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The Anatomy Of A Sales Letter

The Anatomy Of A Sales Letter by Charles Sledge

If you really want to know the ins and out of something then it pays to dissect it down to it’s most basic forms. Good copywriting is no exception. Something that I encourage every copywriter to do (in addition to writing out famous letters) is to read famous sales letters over and over again really looking for the architecture behind the whole thing. Looking for where they transition from emotions to logic, where they transition to the call to action, and from the lead to the body. And so on and so forth. Pouring over these letters (like writing them out) over and over again gets them deep into your mind and subconscious.

However something that speeds this up tremendously is having a framework to base your own sales letter on and to look for in famous sales letters. I’m a big fan of simple, I believe in what Leonardo Da Vinci said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. I have found that those who can’t explain something simply generally don’t have a good grasp of what they’re talking about. The simplest and most to the point framework I have found for sales letters is the four P’s that was pioneered by John Forde a great copywriter. The four p’s are promise, picture, proof, and push and they describe a good sales letter perfectly. Each will be elaborated on below.

The Promise

Samuel Johnson famously said “Promise, large promise is the soul of an advertisement” and he was right. Your advertisement has to start out with a large, big, bold, clear, and enticing promise. The headline of your advertisement should always include your number one greatest benefit of whatever it is that you are selling. What is the biggest promise of your product or service? What amazing and miraculous thing are you promising the prospect if they purchase your product or service?

Will they grow taller? Get six pack abs? Make a million dollars? Never worry about X again? What is the big promise that your product or service is all about. With this first part, the promise you have to answer the prospect’s question “What’s in this for me?”. And not just answer it but answer it clearly and boldly. Every product or service has a big promise, a big benefit that is going to entice someone is reading the rest of your sales letter and buying your product. Remember promise big and then deliver on that big promise.

The Picture

Now that you’ve promised them something big, great, and amazing it’s time to get them to really feel what that is going to be like. It’s time to get them to picture in their mind what your product or service is going to do for them and them actually living out that promise that was given to them in the beginning of the letter. You want them to take mental ownership of the product or service in their mind and to feel what it’d be like to have that promise fulfilled. You do this by painting a vivid emotionally charged picture in their mind of benefiting from your product or service.

This is the lead part of the sales letter and is all about engaging and revving up those emotions. You want to use strong descriptive words to really make them feel what it’s like to have that great big benefit that you promised them. For example let’s say six pack abs was your promise, your big benefit. So you want them feeling all the girls checking them out, the confidence they have walking around, all their guys friends being jealous of them, oh and did I mention all the hot babes checking them out wanting a piece as you stroll down the beach girls gawking as far as the eye can see…you get the point.

The Proof

Alright now it’s time for the logic portion of the sales letter. This part is there so that after we’ve got their emotions all revved up and maybe they’ve even bought they don’t later come back and think “Maybe that wasn’t worth it”. Here we give them facts and statistics so that they can rationalize the purchase to themselves. “What 200$ for a workout program isn’t a lot, look here it says it’s approved by top scientists and even used by a professional athlete!”. Here you include facts, figures, numbers, statistics, testimonials, endorsements, and everything else that will convince others that you have a good genuine product (which you should).

People buy through emotions that they later rationalize with logic. However you need to give them something to rationalize otherwise they’ll be spinning away desperate for something to grab onto. If you provide them with figures and statistics they’ll have those to defend their purchase and protect their ego, which is honestly what those facts and figures are for more than anything. Of all facts and figures testimonials are the strongest (though others should be used as well). This where you bring out how your steel has a refining process that is 10x harder than the average refining process and undergoes rigorous testing that you explain in detail and so on and so forth. Use numbers, graphs, testimonials, and statistics for best effect.

The Push

Now we come to the all important push. Many copywriters do the first three things very well but then forget to really hammer down in the push and then lose all that momentum that they’ve built up. It’s the push that makes them pull the trigger and gives them your product or service and gives you their money. After the proof section you are going to want to generally do a quick summary, this is where you list out all the benefits one by one so that they really know all the great stuff that they are getting and how their lives are going to be changed by your product or service.

And then you are going to ask them for the order. You are going to state plainly and explicitly exactly what you want them to do. Like the headline the push is no place for vagueness or ambiguity. If there is multiple steps to what they need to do to exchange their money for your product or service then you are going to guide them by the hand through each one. You cannot be too thorough with this, it’s impossible. Ask for the order. Without this everything dies out without anything good coming of it. Follow through strong to the end.

Summary

Alright so there you have it a bare bones simple anatomy lesson of a sales letter. Even after studying hundreds of sales letters I still use this basic framework when writing letters of my own or for clients. It’s tried and true and too the point. Use it to write sales letters of your own as well as study the anatomy of other sales letters. I used this to crank out many quality sales letters when I started. Use it and get the most out of it. It’ll always be there to refer back to if you need it.

If you have any questions you would like to see answered in a future post send them to me at charlessledge001 (at) gmail (dot) com. If you found value in this post then I would encourage you to share this site with someone who may need it as well as check out my books here. I appreciate it. You can follow me on Twitter here.

-Charles Sledge

Charles Sledge