From The Golden Thread Mailbag …
Identifying Good Letters

Hi Pat,

How do you know if your letter will be the control letter? Do you ask your client? How does that work? I am mostly writing for the fundraising market. Do they have such a thing as a control – or is “control” a term used only for the financial and other profit-making markets?

Terri Q.

Hey Terri,

Good questions.

“Control” simply refers to the promotion that has the best pull – which is to say it is the one that generates the most sales. So, every direct-response company in every niche uses the term.

For your letter to become the control, it has to beat the client’s current control in a test. The client will mail both your letter and the current control to an equal number of people. The letter with the best response rate becomes the control.

Your client will be the first to tell you when you have a control. And, she’ll be happy to do so. In fact, she’ll probably be calling to ask you to write her next letter!

Hi Pat,

In the Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting, we are encouraged to save sales letters we get in the mail. We’re encouraged to study them and save them in our swipe file for possible future use. But when a sales letter arrives, how do we know whether it’s a good example of copywriting, worthy of study and emulation? I don’t want to study bad copywriting. So, how do we tell the good from the bad?

Jeff S.

The easiest way to distinguish good copy from the bad is to look in your own mailbox.

The good letters are the ones you receive over and over. There is a very good chance that if you get the same promotion in the mail (or via email) more than twice, it is a control. The reason is that no direct-response company is going to spend time and money re-mailing a letter that did not perform well the first time.

Good luck with the program.

That’s it for this week. Thanks to one and all – and keep those emails coming!


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Published: October 3, 2006

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