By Craig Huey

With the increase in direct mail volume at all-time highs, the need to grab a reader’s attention in a sales letter is even more crucial. As a prospect sorts through loads of daily mail, he needs to know two things up front: what is being sold and how it can benefit him. Consider these six steps.

By Craig Huey

With the increase in direct mail volume at all-time highs, the need to grab a reader’s attention in a sales letter is even more crucial. As a prospect sorts through loads of daily mail, he needs to know two things up front: what is being sold and how it can benefit him. Consider these six steps.

1. Know and state the biggest benefit for the reader up front. Readers spend, on average, five seconds deciding if they’ll open a mail piece.

2. Remember the basic goal for your sales writing: increased response. You’re not a writer, you’re a salesperson who uses the medium of writing.

3. Review a sales letter you’re presently working on. See where the “grabbing” material or “hook” is and determine whether it’s too far down. Also try this: begin reading in your third or even fourth paragraph. Chances are you’ll discover more reader benefits there than at the beginning.

4. Use specifics to grab attention. It’s not enough to mention profits–use numbers, names, dates, etc. Use everything you can get a hold of to capture your reader’s attention.

5. The “hook” can be placed in various places besides the first or second paragraph. Some prefer the superscript above the salutation. Others like to use the space where the inside address is usually found.

6. Be creative in your salutation. “Dear Friend or Reader” sounds trite. Personalize the salutation, if possible, using: “Dear Executive,” “Dear Doctor,” “Dear Homemaker,” etc.

Craig Huey is president of a direct response advertising agency, Creative Direct Marketing Group, Inc and InfoMat. 310-212-5727 (craig@cdmginc.com).

1. Know and state the biggest benefit for the reader up front. Readers spend, on average, five seconds deciding if they’ll open a mail piece.

2. Remember the basic goal for your sales writing: increased response. You’re not a writer, you’re a salesperson who uses the medium of writing.

3. Review a sales letter you’re presently working on. See where the “grabbing” material or “hook” is and determine whether it’s too far down. Also try this: begin reading in your third or even fourth paragraph. Chances are you’ll discover more reader benefits there than at the beginning.

4. Use specifics to grab attention. It’s not enough to mention profits–use numbers, names, dates, etc. Use everything you can get a hold of to capture your reader’s attention.

5. The “hook” can be placed in various places besides the first or second paragraph. Some prefer the superscript above the salutation. Others like to use the space where the inside address is usually found.

6. Be creative in your salutation. “Dear Friend or Reader” sounds trite. Personalize the salutation, if possible, using: “Dear Executive,” “Dear Doctor,” “Dear Homemaker,” etc.

Craig Huey is president of a direct response advertising agency, Creative Direct Marketing Group, Inc and InfoMat. 310-212-5727 (craig@cdmginc.com).