To those of us who spend our time thinking about and acting upon the latest and greatest new media strategies, it’s easy to become a marketing chauvinist, finding older strategies distasteful, un-sexy, and not worth our time. However, new media’s instantaneous, ephemeral nature can encourage haphazard efforts, as if shooting from the hip somehow has become a legitimate marketing methodology. A solid sales letter can provide a cure for schizophrenic marketing efforts. Here’s how.
As any marketer knows, great products and services are built to satisfy real human needs and desires. Sure, sometimes things catch fire for little reason other than the fact that they are catching fire, and everyone wants one. But if that thing is going to stick around, it has to deliver value, and that value must be understood by your potential buyers.
Can you lay out your case? I don’t mean in conversation. I don’t mean in catch phrases, tweets, blog posts and any other communication that dissolves into the ether. I don’t even mean in ad copy or a description of your feature set– features don’t really matter. Benefits do. And what matters more than benefits? The pain those benefits are designed to resolve.
Drafting a sales letter forces you to do a number of things that otherwise don’t always happen.
You can use it to detail all of the following:
- The problem that, until now, has not been effectively resolved by anyone else
- The consequences (pains) that problem causes for real people
- The “how” and “why” your solution makes sense in light of those consequences
- The benefits people gain by adopting your solution
Keep in mind that “your solution” does not have to mean your specific product. It can simply mean your understanding of how to solve the problem. That you have something to sell is beside the point in this exercise.
If you find yourself bristling at the very idea of drafting a hokey, sleazy, over-the-top sales letter that never ends, while offering ever-greater add-ons (for free, of course), that’s good! Don’t write one of those. Call it a white paper!
People have needs and wants. You must be able to address those in language people
understand, which compels them to take action. Whether you use the sales letter as a marketing tool or not, completing this exercise is of immense value for your own clarity. It’s also fodder for the media mill.
Because good sales letters (and most white papers) contain a great deal of compelling information and insight, but little or no ad copy that is overtly selling the product, you can easily spin hundreds of tweets, headlines, ads and dozens of blog posts out of just one. If valuable content is king in new media, you better dig yourself a well of solid ideas. And, as I alluded to above, working from a series of clear ideas about how to talk about your understanding of the market space (not always your product) will greatly enhance your unified strategy, as opposed to chasing news items and internet memes.
So why a sales letter and not a marketing brief or other formal document? Surely one of those can accomplish this task? Not even close. Try explaining yourself to a prospect by quoting your marketing brief or strategy documents. Try publishing those to your website. The point here is that you can still miss the mark by a mile… unless you decide to work and think in language that makes sense to prospects. Now write your prospects a letter!