Always Remember to Keep the ‘Ball in Your Court’!
Imagine: You’re a busy person and yet you receive a letter that tells you to ‘call us if you’re interested, we’ll only be too happy to help.’
Why should you call that business? You shouldn’t. They’re the ones that want you to buy from them. They should be calling you!
If they want your business, it’s up to them to follow up the sale. So it’s very important to retain control at the end of your direct mail pieces. This allows you to better serve the potential customer and will increase sales. You’ll find out more here.
‘Assuring you of our best attention at all times’ (and some examples for you)
Ever see a sales letter that ends like that? If you were to read this in a letter, what would you think? Yuck! How old-fashioned! Or ‘oh sure.’
You’d never say it in real life, would you? So why say it in a letter? This and other lines like it are overworked clichés. You might just as well tell your readers to ‘buzz off.’
To the reader, it essentially means, ‘You’re never going to hear from me again!’
Shortly, you’ll discover some new ways to finish letters or ads. Right now, though, let’s just review where we’ve been so far.
Just kidding, let’s not.
But it does make the point! A great way to start the closing part of your letter or your ad is to review the key points. Like this:
Also, Mike, you see the value of a staged and structured approach to the training. Here, new material keeps coming at your people rather than the ‘old’ way of giving them the whole lot and hoping they do something with it.
So let’s just review what we’ve said:
You’ll have a program that keeps building with fresh ideas each month to keep your people involved and enthusiastic.
Your people will be getting and absorbing material that’s totally relevant to them—it means they’ll be using each skill immediately.
And, as importantly, you’ll see the results just as quickly.
These are just the initial ideas, Mike. As I said, the purpose is to use them as a framework.
You’ll need to digest the ideas and see how closely they match with your views. And, how closely they relate to the real needs.
With current workloads, we could start into the program towards the end of September. Again, I’m not certain how that kind of timing fits in. Clearly, we need to take a look now at the options and get together so that the ideas materialise into action.
I’ll be calling you soon, Mike, so that we can make arrangements. Until then, thanks again for such a pleasant initial meeting.
Do keep at it and keep on enjoying…
So what you’ve really done as you’ve built up the letter or the ad is TELL, TELL, TELL. That is, you tell the reader what to expect in your opening and purpose, you then tell them ‘What’s In It—For Me?’ by explaining the benefits of the product or service in the text, and then you tell what you told them in your closing section!
But since all letters must have a purpose, you must leave your reader knowing precisely what action to take or what action you’ll be taking to follow up the letter.
And that leads us to the key concept:
If your letter is not asking for an order (as in a direct mail piece, for example) make sure you’re in control of the follow-up.
Advertising is a slightly different scenario, but you must tell customers what to do at the end of an ad, just as at the end of a letter.
This next letter is an example of what not to do.
RE: STAFF DEVELOPMENT AND TRAINING PROGRAMS
Further to our recent telephone communication with your company, we are pleased to enclose our brochure for your perusal.
As your company is aware, training and development of personnel play a vital role in the success of a company’s operation. The enclosed information highlights the courses available which could be suitable to your needs by providing an alternative training to your existing programs.
Please call for an appointment to inspect our in-house training facilities, or we can arrange to call and see you should you wish to obtain further information on course content and availability.
Looking at that, who’s in control? In this case, the readers are in control as to whether they get back to the company. (Interestingly enough, this letter was sent after the readers responded to an ad—amazing but true!) Now you might say, ‘Yes, but the company could still call the reader because of the last sentence.’ Well, that’s true, they could. But then the reader may well perceive it as ‘pushy.’ So please don’t end your letters like this: ‘Please feel free to call us, or we’ll call you if we haven’t heard from you.’
Clearly, the closing part of that previous letter could have been handled more effectively, like this:
Again, it really was good to hear from you, Mr. Wild. Thank you for taking the time to get in touch.
