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Sales letters.. soft sell or hard sell?


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#1 Aaron

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Posted 23 April 2003 - 08:12 AM

Hi All,

In the process of developing some new marketing materials and we're at the sales letter writing stage to compliment the marketing package.

In sending out a few letters to associates to get their opinion on the style and context of the letter and whether they beleive it would invoke an action, etc.

2 of them came back with something like this:

Challenge the reader with an offer too hard to resist.


In your letter you need to reduce your verbage by 50%. It needs to flow
into a decision - to call you, visit or web site or take you up on your offer.
You want the opportunity to prove your system works - not teach them about it. Period.


"I never realized how much business there was on the internet until..."

"Dollar for Dollar .... my web site gives me the most bang for my buck"

"You Don't Know What Your're Missing
Until You See What You Are Getting"

.....you get the idea.....


Once you suck them in show them the business solution:


(do a chart)


Before Martek After Martek

(Brand Your Proposition)

The Martek WEB PROFIT ACCELERATOR program is based
on years of developing and refining web sites for Canadian
corporations large and small. We've learned through trial
and error what works and why. We want to share that
experience with you so that your web site will generate
more sales, requests and referrals.


Now.. my initial thoughts on this was that this is too gimicky. All hype and no substance. Goes for the hard sell, etc.

I don't know.. what do people think about gimicky, hard sells? I don't I don't respond well to them. When I get letters like that I generally think an amateur has done it or its an amateur that is in business.

I respond well to sales letter that come across in a warming, welcoming tone, sound professional and go for a soft-medium sell as opposed to a hard sell.

Thoughts?

If you think I should attach the mock-up letters I've proposed to these associates I'm willing to do so.

Thanks all.

Regards,

Aaron

#2 peter_d

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Posted 23 April 2003 - 07:43 PM

I don't know.. what do people think about gimicky, hard sells? I don't I don't respond well to them. When I get letters like that I generally think an amateur has done it or its an amateur that is in business.


Bang-on.

First establish your audience. Who are they? What do they do? What problems are they currently having to deal with?

The answers to those questions will dicatate your tone and approach.

Hard-sell doesn't tend to work with high-priced services because the audience is more interested in managing risk than cutting the cheapest deal. They want to know what problem *of theirs* you are going to solve and wether you can deliver it.

The key is to identify their needs. Look at what they are doing wrong, and if you have a solution for it, offer it. Make it very specific to them. Then, make the final paragraph a call to action - what you want them to do next.

If you've correctly identified their problem, and have the ability to solve it, you'll get the customer and you won't have to cut your price, or risk your reputation, to do it.

#3 Guest_scottiecl_*

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Posted 23 April 2003 - 08:54 PM

The golden rule for selling: Know thy audience.

As Peter_D says, you need to solve a problem or create a need. At a quick glance, it looks like you are targeting corporations. Within that corporation, who is the decison maker? Who is the decision influencer? Sales dept? Marketing Dept? Tech Dept? Accounting? CEO?

Tailor the benefits and the wording to things that appeal to your decision maker.

My favorite example is Tivo. Basically, it is a box that lets you record TV digitally. So what? Then you add in that it can find and automatically record your favorite programs, or anything with your favorite actor in it. It can remove commercials and reorganize your tv-watching so that you can watch 5 episodes of The Sopranos or The Simpsons in a row if you want. There are a number of other features, but the benefit they honed in on was pause live TV. Their audience was clearly men 18-45 who watch a lot of sports. They didn't confuse their message with anything else, they focused on pause live TV and related it to interruptions in sporting events.

They took a new and relatively feature-rich product and finely tuned their message to the customer who controls most electronic purchases and they sold a lot of little black boxes.

#4 Peter

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Posted 24 April 2003 - 12:26 AM

I'm going to do this fast. Please forgive me if I come off as blunt toward you. It's not personal - it's the way I get a lot done. (BS-I'm old and I've earned the "right" to be grumpy).

Hi All,

In the process of developing some new marketing materials and we're at the sales letter writing stage to compliment the marketing package.


No, you're not. You're not at the writing stage. You're at the stage of doing research and preparation for writing a letter.

Start with a fact sheet, (book). Write down every fact about what you're selling. How much does it cost? How long have you been in business. How many employees are there.

Every fact you can come up with. 10 - 15 pages. Fact after fact after fact.

Now, you're ready for a benefits list. For every fact - write a benefit to the buyer. "3 employees" might be the fact and the benefit? "Low overhead and we pass the savings on to the buyer".

When you're done with that, you can build your offer. The foundation work is where you'll find the "You would be a fool to say no" offer. You're building value. "Benefit, benefit, benefit, benefit is what we'll do for you and all we want in exchange is a billion dollars". Otherwise, you might offer to "build a website" and the counter to that would be: "I've got a fifteen year old nephew who does that for six bucks an hour."

See? Writing sales copy is easy, isn't it? (Told ya - grumpy). : )

In sending out a few letters to associates to get their opinion on the style and context of the letter and whether they beleive it would invoke an action, etc.

