Why sales letters are my most effective IT marketing method
I've used a lot of different IT marketing methods to drum up business for my computer consulting firm over the past 16+ years... cold-calling, business networking, yellow page ads, trade shows, flyers, post-card campaigns and more.
Some things work better than others, but nothing I've ever tried comes close to the effectiveness I've had when I sent out a professionally written Sales Letter.
Yeah, I know what you're probably saying... "When I get junk mail in the mailbox, it goes straight in the trash. No one reads that stuff."
Well, I used to say the exact same thing. I even tried writing some of my own sales letters early on, mailed them out to my local businesses and got nothing in return. "What a waste of time" I said.
Oh, how I've learned how wrong I was.
A Sales Letter that's properly written and follows a formula for effective selling can be hugely effective in bringing you new clients very quickly.
A sales letter is essentially your sales-pitch in print. When doing one-to-one selling as you'll do in Business Networking or when you meet a new client through a referral or even with cold-calling, you're giving your sales pitch to one individual at a time. You practice your pitch, you polish it up and when it's time to deliver it, you hope that you hit all the right buttons to make the sale... one sale at a time.
With a sales letter though, you can take your perfected sales pitch, craft it to make sure it hits all the right buttons at exactly the right time and in exactly the right way, and deliver that message to hundreds, even thousands of prospective customers at the same time!
But putting together a nice letter that says, "I'm the best, I'm the fastest, I'm the cheapest... you should hire me!" isn't going to get the phone ringing. Even if you have a talent for writing in general.
Writing effective sales letters is as much science as it is art. There are formulas and rules to follow... and the instruction on how to write a good sales letter goes way beyond what I could possibly cover in a short article. What I can do is give you some basic elements that you will definitely want to have in your letter and I can point you in the direction of some good instructional material.
Just about every effective sales letter ever written follows a basic formula called A.I.D.A.
Get their Attention - this is done in the headline of your letter and continues into the first paragraph. Then the first paragraph has one job only... to make them read the next paragraph. And then repeat with the second paragraph, and so on.
Gain their Interest - Is what you're saying of interest to your reader? For this to happen, you have to make sure that besides being well written, your letter needs to be in the hands of a properly targeted prospect. No point in sending a letter promoting your Managed Support Services to a lady whose business is making hand-made lollipops and she doesn't even own a computer.
Generate Desire - Are they salivating at the incredible offer you're making them?
Get them to take Action! - An effective sales letter makes them do something once they finish reading. In my case, I typically would like them to pick up the phone and take me up on a 30-day trial offer I make in my letter.
Now, what we need to realize is that selling IT Services is a rather high-ticket item. It will be a rare occasion for a reader to simply pick up the phone after reading our letter regardless of how well written it may be. We're not selling an inexpensive impulse item, like a $27 e-book.
We (and our prospect) are hoping to establish a life-long relationship where we are completely responsible for the systems that are the very lifeblood of their business. This is a pretty big decision to make, and not one that is generally made based on the words we put down on a piece of paper, no matter how eloquent they may be.
What needs to be done to really improve the effectiveness of our IT marketing effort and maximize the potential of our sales letter is to do some basic follow-up. This can be done most effectively by making a simple phone call. Unlike a regular cold-call though, the sales letter follow-up call is easy, because the letter itself did all the selling. Either the prospect is interested, in which case the conversation continues and we move on to setting them up with our trial offer... or not, in which case we simply say "bye-bye, have a nice day."
If you want to use sales letters in your marketing campaign and would like to take a shot at writing them yourself, I can recommend the following books to get you started:
- "Scientific Advertising" - by Claude Hopkins - This classic book is widely available for free in the public domain. You can download a copy here.
- "The Robert Collier Letter Book" - by Robert Collier
- "Ca$hvertising" - by Drew Eric Whitman
- And for some of the most useful, informative, valuable and interesting information you'll ever find on marketing, please read Gary Halbert's newsletters which you will also find for free on his website.
Of course, if you don't have the time to learn how to write an effective sales letter yourself, you can always hire a professional copywriter to take on the task for you. Experienced, proven copywriters don't come cheap, but assuming you choose your copywriter wisely, the returns will be well worth the investment.
Another option is to purchase an IT Marketing toolkit, like the one offered on the author's website, which includes professionally written, proven and tested sales letters along with many other IT Templates that are easily modified to target your preferred market and ready to be sent immediately.
Robert Peretson is the founder of Perry Consulting, a New York based MSP, who's been providing IT Support to many of the city's most progressive and prestigious small businesses since 1996.Robert is also the editor of http://SuccessfulComputerConsulting.com, a website dedicated to helping growing MSPs to succeed through proper business development practices and proven IT Marketing strategies.