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Employment Tips

Sales Letter Format: The Elements You Need and How to Structure Them
By:Neil Sawers

The Internet is full of sales letter templates for every conceivable purpose. Want to sell widgets to the shoe industry? There's a template. Want to tell law firms about your legal accounting package? There's a template. The problem with templates is that they don't help you understand the rationale in a sales letter format. That's especially important when you have to write a sales letter for a product or service for which the template doesn't apply.

There are 5 elements in a sales letter format. They flow from one to the other in sequence. You probably won't conceive of them in the recommended order, however. In fact what will happen is that you'll look at these particular elements and do the necessary research on each, before deciding how they link together. Here are those 5 elements:

1. A hook
Something that grabs the customer's attention. It may be pleasurable, like a heading I once did for a winter vacation in the warmth - "Cold Remedy." It may resolve a painful situation, such as a product for arthritis; i.e., "Banish your arthritis pain today." It's quite likely, however, that you won't come up with that headline till all your other work is done.

2. A statement of the problem/issue in the marketplace
I've gone through this one several times with other articles. It's all about being very clear what the problem or issue happens to be in the marketplace that needs resolution. By defining that, and the pain or pleasure that it causes, you are in a position to move to element number three

3. Why your product or service is the answer
You have a solution to the problem in the marketplace. This is a descriptive of your product or service and why it is the perfect solution.

4. The benefits to the customer of using your product or service
There's a real danger that salespeople stress the features of their product or service and fail to place the emphasis on that area of major customer interest - the benefits to the customer.

5. Action steps
You want the customer to purchase your product or service. As part of this process, you make a special offer, and you ensure that it is for a limited time. For the customer to take advantage of the offer, they must act now.

These 5 elements make up most sales letters, or sales e-mails and faxes for that matter. They usually follow the above sequence. In the next few articles we'll open up each element of the sales letter format so that you can see what they're composed of, and how they fit together.

Neil Sawers develops books and e-books on business writing to help you grow your business. He is a strong supporter of entrepreneurs, small business and students in business and entrepreneurial programs. To discover how you can write more effective and compelling sales letters for your business, begin by downloading the free chapter on The Discovery Process available at:=> http://www.how-to-write-proposals.com. This chapter applies to all business writing and contains key tools and concepts to help you win more business.

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