A Sales Letter Story
The Incredibly True Story 47% Response Sales Letter
I started writing sales copy around 1985 but this was now 1992 I think.
My new high-street business had been opened around 6-months and we were struggling. Not enough anything pouring into the shop. People wanted paid, I needed more cash and if I am really honest it was a major pressure time for me.
My second son had arrived, I had also moved home, my first wife had ordered another new car (and furniture and everything else) so the cash was going out as fast as it was arriving.
It was this time I first came across a computer. At the same time I came across a book about marketing by a hero of mine, Jay Conrad Levinson.
I read about letters and the use of them for business so I decided to buy a computer and write my own letters to my clients. This had problems in itself. Creating direct mail in those days was painful.
First I had to write the letter.
Then the letter that I managed to print on my dot-matrix printer would be taken to printer. Most of the time my dot-matrix printer chewed everything up so I had to hand write the letter and give to the printer or give the screwed up letter with print running off the edges.
The time I would spend was ridiculous creating these things. This really was one-fingered writing at that time. The next step was seeing what the printer had put together. I never liked what they did so we would then spend a few weeks creating the right look and feel for the letter but even then I was never that happy with the finished look and read.
Once the letter had been done I would have around 500 printed with envelopes with my brand printed on the front.
Once the process had been done I would drive over in my little mini to pick the boxes up, drive back to my salon around 8-miles away and then finally sit in my office licking stamps and hand writing 500 addresses on the front of the envelope that were taken from the salon cards we had.
That was another problem as most of the record cards we kept were never complete so truthfully it was a little hit and miss.
After spending weeks in preparation and then days writing and licking stamps I then had to wait for the following Monday to arrive as Tuesday was always the best day for the client to get the letter.
Now I worked out quite early the process that takes place in the mind of a client coming into a salon and this was key to creating good sales letters.
Anyone buying anything has bought the thing they want to buy at least six months before they go out to buy it. Did that make sense? If not read again because what you have to understand when writing sales copy is you are not selling anything. The selling has already been done; the client bought in their mind a long time before they met you.
Once the client starts to look what you have to do is create a message that convinces them using layers of strategic communication to order what they have mentally bought some time before.
In simple terms – so they buy from you from the letter you write!
The letters were mailed out and guess what? The phone began to ring. I knew they had the letter because the letter had a mechanism built in that made it possible to measure calls. I was in business.
After that initial success I eventually set up a system that wasn’t automated but it worked. Remember the Internet hadn’t been invented for people like myself at this point… dial-up arrived for me around 1999.
This new discovery of mine using sales letters exploded my business at every possible level. More sales, increased sales, more loyalty, more new customers, more recovering of old missing customers and so much more. It was a tool that I mastered over some years to eventually have the ability to write exactly the right words at the right time to create torrents of clients pouring through the salon doors every day of the week.
How? Through the simple yet masterful use of writing letters or as some like to wrongly call – sales letter!
Now here is why I use the word masterful
I discovered very early that you cannot sell through a letter – you can only convince people to use or buy what you are selling. The decision to spend had already been made a long time before.
But even more … the mind of a buyer takes a certain process and that process takes time to carefully map out.
It’s a little like steps and each step is supported by a mental decision whether it be subtle or obvious it is supported by that very subtle decision.
These decisions can involve many external decisions. Even things like what others think and fears that aren’t so obvious.
This isn’t just for my early business of course. As time passed I write more and more for businesses that were nothing like the salon business. This meant hours, days and weeks and sometimes months of research to process the mental path and inner triggers of a prospect.
Just recently I wrote a long form sales letter for a client. His previous campaigns had failed. He wanted the letter right now and was willing to pay for it. I told him a few things. One time had to be invested into the research, as this was a marketplace I hadn’t dealt with before. Next he would have to be patient. It took around five months to deliver that letter. That same letter delivered this client the best results they have ever had from sales copy to the extent their staff actually complained that they were too busy.
The client asked my advice on what do with staff that complained like this. I said – fire them!
So here’s the thing
Most writers or copywriters (apart from an elite few and I can count on one hand that few from millions) take the time to research everything.
If you absolutely need and cannot take a risk any longer and are so focused on results and nothing but good strong results that takes a specialist not just a copywriter.
It takes an expert, it takes a professor of words and minds, and someone that digs so deep they never give up until the strike gold.
When I work on long form copy or even short form for me it has to start with the mind of your prospect. That takes time after time. That takes research after research. That takes deep mining into the buyer’s path and the mental communications, natural thoughts and fears along the path to making an order.
That can take me weeks and sometimes months to perfect. In my own businesses it could take me 6-12 months to create a perfect campaign after much testing.
And today there has been a big change. A change so obvious, yet subtle, yet monumental that most marketers and copywriters have missed it so far from where I am observing from.
This change is so big missing it is the difference between make or break, success or failure.
It’s a golden ingredient. It’s a must-do process and must know action and it’s the most powerful series of things you should know before taking a single step into your marketing world of writing letters.
No wonder my fee is £50,000 for long sales copy because what I do and have developed and created is so unique, the successes I have experienced with direct mail are pretty unsurpassed (11%,33%,47%,63% and one explosive 83% response) could never have worked in a million years without knowing what I know today.
It has taken me since 1985 to master yet the past few years in my mind have been the biggest changes and learning curve ever in writing communications for your clients.
I should end this with a warning or two.
- If you are looking for the absolute best of the best – hire me.
- If you have the time and commitment to get it right – hire me.
- If you want an expert that will give it blood sweat and tears – hire me.
- If you want genius, science, predictability and premium – of course – hire me!
But - If you want an average results for an average fee go to Google type in the word copywriter and take your pick from 80 million copywriters that know not a ounce of what I have tried, tested, used, practiced, studied and spent decades perfecting.
Look at this magical math.
Plant one seed get one tree.
Plant many seeds get many trees.
Invest a little get little return.
Invest a lot get a lot in return.
Its now science of the rocket is it?
It’s a law as natural as breathing.
Pay a cheap writer and you get a cheap return.
Pay an expert for true expertise and you get a premium return!
And just before I do finally go why do I spend so much time doing this initial stuff? I learned a long long time ago that I couldn’t take risks with my own business and cash. If I took a risk and lost my kids wouldn’t get fed and my first wife wouldn’t be able to go and buy more furniture.
I cannot, I do not and I will not take risks with cash – your cash!
How about we talk?
Contact me right now.
I even answer my own phone… how utterly sexy!
Lets ride into the sunset and create magic.
Your writer of words
Alan Forrest Smith
Ps I wanted to tell you in this document about all the new things that have changed everything but you know what I believe they are so incredibly valuable for your success I think it is fair I only save that kind of thing for my own clients and my own projects. But I will say … these things are truly powerful when it comes to getting results.