Learn To Write Your Sales Letter Before Creating Your Product

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This is a guest post By Andy Brown.

Today I would like to talk about one of the biggest wake up calls any information marketer will ever hear. Unfortunately there is one piece of advice regarding how to sell your first product online that is just plain wrong.

People just starting out and experienced marketers alike are led to believe that having created their own product they must move onto writing their sales letter to complete the project. At first glance this may seem a sensible thing to do but the reality is this will severely hinder your chances of ever making a sale online.

The goal should always be to write the sales letter first before you have even created the product, only by writing the letter will you ever know exactly what will go into it. Too many times marketers will spend a huge amount of time on product creation only to find it lacks key components essential to solve the “pain” their prospect needs solving. Only by taking the time to truly understand their potential customer, by writing a first class sales letter, can they be in a position to produce a product that meets all of their requirements.

The truth is we all like to put off the things we least like to do until the very end. In fact in the internet marketing world most marketers feel immense relief when they believe they don’t have to even think about writing any of their copy until they have finished the product creation.

So how does one address this issue?

I would recommend every marketer has an A4 lever arch file full of their favourite sales letters, typically known as a swipe file. This should contain photocopies of some of the old classics by David Ogilvy, Gary Halbert, Gary Bencivenga and Claude Hopkins. It should also include good direct marketing pieces you have received through the post and online copy that has persuaded you read through in its entirety. I would also recommend you start to print out all of your competitors’ sales letters, making note of which ones really stir your emotions where you feel they really understand your problems.

The next step is to physically hand write out chunks of copy you rate highly and have proven to convert in their own niches. This practice over time ingrains the persuasive traits all of them will have and as a result you will pick up on the phrases that convince you read on and also purchase.

Critically there is one thing all of the great marketing pieces will have above everything else.

All of the best converting sales letters will have strong elements of proof. In fact never start writing your copywriting if you haven’t got a number of case studies, stories, testimonials, or videos to back up your persuasive proposition that states you have a way to solve your prospect’s problem. Understanding this can be a tough nut to swallow and I see far too many marketers jump on the bandwagon of writing an ebook  without a thought as to why anyone should buy it. At the very least they should be using their own story as a way of creating proof, illustrating how their product reveals the breakthrough to achieving a given successful result. This is one of the key reasons I use to back up my argument for writing the copy first. It can be a hard slog to create the product and then hope it will do everything you promise it will if you know you have missed out key parts. In my own niche of golf I will only create a new product if I know students have already improved their games by using the information I’m going to put in it.

Again if we take golf I make a habit of buying as many magazines as possible to help improve my copywriting, in particular headlines. If you have chosen to market to a large group of rabid buyers it is almost a certainty that you will be able to buy magazines on that subject, in fact if you can’t find a magazine that could well be another wake up call – perhaps the market you’re considering isn’t as large as you thought.

Magazine editors will be acutely aware of what headlines make people pick their product off the rack, browse through it and buy. If you can’t buy every magazine in your niche at least take the time to read as many headlines, sub heads, and bullets and jot them down as possible as soon. By standing at one end of the magazine shelf and walking the length you will quickly pick up on words that commonly appear across niches. This will allow you pick up on ideas for your own writing.

I have golf magazines as far as the nineteen forties, and one thing is an absolute given when comparing to one bought today and that is people buy on emotion and then justify it afterwards. This will never change and the very reason why we can all go back decades and still find great copy that will be as effective today as it was in the past. I am forever looking for phrases that pull my emotional strings rather than my logical ones, because these are the diamonds that will sparkle in your copy and make the all important sales.

As a student I studied architecture and would spend many nights at university trying to design buildings that evoke emotions, uplift and inspire the visitor. This was never an easy task and the creative process would often result in many dead ends before I was pleased with the final design. Likewise I find successful marketers have to go through the same process and in doing so create many drafts. Imagine perfecting your sales letter over a number of weeks before eventually being happy with a draft you can run with. In this situation I can absolutely guarantee completing the product will seem like a breeze!

