Four Secrets From the Self-Promo Sales Letter That Earned Me $64,000

Just over a year ago, I wrote a direct-mail self-promotion package that brought in $64,000 in new business for me in just 12 months. I mailed the package out once, to less than 100 names! Not long after, I had a couple new clients and a steady flow of business.

Today I’d like to share with you some self-promotion writing secrets, taken from the very sales letter that anchored this outrageously successful direct-mail package.

1. When writing about yourself, follow the “90/10 Rule.”

When you sit down to write a self-promotion sales letter to cold prospects, remember this: your target audience has never heard of you. And, quite frankly, they don’t care about you!

All they care about are their own problems and challenges, and how to solve them. So make sure 90% of the content of your letter focuses on these things. You can talk about yourself, but spend no more than 10% of the letter doing so.

For example, the two-page sales letter I wrote contains 650 words. Of those 650 words, just 49 words (roughly 7% of the letter) talk about me. The other 601 words (93% of the letter) are all about the reader. This ratio of words conforms to my “90/10 Rule.”

What should you write about in that critical “90% portion” of your sales letter? Focus intensely on the reader’s most pressing problems and challenges. Then talk about how you propose to solve them. Not by launching into a dissertation on how great a copywriter you are, but by offering the reader something of value that’s related to their problems.

2. Offer something of value.

Offer your prospect something of value, and you’ll increase response. This is a timeless piece of direct-mail wisdom. What should you offer? Some copywriters offer to send an “information package” with more details on their services. That information package may include a fee schedule, samples of work, and a case study.

I tend to favor offering a complimentary report, however, because I think there’s a danger that an information package may be perceived as veiled sales collateral.

Your report doesn’t have to be long. Anywhere from four-to-eight pages is fine. And it’s not that difficult to put together – especially for us writers!

Content for your report can come from doing a little online research on your industry, adding in some expertise from your own background, or conducting a useful survey in an online forum where your target audience (or, better yet, THEIR target audience!) hangs out.

3. Never, ever use letterhead.

Do not take a “letterhead” approach to your sales letter. In direct mail, your branding takes a back seat to the primary goal of every sales letter: generating response! This means you can’t have your logo splashed across the top of your sales letter, letterhead style, because that piece of prime real estate is reserved for something far more important – your headline!

So get your logo out of the way. I stick mine on page two of my sales letter, near the bottom, right beside my name and signature.

4. Close your letter with an authoritative tone.

One of the objectives of your self-promotion sales letter is to establish yourself as a reliable, accomplished professional in the minds of your readers. This means writing in a tone that puts you on an even level with the reader.

Although most copywriters know how to set the right tone throughout a sales letter, sometimes it’s tempting to completely break down when it comes to the all-important call to action. This is the point where the writing suddenly changes tone and practically begs the reader to give you a call!

For example, if you’re offering a complimentary report, it’s a mistake to end your letter with, “If you’d like to see this report, feel free to request it at …”

This language sounds too much like you’re asking the reader to do you a favor, and damages the professional image you’ve worked hard to establish in your letter.

Instead, simply say, “Request your free report right now.” Much more authoritative, far more effective.

Extra Tip: You can find great examples of authoritative tone on bottles of prescription medication. The stickers on those bottles say things like: “Take one tablet twice daily” or “Take this medication on a full stomach” or “Finish this medication.”

But nowhere will you find a sticker that says, “If you’d like to take a tablet or two over the next few weeks, that would be great! Please feel free to do so at your convenience.” To put such wishy-washy language on a prescription would be absurd! And it’s equally absurd to end your sales letter in the same manner.

Many successful copywriters point to direct mail as the number one way to promote your freelance business. Use these four secrets to write a powerful sales letter to anchor your package, and you’re well on your way to creating a direct-mail self-promotion package that can attract new clients.

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Published: April 8, 2009

4 Responses to “Four Secrets From the Self-Promo Sales Letter That Earned Me $64,000”

  1. This article is great information but for me a new copywriter have a difficult putting the letter together. Why not show some examples that we can use because we get blocked and write and write but don't know if it is correct. Can we forward to you for review before we send it off. Please respond via email or do a followup article that will help us newbies...thanks so much.

    Guest (Carmen)April 25, 2012 at 8:30 pm

  2. Excellent article. Clean, simple approach to capturing the prospects most important topic -- THEM!

    Isn't it always about them, and how we can be the cure to their most painful problems?

    Of course it is.

    And my favorite call to action,

    So, here's what to do next . . .

    Richard DenzerDecember 26, 2014 at 1:40 am

  3. Brilliant article and recommendation, i would definitely be using this in my marketing arsenal.

    Donald C ObiiApril 18, 2016 at 6:52 pm

  4. i would have liked to seen a written example of the self promo page!

    Guest (Mary brittingham)February 3, 2017 at 2:11 pm


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