Three Solid Ways to Start a Sales Letter

This post is an authorized reprint of a COPYWRITER’S ROUNDTABLE article published and sent to me on July 3, 2012. Copywriter’s Roundtable is owned and managed by John Forde. The article’s author is colleague of John Forde and fellow copywriter, Jason Strachen who has done a masterful in job delivering such a powerful piece.

On this eve of our nation’s independence, what could be a better celebration than a discourse on honing your own entrepreneurial skills, strategies and business acumen? It is my opinion that the Sales Letter is singly THE most important tool a Web Marketing Entrepreneur can have in his/her toolkit; And a superbly composed sales letter puts you heads and shoulders above your competition. So here we go!


Copywriters and article writers are often pre-occupied with the best ways to start an article or sales letter, so it’s not uncommon for questions lke, ‘what’s the perfect opening line?’ to recur frequently. While the answer is not “Call me Ishmael”, and the opening thought is hardly, “Was your Dad a baker? ‘Cause you’ve got a nice set of buns”, the true answer to such a question is, there isn’t one. At least not one that’s perfect for every situation.

There are some, however, that work a lot more reliably than others. And we’re fortunate to have copywriter Jason Strachan show us three of the best ways to start a sales letter. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this free lesson in sales letter writing, titled…


by Jason Strachan


Why is the start of the direct mail letter so important? Here is the answer in a nutshell: Because when reading begins your target customer will be glaring point-blank into the loaded barrel of your promotion. You are NEVER going to get such a great chance to get her interest again.

So what are you waiting for? When you start your letter or email, or video, go ahead and fire the most powerful, single most seductive message you possibly can! Because the cold truth is, as corny as it may sound, if you don’t get her (or him) at hello’ you wont get her at all.

Now In this article I’ve selected my 3 most tried and tested letter openings that I’ve used with a lot of success in my career. You could call them my ‘old faithfuls.’ Because if my life was on the line, and I was in a position where I had to write a letter that worked, or I’d be executed by firing squad, I would use one of these three openings, everytime. So here’s the first one…


i.e. If you’re like me, you spend way too much time in front of your computer…

Now there are two distinct reasons why I like this opening. First: because it is an approach that works for practically ANY market place. And second: because it establishes immediate rapport.

The whole tone of “If you’re like me” immediately conjures up the feeling of a trusted friend wrapping her arm around your shoulder to give you a bit of counsel. And it causes your prospect to just drop her guard a little, while she starts to read what you have to say.

Now even though a LOT of marketers have discovered how powerful this opening is and have started using it a lot. It’s STILL very effective in the marketplace today. Just as long as its expressed with sincerity. So in other words, don’t attempt to write an “If you’re like me” opening if you’re actually nothing like your customer.

*TIP: Remember what David Ogilvy famously said: ‘The customer is NOT a moron – she’s your wife’


Okay – here’s where we step into some dangerous territory…

You see, a lot of people who attempt to write sales copy understand how to write a question. It’s the qualifier ‘provocative’, that they do not seem to get a handle on. However if you get it right, it works like a charm!

First let me show you how most marketing agencies mess it up.

The way they get it wrong is by opening the letter with a question that has no relevance to your prospect, so they dismiss it straight away. For example: If I open a letter with, ‘Do you know the name of the ancient Greek God of sunshine?’

Your response will likely be: A) Are you nuts?’ B) ‘Who cares?” or worse C) Something’s wrong with you, and If I did know the ancient Greek God of sunshine there’d be something wrong with ME.”

A provocative question is a question that really triggers some type of dominant emotion inside your target customers. Here are some examples…

Continue reading Three Solid Ways to Start a Sales Letter

Why Free Makes The Entrepreneurial Experience Easier

Do you believe in the principle that you’ve got to give before you get? If so, you probably already know the answer to this question: What is the most frequently used word that people type in a search box on the internet? If you don’t already know the answer, I can assure you that learning what this simple word is and using it to it’s fullest extent can literally explode your sales if you’re an entrepreneur running a Web business. Let me explain.

The all important word is FREE!!!

The word that is used in searches on the Web more than any other is FREE. Everyone loves something for nothing. No one wants to pay for something if they can get it for free. You don’t – and I certainly don’t – if the item is of a quality comparable to paid-for items.

