Writing a Sales Letter is Hard?

Product creation myth number two is that: writing sales copy is hard.

You know what I'm going to say in response to that, right?


Just like you, I let sales copy be yet one more excuse not to launch a product.  I didn't have 20 thousand dollars or even a thousand dollars lying around to pay someone to make my site sell, so what was I to do?

lots-writingMy mentor at the time just said... list some bullet points.  And that really is all you have to do.  Choose ten things about your prdouct that people would really like.  What does it teach them that no one else does?  What skill do people walk away with?  How soon do they see results and how dramatic are those results?

Think of ten great things about your product that say great things about it, that don't actually give the chapter titles away.  Then take the strongest bullet point in that list, move it to the top, make it larger, and now you have your headline.

Write a couple of sentences about what the product is... for example, a 22-page e-book about organic gardening.  Mention what bonuses you provide, what guarantee you have and then push people to click that order button.

Following that formula won't give you the best salse letter in the world, but it's a start, and it will sell.  What's important is that you actually did something.  You can work that into a much better sales letter after you join us in the Product University class... but I always prefer to have something to work with.

Michel Fortin, who has promoted a lot of my products, says it really well.  Put out a low-quality sales letter, so you at least have something out there, and then split test it to perfection.  You might even end up with a sales page better than you would have paid for.

So come on, join the Product University class.  Use the money you WOULD have paid a copywriter so you can learn basic copywriting one time and create sales letters over and over again.

p.s. The FINAL product creation myth is coming tomorrow (after you guys leave me 10 comments), so don't miss it!

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Comments (24)

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  1. BoonKwee says:

    Isn’t it amusing that there’s nothing perfect about perfectionism 🙂 You nailed it here again Robert – the fact that we will build for ourselves all sorts of reasons not to take action.


  2. While I agree most people make the art of sales copy much harder than it has to be, I also know from first hand experience that most people are incapable of writing an English sentence let alone a paragraph containing a single thought. While you provide the simple outline, you fail to mention that people need basic writing skills, too.

    You may be one of those naturally gifted writers, but the majority of people out there are not. I can’t count the number of good products that had really bad sales letters.

    I earned my BA and MA in Creative Writing and taught writing for several years at the University of New York. The percentage of college students capable of following your simple approach would be quite low.

    Writing good sales copy is not hard, but first you need to understand the basic mechanics of writing including spelling, grammar and punctuation. You also need to understand organization of thought.

    Then art comes into play. The turn of a phrase, the ability to compel people to take action … these things only come with time and practice.

  3. Doug Parker says:

    Just keep in mind that sales letters are no different than selling something to someone face to face. You need to make sure that you are filling the need of the customer with the benefit of the features you are offering, not the features.

    People buy what the want, not what you are selling. Fill their need with the benefit of what your product gives them. If they feel that your benefit statements (bullet points) results in solving the problem they are seeking to solve, they will buy.

  4. Totally agree, Robert. It’s easy if you’re speaking from the heart!

    It’s the same old mantra – take action. Take Action!

  5. Well, I’ve got a BUNCH of copywriting courses and stuff on my hard drive. And Dan Kennedy said he had copied 100 sales letters several times over to learn the art and flow of them. If you’re competing against people like Dan Kennedy or Bill Bonner to beat a control package, you probably should know a lot of stuff and have some pretty deep experience.

    But I bet MOST people in MOST markets (except IM or investment related) have hardly ever, IF ever, even SEEN much of a sales letter on the internet.

    So I bet it does not take that much to write a sales letter if you just follow the rules of Talk to them like your buddy at the pub, and tell them everything they need to know, but no more, then ASK for the order, several times if possible.

    And the bullet point approach seems to be the best, although if there are more than 7 or 8 bullets in a row, I usually get bored and stop reading them. I prefer some regular formatted text, 7 or 8 bullets, then more regular text, then bullets, if necessary. … And I am generally not a skimmer.

    I’ve written a few sales letters, most of which no one has probably seen! Wrote one for a friend’s boarding school and doubled their attendance. Wrote one for another friend and he really liked it, but he never followed through with his marketing.

    This week I have almost wide open to make the big move to getting a paid product uploaded and my site marketed. I’m starting with and FTM site.

    (Just signed in for 1st time to gravatar.com, am waiting for confirm e-mail from them.)