I make no excuses, every person that makes money online will have studied and worked hard at copywriting. It can be time consuming, but fortunately many life skills are learnt along the way. Techniques in how to create traffic and build websites will come and go, but the core skills of copywriting will be same for the next hundred years.

Many will kid themselves into thinking they can wing the headline and also cut and paste a sales letter right at the end of the product creation.  As already stated I strongly beg to differ. It isn’t uncommon for me to spend 2 – 4 hours working on variations of a headline for a new squeeze page. Often this is best done in a coffee shop, away from computers and with just a pen and paper – nothing else.

In fact I will most the majority of this time with my mind away from the stacks of headlines I have memorised over the years but instead I will importantly try to get right into the mind of my target reader. As I take my first sip of coffee I begin to picture my typical prospect – how old are they, where do they work, what currently frustrates them, what does a typical day look like for them and so on. They call this process creating your customer avatar and this becomes a very powerful technique to helping you tighten your copy to the point your prospect truly believe you are speaking directly at them.

I will go on record and say if you can’t write 300 words about your typical customer, you will struggle to create your sales letter. The easier you can picture them the easier it will be to write copy that really ticks all the emotional boxes.

The reality is that good sales copy will separate the winners from the losers and it continually amazes me when I hear so many confess to doing lip service to improving their copywriting skills.

As an affiliate manager at http://www.NewPowerAffiliate.com
for two of the most successful internet marketers in the UK, Neil Stafford and Neil Travers, I fully appreciate the avalanche of information and advice everyone is exposed to when they decide they would like to work towards creating an income online. Often the vital skills of writing effective copy are overlooked in the stampede to glean as much knowledge about the latest traffic techniques and hottest ways to game Google.

All too often the game plan to launch a product gets lost in the noise and never takes off, so my advice would always be to write your sales letter first and have a more profitable and easier life.

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14 Responses to Learn To Write Your Sales Letter Before Creating Your Product

  1. John BNo Gravatar says:

    I agree that to research what the market wants first is so important to a products success. Although if I were to write a full sales letter before creating the product I might have burned out the excitement of creating the product in the first place. The steps I personally take are..

    1. Market research

    2. Start the product

    3. Draft a sales letter

    4. Finish the product

    5. Finalize the sales letter

    This works better for me although that is my own personal preference.

    Good information in the post.

    Cheers

    John B
    John B´s last blog ..Selling More On eBay- The 1000 Mile High ViewMy ComLuv Profile

  2. Howdy Vince,

    Many thanks to you and Andy for this great info. I agree wholeheartedly that our inability to describe our typical customer is a critical error many of us make.

    Just going through the act of contemplating these concepts also changes the person writing the product or sales page and ultimately, the author must be sold first or no one else ever will be.

    Plus, I also like the idea of mixing coffee breaks with work to confuse the bosses. 8-) This single notion could change the face of work as it is known throughout the world today.

    Muchas gracias, friends.

    Barry
    Barry the Bedwetting Blogger´s last blog ..Amusement Parks &amp Greeting Cards Emotional VampiresMy ComLuv Profile

    • vinceNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Barry Thanks for dropping by again, Andys insights have really changed my viewpoint. I was in manufacting (kitchens) for many years and looking back tended to design what I liked, rather than the other way round, fortunalty enough people liked the stuff to make good sales but I could have sold a hec of a lot more by writing the sales letter first

      Just been over to your blog great read and thought provoking stuff

      Cheers
      Vince

  3. LisaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Vince,
    Andy is great isn’t he? He mentioned in the post to get away from the computer and write your customer avatar and sales letter by hand. You know what? It works!
    I started writing a sales letter on the computer and then wrote some by hand. The hand written part is so much better and has so much more feeling in it!
    My computer written sales letter actually sucks and I am going to redo it by hand.
    The words and copy just flow better and you don’t have little red and green lines telling you something is wrong. :) (Cause I can’t type!!)
    If the product you are writing a sales page or avatar for is your passion/pain, you will also have more ‘pain factor’ (or passion factor) in a handwritten page.

    Lucky you to have a guest post by someone who is so knowledgeable and giving of his time and expertise.

