Whether it be a personal letter or direct mail letter, it has to capture and hold attention, spell out your sales message simply and clearly, and be interesting and easy to read.
Some basic rules to remember are:
Use short sentences and short paragraphs: if you have to use longer sentences, use dashes to separate long passages into easy-to-read sections.
Never use negatives: Always phrase your message in a positive way. For example, a letter which begins “Inflation is destroying your hard-earned dollars – where can you find a safe investment?” will not be nearly as successful as one which begins “Our changing economy is creating new opportunities for the astute investor.”
Talk one-to-one: Write as though your letter is directed to the reader and no one else. Use the word “you” in the first sentence.
Make sure the salutation is appropriate: If you don’t know a customer’s name, use an appropriate salutation such as Dear Valued Customer. Avoid Dear Sir or Dear Madam. This merely highlights the fact that you don’t know who you are sending the letter to.
Highlight the benefits: Remember, the customer is asking “what’s in it for me?”.
Use headings well: Put the benefits into headings and sub-headings and repeat them again in the copy. Always use the major benefit in the headline of the letter.
State the offer and the price: Tell the reader how much they are being asked to spend and tell them what good value you’re offering. Ask for a response.
Don’t generalise: Use examples, names and even quotes. Quote figures or statistics to make your message even more credible.
Write in rhythm: Read your letter aloud to make sure it flows well and reads the way you hear it in your mind.
Using a PS: There is a theory that says that a reader’s eye will travel from the headline to the PostScript and then back up to read the letter body, all in a matter of seconds. The PS is therefore very important in encouraging the reader to continue. It can be a repeat of the offer in different terms, an extension of the offer, or a command for the reader to do something, with a sense of urgency.