Ripping Apart The “Prevention” Example Sales Letter (Part 1)

Last post I shared with you a PDF file called The Greatest Sales Letters Of All Time, edited by John Jantsch. (You can download it here if you haven’t already done so.)

Today, let’s go through one of the sales letters, to see why it worked so well. The one I’d like to review is Sales Letter #5, which sells a subscription to Prevention magazine. (This, by the way, is a direct mail letter that was actually mailed out.)

The first thing that immediately stands out to me is that…

There is no headline. The letter assumes it already has the reader’s attention, by virtue of the fact that they are reading the letter. This probably works best for a physical letter, because if you’ve already opened the envelope, you’ve already made a commitment to yourself to at least look at the letter.

Notice also the friendly, personal tone. It’s written almost like one friend writing to another, and it ends with a signature from the writer, Sandy Gibb.

It begins by immediately telling a story, which is something we humans like to hear.

What I liked about the story is that, while Sandy Gibb highlighted the wisdom of her grandmother (in recommending only the healthy stuff), she was quick to deal with the mental objection that “grandmother was hopelessly out of date” – by recalling back to how healthy they were back then, compared to what was happening with food and chemicals in the present time.

Notice also how Sandy’s observations are sufficiently vague, to allow readers to recall their own specific examples. For example…

I was stunned by the number of foods that were almost completely “fake” – most of the good things had been taken out and chemical substitutes put in.

By making it Sandy’s observation, it becomes a fact that can’t be disputed. We could perhaps dispute the nature of Sandy’s observation, but we can’t dispute that Sandy was “stunned” by her observation.

The next sentence builds upon this, and makes it an indisputable fact:

You read about threats and dangers to your health like these every day. In almost every newspaper and magazine you open.

So by this point, it is assumed the reader accepts that there are “threats” and “dangers” to their health – the problem has been explained (and hopefully accepted), and now they are in a better position to accept the solution.

In Part 2 we’ll examine how the solution is presented, in such a way as to build desire for the product. You won’t want to miss it, so make sure you’re signed up to receive free updates to this CopySnips blog.

Are These The Greatest Sales Letters Of All Time?

I recently came across a great little resource edited by John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing, and since he gave permission to distribute it freely, I thought I’d share it with you good folks here at the CopySnips.com blog.

It’s a 25 page PDF document called The Greatest Sales Letters Of All Time… and it contains 5 actual sales letters, written to sell products such as a subscription to Newsweek magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and a 20 volume Popular Mechanics Do-It-Yourself Encyclopedia.

These are “sales letters” in the traditional sense of the world – in other words, actual letters posted out to a mailing list. Still, regardless of whether you write to sell for the Web or in print, or even if you’re just here to learn about how to write copy, this is a great resource – you get to see the persuasive devices used by these well-known companies to sell their products through the written word.

We can learn a lot from these sales letters. You’ll notice, for example, the lack of hype. Yes, they’re enthusiastic for their products. (I’d particularly like to buy those Do-It-Yourself Encylopedias!) But they all carefully stay within the bounds of credibility. (Perhaps they can do so easily because these companies are, for the most part, pretty well known.)

Keep this resource handy on your computer, because I’ll be referring to it over the coming days and weeks, as I point out some of the specific persuasive devices being used, so make sure you’re subscribed to this blog as well.

You can download The Greatest Sales Letters Of All Time here.

In return, I’d be grateful if you could refer your friends and colleagues to this post, so we can expand the conversation about it here at CopySnips.com.

How To Instantly Transform Poor Copy Into Great Copy

One of the world’s greatest marketing experts, Jay Abraham, is about to reveal to you a superbly simple technique for transforming poor or average copy into spectacular copy just about instantly, and it doesn’t have to cost you a penny.

If you haven’t got time to watch the following 10 minute video, then I’ve provided a summary of his key points below, but you really MUST watch it… several times:

What’s amazing to me is Jay’s admisson that it took him years to figure this out, and yet here he is handing this technique out to us on a plate, in this video. So thank you, Jay Abraham.

The technique itself is deceptively simple. It involves using Amazon.com not only to do your market research, but also to get laser focused phrases you can use in your copy, that will touch your target audience and create empathy with them. Here is a summary of the suggestions, but please watch the video if you can – it will be 10 minutes well spent:

(1) Go to Amazon.com, and type in the keywords related to your niche. Look at the titles and subtitles of the products for “the big payoff”, i.e. the key benefits being offered. You can use these for your own headlines and subheadlines. (Each subheadline in your copy, every 4-6 paragraphs, should summarize the “big payoff” for the content below it.)

(2) Go to the reviews of each product. The editorial reviews usually contain good, professional copy that sells the book for Amazon.

(3) However, the customer reviews contain the polarization, where people either love it or hate it. These are (usually) real people writing their honest, heartfelt thoughts and feelings about the product. Pay attention to what people loved about it, and especially the phrases they use. Adapt these phrases for YOUR copy. Also pay attention to what people hated about it, so you can move your readers away from these things in your copy.

According to Jay Abraham, this is one way to make poor performing copy great instantly. Of course, you should watch the video because there’s even more valuable information in there than I could cover in this post. So what do you think of Jay Abraham’s “School Of Amazon” technique?

Puppy Dog Close – Do You Use It In Your Sales Letters?

The "puppy dog close" can increase sales

The "puppy dog close" can increase sales

I’ve known about the “puppy dog close” for a while, but sometimes I forget to use all the stuff I know, so here’s my chance to share it with you, and at the same time, remind myself of what I need to be doing.

First of all, here’s the pyschological principle behind the technique, and then I’ll reveal the technique itself.

People are more likely to finish something when it is framed as something they have already started, rather than if it’s framed as something they have yet to start.

For example, let’s say you go to your local bookstore, and they give you a leaflet. On it, there is room for 5 stamps, and every time you buy a book from them, you get a stamp. When you reach 5 stamps, they give you a free book of your choice.

Now, here’s what researchers discovered:

You are more likely to complete the book of stamps if it has already started to be filled in. In other words, if you’re given the leaflet and it already has a stamp on it, you’re more likely to get the other stamps, than if you’d been given a leaflet with no stamps!

What’s more, you’ll also complete the collection of stamps more quickly when there is one stamp already on it (even after taking into account the obvious fact that you’ve been given the first stamp).

Here’s how I’ll be using this principle. I’m about to do a marketing test for my report, Write To More Money.

What I’ll be doing is allowing people to read some of it without having to pay. There are two reasons why this should increase sales. First, it’s like the first stamp in the leaflet – if people have started reading it, they are more likely to want to continue, than if they haven’t started at all. Second, the content of the report should hopefully convince people to want to keep reading.

This is similar to what salespeople call the puppy dog close, where you give people the product to try out for a few days. After all, who could resist buying a puppy dog if they had a chance to take it home and look after it for a couple of days?

In the case of giving away part of an information product, one thing you can test, if possible, is just how much you should let them read. Common sense would say, give them as much as possible… but marketing doesn’t always conform to the laws of “common sense”. Since my report is over 90 pages long, I might test 10, 20, 30 and 40 pages and see which results in the highest sales.

If you’re selling an information product, let people read a certain portion of it without having to pay. Get them hooked into the content. If you’re selling a membership site, give them a trial subscription period. If you’re selling software, let them download a trial version. If you’re selling a service, give them a sample that gets them hooked on buying from you. (For example, write them Part 1 of a 3 part series, as the sample! If they want the rest, they need to buy from you.)

Let them “take the puppy home”, as it were. Let the sample be the cute little puppy that nobody can resist!