In the many years I’ve operated my own IT support business, I’ve used many different marketing strategies to generate new clients. You name it, I’ve probably tried it… cold-calling, business networking, yellow page ads, trade shows, flyers, post-card campaigns and more.
Some things have definitely been more effective than others, but nothing I’ve ever tried has come remotely close to the effectiveness I’ve had when I sent out a professionally written sales letter as part of a direct mail marketing campaign.
Yeah, I know what you’re probably saying… “When I get junk mail in the mailbox, it goes straight in the trash. No one reads that stuff.”
I know, you are probably doubtful. Most consultants I’ve spoken to on this subject automatically think that when people get these letters in their mailboxes, they automatically throw them away – what’s the point of sending a letter when no one is going to even read it.
In all honesty, I used to feel the exact same way. Many years ago, I tried to do a mailing of 500 letters I wrote myself, along with what I felt was a very nicely designed flyer. When I got exactly ZERO responses, I thought, “what an incredible waste of time and money.”
Well, I’ve since discovered I did a lot of things wrong in that first mailing – and when I got them right, the responses were much, much better.
The first goal of an effective direct mail campaign is to actually GET YOUR LETTER READ! This isn’t going to happen if your envelope gives off any hint that there might be a sales message lurking inside.
Think about a stack of mail sitting in your hand. The envelopes with a nice printed logo and your address neatly printed by machine directly on the envelope, along with “postage paid” or pre-printed postage in the upper-right corner… probably junk, right?
But what about that plain white envelope with your name and address hand written, the return address also hand written, and a regular postage stamp in the corner? “Who’s this from?”, you wonder.
Not only do you open that envelope, but you probably open it first, before any of your other mail.
Phase one accomplished. Your letter is opened – and now it has to do its job of making your reader actually read it – from beginning to end.
Just about every effective sales letter ever written follows a basic formula called A.I.D.A.
A - Get their Attention – This is done in the headline of your letter. It is said that 80% of people who don’t read a headline will never read past it. So you need to have a compelling headline which makes the reader want to know a little more, so they continue into the first paragraph. Then the first paragraph has one job only… to make them read the next paragraph. And then repeat with the second paragraph, and so on.
I - Gain their Interest – Is what you’re saying of interest to your reader? For this to happen, you have to make sure that besides being well written, your letter needs to be in the hands of a properly targeted prospect. There’s no point in sending a letter promoting your Managed Support Services to a sculptor who doesn’t even own a computer, let alone a computer network.
If your letter is being read by someone who can use your services, you can speak directly to their needs and they will continue to read your letter with interest.
D - Generate Desire – You’ve shown them that you understand their needs. Now you need to make them an offer they’d be crazy to pass up.
A - Get them to take Action! – You’ve made a fantastic offer. What do you want them to do next? Call you? Visit your website and enter their email? Fill out a card and send it back? Whatever it is you want them to do next, make sure you make it clear and easy for them to take that next step.
What needs to be done to maximize the effectiveness of your sales letter is to do some basic follow-up. This can be done most effectively by making a simple phone call. Unlike a regular cold-call though, the sales letter follow-up call is easy, because the letter itself did all the selling.
When you call, either the prospect is already interested, in which case the conversation continues and you move on to the next step in your sales process, for example setting them up with a free trial of your managed service… or they’ve already decided they don’t want your service, in which case you simply say “bye-bye, thanks and have a nice day.”
If you want to create a direct mail campaign and would like to take a shot at writing a sales letter yourself, I can recommend the following books and resources to get you started:
* “Scientific Advertising” - by Claude Hopkins – This classic book is widely available for free in the public domain. Do a quick Google search to find a downloadable copy.
* “Tested Advertising Methods” – by John Caples
* “Ca$hvertising” – by Drew Eric Whitman
* For some of the most useful, informative, valuable and entertaining information you’ll ever find on marketing, please read Gary Halbert’s newsletters which you will also find for free on his website www.thegaryhalbertletter.com
Of course, if you don’t have the time to learn how to write an effective sales letter yourself, you can always hire a professional copywriter to take on the task for you. Experienced, proven copywriters don’t come cheap, but assuming you choose your copywriter wisely, the returns will be well worth the investment.
You see, a sales letter is very much like taking your perfected sales pitch and delivering it flawlessly to hundreds or even thousands of targeted prospects simultaneously, without the possibility of human error getting in the way of the delivery of the message.
Deliver the right message and the results can be astounding.