As you know, your sales letter and your selling process are the most critical thing to your success. You’ve probably heard lots of tips on what you SHOULD say in your sales letters to increase response. Today I want to talk about something equally (if not more) important:
What you SHOULDN’T say.
Writing a successful sales letter is like building a house of cards. The whole thing can come toppling down through a single misstep, through a single error. In writing sales letters, the thing that’ll kill response more than anything else is to make a statement that appears to the reader to be untrue.
A sales letter is based on the claims made by the writer, and a good sales letter backs up those claims as much as possible with facts, figures, and information. But ultimately, it’s not the facts and figures that convince the reader to buy, it’s the trust that is built in the sales letter.
This is an important point:
A sales letter can quote all the facts, statistics, and information in the world, but the reader still has to take most of the claims made on faith. If the reader has any reason to mistrust the statements made in the sales letter, you’ve just lost a sale.
Consider this example:
Let’s say you tell your spouse that you’re going to visit a friend for awhile and that you’ll be home by 8:00pm.
At 3:30am, you walk in the front door.
Your spouse is livid: “Where were you? What happened? Why didn’t you call?!!”
Then you start into your sales pitch. (The sales pitch you’re using to try to avoid being kicked out of the house:)
“Well, you know my friend lives halfway up the mountain, and on my way up I blew out a tire and was stuck on the side of the road. My cell phone didn’t get any reception up there, and I realized we didn’t have a spare tire in the car. I kept trying to flag down other drivers, but no one would stop. It was awful, I was stuck there with no way to contact you for hours…”
So far so good, that sounds like a reasonable explanation. Then you go one step too far:
“…And that’s when the spaceship landed and I was abducted!”
-Oops. Pack your bags, the sales pitch failed.
Here’s important point #2:
For the sake of effectiveness of the ad, it doesn’t matter whether the statement that appears to be untrue is true or not – Obviously, I don’t expect you to lie in your sales letters, (that’s illegal!) but if it APPEARS to be untrue to the reader, you’ve made a terrible mistake.
Here’s an example:
A few years ago, I did a wacky sales experiment, and offered $100 bills FREE on the Internet. All the recipient had to do was pay the $10 s&h fee to have the money rushed to them by overnight delivery.
It wasn’t a lie: I was fully prepared to give $100 to the first person who responded, but no one did – Because it SOUNDED like a lie.
That’s an extreme example, but it doesn’t have to be that extreme for the House of Cards to fall.
I was recently reading a pretty strong sales letter for an online product that came with resell rights. It looked good until the author said something like:
“If you just sell one copy a day, you’ll make $xx,xxx in a year. Anybody can do THAT. Heck, my GRANDMOTHER could do it!”
– Warning – Warning – HOUSE OF CARDS FALLING!!!!
OK, guess what: That’s a load of crap. “Anybody can sell one a day for a year, even my Grandmother.” That’s an out-and-out blatant lie. These types of exaggerations can just kill your response, because they cause your potential reader to not trust you – and for good reason!
When I’m hired to rewrite clients’ existing ad copy, what I remove from their existing ad is often as important as what I add.
Here’s a checklist of things you should leave out, or at the very least test leaving out (you shouldn’t make any changes to your sales letter without testing the response -It’s impossible to predict what will help or hurt an ad, the only way to know for sure is to a/b test it.)
- 1) Information that doesn’t lead to the sale (cut out all sales letter “filler” and just keep the bare-bones info that promotes the sale).-Your sales letter can be as long as it needs to be to provide all the relevant facts, but it still has to be concise, and everything in it needs to lead to the sale. Don’t include a laundry list of things in the sales letter that don’t strengthen your case.
- Dubious claims EVEN IF THEY’RE TRUE, unless you take the time to back them up with unquestionable proof.
- Prompts to order before you’ve stated your case fully. You need to have proven the value of what it is you’re offering before you throw a price at your prospect, otherwise your prospect won’t fully understand the value of what you’re offering, will probably think your price is too high, and stop reading the sales letter before you’ve fully educated them of the value of what you’re offering.
Read your sales letter with “new eyes” from your potential customers’ point of view, and see what you can REMOVE from your sales letter to increase its effectiveness.
Think of it this way: Your potential prospect is like a scared rabbit who has been attacked in the past by all types of marketing predators. Have you ever tried to catch a frightened animal you were trying to help that thought you were the enemy? It’s tough!
The only way you can hope to succeed is to quietly, carefully convince the rabbit that you’re approaching it to try and help, that you’re not a predator. It takes patience. It takes soothing talk.
Every false or questionable claim, every boorish statement, every push for a sale that’s not in step with the natural selling progression will send your “rabbit” high-tailing it for the hills, and for good reason.
To your success, Tim Gross
P.S. – Everything I talk about presumes you are selling a worthwhile product that will enhance your customers’ lives in some way. If you’re not, no amount of marketing techniques will keep you succeeding for long.