How to NOT use a Sales Letter
photo by Drawings of Light – Paul
As a business owner you get lots of sales letters. I could probably wallpaper a large room with the number of Credit Card offers I’ve gotten in the past year. Most of them go directly in the trash (often unread) but I will occasionally get something that catches my eye.
Not always in a good way!
Over the weekend I got a letter from Web Listings Inc. It was a single piece of paper printed front and back that looked like an invoice. Since I had never heard of this company I reviewed it pretty closely and found the following quote about 1/2 way down the page:
“This is not a bill. This is a solicitation. You are under no obligation to pay the amount stated above unless you accept this offer.”
A good rule of thumb is that if you have to clarify that your ‘solicitation’ is in fact not a bill – you’re doing something wrong.
Best case, this is ineffective, more likely this is a scam that may not quite be illegal, but is not far from it.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) a scam?
This company’s ‘service’ is submitting your domain name to 20 established search engines along with up to 8 keyword and phrase listings and quarterly reports, all for only $65!
Ironically I did a search for Web Listings Inc in Google and the top listing was a blog entry from Matt Kluemper (from Kansas City no less). I haven’t met Matt, but he makes a great point:
For all those that think you need to “submit” your site to search engines, please, DON’T.
For all those that think you need to screw people over by convincing them they need to “submit” their site to search engines, please, quit wasting paper and people’s time…
For even further irony, Web Listing Inc doesn’t even show up on the first 4 pages (I gave up after that) of a Google search of their own company name – obviously they know what they’re doing! 😉
Search Engine Optimization is a legitimate product but it’s not critical for all businesses and unfortunately there are a lot of questionable practices and companies making pitches for services that don’t generate any returns.
If you’re interested in a discussion on developing a comprehensive Web Marketing strategy, including various ways to generate SEO, I’d suggest giving Toby Truog at Brain Bucket a call (or an email). Toby works with business owners to develop cost effective websites or enhance existing sites with a comprehensive web marketing strategy. He’s a great guy that’s doing some pretty cool stuff.
Sales Letter Tips that are helpful?
Here are a couple of ideas that you should use with any direct mail sales letters you might be considering:
Write a great headline: You need to grab their attention and make it worth their while to read on. Consider the following:
- Use a Question rather than a statement. You’re much more likely to draw someone in with an intriguing open ended question.
- Make it a problem focus instead of a solution focus. You want to connect with their pain and get them thinking about what they want to solve – it’s not about you, it’s about them.
- Use something curious or something unexplained – headlines with “How To” or “Why” make people curious and want to see what you’ve got.
Feature customer focused benefits as the primary message. How is your product or service going to solve my problem? I don’t care that you can get my domain listed on 20 different search engines – I would care that you can get more customers to call me.
Feature a testimonial if it makes sense with the rest of the letter. (See article here for more information).
Finally, make sure you have a clear and compelling call to action. What do you want the reader to do? “Call today for your free estimate!” Depending on your product, it may make sense to not ask them to buy today, but to sign up for a free white paper, report, sample document, brochure – something that gets them to your website and gets them to enter in an email address (which you can then follow-up on because you know they’re interested in you or your product).
What Sales Letters have caught your eyes – bad or good? Share your thoughts here.
Shawn Kinkade www.aspirekc.com