  6. Michael Carey says:

    Question: Present day copy writers use the AIDA formula. What the heck happened to the AIDCA formula made popular in the 60’s and 70’s? Which one do you use and why?

  7. Leroy Brown says:

    Let me tell you a story…

    There was a man named Jed. He was a poor mountaineer that barely kept his family fed.

    And then one day when he was shooting for some food, lo and behold but up from the ground came some bubbling crude, oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.

    So the first thing you know old Jed’s a millionaire. His kinfolk said, “Jed, Move away from there!” They said, “California is the place you ought to be” so they loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly. Hills that is, swimming pools and movie stars.

    The rest is history. He met Jane, Mr Dreysdales (the local banker where Jed kept all his money) secretary, and they had four illegitimate children. But this is another story for another time…

  8. I agree with Steven Schneiderman, not everyone is a gifted writer. If college students have problems following your approach to write, where does that leave the majority of the people?

    I, for instance, speak better german than english.
    A lot of other folks have no problems communicating verbally, but do not know how to write a sales-letter.
    It is not as easy as it looks.

  9. Leroy Brown says:

    My post above was not a joke… but a copywriting lesson.

    You’ll notice as you read it you were drawn in, and you wanted to know more about the “story”. This “story” for those of you too young to remember, is simply the lyrics to the Beverly Hillbillies song made so popular years ago.

    Start your copy with a story, draw the reader in, engage them with something interesting, and then maybe they’ll stay longer than 3 seconds…

  10. @Michael — I’ve seen several pretty well known copywriters who’ve recently diverged somewhat from the AIDA formula. Although their newer versions — with slightly different acronyms — are just some variation or expansion of AIDA, it seems to me. I like Jim Edwards overall, no-nonsense approach, and Mark Joyner’s book, **The Irresistible Offer** made a big impact on my thinking. But it seems hard to go wrong with Dan Kennedy’s little copywriting book, and it is CHEAP, unlike most of his other stuff. I did do the AWAI course, and it is pretty hard to argue with their level of success in the industry. After a while, I kind of lose track of what I learned where.

    But I’ve just been letting my own style evolve, while trying to keep in mind what I’ve learned. I do think need to make a checklist, however. It’s too easy to forget things like … Make An Offer! … (DUH!)

    @Steven & @Hermann — I don’t think the majority of the people will ever get anywhere near this IM stuff, or if they do, they must be fast and diligent learners, or they’ll soon be gone. So we can only worry about that very small percentage of people who will get in AND stick with it. If they do not know how to write a readable sentence, they will learn, or give up.

    One of the neat things about the IM business, and competition in general, is that it literally forces people to work toward being their very best in a lot of ways, including product development and writing sales letters.

    But, in deference to Robert, **Just Best Enough.**

    Bottom Line is I would not even think, let alone worry, about those who cannot write a basic sentence. They will probably never show up in the copywriting or IM world. Although learning how to sell through copy would be a good way for them to get a decent job.

  11. Jedi Wealth says:

    Absolutely right, especially when you have a great collection of swipe file material, and the ability to make it original to your product/service without weaking the power of the copy.

  12. Michael Carey says:

    I sometimes think that a lot of the crap that passes today for copy writing is the result of too much copying. “Who Else Wants To Access My Incredible Swipe File?”

  13. Michael Carey says:

    @David — I have most of Dan Kennedy’s materials, including his swipe files. Which little copy writing book are you referring to? I’ll reread it if I have it and if not, I’ll get it. Thanks!

  14. @Michael — He has two paperback books, originally published many years ago, that are his Basic Newbie Foundation:

    The Ultimate Sales Letter
    The Ultimate Marketing Plan

    He recently republished them in updated versions, but old copies of the original version are probably available on e-Bay. But for 15 bucks or so each brand new, the new ones are really worth it.

    One of my most favorite IM Guru type guys is Perry Marshall, who does really excellent copywriting, and Ultimate Sales letter is on his short list, as it is a few others I cannot remember at the moment.

    Your Welcome!

  15. Hello everyone — Robert you seriously rock!

    I just had to jump into this conversation.

    When I first started my copywriting career I interviewed (great product creation there Robert) : ) Brian Keith voiles — Stellar interview and as a result Brian and I became friends.

