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My Exclusive Formula For Writing Sales Letters
by Stan Holden

Iíve been writing sales letters since 1961, and have (more or less) specialized in direct marketing since 1971, when I joined Chicagoís largest direct marketing agency as Associate Creative Director, to work on the Hewlett-Packard, AT & T, Crain Books and Old American Insurance accounts, among others. 

Since then, as a full-time free-lance copywriter/consultant, Iíve written sales letters, ads, brochures, catalogs, DM packages, magazine articles, promotional booklets, PR, etc., for clients of all types and sizes.

But Iíve never consciously followed a copywriting formula, telling me what to do, step by step.  I simply write. * If what Iíve written bores me when I read it later, I revise it or start all over.

Nevertheless, if it will help, Iíll give you a formula I just made up.  Itís an enhancement of the century-old, often-quoted A-I-D-A letter-writing formula: Attention-Interest-Desire-Action.

A good sales letter is sort of like a Rube Goldberg invention, only faster.

That is, once you start it, one thing leads to another in rapid succession with seamless transitions from one paragraph to the next. 

Before you know it, youíve covered all the benefits and features and have convinced the prospect to respond... now. 

The formula for such a letter would go like this ...

1. Headline grabs the prospect, who reads the

2. Opening paragraph and beyond, discovering

3. Lots of customer benefits, supported by

4. Details of the product/service, followed (perhaps) by an

5. Extra benefit for ordering ...

6. Now!

So, the next time you have a sales letter to write, simply remember:


* Actually, I donít just start writing.  First, I do research, which may take as much time as the writing.  If the product is new to me, I try it (if appropriate).

I learn about its features, history, competition, uniqueness, price, accessories, options, supplier, and (especially) what it can do for the person who buys it or uses it.

I read the instruction manual, sales literature, test reports, customer comments, media write-ups, relevant books, magazine article, encyclopedia entries, etc. -- whatever is practical and appropriate, considering the available time, budget, location, and the type of product/service it is.

If itís complex, I may ask a lot of questions, so I can ďtranslateĒ its features and benefits into simple, everyday language. If the sales letter Iím writing is to accompany a brochure and Iím to write it, too, I often write the brochure first, so I can refer to it in the letter.


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