Is the sales letter dead?

Like me, you probably receive a lot of sales letters through the post and many of them probably go straight in the bin.

So, is there still a place for the traditional sales letter in 21st-century marketing and, if so, what are the best tactics for grabbing your reader’s attention?

In my view, sales letters are still a great way to reach out to prospective customers but it’s all too easy to hit the wrong note in terms of tone and style. Here are a few top tips to get your mailshot noticed for all the right reasons.

Get your intro right

The intro is, of course, the most important part of your letter but a really aggressive sales pitch could be a turn-off. Instead, entice your readers with a great scene-setter that shows why they should use your products or services.

I recently received a letter from a hotel in Cornwall; it asked me to ‘imagine sipping a glass of wine on the hotel’s sun-soaked terrace whilst looking out over the sea’. By the end of the first paragraph, I was already hooked. Job done.

Keep your sales letter short and to the point

We’re all leading busy lives and time is of the essence. So, whatever your audience, you need to keep your letter short and to the point. Don’t waffle – stick to the facts and try to keep your letter to one page if at all possible.

It may sound very obvious but always outline your reasons for writing early on. I’m amazed at the number of sales letters that leave this to the end – so the reader quickly loses interest. Tell the reader why you’re writing and, most importantly, what you’re offering them.

Keep your customers at the forefront of your mind

The reader doesn’t want to know about your long career history or the fact that you’ve recently taken on new staff. They want to know how using your services will benefit them. So, keep it simple and focus on them – not you.

Feature special offers

Times are hard and so, whatever your market, prospective customers will be on the lookout for special offers and discounts. Remember to feature these prominently in your letter and make them available for a limited period only – so that your reader feels compelled to contact you sooner rather than later.

Use headings and sub-headings

People tend to skim read sales letters so you need to draw attention to key points. One useful tip is to include a headline in bold at the top of the letter. It’s also useful to include sub-headings and bullet points throughout.

Following these tips will help you to create a great letter that will convert into sales – and not head straight for the recycling bin.

Would you like some professional copywriting help with a direct mail campaign? I’ve managed direct mail and email marketing campaigns for all kinds of customers, from entrepreneurs through to large training organisations. Give me a call to find out how I can support your business on 07767 252464 or email

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