How to Start A Letter?
SOME writers of success-bringing letters consider that the problem of gaining attention is solved best by use of several words, sometimes displayed in capitals or underlined, as the first paragraph of the letter, thus.
“BIG PROFITS FOR YOU!”
“FIRE TWO OF YOUR CLERKS.”
Here is a sales letter that is especially good because it presents its proposition fully and clearly, and makes a strong and convincing appeal in a few paragraphs. All the elements of salesmanship are present, yet they are so cleverly interwoven that the letter stands, first of all, as a unit.
Attention is won through a combination o the two methods of opening a letter recommended in this chapter - uses of the word “you” and a direct unusual statement. Another virtue of the opening is that it states a fact that the reader is forced to agree to, thus laying the basis of confidence that is so desirable in every selling transaction.
The first three paragraphs explain the proposition and all are likewise full of argument. Proof of the reasonableness of the proposition is offered in the suggestion that the reader examine the ribbons himself.
There is both persuasion and inducement in paragraph four’s urgent argument of money saved, and the close is a good example of how action may be prompted when you do not give the prospect anything to sign. Two instances are presented of calling attention to enclosures without breaking the continuity of the letter, and the reference to the shipping label is an especially good example of making it easy for the prospect to order.
“You MUST act today.”
“MAY I GIVE YOU $1000.00?”
This plan is based upon successful advertising practice. It is to a sales letter what a catch-line is to an advertisement. You summarize the most striking feature of your proposition into the smallest possible number of words and hurl them at your prospective buyer with all the emphasis at your command.
Used with discretion, the idea is excellent. It makes the reader sit up. The human mind is so constructed that it requires a positive and conscious mental effort to turn aside from any thing that has aroused curiosity. The normal operation of the mind is to satisfy that curiosity, even though the reader’s cold reason tells him that h is not likely to be interested. An admirable example of this scheme was the letter of a magazine publisher addressed to subscribers from whom renewals of subscriptions were being solicited.
The letter opened with the single word - “Expired!”
Very few of those who received that letter failed to read further to learn who, or what, had expired. Another instance is that of a collection agency. This concern had a series of form letters designed to facilitate collections, and the circular letter through which it brought the proposition to the attention of possible clients opened –
“YOU DO NOT PAY YOUR BILLS PROMPTLY, SIR!”
Naturally, the man who received such a slap in the face did not toss the letter aside without learning more. The advantage of the display-line opening is that it virtually compels the reader to continue into the second paragraph of your letter. The danger is that you may arouse an interest which the balance of your communication, or the merit of your proposition, does not justify. This style of opening is like the catch-line of an advertisement or the headline of a newspaper article. The ad-writer who shrieks “Price Slaughtered” and then lists staple goods at prevailing prices misses fire.
The newspaper which habitually employs lurid headlines and six-inch type to set forth the ordinary doings of a dull day has nothing in reserve when an event warranting the spread eagle scream line occurs. The method is one to use sparingly and only when other means fail.
How to Start A Letter?
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