The Ultimate Guide to Long Sales Copy – Part 1

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A long sales letter works best when selling a single product or service.  Many people don't

 

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Sale (Photo credit: Gerard Stolk (vers l'action de grâces))

 

really understand the dynamics of long sales letters and don't understand what makes them work.  Long sales letters work for two basic but powerful reasons:

1.    They focus the readers attention on your offer: our own experience has proved over and over again that each time you ask your visitors to ‘click’ to a new page, you lose anywhere from 40% to 80% of them.  Long copy works because it doesn't distract your readers with unnecessary choices.

2.    They strategically guide your reader through the critical stages of the sales process: create excitement, relate to the reader, establish credibility, build value, remove the risk, and ask for the order... this all needs to happen in a precise order, and long copy gives you the ability to control the timing and delivery of your offer.  Long copy allows you to guide your reader towards the buying decision with the finesse of an experienced salesperson.

Of course, writing successful long copy is a learned skill -- it's not something you’ll just magically be able to do.  So to help you get started, we've broken our sales letter-writing process down into a formula designed to show you EXACTLY how we create sales letters that work like magic.

We highly recommend that you follow each of these steps, because it is really important that the reader goes through a series of emotions and be presented with a series of facts in this specific order before they will feel comfortable and confident in their decision to buy from you.

There are actually two different ways you can plug your specific information into this strategic formula to guide your reader through all of the steps necessary to convert them from visitors into paying customers.  You can either write your letter from scratch, or you can automate the entire process.

To give you an idea of what you are dealing with, I've created a kind of sales letter ‘template’ that will help you organize your thoughts.  Whether you write your letter from scratch, or create it automatically, the skeleton of your final sales letter will look something like this…

Headline -- packed full of exciting, compelling benefits to attract visitors!

Sub-headline -- elaborate on the benefits of reading this letter and create urgency so your visitors must read it today!

From: your name, the date

Greeting: dear friend,

Introduction: create the problem that you're going to solve for your reader

Body: establish your credibility.

Body: relate to the problem and relate your reader.

Body: explain how your product or service solves this problem, and provide an overview of how it works.

Body: detail the benefits and features of your product or service using bullet points for emphasis:

1.   Benefit 1 with explanation

2.    Benefit 2 with explanation

3.    Benefit 3 with explanation

... and so on.

Body: state the price of your offer and explain why you've chosen that price point, and why it is fair

Close: pile on the bonuses and create lots of added value so that your visitors would feel silly if they DIDN'T take up your offer!

Close: include your strong guarantee and remove the risk entirely so that customers can purchase without feeling nervous

Close: ask for the order!  Clearly and specifically guide your reader to make the purchase.

Sign off: regards, your name, your title

P. S. include a strong "P. S." to re-state the benefits of your offer and create even more urgency.

Your headline and sub-headline

Your headline and sub-headline are the most important parts of your sales letter.  As these are the first things your visitors will see, they are your key to soliciting enough interest to grab your visitors’ attention... get them excited... then draw them into your sales letter.

The right headline can have an absolutely massive impact on your sales, so you want to spend some time on this step.  We spend hours writing headlines... and we often test four or five of them before we settle on one that works!

The most successful headlines always communicate the most compelling benefit of your offer.  For example, it might create some kind of problem that lets visitors know they need to read your letter to find out how to solve the problem.

Above all, your headline must be packed full of killer benefits that are sure to immediately appeal to your target audience and have them scrambling to find out more.

There are certain attention getting words that pack a lot of punch, so whenever they make sense for your offer, try to incorporate power words like these into your headlines:

-    FREE
-    Sale
-    Easy
-    Quick
-    Guaranteed
-    Bargain
-    Proven
-    Results
-    Save
-    You

The most powerful headlines are usually ones that promise an end result, like ‘how-to’ headlines, or ones involved in exciting ‘take action’ words.  For example:

-    ‘ How-to learn…’
-    ‘ How-to become…’
-    ‘ Learn the secrets…’
-   ‘ Why you need...’
-    ‘ Discover how to…’
-    ‘ Discover the reason...’
-    ‘ Increase your (benefit of your product or service)...’
-    ‘Decrease your (problem your product or service addresses)...’
-    ‘ Reduce...’
-    ‘ Stop...’

And so on... do you see how exciting these ‘ grabbers’ can be?

Here is Adrian’s sales copy as an example of an attention grabbing headline that quickly gets to the root of the target audience's main problem:

Here Is The First Easy Step To
Add Over Three Inches
Of Rock Hard, Shredded Muscle To
Your Chest, Back, Arms And Legs

Using a NEVER BEFORE DISCOVERED
Step-By-Step Mass Building Technique And
See Results in As Little As Seven Days...

WITHOUT drugs, supplements, or even special equipment!

This headline meets all the criteria of a good headline:

1.    It creates a serious problem for the reader -- how to quickly gain muscle without using special equipment.

2.    It promises a killer benefit as part of the solution to the problem -- you can see results in as little as seven days.

3.    It uses ‘power’ words like ‘easy’, ‘results’ and ‘your’.

4.    It attracts exactly the right audience, using words they relate to like ‘rock hard’ and ‘shredded’… it creates excitement!

The key to finding a headline that works for you is to keep trying new headlines, testing them and tweaking them until you come up with one that is effective for your business.

Create the problem

Right near the beginning of your sales letter, you need to state what problem your product or service is going to solve for your customers.  As we've seen, the above example began creating the problem in the headline of their sales letter (how to quickly gain muscle without using drugs or special equipment).  This may or may not be the approach that works for you.

