For decades, business owners have been using direct mail letters to increase their sales. It is truly one of the oldest forms of marketing still in use today. There are many reasons for this long-lasting use and popularity, and they range from cost to simplicity.
But there is a big difference between the kind of letters that boost sales and the kind that bust your budget. With a direct mail piece, the difference between success and failure often comes down to effective copywriting (or the lack of it). So let’s talk about some of the ways you can write your way to a better sales letter.
Here’s a 5-part plan for copywriting that will help you get better results from your direct mail marketing campaigns:
Step 1 – Do the Proper Research
This is an important step in the process, but it’s one that many first-time copywriters gloss over or skip entirely. I would argue that research and preparation account for more than half of the writing process. It’s a lot easier to craft a strong message when you’ve done the necessary homework. As for the topics of your research, see items 2 – 5 below.
Step 2 – Determine the Logistics
How many pages will your letter be? Will you create a simple one-page mailer, or a multi-part “letter kit”? Are you going to include other items, such as a small brochure or price sheet? Color printing or black and white? By answering these and other logistical questions in advance, you’ll be better able to shape your message accordingly. This will also help you determine the cost for your mailing, which is necessary for budgeting purposes.
Step 3 – Understand Your Audience
What do you know about the people on your mailing list, the ones who will receive your letter? What sort of challenges do they face, and how can you help them overcome those challenges? What do they hope to achieve? What are their biggest fears, and how do they relate to what you’re offering? How can your products or services help them achieve their goals?
You must get inside the mind of your readers before you write the first word of your direct mail letter. I even recommend putting a “reader profile” down on paper before you go any further. If you have a staff, invite them to a customer “profiling” session.
Step 4 – Identify Your Objective
If you’ve followed along with the prescribed steps up to this point, you should have a pretty good idea who you’re speaking to with your letters. Now you must answer the next logical question. What is it you want those people to do when they read your message? This needs to be a specific goal, because you will write your entire message around it.
Do you want people to go online and order a particular product? Do you want them to call you to request more information? Sending a letter just for the sake of sending it is a recipe for failure. You need to identify a clear objective and then write your message to support that objective. You should also make sure your objective is realistic — something a simple letter can accomplish.
Step 5 – Shape Your Message Accordingly
Up to this point, you have created the skeleton of your letter. You now have a clear picture of your audience, your objective, and the logistical components of your mailing. So you are ready to think about the actual content you need to write. Essentially, your message will bridge the gap between your audience and your objective.
So ask yourself, what must I include in my letter to encourage my readers to take the action I want them to take? How much, or how little, do I need to tell them? What information should I include? Testimonials and success stories? Before and after photos? Statistics? Information about a free trial or some other bonus?
It’s important to note that the steps are presented in this order for a reason. You shouldn’t begin writing your sales letter until you’ve done the necessary research and planning. If you move through the process in this order, you’ll have a much easier time developing your message.
Conclusion and Going Forward
This article gives you a good idea of the basic steps involved in writing a direct mail sales letter. Obviously, though, this is not an all-inclusive tutorial. There is much more to learn about each of the steps presented above, and if you’re serious about direct mail success you will continue your research.
You don’t necessarily have to become an expert copywriter. In my experience, anyone with a great product and decent writing skills can create a strong sales letter. But with that being said, you can certainly improve your end product by learning more about the process through which it is created. I recommend you buy at least one book on copywriting. You’ll find plenty of these books at Amazon and other online booksellers.