Ace Components of Good Direct Marketing

Sales Coaching for People Who Don’t Like Direct Selling

By Hilton Johnson

How would you like to give a COMPLETE sales presentation to
thousands of prospects from all over the world; give that
presentation at the convenience of your prospect; give that
presentation while you’re awake OR sleeping; know for sure that
you will not experience any rejection whatsoever, and then have your
ideal customers and clients call you and say, “Sign me

Of COURSE you would, and you can, by learning how to write (and
implement) good sales letters to your prospect list. Here’s
my version of the Top Ten Compo nents Of A Good Sales LetterÖ with
some extra goodies:

1. Headlines

This is the mother-lode of strategies for writing sales letters, so
here are some important points to remember:

A. Target your headline to your specific ideal customer or client
(“If You Would Like To Get Rid Of Those Ugly Wrinkles,
Warts And ZitsÖ”)

B. Focus the headline on the pain or motivations of your pros pects.
(“Don’t Make The Seven Mis takes OfÖ”)

C. Don’t try to be cute, clever, creative or manipulative.

D. Forget about the myth of keeping headlines eight words or less.
Make it as long as you like in order to attract your
ideal client’s attention.

E. Learn to write good headlines by tweaking and twisting OTHER
companies’ (past or present) headlines that grab YOUR
attention and then make them your own (but don’t plagiarize).

2. The Hook

If your headline is good enough and if you are reaching a prospect
that has an interest in your subject, they will read the
beginning of the first paragraph. It’s right here that you need a
“hook” to keep them reading.

One of the best ways to “grab them” in that first sentence is to
focus the most newsworthy point of your message in the
first sentence. Here’s a strategy for doing that:

Pretend that you’re calling a friend to report some important news
and the friend asks you what happened. The answer to
that question is your lead: “Our Company Is Offering A Guarantee
That Will Change Forever The Way Our Industry Does

3. Subheadings

Sprinkle several subheadings throughout your letter when you’re
going to change the direction of your message. Also keep in
mind that what you want to accomplish is to deliver the entire
message (presentation) to your prospect by them reading the
headline, the subheadings and the P.S.

4. The Complete Story

Give your complete sales presentation. Tell the entire story from
beginning to endóno matter how many pages it takes.

It’s true that most people won’t read a long letter. The important
thing to remember is that you only need and want the
perfect prospect to keep reading it anyway.

You see, your ideal prospect will see your headline, and if it zeros
right in on his/her hot buttons, he/she will be
COMPELLED to read the entire story because this person has a strong
interest in what you’re selling. And when you get THAT
kind of prospect, you want to give them your entire pitch.

5. It’s Gotta Be Conversational

Suppose you were sitting across the table from a qualified prospect
and they were not only showing strong interest in your
proposal, but they were actually ASKING you to explain the whole
programÖhow would you do it?

Write a sales letter like you normally speak. Personalize your talk
in a comfortable, conversational manner. Let your
natural humor flow spontaneouslyÖ are we communicating?

That’s how you make your sales letters conversational (and

6. Underlined Text

When you have a key phrase or point you want to make but you don’t
want to “shout” at them with bold letters or a
subheading, the next best thing is to simply underline the important
points or key words.

When they read the headline, the subheadings, the underlined text,
the P.S., and nothing more, you’ve still given your
entire presentationÖ in a summary fashion.

7. The Guarantee

It’s almost standard practice to offer “better than risk free”
guarantees in sales letters. That is, to offer a total
satisfaction guarantee plus a free gift for “just trying the program
out” if they should ask for a refund.

The problem with offering guarantees is that most people don’t know
how to take advantage of them. The idea behind
guarantees is that you may have to make a refund occasionally, but
your guarantee could quadruple your sales overall
because there is no risk in doing business with you. If you’re going
to offer a guarantee or a warranty, you want to play
it up.

8. Testimonials

It’s almost impossible to see a successful marketing company that
doesn’t use testimonials as a large part of their
infomercials, advertising and sales letters. Why? They work!

You already know that, but do you know HOW to get testimonials?

To get satisfied customers and clients to write testimonial letters,
appear on a video or on a cassette, you have to make
it incredibly easy for themÖor make it worth their while.

You have to do things like offer to write the letter for them, stick
a camera in their face and ask them your questions or
offer them a free gift.

If you doubt the power of testimonials, just ask yourself how often
do you buy things (especially expensive things) without
hearing or seeing other people endorse the product first. Not too
often I’ll bet.

9. Pain and Pleasure

Because direct marketing and a sales letter is really “salesmanship
in print,” you write it as you would give a verbal

Since it doesn’t make sense to do business with you unless your
product or service can solve problems, begin your letter by
focusing on the pain and end the letter on the pleasure of meeting
your clients needs.

10. Steal It

When you see headlines, phrases, techniques and especially
conversational language that appeals to you, copy it, try it,
and if it works, keep it. (There is an expression: “There is nothing
new out thereÖit’s just the way it’s being

Here is an example of language used in a sales letter promoting the
guarantee that has been copied so much that it’s almost
over used (see it this sounds familiar):

“If after 30 days you’re not thrilled with (this product) simply
return the package for an immediate and full refundÖ no
questions askedÖ no hard feelings.”

Special Note #1

NEVER send out sales letters without making it an iron-clad policy
to do these three things:

1. Do a small test (say, 200 or so) before the major roll out to
make sure it’s going to pay off.

2. Track the numbers. Record the costs, number of pieces sent, how
many inquiries, how many sales and how much each sale
cost per mailing piece.

3. Always back up your mailings with telemarketing. It’s not un
common to get ZERO responses to the mailings themselves
only to experience a flood of sales when you call a few days behind
the letter.

The direct marketing combination of sales letters and telemarketing
for high ticket products and services is absolutely

The problem is that most people just won’t do it. They might send
out the letters but they won’t make the calls. And they
won’t make the calls because they don’t know what to say when they

The solution is to learn good scripts for telemarketing and then
hire someone to do it for you. But let’s not get ahead of
ourselvesÖ HBM

©Copyright 1997 by Sales University. All rights reserved. Hilton
Johnson is the founder of Sales University, a sales
training firm specializing in “Sales Coaching for People Who Don’t
Like Selling.” Contact Sales University for a free
subscription to their monthly email newsletter, “The Sales Coach”
and/or to participate in a one-hour training course by
teleconference called “Selling By AttractionóNo More Cold Calls!”
Phone: (954) 491-8996; Fax: (954) 491-7647; E-mail:; Website:

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