If you've written a headline or sub-headline that is good enough to grab your reader’s attention, their interest will lead them into your first paragraph.  And that's where you can really begin to ‘hook’ them with a discussion of a problem they are likely experiencing as a result of not owning your product.

By presenting a problem to your reader, you are making their need for your product or service personal.  You are demonstrating that you can relate to the reader because you understand the problem and your giving them the reason to continue reading your sales letter to find out more about how they can solve this problem.

It's all in how your offer is presented.  Are your winter coats a good buy because they are warm, or because last winter you froze, became ill, and lost 16 days work... and this year you can make sure that doesn't happen again with your 100% wool winter coats.

The first paragraph in the above sales letter consists of a single, powerful sentence but continues to build on the problem that has already started to be created in the headline:

Dear natural bodybuilder,

Are your pulling your hair out in frustration because your natural bodybuilder program is taking too long and costing you too much money?

Its exciting and extremely personal -- relating to the frustration felt by a target audience who are finding that their existing bodybuilder program is too long and is too expensive!  It takes the problem established in the headline and expands on it, drawing the reader further into the sales letter.

Is this sneaky or manipulative?  No, absolutely not.  It's honest, direct and powerful.  You are simply letting people know WHY they need your product, and you’re getting to the point swiftly and effectively so that you don't lose them before they’ve heard your offer.

You'll also noticed that while the headline and first paragraph are creating the problem, they are not giving away too much information... they’re generating excitement, creating a problem, and promising a solution to that problem, all the while making the reader more and more curious about what the solution is and how it will help them.

Establish your credibility

You have to remember that the people arriving at your web site have probably never heard of you.  So before trying to sell your visitors anything, you need to establish your credibility so that readers feel comfortable enough to buy your product or service.

One of the best ways to do this is to list your accomplishments, qualifications, and experience -- as long as they are all related to the product or service you offer.

However, you can't just go on and on about your own success or credentials.  Once you have established a problem you need to...

1.    Explain why you can relate to this problem so your readers know you really are able to relate to them

2.    Explain why you're qualified to solve this problem

On the next page you will find an example of how Adrian establishes his credibility by describing how he faces the same problem his target audience is currently facing:

Adrian’s Credibility Text

My name is Adrian, better known in “natural bodybuilder” circles as the ‘muscle nerd’.

I, like many of you, have spent most of my life looking for that ‘magic bullet’ that would allow me to finally achieve the mountains of muscle that have escaped me for so long.

Unfortunately, at 6’ 2” tall and 148 lbs (soaking wet) I was told that I simply didn't have the ‘ genetics’ needed to achieve the size I was looking for!

But being
‘genetically average’
wasn't going to stop ME!

I followed all of the basics I had learnt from every muscle mag I could find.  I ate mountains of protein, popped every mass gaining supplement I could spend my hard earned money on, and listen to every locker room  ‘expert’ who offered advice... but NOTHING WORKED!

Then I discovered the COLD HARD TRUTH about why I simply couldn't put on any significant muscle mass.  And here it is...

This text introduces Adrian -- giving the sales letter a personal tone -- and allows the readers to identify with him.

Another excellent way to build your credibility is through testimonials from satisfied customers.  As soon as you start receiving testimonials, put them on your sales letter -- as high as possible.

Your credibility will be rock solid if you can explain to your readers why you're qualified to offer a solution to their problem, then back it up with testimonials from satisfied customers.

But while you need to establish your credibility right near the beginning of your sales letter, be sure you don't blather on and on about yourself for too long... because people will get bored and stop reading!

Instead, give them enough reasons to trust you at least to encourage them to read what you have to say... and then pile on the testimonials in your letter or in other areas of your web site.

Tell a story

What's the best way to get readers interested, make them curious, AND get them to relate to you, while getting your sales message across?

By telling a story...

Of course, your story has to relate to the product or service that is the subject of your sales letter!  Tell the story of how you came to find and create your product, or why you decided to develop your service.

Talk about how you tried using it and liked it so much, you decided to make a business out of it!  Relate the story of the person who came to you for help, and after assisting him, you realized how many people need a solution to this problem...

Whatever the circumstances of your particular business, you can create a compelling story out of the events that led to writing your sales letter.  Of course, your story has to be true!  Don't create something for the sake of making your sales letter more interesting; tell the real story behind your offer.

Did a customer tell you how badly this product is needed?

Did you get a great deal from a manufacturer that allowed you to sell it cheaper than ever before?

Do you have to liquidate your stock because you're moving, or your garage burned down, or you ran out of storage space?

In Adrian's sales letter, the story is an inspiring personal tale that the readers can relate to... showing them that they are not alone in the problem they are facing, and how it is possible for them to take matters into their own hands and find a solution.

In her sales letter Rachel tells us about her daily attempts at making bath salts from recipes she found on the Internet.  She soon discovered that the instructions that came with the recipes were terrible, so she decided to do some homework and develop her own.

Every sales letter you create should include the story of how you came to be making the offer at hand.  By telling the story to your readers, you can:

1. Help readers relate to you

2. Get readers to understand why you are offering that particular promotion -- for example, why you are offering a discount, or why you created a new product.

3. Make the sales letter fun to read rather than ‘salesy’.

Telling a story that relates to your offer is one of the best techniques there is to making your sales letter sound, interesting and compelling.