2 of them came back with something like this:

Challenge the reader with an offer too hard to resist.


Not a bad thought.


In your letter you need to reduce your verbage by 50%.  


Maybe in reference to your specific letter and in your specific situation, but I doubt it. Long copy sells more 'stuff', when it's done right. Sorry, I know lots of people don't think so, but it's true - I don't get paid by the number of words in a piece, either. Lots of people will tell you all about their version of "why" long copy won't sell. Don't take my word for it. Check it out for yourself. Don't accept conjecture or junk logic from me or anyone else - check out the facts. Maybe long copy is right for this situation and maybe a shorter letter would be fine.

It needs to flow
into a decision - to call you, visit or web site or take you up on your offer.
You want the opportunity to prove your system works - not teach them about it.  Period.


True as far as not educating in a sales situation is concerned.
Well, that other statement is too general for you, I'll bet. "Prove your system works". Establish credibility and believability is, perhaps what the person intended to say.

That comes from details, specifics - facts and figures and testimonials.

"I never realized how much business there was on the internet until..."

"Dollar for Dollar .... my web site gives me the most bang for my buck"

"You Don't Know What Your're Missing
Until You See What You Are Getting"

.....you get the idea.....


Once you suck them in show them the business solution:


(do a chart)


That's death to your presentation. Suck no person into anything. Write absolute truth or your sales literature won't work and your presentations will be flat. It will haunt you if you draw people in on empty hyperbole. You'll be selling air. No substance - no sale. (No sleep, either. Unless you have no concience).

Now, did you write that 10 - 15 page list of facts and benefits? Of course not. You're reading this and just starting to see why that list has context in all of this fun. : )


Before Martek     After Martek

(Brand Your Proposition)

The Martek WEB PROFIT ACCELERATOR program is based
on years of developing and refining web sites for Canadian
corporations large and small.  We've learned through trial
and error what works and why.  We want to share that  
experience with you so that your web site will generate
more sales, requests and referrals.


Now.. my initial thoughts on this was that this is too gimicky. All hype and no substance. Goes for the hard sell, etc.


I would say that's accurate thinking. Until, that is, you tell me which Canadian corporations. So, what does work, exactly? Why does that work? Share? You want to share? Is that like one a them group hugs er something? How 'bout; "I want your money"? Nothin' wrong in that. "We have an absolutely brilliant offer we want you to pay for". That's no secret. "Fair is fair", as 'they' say.

I don't know.. what do people think about gimicky, hard sells? I don't I don't respond well to them. When I get letters like that I generally think an amateur has done it or its an amateur that is in business.

I respond well to sales letter that come across in a warming, welcoming tone, sound professional and go for a soft-medium sell as opposed to a hard sell.


What does your market respond to? What does your market respond to? What does your market...

Thoughts?


Occasionally, but sometimes I just ramble on and on... : )

Honestly, you're in a tough spot, I imagine. You're the guy that everyone around you is glad to give advice to and happy as all get out that it's your mission and not theirs.

I feel for you, man. Not enought that a group hug would cross my mind, but I'm on your side, none the less.


Peter

#5 bragadocchio

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Posted 24 April 2003 - 01:20 AM

Excellent post, Peter!

Every fact you can come up with. 10 - 15 pages. Fact after fact after fact.



This works. It works well. It works so well that you should stop reading this. I'm going to stop writing so that you'll get on with it.

#6 peter_d

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Posted 24 April 2003 - 01:41 AM

Nice one, Peter. "Facts, benefits and truth"

A grand plan....

#7 Aaron

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Posted 24 April 2003 - 08:28 AM

Wow,

Great advice and comments all. When its spelled out, it always seems to simple but doing at times and we get confused.

Prior to the comments I just read, I had re-drafted my letter yesterday and attached is what I have created.

Your comments would be greatly appreciated. Networking Marketing has ALWAYS been my strong suit - I can sell ice to an Eskimo but crafting sales letters always make me feel sleezy at times because I don't like coming across with hard sells I often think that's how my letter are preceived when in fact they're probably no sell *chuckles*

Document is in PDF for convenience.

Thanks all.

Aaron

NOTE: removed link because it appeared people were just downloading it without giving any feedback.

I would appreciate the feedback on the letter, however, the letter isn't for others to "copy" for themselves in their marketing efforts which is why believe some may be doing.

Sorry.

#8 bragadocchio

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Posted 25 April 2003 - 07:07 PM

I looked at the letter, but didn't respond about it earlier.

It still seemed a bit over the top to me. I think that mostly had to do with it being broken into a number of sections with headers.

I'm used to a much softer sell. But I still want to know how something might benefit me.


I hope that after reading this thread, that no one is just grabbing a copy of the letter and changing the name, and trying to adopt it as their own. A good sales letter does require the type of effort that Peter describes above.

Just copying someone else's isn't really doing what you want.

Sell your services, sell your self, and create a business relationship that may last beyond a single transaction. One that may lead to referrals to others.

Mix the formal with the slightly informal. Show your human side. Show how you can help, and give your potential customer the truth.



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