By Dawn Josephson
Whether you’re creating a sales letter, a brochure, a newsletter, or any other business promotional piece, you need to write in a way that not only explains your product or service, but that also compels your prospects to contact you.
Unfortunately, many promotional pieces miss the mark. Outrageous claims, weak calls to action, and boring text are the common mistakes that plague most people’s writing. Such errors accomplish only one thing: They destine your promotional piece for the infamous “round file.” They also show prospects that you’re lazy, uncreative, and possibly incapable of delivering quality work.
In order to entice prospects to contact you based on your promotional mailings, you need to keep your writing both lively and factual. The following guidelines will help you write promotional pieces that even your toughest prospects can’t resist.
1. Write a headline that gets to the point. You have less than five seconds to impress your prospects to read on. And the first thing any prospect reads is the piece’s headline. So craft a compelling headline that immediately conveys why this information is important to your prospects. The four main headline formulas that work are:
- How To – The formula is “How to” + verb + product/service/noun + benefit. Example: How to Create a Store Promotion that Increases Revenue
- New – The formula is “New” + product/service + benefit. Example: New Tax Law Saves You Money
- Power Verb – The formula is “Power Verb” + product/service + benefit. Example: Prepare a Business Plan that Boosts Company Profits
- Free – The formula is “Free” + product/service + benefit. Example: Free Booklet Reveals the Secret to Lowering Your Interest Rate
Since your headline determines if the prospect keeps reading, craft yours wisely.
2. Keep the hype to a minimum. Many people think that in order to get people to read their promotional piece they must write something outrageous. To some degree, this is true. Saying something outrageous is a great way to generate interest, as people naturally love controversy. Plus, if you can stir things up, you’ll get lots of exposure. The thing to remember, however, is that you must be prepared to answer questions and/or prove everything you write. So if you want to write something just for sensationalism but can’t back it up, don’t. You must be able to support everything you print.
3. Go easy on the posturing. While you may produce the best products or offer the most unique services in the world, that is for your prospects to decide. Every superlative you use in your promotional piece will reduce the prospect’s trust in what you say. So instead of telling prospects that your product is “the most extraordinary thing to ever hit the market” or that your service is “capable of revolutionizing the industry,” show your prospects how these claims are possible. Give the benefits of using the product or service as they pertain to your prospects’ lives so they can determine just how extraordinary or revolutionary the product or service really is.
4. Evoke images. As you write, evoke more than one of the five senses. Paint a picture with your words so prospects see, hear, smell, taste, and feel what you’re describing. Contrary to popular belief, the best promotional writers think in pictures, not words. They see the image they want to convey to their prospects, and that’s what they write. So if you’re a candy manufacturer or a florist, for example, write so that your readers smell the candy or the flowers, not just see what they look like. If you’re in the restaurant business, help your readers taste the food. If you’re writing about business productivity, help your prospects hear the hustle of productivity and feel the rush of a sales call. Do more than just tell prospects what’s going on.
5. Always make a compelling call to action. What do you want the person reading your sales letter, brochure, or other promotional piece to do? Buy your product? Call you for more information? Visit your web site? Whatever action you want your prospects to take, state it clearly. Too many promotional pieces ramble on about all the features and benefits of the product, but they never tell the prospects to actually do anything. For example, in a sales letter you could write: “Please call our office immediately for more information on how we can help.” A brochure could say: “Order the widget at our special introductory price today.” In a newsletter you could write: “Visit our web site for more information about our new product line.” Tell prospects precisely what you want them to do.
Make Your Promotional Pieces Work for You: When your promotional pieces present your information in the most compelling and factual manner, your prospects will find them and your company irresistible. So as you write future sales letters, brochures, or other promotional pieces, keep these guidelines in mind. When you do, you’ll create a promotional piece that delights prospects and makes them eager to do business with you.
Dawn Josephson is a ghostwriter, editor, and writing coach who helps business leaders and professional speakers create engaging and informative books, articles, and marketing pieces.