If you are having a heart to heart conversation for 10 to 30 minutes with a prospect, what would you say to them?
Would you start with: Who you are, what you do, how long you have been doing that, how good you are and how their life will change if they hire you?
Or would you start with: Here is the problem most people have. Here is how the problem hurts. Here is the underlying issue behind the problem. Here is how most people try to solve the problem. Here is why most make-shift solutions fail to solve the problem. Here is how people get hurt when the make-shift solution fail to solve the problem.
You see, your solution does not matter until they have bought in to the problem. A patient will not comply with a treatment plan unless the own the disease. So it is the doctor's job to share the diagnosis, current trajectory of disease, what will happen if this is ignored, what will happen when this gets worse, what treatment options we have available today... and therefore, it is prudent to do the following.
A sales letter is a letter that SELLS. A sales letter starts and end the conversation the prospect wants to have with you. A sales letter facilitates a meaningful conversation between your brand and your prospect in an asynchronous environment, at the prospect's convenient time and place. All you have to do is identify the right prospect, acquire the permission to share the sales letter, sell them on the concept of reading the sales letter (or listening to audio version or watching a video version) and take appropriate action after reading the letter.
I am not a copy writer, but I am a competent copy buyer. I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of my client's money and my own money to buy ink that sells.
As I am writing this article, I am on a mission to build a mathematical model that examine external elements of a sales letter (other than the actual copy) that makes the campaign successful or a failure. I am forecasting this to be about a 1000 hour project. I wish to collect over 1000 specimens of sales letters and develop a rubric of success/failure, key success factors, key failure factors and develop a theory of what makes a sales letter successful.
There is a lot of research done on the anatomy of the sales letter, persuasive writing framework and choosing the right words. That is not my area of interest. I intend to study the external, non-copy elements that make a sales letter 'rock' or 'suck'.
For this reason, I studied about two dozen artifacts shared by my two beloved copywriters (Dan Kennedy and Russell Martino) to develop the following 8 segment framework of a sales letter. Naturally, prior to writing the sales letter, the business strategist and the writer must complete the sales strategy exercise and articulate the sales arguments... but that goes without saying:
- You have a problem
- It used to be a problem, but now the problem is worse
- You know it is a problem, it is keeping you awake at night
- Here is how you have tried to solve the problem
- Your own attempts
- So called solutions in the market place
- Here is how the make-shift 'solution' fail to solve your problem
- Here is how you get hurt when those make-shift solutions fail.
- Here is the social proof that those make-shift solutions fail.
- Why you fail: The ROOT CAUSE of the problem that no one talks about
- What is the 'real problem' and how it is 'not your fault'
- The REAL villein is _____. This is the fault line.
- You never looked at it that way. It's not what you are trained to do.
- You BUY what you feel like the right thing to buy/do
- You are not alone
- Everyone in your shoes have this exact problem
- Everyone in your shoes with this problem try to solve it this way
- Everyone in your shoes with this problem who try to solve it this way fail the same way
- The problem is for real, solutions... not so real.
- Your turning point: Fortunately for you, I am here.
- I have seen this problem before.
- I have solved this problem before.
- Here is my back story. Here is where I have seen it.
- Because of my unique back story, I have a unique way of solving the problem
- It's going to be OK. We will do this together. I will help you
- I have clients just like you who solved this problem using my process
- You can do it too... and you don't have to spend any money or do any hard work
- Call-to-Action: <Do This... and watch it in action>
- Risk reversal: This may or may not work for you. It is not for everyone.
- Defining your tripwire (Here is what we will do together. It only takes so much time, it only costs so much money.)
- trivialize risk: If all it does is <...> will it be worth it to you?
- Post signature:
- PS: State the big bold promise here
- PPS: State the problem, how it hurts and how it will get worse as time goes by
- PPPS: Remember, you can take action now by ...