You’ve probably seen them in the mail or read them online, huge sales letters that run on for pages or scroll down your computer screen for what seems to be a vertical mile. Do people really read this shit? Direct marketers wouldn’t spend time and money creating these unique and often controversial promotions if people didn’t read them. Direct marketers often use long-copy sales letters to sell information-based products, such as pricey newsletter subscriptions or expensive how-to audio/video programs, via direct mail and web sites.
Direct marketers know long copy works for their particular products because they test promotions continuously. If a two page sales letter performs better than a 10-page, they’re not about to waste paper and ink on the latter. Direct marketers use long-copy letters in their promotions for one simple reason. It works.
Note: There’s a difference between long copy and long-winded. It’s not easy to hold a reader’s attention over a four, six or even 12 page sales letter. You have to make sure every page is fresh and compelling. Write just one lazy, dull paragraph and your risk losing the reader, and the sale.
Long-copy sales letters are one of the most difficult copywriting skills to master. Those who do are among the highest-paid and rewarded practitioners in the freelance market and business world. So how exactly do you write one? In addition to copywriting basics, here are some essential tips to master long-copy sales letters:
1. Make a big promise in the headline – But no so big as to be completely unbelievable. Empty promises such as “double your income” are cheesy and don’t really work. However, a headline that says something specific “How to lose 4 lbs per week and never fell hungry” can be effective. (As long as you can substantiate this claim).
2. Write a great lead – Because the copy is so long, your first two or three paragraphs must be extremely compelling. Your words here must pull the reader in and motivate them to stay with you through the rest of the letter.
3. Create vivid word pictures – The sheer length of long-copy sales letters gives you plenty of room to paint scenarios, examples and stories with your words. By all means, make sure you take advantage of this!
4. Use descriptive subheads – The reader should be able to get the gist of the most important key messages just by skimming the subheads.
5. Summarize the benefits at the end – Some readers will skip to the end of the letter. Others will forget details they read earlier. So on the last page, remind them of all the great reasons why they should respond to the offer.
Just remember, if you are weak in just one area, if you fail to provide a claim or bring some benefit to life, your copy may not have enough shapow! to make the sale.