Attention Deficit Sales Letter Disorder

For any marketer, attention is a precious commodity. Considering that consumers are bombarded with thousands of advertising messages each day, the question of how to make your message stand out from the crowd becomes even more critical.Any successful sales letter must accomplish two things:

1. It must sell the prospect on reading the sales message all the way through

2. It must lead the prospect to the most desired action, whether it’s to make a purchase or subscribe to your newsletter.

If the copywriter fails at Step 1, then Step 2 becomes an impossibility. In other words, it’s unfeasible to make a sale if the sales message is not read. Many copywriters overlook Step 1 and, therefore, even though they have a great offer and close the message is not “attractive” to read. The bottom line is that the sales letter suffers from Attention Deficit Sales Letter Disorder – ADSLD!

Direct marketers know half the battle is won if they can just get their letters opened. Much thought and testing go into determining the size, design, color, message and layout of the mailing envelope. These marketers know if that envelop is not opened, then the letter is not read and the sale is not made. Simple.

For the online marketer, there are no envelopes to be opened even though some webmasters create a Flash introductory page that can act like an envelope. When a prospect comes to a website the message is there to be read. But how can this prospect be enticed into reading the sales letter all the way through?

Here are a number of ways that I remedy ADSLD for my copywriting clients:

1. Several tests have shown that a RED headline gets attention over any other font color choice. Red is often associated with danger but it also says, “This is important, read me!”

2. Remove anything from the page that doesn’t support the sales message or distracts from the sales message. This includes most animated graphics and bright colors for the page background that competes with the foreground text. Nothing beats just plain black font against a white background. If you can keep the number of colors used to three or less, this will also help readability.

3. Keep the text table width under 700 px. If the text is set too wide, then it becomes tedious to read from one line to the next because too much head and eye movement is involved.

4. The headline must engage the reader to read the rest of the message immediately. Headlines that work best are those that promise a BIG benefit for READING the letter, induce some curiosity and written in large bold type. It should also have some ‘newsy’ element to it as well.

5. The format and layout of the sales letter should be inviting to read. 12 pt. Arial font works well online, paragraphs kept under five lines and appropriate highlighting, bolding and subheads all make the letter appear easy to read.

6. The lead in, or the hook for the sales letter must arrest the attention of the reader and seduce them into wanting to read the entire letter. This can be best done by making a bold promise for reading the letter itself. Great hooks include stories, factual statements of a surprising kind and a strong testimonial from a user of the product. Whatever method is used, the lead in has to break into the conversation already taking place in the readers head. Using popular news items you know will be familiar to your target audience is another effective strategy.

7. There should be prompts all along the letter that encourages the reader to keep reading. This could be as simple as writing: “Keep reading …” One of the best strategies is to begin a thought process and break it with another subject and return to complete the thought later. This can be done simply by writing, for example, “I’ll tell you how I lost 38 lbs in just 3 weeks, but before I do so let me tell you … [other parenthetical idea or story goes here]” You’ve planted an initial idea which requires resolution and the reader must continue reading to gain it.

8. Be UNIQUE. If all of the sales letters in your industry look and read the same then why should a prospect read yours? You should try to go for a unique look and feel for your website. This may mean using a mascot, a humorous twist in your message or what can be more unique than your picture or story? The fact is that you want to stand out from the crowd and don’t be afraid to push the envelope sometimes. One of the cardinal sins of copywriting is to be boring.

9. Focus your message on the reader, not on your company or product. This is a major downfall of big corporation who think everyone should just know how great their companies are. But your prospect is basically motivated by selfish desires. The questions you must be answering all through the sales letter is “What’s in it for your reader?”

Often there is a debate about just how long a sales letter should be. Keep in mind that any person will read a 1,000 page book if it’s all about them. A book about your company? … that’s another story altogether.

With thousands of marketers coming online you’ll need to fight more and more for the ATTENTION of your prospects. I’ve been able to use these same tips I’m sharing with you to win attention and increased profits for my copywriting clients. You can do the same for your marketing message as well.

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