You’ll be receiving a call from me within the next few days so that we can check that we’ve responded correctly to your needs. And we may be able to confirm a trial enrolment for you in one of our upcoming programs.
Until we talk, do continue to enjoy…
…many good things
P.S. By the way, I’ve checked course availability for you ahead of time. We do have a vacancy in the March 11 program (that’s about 16 days away), so you may want to check that date in your calendar before my call. Thanks in advance for that.
You see, in this case there’s no doubt who’s in control, is there? Yet it’s expressed in a helpful way. For example, ‘You’ll be receiving my call so that…’
It’s not pushy. Well, it’s a little nudge (so much more polite about it), that’s true. But then again, why not? After all, in this case the reader called the company to get a brochure. And that alone is a buying signal.
The person inquiring didn’t just call the company because they wanted the brochure. They wanted to buy—not necessarily from that company, not necessarily that product or service, and not necessarily today.
But that person clearly wants to buy. So that new method of closing the letter pushes the reader a little closer to buying, doesn’t it?
Further, research from some 10,000 sales meetings shows that 80% of all sales are made after the 5th contact! Given that, then, retaining control by making sure you’re in charge of following up is critical!
To reiterate, make sure, wherever possible, that YOU are in control of the follow-up for a letter campaign.
Like in this next example:
Good morning, Peter,
Yawn and yawn and yawn.
Maybe that’s happened to you when you’ve gone to new product launches. You know the kind of thing—people ask you how it was and the nicest thing you can say is, “Well, the food was good.”
Well, here’s a product launch that’s different!
You see, by coming along on Nov. 11 you’ll be among the first to see and take advantage of a brand new office furniture system that recognises this truly is the start of the 21st century.
It’s a furniture system that recognises we have telephones, that recognises we have computers, that recognises we have fax machines. In fact, it’s so good it’s just been awarded an international patent.
We’ll be calling you to make sure you don’t miss the launch, Peter. And I’m certainly looking forward to seeing your reaction…I think you’ll be more than impressed.
Until we meet, do continue to enjoy…
PS To make it even more exciting, we’re giving away a very special door prize. So why not call now (229-6754) just to let us know you’ll be coming?
Clearly, there are situations when you can’t expect to be in control of the outcome. Take, for example, a direct mail piece mailed to say 2,000 or 3,000 people. Or an ad in the local paper.
In these situations, you can actively encourage your reader to TAKE ACTION
You can do this by using the ‘offer technique.’ (An offer is a device that encourages a response.)
You’ll note that the offer, to be truly effective and believable, must have a time deadline. Interestingly, offers can continue to work even after the closing date quoted.
For example, a person saw an ad in a magazine. That person then called the business—22 months after the ad was released—and asked if the ‘offer was still valid.’ Such is the power of offers.
Another great closing device has a lot of power, too. It’s the humble ‘PS.’
Clearly, the PS is very important. For example, on a single-page letter, you often go straight to the bottom of the letter to see who it’s from. While you’re there, you just happen to notice the PS.
Or on a lengthy letter, say 4 pages or so, the PS will be the last thing the person reads, so it gives you the opportunity to convey an important message in a way that really makes it stand out.
The PS is like an asterisk in an ad headline. When we see an asterisk in the headline, we tend to scurry all through the ad to find out what the asterisk refers to, don’t we? It gives it added impact.
Here’s an example:
San Antonio, Friday, 3:20 p.m.
Good afternoon, Sue,
I’d like to speak plainly with you.
You see, I’d like you to think very carefully about the last photocopier salesperson you saw.
If he was good, if he considered your needs above his own, you probably dealt with him. And if he showed you carefully how to make significant savings, you’d deal with him.
What’s the point?
I’m brand new in this industry. Yet I’ve observed that many salespeople aren’t like that at all. They take your time in demonstrations that lead nowhere— demonstrations that are great ego trips for them.
I may not be the world’s greatest salesperson, but I promise you I’m different. And when we meet you’ll see why.
