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Video may have killed the radio star…but not an effective sales letter.

video killed the radio starRecently, I was asked how I write an effective Sales Letter and what I thought about video sales letters replacing written sales letters.  It seems to me that video sales letters are already outperforming written sales letters in some markets. And I do think that video will continue to become more and more prevalent. However, I do not think video will replace the written word out-and-out.

In that regard, there are a couple of things to keep in mind, certainly the video script still needs to be written and the process is very similar to writing the sales letter.  Another consideration is that videos can be too linear, they are non-stop.  It just does not give the audience the opportunity to digest or review something that grabs their attention.

In that connection, people are moving faster and faster (i.e. Twitter), and a larger percentage of people will simply refuse to sit through a lengthy sales video.  The written sales letter offers them the ability to at least scan and scroll and refer back at their leisure. So for now and into the near future at least, I think a combination of written word and video will be effective. This could mean both video and written word integrated into the same sales page and we see that often.  Or, it could mean different sales pages to reach different segments of your market (those who prefer video and those who don’t).

The fact is from my experience, every video has a written sales script at the end!

With that in mind, let’s focus on the offer sales letter (not the formal sales letter although the contents are similar). First, you must realize that all products are created to solve a problem. And you should have this problem — and how it affects your prospective customer — firmly in your mind before you start to write.

Once I have that in mind, this is a simply flow for my process.

The pre-headline:

If you wanted to attract the attention of your buddy in a crowded room, what would you do? You’d likely shout their name. And the chances are, they’d be alerted and the two of you would make contact.

In just the exactly same way, you make contact with your ideal prospect — not by calling his name, of course — but by using a pre-headline to say, in essence: “Hey, this is for YOU”.

The headline:

Once you’ve signaled who your sales letter is for, you need to nail your prospect’s attention.

Now there are a lot of mistaken beliefs about headlines. Contrary to popular belief, headlines should not attempt to sell the product. They are merely there to sell the idea of reading the beginning of the letter.

The deck copy:

This appears immediately under the headline and its purpose is to convince the reader to continue reading. It does this by enlarging on the alluring headline and telling the audience why they would read on.

For example: “Read on to discover how I Made Over $300,000 Selling Digital Products That I DIDN’T Create…

Then you come to the most delicate part of the letter, where you need to get the prospect to start reading in earnest.

The Greeting:

I guess it’s the herd instinct, but we humans always warm to someone we feel is like us. You feel more comfortable with them and you are more inclined to trust them. And trust must be created before any sale can take place.

So, you need to immediately show your prospect you are just like them and understand their problem. “Dear fellow investor” or “Dear fellow internet marketer”.

The opening paragraphs:

You then need to build on that common ground, by starting the body of the letter with a statement the prospect will readily agree with.

Such as: “You don’t need me to tell you that if there was ever a time to protect your investments and savings, that time is now”.

Establish Credibility- Who are you and why should they listen?  Restate the problem and let them feel the pain. Then you move on to paint a very dark picture of what might happen if the problem is not remedied.

Then – offer the solution.  Like a ray of sunlight piercing the angry, black clouds you introduce your product as the perfect solution for the prospect’s problem.

Offer them proof, anticipate and answer objections.

And the way to best do this is listing every single benefit you can think of as a bullet point.

Bullet points:

These are one of the key elements of how to write a sales letter, because, if you get this right, you will really urge and motivate your prospect.

Copywriters call bullet points “fascinations”, because they are designed to fascinate the reader and give them an itch that can only be scratched by the sweet release of buying the product.

So, depending on the product, you might get as many as 20 fascinations like this: ” I’ve made MILLIONS of dollars online since then. But remember – I started out from scratch and struggled just like everyone else. I had more failures than successes. ” or, “If you’re new and want a clear and concise step-by-step approach – this is for you.”

When you have the prospect really fired up by your bullet points you can introduce…

The price and guarantee:

I have combined these because I find it is very effective to deal with them together. For example, just as I’m about to discuss the price I will say: “But first, let me make one thing clear — I take all the risk on this”. And then go on to state the guarantee… you also have a 60 days money-back guarantee so you can try it with confidence and with no risk.

That way, when the prospect is weighing up your price in their mind, they are also very aware they can take a chance on buying it, because they can back out of the deal with no penalty.

