What inspired Conroy to write The Wall Street Journal’s sales letter that way?
It all started when Conroy found a 1919 ad written by American copywriter Bruce Barton for The Alexander Hamilton Institute in his swipe file.
[Swipe File: A collection of tested and proven advertising and sales letters that copywriters and creative directors keep as a reference or inspiration for their future projects.]
Barton’s ad read:
“From a certain little town in Massachusetts, two men went to the Civil War. Each of them had enjoyed the same educational advantage, and so far as anyone could judge, their prospects for success were equally good. One man accumulated a fortune. The other spent his last years almost entirely dependent upon his children for support…”
After reading Barton’s ad and spending several hours writing his own sales letter, Conroy sent it to The Wall Street Journal, which then mailed the letter to the recipients and…
Conroy’s “The Two Young Men” generated over USD 2 billion in The Wall Street Journal’s subscription sales for nearly 3 decades!
As a copywriter, can you also write an effective sales letter like that of Conroy’s?
YOU DEFINITELY CAN!
In the book titled, “Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got,” Jay Abraham said business owners, marketers, and copywriters should recognize and utilize direct mail as a powerful tool for businesses.
Direct mail refers to all written on-hand materials used to communicate and market a business to clients and prospects, such as brochures, postcards, and catalogs.
A sales letter is one of the most effective direct mail formats you can send to your mailing list.
If you’re planning to write a sales letter with the purpose of gaining more clients, generating more sales for your business, or increasing awareness about your brand, this formula can come in handy.
Just follow this acronym:
The headline should be interesting and appealing enough to hook your readers’ attention.
It’s because that’s the first thing they will read from your sales letter.
The headline should do the job of making your readers curious about your brand and lead them to read the rest of the content.
One secret to achieve this?
Make sure your headline gives a specific (and attainable) promise that addresses your readers’ needs or interests.
Example. Instead of just writing:
“Are You Looking for House Cleaning Services?”
Add more flair to it by saying:
“Your Whole House Sparkling Clean―We Do It For You So You Don’t Have To!”
Now, for the body of your sales letter, you have to tell your prospects what you’re offering them and make them want your product or service.
When you’re writing this section, it’s best to put yourself in your prospects’ shoes and answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”
Tell your prospects the benefits they will enjoy once they make a purchase from your brand!
Continuing on with our house cleaning example, you can write this as part of your offer:
“For just USD 100, you can have your entire home clean and sparkling, without enduring the nasty stink of chemical cleaners!”
Don’t be afraid to expound on the benefits of your product or service―you may include as many benefits as there are on your sales letter!
You may also use bullet points or arrows where appropriate to make your sales letter easier to read. The simpler, the better.
What can you include in your sales letter to convince your readers that you’re offering them high-quality products or services?
Since it’s easier for customers to believe their fellow customers, including testimonials is an excellent way to serve this purpose.
You can also use the Risk Reversal Strategy, which we talked about in our previous Write with The Pen of The Masters article, by offering readers a money-back guarantee or free trial.
This will help assure them that their satisfaction is your brand’s priority.
After laying out your offers and proof, it’s time to persuade your readers to your call-to-action!
Clearly state what you want your readers to do after reading your sales letter, whether it’s contacting the number written in the copy, visiting your brand’s website, or going to the physical store.
Give your readers a sense of URGENCY as well!
By giving them a deadline or an offer expiration. This will motivate them to think through your offer and quickly make a decision on whether or not to accept it.
Have you ever received personal letters with a note at the bottom of the page that states, “P.S. I love you,” “P.S. Don’t forget to lock the doors of the house when you leave,” or “P.S. The food is in the fridge. Heat it when you’re going to eat.”?
Well, that’s what the third P is all about. Leave your readers with a P.S.―but business-like, of course!
The purpose of this?
To motivate your readers to act RIGHT NOW.
Use a P.S. for throwing in an additional bonus such as “If you take this offer, you’ll also receive…”
… or reminding your readers that there are only a few stocks left and the pricing will only last for a certain period of time (include specific date).
One reason why Jay Abraham believes that direct mails and sales letters are powerful marketing tools is because it lays the groundwork for you and your business.
Once your target readers have the letter in their hands, they have the complete message, from beginning to end.
Every question answered.
Every problem solved.
Every call-to-action expressed.
Abraham also states that sales letters are a powerful prelude to your telephone marketing efforts as it increases the “effectiveness of the call by 1000%.”
When your sales letter precedes your call, you’re not calling cold (introducing your business offer for the first time). Your prospect has already been “pre-sold on your product or service.”
Use the HOPPP formula and write an effective sales letter that will help you achieve your business goals!
If you want, you can also incorporate a bit of creative writing into it, just like what Martin Conroy did for The Wall Street Journal ad.
P.S. When you send your letters to your recipients, be prepared as well to maximize the responses and engagement you’ll receive.