The body copy is the meat of the sales letter. It is where you present the reader your offer, hopefully in a manner that he or she will react to in the way you want (usually by placing an order).
Getting it to work right involves a lot of planning, logic, creative skill and editing. Here are some tips that can help you find the right words to get the customer response you desire.
- Write to an individual, not to an audience. Don’t think of yourself as addressing thousands of people; write the letter as you would to one person and remember, only one person at a time is reading it.
- Tell a story. Use a human interest story to get and keep the customer’s attention.
- Write in haste, edit at leisure. Write down everything that comes into your head. Later you can cut and paste, pencil in, and cross out words to your heart’s content.
- Make your sales letter as personal as possible. Use ‘you’ a lot. But there are exceptions. If you are appealing to an upscale audience, you might play down the ‘you’ factor.
- Write in conversational English. Don’t try to write like a author.
- Don’t assume your reader knows everything you do. They may be intelligent, but they may not know the subject.
- Don’t ‘write down’ to the reader. Instead, know enough about them to write in their language.
- Be willing to bend some rules of English. Rules like never ending a sentence with a preposition can be ignored, which will make your copy sound much more natural and human.
- Make it appealing to the eye. Format your letter so that the reader can take it in small bites. Short paragraphs, wide margins, and lots of white space make a letter much easier to read.
- Avoid too much text on any page. Pages full of text, especially long paragraphs, overwhelm the reader.
- Use bullets. Bullets are the best way to get a lot of information across in a eye pleasing way. Plus, customers tend to read and reread bullets.
- Keep it interesting. Your letter is not a technical manual; don’t make it sound like one.
- Stress benefits, not features. Customers are more interested in what the product will do for them than they are in the product’s features.
- Keep the letter ‘you’ oriented. Tell the readers the things they want to know, instead of the things you want to say.
- Know who you are writing to. It makes a difference whether you are writing to men or women, young or older, poor or rich.
- Lead your reader through the letter. Use short sentences, pauses, and bullets to draw your reader deeper into your letter.
- Make sure the copy flows. If there is a stopping point in the letter, customers will get off the train (of thought). Once they get off the train, it will be hard to get them back aboard.
- Keep it friendly and nonthreatening. Write as if you were talking to a good friend.
- Keep it in first person perspective. If you begin writing in the first person, keep it that way throughout the letter.
- Keep it simple. Don’t use big words, long sentences, or lengthy paragraphs. Your letter is not a college lecture.
- Entertain while you educate. Make reading your letters a pleasant experience, and people will follow along from page to page, until the very end.
- Break paragraphs at the bottom of a page to create cliff hangers. Give your reader a reason to go to the next page by forcing him to turn the page to finish a cliff hanger paragraph.
- Use action words and sentences. Action makes your letter come alive.
- paint word pictures by using phrases that create an image in the customer’s mind.
- Avoid coming across as sterile or impersonal. Don’t make your letters sound as if they were written by a machine.
- Be believable. Don’t make outrageous claims. Your claims should be backed up by proof, fully explained in your copy.
- Be logical. Make sure your presentation follows a logical progression.
- Be complete. include everything the customer will want to know about your product.
- Arouse a desire. People buy what they want, not what they need.
- Eliminate reader roadblocks. Don’t include anything that will cause the reader to stop reading or put the letter down. Once they do this, you’ve lost them forever!
- Eliminate objectionable words or phrases. some writers unwittingly alienate their readers by using slang or coarse words or phrases that are offensive to others.
- Eliminate long and confusing paragraphs or sentences. If you can’t say it simply, don’t say it at all.
- Eliminate extra words. Listen carefully as you have an associate read the letter aloud, and then remove any word or phrase that causes the reader to stumble or question its meaning.
- Use testimonials. Include what others have said about your products, using their name or at least their initials, plus home town and state.
- Say enough to sell. A sales letter should be long enough to say it all. From 1 to 20 pages or more. It’s not long copy if the reader is interested.
- Don’t be too brief. A short sales letter may not do your product justice.
- Don’t ask stupid questions. “Doesn’t this sound great?” This kind of question gives your potential customer the perfect opportunity to say “No.”
- Give each sentence in your sales letter the ‘so what?’ test. If you can’t come up with a good answer to ‘so what?’ after a sentence, it’s weak. Rewrite it or remove it.
- Vary the length of your paragraphs. Short ones interspersed with longer ones make the reading more interesting.
