Here's my promise to you:
When you are finished reading this article, you will be able to write a direct mail letter that gets your readers to do whatever you want them to do.
That's a big promise. And I can back it up. If YOU do YOUR part.
Your part assumes you actually have something worthwhile to offer. And you have to be offering it to the right people. You can't sell steak to vegetarians.
So I am going to assume two things: Your product is worthwhile and you know who will buy it.
But how are you going to sell it to them? Let's write your letter, right now . . .
Your Opening Line
There are many ways to open. You could use a variety of human motivations -- like fear, greed, guilt, hope, frustration, etc. They can all work.
But in my 23 years writing direct mail, here is the best opening I've ever written . . .
"Here's my promise to you:"
That opening absolutely forces you to start strong with your letter. And it force communicates a benefit-oriented message to your readers that they will not ignore.
Immediately follow the line with bullet points of your promise. So, for example, here's what an opening for a music school would look like:
Dear Ms. Jones: Here's my promise to you:
- In one week, you will be able to play "Moonlight Sonata" on the piano
- It will cost you nothing to try
- And I will send you a FREE music book -- "The World's Greatest Love Songs" -- just for saying "YES!" to my offer today
Now, if Ms. Jones is in your target market, this opening will hook her.
So use "Here's my promise to you" and back it up with benefit-oriented statements. Make sure you concentrate on the reader's self-interest. Examples of other bullets are:
- You will save $2,000 when you buy your next car from us
- You will lose 30 pounds in 30 days
- Your business will gain a new client by next weekend
See what I mean? If you know what your prospects want, all you have to do is dangle it in front of them. Be specific, make your promises, prove you can deliver, and they will respond.
And as much as you can, try to open with the strongest EMOTION your prospect is experiencing right now.
Are they angry? Promise to get them sweet revenge.
Are they frustrated? Promise the secret solution.
Are they fearful? Promise security.
As long as you can back it up, go for the jugular . . . greed . . . happiness . . . hope . . . love . . . passion . . . and all those feelings that make us human.
How a Client of Mine Wasted Their Money
I recently wrote a direct mail fundraising letter for a new client of mine. It was written to donors who had given the previous year, and the letter asked them to give again.
Here was my opening:
- "It's amazing what you've done."
The letter went on to explain all the good the donor's previous gift did in the lives of the children this particular organization helped.
But here's what the client changed it to:
- "It's amazing what we've done."
Then they went on to pat themselves on the back about all the things they did for the under served children of the community.
And that self-reward was the only reward they got -- because the mailing bombed.
No wonder. People give money to organizations to feel good about what their money is doing for causes they care about. And the cause is not the organization. The cause is the benefit that results from the effort. In this case, the well-being of children.
Don't make the same mistake.
So – Now – Back to You and Your Letter
You've got your opening and your bullet promises. Follow that up with a statement of how other people have tried your product or service and have experienced great results.
To our example prospect Ms. Jones, we would say something like:
Thousands of people – people just like you and me – who have tried and failed to learn a musical instrument – have started playing their first song within seven days.
Their secret? Our new "How to Play the Piano Super Study Course."
I'm making another assumption here: You plan on telling the truth. Don't make up a bunch of baloney. You know your product or service. Use the truth and sell it well.
Okay, we've hooked Ms. Jones – now reel her in. Use this transition:
Here's What You'll Get
"Here's what you'll get" is one of the all-time great lines – if not THE all-time great. Because that's what everybody wants to know – what do I get?
It never gets old and will outlive the cockroach.
Again, back it up with bullet points. So our example continues:
Here's what you'll get:
- The secrets to reading music in minutes
- The one-trick professionals use to play a song they've never seen before
- How to build your muscle memory to get your fingers to play the keyboard as you read the sheet music
And so on.
Apply this formula to your product or service. You have something to sell – so sell it!
If you're talking to the right people . . . and you are making them the right offer . . . THEY WILL WANT TO DO WHAT YOU WANT THEM TO DO.
So just tell them what that is:
Remind them of your main benefits. Sweeten the offer and give them a deadline. Urge immediate action and promise a quick response. Like this:
Return the enclosed postage-free reply card by January 16 and you'll get an additional free booklet, ‘Learn the Piano While Working, Playing, Relaxing, or Resting.'
All orders are processed the day they are received -- but supplies are limited, so act now.
Tell them what to do, and if you've done your job early in the letter, they'll do it.
Direct Mail is YOU
It's one-on-one. You're not competing with eight other commercials. There aren't a dozen other ads on the page. There's not another web site to click away to.
Right now they hold YOU in their hands, just you.
Now's your chance. Write it. Send it out.
Yes, go ahead and steal this letter. I've used this formula a bunch of times. It works like gangbusters. It will work for you, too.
And let me know how you do. I want to hear about your results.
Because they'll be yours. Guaranteed.
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