). And today’s sales letters tend to be shorter with more white space and graphics.
Sales letters are the toughest form of copywriting.
Regardless of size or form, sales letters are beastly hard to write. Structure is just the beginning. You have to craft each component with care. Good copywriters review every word: nothing is accidental.
So why should you want to write a sales letter?
If you’re a successful business owner, you can (and probably should) hire a copywriter. You can take a chance with a cheap-o copywriter from the content mills. Or you can invest thoughtfully in an experienced professional who will dig into your strategy.
The truth is that writing a sales letter – even if you just draft the letter and get a professional copywriter to polish it up – will save you from a disastrous, wasteful marketing campaign. I now write a sales letter before creating a product or program and encourage my clients to do the same.
(1) Creating a sales letter will save you from the”senseless activity trap.”
As a business owner, it’s easy to feel you’re being extremely productive because you’re taking a lot of actions. You’re setting up joint ventures and teleseminars, creating content and more.
Sales letters help you decide if you’re really being productive or if you’re just wasting time in crash-and-burn mode. In her book Excuse Me Your Life Is Waiting, the late Lynn Grabhorn called this bout of activity “heigh-ho silvering.” Your taking a lot of action but it’s not purposeful action.
A sales letter helps you revisit your purpose. You’re forced to ask these questions:
“Why do prospects need this product?
What problem does it solve?
What benefits does it offer?”
When you start to answer those questions, your entire marketing campaign becomes easier to execute. You might realize that …
… you need to revise the sections, chapter or stages of your program
… you need to go back and redesign the program because the benefits aren’t visible
… you’ve got a winner: you’d better get busy and start selling.
I once created a program that sounded impressive. When I shared the idea, my colleagues were enthused and urged me to “Go for it!” But when I finally wrote the sales letter, I realized that my concept was indeed brilliant, but couldn’t relate to tangible benefits for my readers. I ended up scrapping the project and creating something completely different – and writing the sales letter first. I’m still frustrated with the amount of time I wasted.
(2) Your sales letter helps you identify holes in your strategy that must be filled before you can implement your marketing campaign.
Once Janie, a brand-new coach, asked me to write a sales letter for a new 12-month program. To write the sales letter, we needed to let people know what would be offered each month. We also needed to explain why she was qualified. Janie hadn’t planned the monthly offers.
She hadn’t thought about how her background might be presented to demonstrate her skills as a coach. It wouldn’t be difficult to address these gaps but Janie didn’t want to consider them. She thought a copywriter could wave a wand and fill these holes with the power of words and phrases.
Janie had hired a handful of experts to help with the launch: a graphic designer, a marketing coach and even someone to help with SEO. If she’d started with a copywriter and a sales letter, she might not have needed any of them.
I declined the job. The program never took off and she’s no longer a coach.
(3) You’ll find it easier to market your program because you will identify the benefits, features, and outcomes of every component of your program or every chapter of your book.
You might start with a title like “Overview” but realize you need a benefit-driven title that makes people want to sign up. A chapter title like, “Vitamin-Rich Choices” can be changed to “Use Secrets of Pro Athletes To Get More Energy All Day, Every Day.”
“Brilliant idea, but will it sell?”
We’ve all had these flashes of light – like, “OMG, this is the best idea in the world! I can’t wait to get it out there and watch the money come flying in.”
If you’re lucky, your colleague or mentor will raise an eyebrow and ask, “But how do you know your market will respond to this offer?”
You’ll rarely know 100%. Markets are fickle.
But writing the sales letter will give you a fighting chance.