Think about all the times you searched for something on the Web. Weather it was for information, a service, a product, anything. Did you just type in the description, a keyword or phrase, or did you put ‘free’ first? Even if you obmitted the word free, when the search engines generated the results, I can almost guarantee that it gave you a list of ‘related searches’ containing the keywords you used with ‘free’ in front of them.

The benefits entrepreneurs derive from giving something for free.

As a Web business entrepreneur, if you offer a product, service or some other information for free, it can have great returns. First of all it boosts your search engine rankings. As the word is typed into a search box more than any other, so having it optimized on your website will pay amazing dividends.

Once a customer has found you in their search results, further use of the word free will draw them in even more. Giving them something for nothing if they visit your site is a big attraction. In fact it is such a huge attraction that I can’t emphisize how important it is, especially if you’re just starting out as a new entrepreneur.

How giving something for free can make you money.

When someone visits your site to claim their freebie, several things can happen. In order to get their free product, they have to give you their name and email address. This is standard operating procedure in the Web marketing business arena. In fact, it’s the #1 reason for offering the free item(s) to them in the first place.

It is highly unlikely that someone will buy something on their first visit to your website, or any other site; and unless there is an excellent reason for them to return, they may never visit again. By having their email address, you can contact them and remind them to revisit your site. You can offer them ‘special offers’ and affiliate sales through your correspondence emails.

It is a well known fact that you have to make an average of 7 contacts (sales pitches, remind revisits, offers ect…) with a potential customer before they will actually buy something and become a real customer. The reasons for this are quite lengthy and will take a complete article to discuss, so lets stick to the matter at hand.

One of the most important/valuable things you can own as a Web marketing entrepreneur is a LIST of contacts/potential customers that you can send your product promotions to on a regular basis. Being able to have that all-important contact with your customers, improves your chances of them making a purchase significantly.

They learn to ‘trust you’, you become familiar to them and that is what often clinches the deal. You gain the know, like and trust from your customers and then they feel comfortable enough to buy what you recommend.

So, that’s a brief explanation of how you, the budding entrepreneur, make money from giving away something for free.

The quality of free.

The item that you offer, weather it be a subscription to an ezine, an ebook, report or software, MUST be of good quality. If the prospect receives their freebie and the quality is poor, they will not come back to your website and buy anything. Even if you are the best website in your niche, offering the best deals, they will never find out, because they just won’t come back.

On the other hand, if they are impressed by the free gift from you, they are more than likely to visit your website again and again. High quality, useful products are an essential if you want the ‘freeie offer’ to work for you.

How you can drive traffic to your website using ‘free’.

Classified ads are a fantastic way to drive traffic to your website. The headline and description should be centered around the infamous “what’s in it for me”. That is offering them a freebie. This will entice them to click the link and visit your website. You can post classifieds for free. Just type ‘free classifieds’ into the search box and choose from the 1000’s of results that the search engines produce. Submit your ads often and the traffic will keep coming.

Other ways to drive traffic using ‘free’.

Simply use it anywhere your ads appear. If you publish articles, reports or ebooks, put your offer in your resource box. If you use pay-per-click, use the offer as your ad copy. Advertising in ezines, weather its your own, an affiliate’s or bought advertising, again use the free offer in your resource box.

Choose carefully.

When deciding on what it is that you will give way, there is one piece of advice that is vital. Make the free item appropriate to your audience. Whatever niche you operate it, stick with the theme. If you offer an ebook on ‘how to create a website’ and your business sells musical instruments, you’re really asking for problems.

The customer will visit your website to get their ebook. They will download it and probably be very pleased if it contains high quality information on ‘how to create a website’. When you contact them via email with for example a ‘special offer on violin strings’, unless by some highly unlikely coincidence that they play the violin, they will not visit your website again. So be mindful of what your own niche actually wants and give it to them.

In conclusion, the more you offer free stuff of high quality, the more money you will make and the more successful you will become in your Web entrepreneurial business experience. It is one of the best traffic drivers and is a straight forward concept. Now that you have this little golden nugget of valuable information, get to work. Plan what you could offer, to whom, when and where.

Decide on a product that you can legally give away (be careful of copyright infringement). Make it something that is useful to your own niche market. Advertise it everywhere you can and your opt-in-list will grow very quickly. After all ‘the money is in the list’, right? That’s also a topic for another article. Below is a perfect example of the ‘free’ offer. I didn’t make it up, it’s for real and it works.

FREE 12-Book Bonus Pack Delivered at Sign-Up