    One of the best things in his trainuing was his…

    The AICPBAWN Formula.

    It’s just so much more complete — whether AIDA or AIDCA for sure there are gaps that need to be filled in.

  16. Michael Carey says:

    @Shaune — Awesome offer, Shaune. Whether or not I qualify, thanks so much. Brian Keith Voiles is one of my all time favorite copy writers, along with Dan Kennedy, Gary Halbert and others(Robert Plank is moving up on my list too, as I find his sales copy nearly irresistible).

  17. Dave Doolin says:

    @Michael Carey — I was thinking yesterday Robert may have Halbert-like potential. His copy is good, he upsold me on Action PopUp and I haven’t even had time to go through that material.

    @David Scott Lynn — I’m working my way through Halbert’s “Hands On” newsletter. I very, very rarely mention Halbert to anyone. Because it’s free, most people won’t value it. An acquaintance of mine advised me to read ALL the Halbert newsletters, which I’ve done, once. About 300 bullet points from all over onto index cards now, a bunch from Carlton, Pagan, etc. Will be going through “100 Greatest Advertisements” after 500 bullets points. Then my stack of Cosmos (yeah, I subscribe, know your enemy).

    I really like this notion “Just Best Enough.” I figured out in a different life that in adventure sports (climbing, caving, etc) the “hard core” wasn’t twice as able as us lesser mortals… they were simply CONSISTENTLY 1% better than everyone else.

  18. @Dave Doolin — Thanks on the Just Best Enough idea. Made it up while writing that post.

    You won’t believe this, but in 2001 a girlfriend asked me to run a video camera for her video team, even though I had ZERO experience. But I learn fast. … Anyway, it was a HALBERT seminar on Copywriting!!! … But I had almost NO idea what it was really all about. I was so focused on doing a good job as cameraman that I only picked up bits and pieces of Halbert’s seminar. And that was one of those BIG BUCK seminars.

    I had no idea what I had stumbled into. … Nor what I should have REALLY been paying more attention to.

    My only other near exposure to copywriting till then was reading Jay Abraham sales letters, and the infamous Kevin Trudeau, the late night infomercial guy, and **Secrets THEY Don’t Want You to Know Guy,** who was a client of mine. And flying me around in his little Lear Jet so he could receive bodywork from me in different places proved he could make money!

    He kept telling me I had to write a letter to all my past Clients to rev up my practice. But I had NO idea what he was talking about, not even enough to ask him for clarification. A letter is a letter you know? … Another missed opportunity!

    But I’ll tell ya, Halbert certainly knew how to work a room! … And yes, his newsletters are a gold mine. EVERYONE should read them, even if they do not copywriting.

    As far as Cosmo goes, I only read them for the pictures … and Headline training.

  19. Advanced knowledge of copywriting is great, but I for one appreciate your emphasis on following a simple method that gets immediate results, however modest, building up momentum, and putting the polish on later.

    I’m looking forward to Product University 2.0.

    Go #1!

  20. Wayne Cochrane says:

    Yeah you’ve nailed it again Robert.
    I think it is finally getting thru to me.
    If I wait for perfection at best it is delaying and at worst never happens at all.
    If I have nothing out there then it can’t sell.
    A less-than-perfect product and a less-than-perfect-salespage and marketing system still sells a whole lot better than nothing. (Or at least there is the possibility of selling something.)
    Thanks once again Robert!

  21. The biggest problem most people have with sales letters is basic sales techniques and closing

    Sell benefits not features
    Mini-close throughout the page
    Close the deal

    I’ve spent over 30 years in sales and didn’t realize this was a problem till I started marketing online and saw a few examples of sales pages


  22. Jake Markson says:

    You’re right–your approach won’t create a perfect letter but will create something that doesn’t stink–and a foundation for what can become an even more effective letter as you work on it.

    Nice to see someone cut to the quick on this topic.

  23. Brad says:

    Great Post Robert. I totally agree you just need to get something done and get it out there.

    To many people freak out at the thought of writing a sales letter. You can’t make any sales if you don’t have anything up.

    Once it’s up and making a few sales then you might think about hiring a pro.


  24. I just got a great compliment by a tutoring student’s mother. She said I described just what she was looking for. I told her I couldn’t possibly ever write that over again because I wrote it from my heart


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