September 10

John Carlton Copywriting Tips: How to Start Writing a Sales Letter


John Carlton’s hot seat is for Jack. He is a lawyer who wrote a letter for a client, a doctor who is creating a franchise system to sell a natural product that gives people more energy. In this clip, John tells him how to get started writing a letter.

John’s advice:

There is a disconnect. One thing rookie writers do all the time is get into these huge disconnects. He’ll say something like “I’m telling you this”. In a worst-case scenario he’ll say something like “kick back and let me tell you a story”. What he’s actually saying is that he will take five pages to get to the point. Even try and get to the point though, you can confuse things as you’re getting there. One of the best ways to write a great letter is to start with the fundamental letter. One of the best letters you can write is a letter that’s very conversational. Like “Hi, my name is Ed, I’m selling blah, blah, blah. I understand you’re in the market for blah, blah, blah and we’ve been selling it for a long time. We’re selling it at a discount”.

Lay it out there. Very cold. Don’t try to write. The worst thing you can do is try to write. A bad letter won’t do you any good at all. A basic letter can actually make some fireworks go off. If you get down to writing that basic stripped-down letter, and then you rely on a few words to get your point across, maybe a few power words… A few phrases that keep the attention, that make your point, you’re going to be better off with a long flowery thing that has a lot of twists and turns.

One that says, in effect, “hang with me for a minute, then I’ll complete that thought. But first let me tell you about this…” Try to start off with a stripped-down basic thing, then you can build on that. You can flesh it out. You can add bullets… Take a sentence that’s very long, break it down into a short sentence and then itemize each of the points that you’re trying to make.

In most sales situations, you’re going to be doing the metaphorical equivalent of “it does this, and this, and this”. That’s where bullets come in. You can start enumerating things and then listing the benefits.

You can add eye relief as well as making the sales message stronger by adding bullets.

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