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Sales Letters

Aim:
This slideshowpage is to help you write sales letters.

On this page:  Content; language, example letter, exercise.

Content

Sales letters aim to stimulate the interest of prospective clients in the product or service being promoted. A sales letter can be accompanied by a brochure that provides more information. Most sales letters are unsolicited, so the receiver might not be interested in reading them. To motivate the reader, the content and language of the letter have to be well thought out.

This section focuses on what information to include in sales letters, and examines the following techniques for planning the content of sales letters:

  1. Mention the advantage or benefit early in the letter
  2. Provide news of interest to the reader
  3. Arouse interest/curiosity
  4. Be relevant
  5. Elaborate what the product can do

Mention the advantage or benefit early in the letter
It is important to know what the selling points of the product/service are. These are often made clear at the beginning of the letter to keep the receiver reading. Example vocabulary includes convenient, user-friendly, high-quality, value for money, economical, affordable and stylish.

Provide news of interest to the reader
Another way to keep the reader reading is to provide news of interest to the reader.
In general, the selling points of a product/service should be in line with human needs and wants. For example, say that your product or service will save customers’ time or money – two types of human needs or wants. For instance: 'Enjoy playing mobile games on the bus? Play and learn at the same time with our English language learning games! '

Arouse interest/curiosity
An effective way to start a sales letter is to arouse the readers’ interest/curiosity. The purpose of this is to keep them reading your letter. An example is 'Are you paying too much for your...?'

Be relevant
The content of the letter has to be relevant to the right person at the right time and appeal to the person’s self-interest. It does not, however, always have to be clever. Clever attempts to make your writing funny or entertaining are often of no interest to the reader.

Elaborate what the product can do
Most customers care about what the product can do for them more than the technicalities of the product. For example, most mobile phone users are more interested in the functions of the phone than in its hardware specifications.

Language

In this section, the following characteristics of the language of sales letters will be examined:

  1. Customer-centredness
  2. Positive expressions
  3. Personal and informal tone
  4. Being easy to understand
  5. Rhetorical questions
  6. Interesting adjectives
  7. Making follow-up action sound easy
  8. The Imperative

Customer-centredness
It is important to write from the point of view of the customer. You can be more successful if you understand things from your customer’s point of view. Promotional materials aim to appeal directly to the reader. They often use ‘you/your’ and ‘we’ words rather than more distant words (e.g. ‘the user’, ‘the ticket’).

Positive expressions
Positive expressions are often more persuasive than negative ones in sales letters. Here are some examples:

Instead of saying “Don’t waste your hard-earned money”, you could say “Save your hard-earned money”.

Instead of saying “We are offering a 15% discount. Don’t be late because this promotion period will end next month”, say “This month you can enjoy a 15% discount”.

Personal and informal tone
Write in more or less the way you talk. This does not mean that the writing should be disorganised like casual chats. A sales letter is more or less like talking to the reader in a friendly, informal but well-organised manner.

Being easy to understand

  1. Write simple sentences to make reading easy.
  2. Say what you have to say and no more: make each word count.
  3. Choose simple words and expressions and avoid jargon when writing to the general public. You could consider using a few technical terms if you are writing only to experts; but avoid using too many.
     

Rhetorical questions
Rhetorical questions are questions that do not expect or require an answer. They are often used in sales letters, especially in the first paragraph, to motivate the reader to read on. Here are two examples of such questions:

Do you dream of owning your own home but are worried about the monthly mortgage payments?

Are you tired of having to pay bills by post?

As an alternative, writing an answer, an assertion or even a further question immediately after a rhetorical question can sometimes be even more motivating or persuasive.

Here is an example of an assertion added to a question:

Have you ever despaired of finding serviced apartments which provide personalised but affordable services? If so, we have the answer to your quest for the perfect hotel-style apartment.

Here is an example of a further question added to an initial question:

Are you paying too much for your office furniture? Why overpay for essential fixtures and fittings in the workplace when you wouldn’t knowingly overpay at home?

Interesting adjectives
Another way to motivate the reader to read on is to use interesting adjectives. Here are some examples:

A fantastic, ultra-modern meeting room with state-of-the-art equipment.

A brand new concept in professional financial advice for those who demand personalised services and facilities of the highest standard.

A thirst-quenching, low-calorie, sparkling, new energy-giving drink
 

Making follow-up action sound easy
Make the prospective client feel that everything is very easy by using words like “just” and “simply”. Here are some examples of emphasising that further action is easy and straightforward.

Just call 98765432 and ask for Dorothy.

All you have to do is email me the form.

Simply visit our show room in Times Square.

The Imperative
This is a particularly lively language style often used in sales letters, especially for the ending of the letter. It encourages the reader to act in the requested way. In these two sentences there are five examples of the imperative.

Book a weekend package today and show your wife how much you care!

Make sure you’re on the right track to fitness – drop in and have a FREE ‘Fitness Consultation’ today.

 


Example letter

Business Asia Review
G.P.O. Box 123
Hong Kong
30 March 2010

Dear Executive

Business intelligence that you need

The rise of China is changing our world. If you want to be among those savvy savvy few in the business world who profit from Asia’s power, you need a reliable, on-the-ground, round-the-clock source of intelligence.

The REVIEW delivers you all of Asia’s business investment, marketing and sales information every week.

Let the REVIEW work for you and you’ll get:

  • the advice of 100 experts with deep roots in Asia;
  • an extensive business and political network that guarantees you the valuable insights and sound sound predictions you need;
  • solid solid tips on what works and what doesn’t – and most importantly why;
  • plus a Special on China – every week.

Act within 10 days and you will get a free gift of your choice plus an exceptional 80% discount!

Sincerely

Jonathan Watson

Jonathan Watson
Marketing Manager

Definitions:
savvy = knowledgeable (informal)
sound = reliable
solid = reliable

 

 

Instructions:

  • Choose parts of the letter from the Contents column to build the sales letter in the Letter column.
  • Click the 'Show Feedback' button at the bottom to see comments on your letter.

Contents

Letter

  1. Position of your address:
  2. Position of date:
  3. Format of date:
  4. Salutation:
  5. Subject Heading Content:
  6. Paragraph Style:
  7. Arouse interest/curiosity with a question:
  8. Provide news of interest to the reader - human needs, time, money:
  9. Rhetorical questions - ask and follow up:
  10. Customer-centredness:
  11. Formality: personal and informal tone:
    But isn't this annoying? No: it's informative; e.g. "You are going the right way if you see Fortune Tours on your left".
    This is not annoying to drivers because it provides them with route confirmation information.
    Such route confirmation information is deemed useful by planners.
    Route confirmation information conforms to journey completion guidelines.
  12. Interesting adjectives:
    It's , affordable, and a great way to attract customers.
  13. Making follow-up action sound easy:
    call Mary on 9876 5432 and she will set everything up for you, or do it all online at www.satnavshopper.com
  14. The Imperative:
    today for a week's free service. Don't miss out!
  15. Sign off:
    David Choi
  16. Job title:
SatNavShopper
172 Choi Hung Road
Hung Hom, Hong Kong
Tel/Fax: 2235 2459

 

Last updated on: Monday, January 19, 2015