In order to sell a product, you need to have a compelling sales presentation.
Of course, sales presentations come in all shapes and sizes – speeches from the stage, one-on-one consulting calls with potential clients, and webinars. All effective ways to sell your product or service.
However, there's one tried-and-true method marketers use that consistently and effectively converts potential customers into clients. A method that has been around for ages and still works wonders…
The Classic Sales Letter.
These are the letters you receive in the mail asking you to donate to Children's International, sign up for a credit card, or subscribe to a magazine. They're also the online sales pages you see for info products, live events, coaching and courses.
Ever wonder why you are still receiving them to this day? Because they work.
Beyond that, a new model has emerged offering yet another option for your market – the VSL, or video sales letter. Essentially, a sales letter in video format. With a few key differences.
Done right, a VSL can triple or quadruple conversion rates, according to master copywriter Clayton Makepeace.
Because of the value of both of these pieces in your overall strategy, in the next few blog posts I'll be focusing on the fundamentals of crafting them so they grab your audience and never let go. Generating more sales for your business than ever before.
Today, I'm giving you an intro-level look at sales letters and where they fit into your marketing ecosystem.
I'll show you the fundamental differences between sales letters and VSLs…
The true objective of a sales letter…
And how they tip your prospects over the edge into paying clients.
What is a Sales Letter?
This may sound like a silly question, but there are enough bad sales letters out there, it begs discussion.
As Herschell Gordon-Lewis says, you want your reader “to perform a specific positive act as the direct result of exposure to that message.” Essentially, you're asking them to do something.
Obviously, it's not that simple, or else everyone would be great at it! We wouldn't have a need for copywriters who create sales letters for a living.
There's a very specific structure that goes into effectively inspiring your reader to take action. Of course, action can mean pretty much anything – giving a donation, signing up for a free trial class, or purchasing a $5,000 product.
Believe it or not, almost anything can be sold through a sales letter. Joe Sugarman sold his airplane through a magazine that way – the buyer never even came to look at it!
So, how can you do this? By understanding your prospect inside and out, and crafting the sales letter in such a way that by the time they finish reading it, they are ready to buy.
This of course requires ample research to get started. As I've talked about multiple times, you have to understand your prospects' hopes, dreams, and aspirations, as well as fears, frustrations and problems. What keeps them up at night.
You then have to grab their attention with a headline that addresses one of those points. Perhaps they're dying to get six-pack abs or they are fearful of a stock market crash.
The objective is to tie that point in with whatever it is you want them to do. Getting them to invest in your financial coaching or becoming a personal training client, etc…
Now, the rest of the letter needs to bring them from your first point to finally taking action. It should flow smoothly and keep them nodding their head along with you.
The purpose of each sentence in a sales letter is to get your prospect to read the following sentence.
The headline leads into the deck copy (the paragraph directly under the headline), the deck copy leads them to the first sentence, and so on.
The reason I emphasize these seemingly obvious points is because all too often sales letters lose their focus. Either the writer tries to make too many points, tries too hard to be “clever”, or talks more about themselves than anything.
Your prospect is taking time out of their day to read something you wrote; it has to be worth their time. If it isn't immediately relevant, they'll check out and you'll lose them forever.
So, how does a VSL differ from a sales letter?
A VSL takes a full length sales letter and breaks it down sentence by sentence into a video. Each line pops up on the screen and is narrated by whomever wrote the piece (or a talented voiceover artist).
These tend to be fairly lengthy and they can't be manipulated by the viewer. There are no controls for the video, except for a pause and volume button.
While this may sound like torture, it's actually quite effective. If your sales letter is engaging, this forces the prospect to listen all the way through. Ensuring they get the point you're trying to make.
All too often with sales letters, people start to skim. Of course, there are “buffers” in place to ensure skimmers get the point of the sales letter (and I'll talk about those in my next blog post).
However, they lose the real emotional tug of your piece by doing that. And a VSL makes sure they go on the journey you intended.
Now, because many folks do not have the patience for VSLs, marketers have started to include “failsafes” into the process.
If you go to the Palm Beach Letter website, for example, you can view a VSL for their publication. You'll notice, if you try to click out of it, the page will ask you to stay.
If you say yes, your page will refresh into a full written version of the VSL (essentially, the standard sales letter).
Believe it or not, many people still would rather read that than sit through the video. So, this allows them to use the option they prefer. Giving marketers another chance at a sale.
How It Fits Into Your Business
Now, think about the entire ecosystem of your business for a second.
You have lead generation systems in place using free lead magnets, email campaigns, and content…you offer valuable and actionable FREE communications giving your prospects a taste of the tools you provide to help them succeed… and you engage them on Social Media and in comments, ensuring they get personal attention from you.
If you're doing all of those things effectively, prospects who have entered your world already love you and recognize your value. A strong sales letter is just the icing on the cake.
Many companies live and die on sales letters alone. Publishing companies are one example.
Often, these letters have to generate “front end sales”, i.e. get new customers. So, the onus is on them to make sure the message is incredibly compelling. Or else they risk going right into the trash bin!
They require expert copywriters to get to know their audiences deeply and craft messages that get results.
While it's important for you to implement those same strategies in your letters, as well, you are already at an advantage. Since your audience knows you well, they are already on the edge of buying from you.
Your credibility is established, so you don't have to prove yourself. You also have a strong idea of what is motivating them based on why they signed up for your list and what they're saying in your comments sections.
All you have to do is connect that information to your product and you'll tip them right over, gaining a new lifelong customer.
Your Powerful New Weapon
Regardless of which format you choose, your business will benefit from powerful sales messaging. Sales letters and VSLs are your golden ticket.
Ultimately, they require very similar strategies to create effectively. If you can write strong sales letters, you can make strong VSLs.
By incorporating them into your marketing and sales systems, you'll create a truly Easy, Simple, and Lucrative business that runs without always trading time for money. Allowing you to live the life of your dreams.
Tune into my next blog for part two on how to keep your readers engaged. You'll discover the importance of having “inherent value” in your sales message… what the “golden thread” is and how it's vital to your response rate… and why you need a “big idea.”