- Be specific. When making claims or providing information, be specific. Don’t round off numbers. Numbers like 87% are more believable than ‘over 80%.’
- Tie together logical threads. If you have a very low price but it only comes in one color, tie it in, i.e. “Sorry, no other colors offered at this low price.”
- If the price is high, use it as a benefit. You might say, “This product is obviously not for everyone, only those who can afford the best.”
- Don’t overlook the mention of the free offer or premium. Adding freebies and premiums really enhances the value of your product, but only if you write about them!
Consider mentioning it near the beginning of your sales letter, or even in the headline.
- Consider giving a free gift even if the customer doesn’t order. This gives customers a reason to call, and many will go ahead and order when they do get someone on the phone.
- Sell quality, not price. Don’t be tempted to compete on price. When selling through the mail, quality and availability are the issues. Make sure your price doesn’t cause customers to question your quality.
- Use emotional words, not intellectual ones. Most decisions are made for emotional reasons, not intellectual.
- Cut out that ambiguous, anonymous ‘they’ in your letters. Write “I’ll send it to you,” rather than “the merchandise will be sent.”
- Watch the ‘we-ness.’ Too much ‘we’ and not enough ‘you’ can cause people to stop reading. Write the letter about your reader, not you.
- Connective phrases are much used in direct mail... phrases such as “but that’s not all,” or “but wait, there’s more.”
- Put the benefits first. Most experts agree you’ve got to hook ’em in the first half dozen words. Immediately tell the reader how he is going to benefit.
- Enlarge on the benefits. Tell the reader what he’s going to get and then back up the statements with proof such as endorsements.
- If you’re selling a book, readers don’t care how old the book is. They’re not even buying the book itself, but what it will do to improve their lives.
- Tell them what they will lose... what they’ll miss out on. Rephrase your best benefit in the closing, seeking to incite immediate action.
- And tell them what they’ll miss... not just what benefits the product has, but the things in life they’ll miss out on if they don’t buy.
- Tell the reader how to order. (Simple advice, but you’d be amazed at how many sales letters don’t explain how to place an order!)
- Make it easy to act. Don’t make the reader sort through a bunch of classifications and instructions. Get them to say yes, then explain all the complications.
- Clearly state that you accept credit cards, and which ones. We usually say, “Order today with Visa, MasterCard, or American Express, by calling...”
- Offer Next Day Air shipping. It adds credibility to your offer, and customers like knowing they can get the product immediately.
- When sending out expensive packages, it’s often wise to make it harder to act, to qualify the customer and keep from wasting money on curiosity seekers.
- Tell the reader what to do. Suggest the action to take. Your letter has to lead them to it. You must literally ask for the order.
- Stress the need for immediate response, and give a credible reason why.
- Make it easier to act by enclosing a business reply or envelope or a reply card with the customer’s name already filled in and just requires the prospect to “initial here.”
- Promise you’ll respond quickly, using phrases such as “I’ll rush the offer to you,” or “It’ll be in tomorrow’s mail.”
- Don’t forget the three times rule: state an important point in the beginning, in the middle and again at the end.
- Don’t forget the last chance appeal, such as “This is your last chance to buy this fine plate at this low price.”
- Ask for action. The letter should end with a call for action to keep them from fizzling out. Tell the reader what to do. Don’t be afraid to tell the customer how to order your product.
- Refer back to the headline, when you get to the end of the letter. That’s the point that first caught the reader’s attention.
- Always include a post script. Even if your customer doesn’t read the body of your letter, he almost always will read the P. S. Make it work for you.
- Add a P.P.S. A second post script gets attention, and gives you extra room to give your customer a reason to read the rest of your sales letter.
- When you ask for the order, repeat the offer. If your offer includes lots of premiums, repeat them with a bulleted list when you ask for the order. This way the customer knows what he is getting.
- Inject some personality into your letter. Be friendly, try to get across the personality of your company.
- It’s a sales letter, not an instruction manual. Make it pleasant to read, not a task the reader wants to avoid.
- Thank the customer for reading your letter. It’s the polite thing to do, and leaves the customer with a good feeling, even if they don’t order.
- Keep in mind these Ten Rules for Copywriters:
1. Write to one person, not an audience
2. Be clear
3. Be convincing
4. Be interesting
5. Don’t lie
6. Tie claims to testimonials
7. Promote benefits, not features
8. Create customer confidence
9. Keep it active 10. Ask for the order
10. Ask for the order
Source: 301 Direct Mail Tips, Techniques & Secrets