Most of the sales letters your prospects receive sound about the same:"I'm writing to introduce myself and my company; we're the leading supplierof Widgets, and you should do business with me. Call if you have anyquestions." Letters like this are boring and self-serving. There is littleincentive for prospects to read them, let alone respond.

The ideal sales letter has just four short paragraphs:

1. Briefly discuss a specific issue/problem
Choose one which is common among the prospects you are writing to. Example: Ifyou're selling hurricane shutters in Florida, talk about the new law whichrequires upgraded window protection, and the potential high cost of achievingit. People who are concerned about these issues are now hooked.

2. Describe a solution you offer that addresses the issue you raised
Example: You have a window film which goes over existing glass and provides theprotection required by the new law at much lower cost than metal shutters. Nowpeople understand that you are the potential solution to their problem.

3. Tell your credentials
Examples: How long your company has been in business in the area, yourspecial areas of expertise, quality of your people, etc. No need for pufferyhere (skip words like "leading" and "best"); just presentthe facts.

4. Specify the next action
Tell them what to do next and why. Example: "We have a bookletthat describes the new building code in detail, plus the various alternativeways to comply with the law. For your free copy, call this number."

Always make the call to action very specific--tell your prospects exactlywhat should happen next, not just an offer to answer their questions or toprovide "free information."

The entire letter should fit on just one page, loosely spaced for easyreading. Use separate enclosures for additional information you want to provide.

Whatever you sell, you can adapt this simple, four-paragraph format to createa sales letter that gets attention and results. And by taking this single-issueapproach in each letter, you can send a series of letters over time, each with afresh issue/problem that you are prepared to solve.

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