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When the hardest part is finding a way to begin.

Many times, especially after you've done it for a while, one of the hardest parts of crafting a strong newsletter salesletter is the opening.

Many of us owe a debt of gratitude to Ed McLean who claims to have been the first copywriter to open a salesletter with:

"This list upon which I found your name tells me...."

I admit to being partial to the "identification" opening:

"If you're like me, your biggest problem/concern in today's XXX market is...."

Or, if you're targeting an audience of used car dealers or funeral directors--any group of which the writer is obviously not a member--this can be easily modified to:

"If you are like the FDs I speak with every day...."

A truckload of salesletter openings

To jump-start your creative juices, here's a truckload of salesletter openings which have been successful for other newsletter marketers..

* The direct approach--State exactly what the offer is.

* Anecdotal style--Grab the reader's interest with an anecdote. The tricky part of this tactic is the necessary segue into the selling message, which can be too abrupt.

* The premise trap--Get the reader into the letter by stating a premise with which he or she must agree.

* The double premise trap--The same technique with two questions in a row demanding "yes" answers. Make sure the questions are reasonable and relevant to the product being marketed. Remember, whenever using a question in direct mail, avoid writing it so the prospect can answer "no" and stop reading.

* The very long "usefulness" headline--Rene Gnam says there is no reason this headline can't go halfway down one page (or even further) and lead right into copy, even without a salutation in some instances.

* Personal ego approach--Any version of "You have been selected to receive...." that plays upon the prospect's ego.

* The great announcement technique--A Charter Offer for a new publication is the most obvious example.

* The big mystery approach--"What do more than 70 percent of the CEOs of leading companies in widget manufacturing have in common?

* The future lifestyle approach--This is most effective for consumer newsletters. It's usually a variation of the "You, too, can learn how to make big money playing the options market." The business newsletter version is usually a twist on "Be a Hero at the Office."

* The bold, all-convincing headline--"Make One Decision Today."

* The discovery tactic--"You can discover...." followed by an explanation of the key area of information featured in your newsletter.

* The big comparison--A way of stating all the vital information the prospect who responds to the promotion will have compared to the cluck who doesn't respond. The famous Wall Street Journal letter beginning "On a beautiful late spring day, twenty-five years ago" combines this technique with the anecdote opening (see sidebar).

* The invitation--Tried and true. "This is your invitation to save $100 on a charter subscription to...."

* The premium-first approach--Put the premium right up in the lead sentence. "Get your copy of our exclusive special report, '75 Techniques to Create Stronger Direct Mail Copy,' by ordering today."

* The "Sure I can" approach--Ask the prospect something he or she can certainly do. "Can you afford to spend just an hour a week to achieve...."

But, if your control letter is working fairly well, don't be in a rush to change for the sake of change. Remember, publishers tire of promotional packages before prospects do.
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Title Annotation:DM Notebook
Author:Goss, Fred
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Apr 30, 2004
Previous Article:Award-winning DM package brought in almost four times its cost.
Next Article:WSJ's control combines "anecdotal" and "big comparison" openings.

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