And when you come to the price, you first demonstrate the awesome value you are giving them by telling them what the more expensive alternative would cost.  Create urgency and/or scarcity.  They need to buy now if there is only a limited supply remaining.

Now is also a good time to toss in some bonuses!


And These  BONUSES OF…. are more than a $500.00 Value!

So, for instance, if you are selling a training course, explain the cost and inconvenience of traveling to meet the trainer or attend the seminar, plus the astronomical hourly rate they charge for one-to-one consultations. Then point out they can enjoy that very same wisdom, which they can absorb at their own pace — and in the comfort of their own home — by buying the course for a mere fraction of the high cost of a personal consultation.

Ask for the order:

Now the prospect is fired up by your bullet points/fascinations and knows how much they must invest for the solution to their problem and is well aware they can try this out at no risk to themselves, you can turn up the heat to close the sale by spelling out exactly what is at stake for them.

People buy with their emotions, so here is where you need to play on both fundamental emotional triggers: “They move away from the Fear of pain” and “they move toward the Craving for comfort”.

So you lay out the two choices they now have, one by one.

First paint a dark picture of what happens if they do nothing. You’ve already alluded to this in the opening of your letter and now is the time to really drive and press the point.

Then, once your prospect is somberly reminded of their present unwanted situation, you alleviate the pain by painting a rosy picture of how wonderful they will feel, once they own the product.

Tell them about the  “Christmas morning feeling” of sheer joy and excitement they will enjoy, when they examine the product and realize — at last — they have the complete solution to the problem that has dogged them for so long. If it’s relevant, paint a glowing word picture of how their friends and loved ones will look at them with renewed respect for finally solving the problem.

And then end the letter by saying that, because the choice they have to make is so obvious, you are looking forward to welcoming them as a valued customer.

For this type of sales copy always use an order box or button.

Post scripts:

It has been proven that — after the headline — the most read part of a sales letter are the post scripts. So you should have at least two.

The first one should stress that — because of your cast-iron guarantee — the only way they can possibly lose out is by not purchasing the product. “ IMPORTANT: This is NOT just a collection of low quality….You’re getting EVERYTHING you need…And I take all the risk.”

And your second post script should stress the scarcity factor (likely alluded to before) to get them to buy now, rather than go away and “think about it”.

You do this by mentioning scarcity factors, such as Early Bird discounts, an imminent price rise, limited quantities of the product, or a very small number of bonuses throughout the letter and now you really highlight how they will miss out.

Always remember that fear of loss is a far better motivator than the promise of gain.

“P.S. – REMEMBER… this is a ONE TIME liquidation sale and it will be over FOREVER soon. You will not be able to come back and get this package later. So grab it now!”

Finally, some quick tips for formatting and structuring your sales letter:

  • Use sub-headlines. (Important!  Must stop scrollers in their tracks)
  • Use Johnson Boxes (a box commonly found at the top of direct mail letters, containing the key message of the letter).

  •  Leave a lot of white space.
  • Black text on a white background.
  • Use a simple clear font.
  • Do some text stylizing but don’t overdo it. (some bold, a little italic)
  • Keep the background basic.
  • Use Some Graphics. If it’s an Ebook, or product…show the cover.  Or, to make a point.

  •  Finally, always add a signature.

Your Partner in Success,

Your Hand-Written Signature

General comments:

Often I am asked about Long copy versus Short copy.  I would submit to you that the reason marketers use long copy is because it works!  Traditionally, long copy has almost always outperformed short copy, but much like the addition of video and the more rapid transaction ability with social media, I do believe things are changing.   Online sales letters are moving toward personalization and interactivity and frankly, shorter and concise may be better.

I have to admit that most of the letters I receive are either far too long and in a lot cases just plain boring! A lot of them look the same. When you write your sales letter think about the person at the other end reading it. Be original, keep it short and sweet and let some of your character shine through.

A good sales copy with or without a good video is still the best way to promote your product or service.


Jerry Duling is a Marketing and Business Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Social Media advisor. Jerry shows businesses how to use Social Media to build their brand, generate leads and close sales. Jerry also provides individual resources for the Internet Entrepreneur. Connect with



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