Start With: something that gets your readers attention
There are several choices to get a reader's attention (you have seven seconds to get the reader to open the mail and get interested before he or she throws out the letter!):
Open with a question that your reader would be likely to answer positively: "How would you like to save hundreds a year on bills?"
Give a piece of genuine news: "Air travel prices have dropped 40% last month."
Start with an appeal to the reader's emotions or values: "The only thing worse than paying taxes is paying taxes when you don't have to."
Begin with the most attractive feature plus the associated benefit: "New webcam lets you see what you are missing, over the net and around the house!"
Give an intriguing number: "Here are the four best kept secrets of the beauty world."
Draw them in with a free sample.
Give a concrete illustration with story appeal: "In 1854, Grandma Kettle came to America from Poland with nothing but a dream in her heart and her recipe for great pastries. Four years later, she ran a bakery in New York City for Polish immigrants. Today, the tradition continues in Grandma Kettle's Bakeries spread across the Continental US."
Begin with a shared trait across your audience: "Busy executives need another 'time saving device' like they need a hole in the head."
Give a challenge: "Don't spend another day in a dead end job when you could go out and get the job you've always dreamed of!"
Offer a solution to a problem: "Tired of paying too much for insurance? Give us a call and we could cut your bill by 15% or more."
In the middle: continue talking about your product by giving specifics
Increase Customer's Desire for a Product:
Tell the central selling point (csp), the single best thing about your good or service
To determine your csp, ask yourself these questions:
What does the competition offer?
What is special about this product?
What are my potential customers really looking for?
Mention this csp several times throughout the letter, the more varied ways, the better (you could include pictures, too)
Don't waste the reader's time with too much detail, but give enough to make them interested
Use bullets to highlight important points
Weave in other benefits that come out of the product or service besides the csp
Use action terms, colorful verbs and adjectives but don't overdo it. Steer clear of exaggeration
How to Handle Price:
Watch words like "luxurious" etc. because they have an effect on how the reader will view your price
If price is a major selling point, make sure it stands out, both in placement and perhaps by bolding it or making it larger font
If price is NOT a major selling point, de-emphasize it by
burying the price in the middle of a paragraph near the end
mentioning the benefits and favorable money matters before the price
breaking the quantity price into units (yes, like QVC)
Comparing the price with the cost of another activity or price: "The cost of owning your own spa is a fraction of belonging to a health club."
Support Your Claims:
This is more essential if your product is complicated, expensive, or unconventional
Enclose samples or brochures with the letter (refer to them in the letter)
Support your claim by testimonials, examples, or statistics.
Give a guarantee of exchange or return privileges to show that you stand behind your product
Finally: get your reader to act ASAP
Tell your reader how to take the next step: call this number, mail in the attached card, go to Walmart and buy it... (two alternatives, either have them commit to buy or send for more info)
CONVINCE them that they must act now!!! First 500 get special stuff, free trial, unconditional guarantee, etc. If there is no reason to act now, the reader will put it aside and will not do it
Adding a P.S. is one of the most effective ways to boost a response. Be sure to say worthwhile stuff, like your csp or why the reader should act now.
Back to Assignment #5
Adapted from: Bovee, Courtland L and John V. Thill, eds. Business Communication Today. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. 2000.