    Folks should just take his advice. I know I did! :)
    AND….I have a product in the making!

    Lisa~
    Lisa´s last blog ..How Did I Get HEREMy ComLuv Profile

    • vinceNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Lisa
      Yes Andy is great, his post here has really focused me on the right way to create and/or market a product. His practicable advice is just spot on. I am very lucky for him to have agreed to write this post. It’s fantastic that it has helped you and others also.
      I really enjoyed reading your post as well
      I hope we stay in contact after the 100 challenge
      All the best
      Vince

  4. suzie batesNo Gravatar says:

    That’s great advice Vince!

    I love the part about “creating your customer avatar” as I’d never thought of doing this but it makes great sense and I’ve certainly taken it onboard.

    Great post, thanks. Keep em coming!

    Best Wishes,

    Suzie

    • vinceNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Suzie
      thanks for dropping by. I think Andy has really hit the nail on the head. I love this business it is all about people, the product is created for them.

  5. EdNo Gravatar says:

    Hey Vince,

    Andy not only has a good point but one I find unique and I must say a very good way to creating not only a product, but one that will help you refine the end result so its more beneficial to the buyer!

    Great stuff these are the kind of posts I like to read….Ed.
    Ed´s last blog ..Selling on eBay- and Having a passion for chicken Nuggets Relates to Your eBay SuccessMy ComLuv Profile

  6. MikeNo Gravatar says:

    Hi

    Very good post and I’ve fallen into that trap myself.
    Landed on your page via the 100 comment challenge (JO post)
    Keep up the good work
    Best wishes
    Mike
    Mike´s last blog ..Blog Comments Challenge- Using the “Power of Six”…to drive traffic!My ComLuv Profile

  7. SallyNo Gravatar says:

    Hey Vince

    I completely agree with you.

    I cant remember who taught me this method first (thats terrible isnt it) but I always create the sales letter, or ebook contents first.

    Mapping it out that way certainly makes it much easier for me to finish and essentially start my products.

    Great post, I hope a lot of people read it and put your suggestions into place.

    Sally :)
    Sally´s last blog ..Writing Testimonials Benefit You TooMy ComLuv Profile

    • vinceNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Sally
      Thank you for visiting, I am very grateful to Andy Brown for his insights. He has a great deal of experience in IM. It is such a logical way to look at things, to find out what people want first and then write the sales letter to make sure you give it to them, rather than trying to sell something that we may think is great but has no relevance to others.
      All the best
      Vince

  8. Andy BrownNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Lesley,

    As you research your product try to also put some time into developing your customer avatar. What pain are they going through and are you able to offer the solution.

    Part of your plan should be to set aside an hour away from your computer and scribble down the character traits that sum up the your ideal prospect. Can you imagine them using your product?

    So you could start with are they male or female?

    How old are they, not that they are in their 30s, 40s or 50s for example, but specifically the exact age- for example 38.
    Where does she/he live?
    Does she/he have kids if so how many?

    In a nutsell you need to imagine you are painting a picture of a character for a novel. The time you put into this exercise will pay you back many times. For a start when when you write your sales letter BEFORE creating your product you will be able to picture who you writing to. You should even give your customer avatar a name.

    Good luck with your business.

    Kind Regards

    Andy
    Andy Brown´s last blog ..The 4 Essentials Every Affiliate Program Should HaveMy ComLuv Profile

  9. Hi Vince,

    Wow, that’s a lot of information. I’m in coaching now with Mark Terrell and we are starting to research creating our own products.

    I can see how this relates as we have been asked to do a task this week that I can now see is in direct relation to the points of a sales letter, before the product.

    I’ll book mark this post and refer to it as I get deeper into this process.

    Thank you!

    Lesley
    Lesley “Wes” Klatt´s last blog ..Week 3- Generating TrafficMy ComLuv Profile

    • vinceNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Lesley
      Thank you for your comment, I think Andy Brown has a very good point here, writing the sales letter first really foucuses on what the product should be like to solve the pain or disire of our potential customer.

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