You see, we’ll invest time talking about your needs and how they can be met effectively and cost-effectively with new IBM Technology.
I’ll be calling you soon so that we can arrange to meet. Not, let me emphasise again, to tell you how great we are or how good our products are. But to talk about your needs. It’ll be relaxing and enjoyable— I promise you that.
Again, I’ll be calling you soon. Until then, please continue to enjoy…
PS Nearly forgot! Thank you for taking the time to read this. I’m looking forward to meeting with you.
It really does drive the point home.
Of course, you can add even more impact by actually handwriting this PS (providing your handwriting is legible, of course). It really adds a personal touch as well as power.
The PS is so important (studies show it can increase the response to your letters by up to 25%*) that you may well want to deliberately omit a key point in the body of your letter just to keep it for the PS.
Or, just use it to reemphasise a key point in a different way, as in this next letter:
And audiences listen.
But last month when I had the privilege of speaking with you and your colleagues at The Gateway, you did much more than listen.
You gave me something special. A gift.
Let me explain that. During our conference you gave me so much in terms of involvement and positive feedback, I felt part of the team. I’ll always remember that.
Sure, we shared some ideas to help you achieve. But now I’m able to offer you something even more powerful.
You see, on Wednesday, June 11, I’m bringing my friend, Dr. Denis Waitley, to Brisbane. And I want you to share in the special evening Denis has planned.
You’ll probably know of Denis from his books like The Psychology of Winning, The Double Win, and The Seeds of Greatness. His work is recognised throughout the world—by U.S. astronauts and by the U.S. Olympic team. You’ll see more about that when you go through the brochure and registration form enclosed for you.
Do go through it now. And do decide to be with us on June 11th.
Thank you for all you gave me. I’m looking forward to seeing you on June 11. Until then, continue to enjoy…
PS I want to mention something special that you won’t see in your brochure. Simply this. Denis’ new material has such tremendous value you might want to consider bringing along someone in your family who is between 14–18. It’ll help them and you enormously. And to make that possible, I’ve reserved 100 seats for your family members at very, very special rates. When you call to register for the seminar, be sure to ask for more information about this.
Now that last PS is really nice, isn’t it? It adds power, believability, and warmth. And by the way, the PS on the previous ‘typewriter’ letter gets an 85%% success rate on ‘cold calls.’
Aside from the PS, you’ll notice we’re not ending letters with ‘yours faithfully,’ ‘yours sincerely,’ and so on. Not even ‘best regards.’ Instead of these hackneyed phrases, use the close of your letter to be different AND to reemphasise the difference that is you.
Instead close your letters with phrases like:
It’s like beginning your letters with ‘good morning.’ It keeps that neat conversational tone you’ve established in your letter and stands out. Remember, differences catch people’s attention. And it gives you an easy way of wrapping it up, like this:
‘Again, John, it really was good to meet with you. I’m looking forward to working with you and to talking with you soon by phone. Until then, do continue to enjoy…
…many good things.
The phrase ‘until then’ provides a tidy link to the ending of your letter.
‘Until then, do make sure you keep on enjoying…
‘Until we meet on the 15th, be sure to keep…
‘Again Roger, I appreciated getting your note. Let’s be sure to keep on…
‘You’ll be getting your program next Friday, John, and I know you’ll enjoy and benefit from it. If anything comes up in the meantime, do be sure to keep…
‘It’s good to be working together with you, Bill, I’ll be doing my utmost to make sure your sales…
Use these ideas to improve your own direct mail pieces and advertising. They really will help you improve both your sales and your profitability by generating a better return for each campaign.
* That reminds me. Numbers expressed like this—25—have much more impact than numbers spelled out—twenty-five. So break the rules and always write numbers, not words. And please don’t express them like this: ‘payment terms are net 7 (seven) days.’ It’s totally unnecessary and goes back to the dark ages! Just 7 is fine! See how well an asterisk worked, too?
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