The High Value of Direct-Response Sales Letters

Smiling female freelance writer working on laptop in home office

Let’s face it. We live in a digital age where it’s easy to forget about traditional marketing channels such as direct response, particularly direct mail … and especially sales letters.

What few people realize is that printed sales letters have been used by direct marketers for hundreds of years. In fact, you can trace their use as far back as the early 1800s when retailers sent out printed circulars in the mail to customers.

Often those circulars served as their primary advertising channel. The only other channels available were newspaper and then magazine ads. But circulars were less expensive and did what was expected … drove consumers to take immediate action.

That is the main purpose of direct-response marketing … to get people to take action, whether it’s signing up for more information, calling a company’s sales or customer service team, or making a purchase.

But when the internet came along, marketers slowly began to switch their focus to online activities such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid ads through search engines such as Google and Bing.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Those activities are important in the marketing mix for a business to not only survive but to thrive. However, just because something is old, doesn’t mean it no longer works.

And what’s happening is companies have come to realize that direct-response sales letters are just as important as online marketing activities.

Often, the “collateral” content messages you see online — ads, lift notes, emails, squeeze pages, e-letters, and “stick letters” — are used to support and drive traffic to a long-form sales letter.

The sales letter is still the foundation — the bedrock at the center of the marketing campaign. Whether it’s sent by mail or published online, the long-form sales letter is still a cornerstone for so many marketing campaigns.

Because the simple truth is that almost any kind of sales message that can be done in print can also be done online as well. I’m talking about marketing messages such as ads, articles, newsletters, scripts, and yes, long-form sales letters.

And companies of all sizes are using direct-response sales letters either online, in a video format (VSLs or Video Sales Letters), or in print form. For instance, giant tech companies such as Facebook, Google, and Snap recently reported that direct-response marketing was a bright spot in their ad business.

This finding was backed up by analysts from multinational banking and investment firm, J.P. Morgan who found that although ad spending overall has dipped, many corporations believe direct-response advertising is proving more resilient.

And that includes printed direct-response advertising. In fact, it’s big business. In 2021, the direct-mail advertising industry was valued at $7.6 billion.

So why the sudden return to good old-fashioned marketing tactics like using direct response? Well, because a well put together campaign can tick off several boxes at once:

  • It focuses on lead generation.
  • It creates a sense of urgency.
  • It has a faster response rate.
  • It’s trackable.
  • It delivers measurable results.

Chances are that your client places a value on direct-response marketing as well. And for you, Dear Reader, that means an opportunity to pick up high-paid writing opportunities — especially if you can write long-form sales letters.

And if your client doesn’t use direct-response marketing yet, well, that also translates into an opportunity for you to show how you can help them gain new customers and increase sales by writing persuasive direct-response messages, especially long-form sales letters.

The good news here is that anyone, with the proper training, can learn to write a long-form sales letter. It’s really a matter of knowing the secret structure that goes into writing a letter.

And no matter what kind of product you’re selling, whether it’s a health supplement, subscription, online learning courses, or travel magazine, the structure stays the same.

In fact, every effective letter follows a direct-response sales format and includes these five elements:

  • An attention-getting headline
  • Emotionally engaging lead
  • Body filled with proof points
  • Irresistible offer
  • Compelling call-to-action (CTA)

And some more good news. In just a few days, I’ll be kicking off a new, LIVE training program where I become your mentor and coach, with the singular purpose of teaching you how to write a sales letter from start to finish.

I will walk you through each of these elements, sharing with you examples of how they are done (and the why behind each one too).

By the time we’re done working together, you’ll have the necessary skills to add writing long-form sales letters to your portfolio of services. You also get to put your newfound skills to work because you’ll be given the chance to write a long-form sales letter for AWAI.

If we like what we see, I might just pick your letter as the “winning” one, which means you could earn a $5,000 paycheck. You can find out more about the training I’ve put together here.

Remember, no matter what channels clients use to reach out to potential customers, writing direct-response sales messages, especially long-form letters, will never go out of style.

And if you learn how to write them, you’ll enjoy the highest earning potential of any writer. Besides up-front fees which are often in the thousands, you could earn royalties of 2%-5% of the sales as well. Writing sales letters is truly a lucrative writing opportunity — and with some proper training, you could be earning big money throughout your career.

Now is the ideal time to get started as a direct-response sales letter writer. Do you have any questions about this opportunity? Share with us below.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: October 25, 2021

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