I can think of numerous occasions over the years when a client has asked "Do you think we should do a proper, glossy mail piece or shall we just send a letter?". My response is always the same. I simply reverse the question, "Should we send a really powerful and persuasive sales letter or shall we just send a glossy mail piece?" In my experience no hierarchy exists amongst the various direct mail mediums. And, if it did, the sales letter would not be subordinate to the printed mail piece - it would be superior. As the direct mail guru, John Fraser-Robinson asserted, "Letters are undoubtedly, undisputedly and consistently the single strongest weapon in the creative armoury," and I couldn't agree with him more.
Sales letters often deliver great results where other mediums fail. Sales letters are "of the moment". They deliver timely information, alerts, offers and opportunities directly to peoples' door mats and workplaces. Most importantly, somewhere in the human psyche, there resides the belief that mail pieces and brochures come from organisations and letters come from people. Despite sophisticated database and digital printing techniques, letters remain the most personal form of marketing communication. They are one to one; me to you. Sales letters are the only form of marketing that starts with "Dear" and ends with "Yours sincerely". Unfortunately, for many writers, it is here that the personal approach begins and ends, and what they type in between is simply brochure copy.
...but you have to get personal!
The simple truth is that you cannot write a sales letter to an organisation, a sector, or a segment. You can only write a letter to a person. And the recipient of your letter can only read it as an individual. So, in order to sell your products or services to a business, you first have to start by connecting with, and selling to, an individual. To do this you must adopt a warm, friendly, conversational style of writing rather than a formal, presentational tone. And you must connect with the reader on an individual level, using personal drivers. You need to tell the reader exactly why they, in their professional role, faced with their challenges and responsibilities, within their business, should act in the way you suggest. And you must do this by talking first, and mostly, about them - not you. Always keep in mind that customers are not inherently interested in you, your company, your offerings, your customers or your reputation. The one thing you can be sure they are always interested in is themselves. So, the best way to write more engaging and persuasive sales letters is to stop writing to your customers and start writing about them.
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