May 2007 Issue --> Marketing Article
Sales Letter Copy Secrets
By: Yanik Silver


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Do you remember the stupid beer commercial a few years back with the tagline "Why Ask Why?"

Well, completely unknown to the ad agency, they had almost stumbled onto a breakthrough marketing concept. Telling people the reason why you are doing something is one of the most powerful influencers of human behavior.

Robert Cialdini, Ph.D. in his book "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" talks about an experiment by Harvard social psychologist, Ellen Langer, that concluded people like to have a reason for what they do. Her experiment consisted of people waiting in line to use a library copy machine and then having experimenters ask to get ahead in line.

The first excuse used was "Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I'm in a rush?" This request coupled with a reason was successful 94% of the time. However when the experimenter made a request only: "Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?" this request was only granted 60% of the time. A significant drop!

Okay now for the shocker.

It may seem like the difference between those two requests was the additional information of "because I'm in a rush."

That's not the case.

Because in a third experiment, the experimenter asks "Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?" There's no reason mentioned or new information presented, just the words "because."

This time a full 93% of the people said yes simply due to the word 'BECAUSE'! And it didn't even matter that there was no reason given. Just the word because triggered a magic response.

More psychological 'triggers' that can massively increase your sales letter success, whether you’re writing online sales copy or direct mail copy.

Max Sackheim, famous for the long-running ad "Do You Make These Mistakes In English" and originator of the book-of-the-month concept, says "Whenever you make a claim or special offer in your advertising, come up with an honest reason why, and then state it sincerely. You'll sell many more products this way."

Here are two examples:

Instead of yelling 'SALE' like so many other stores would, John E. Powers, one of the top copywriters wrote this ad giving prospects a legitimate reason why they should spend their money at a Pittsburgh department store in severe financial trouble: "We are bankrupt. We owe $125,000 more than we can pay, and this announcement will bring our creditors down on our necks. But if you come and *buy* tomorrow, we shall have the money to meet them. If not, we shall go to the wall."  This ad was responsible for saving the store.

Another ad written for a different merchant by Powers proclaimed, "We have a lot of rotten raincoats we want to get rid of." This sold out the merchant’s entire inventory of raincoats by the next morning.

And this powerful sales letter and ad copy strategy works just as well today.

Using this secret weapon, I helped a medical equipment company produce a massive 1,073% return on investment simply using "reason-why" copy.

The premise was how we can sell a product for the incredibly low price of only $477. Regularly this product sells for about $695 - $895. Then the ad explained that the price was so low was because the manufacturer wanted to gain market share and get more nurses and doctors accustomed to using their product. It was a huge winner and a big moneymaker for the client.

Here’s how you can apply emotional, psychological triggers to your sales letter copy:

Let's say you have a slow time of year and you want to increase your business during this period. Write a simple sales letter to your customers making a special offer, only good during your slow period.

Maybe you'll throw in extra free bonuses, extra services, or special discounts simply because it is your "slow time" and you need to pay your staff anyway.

Let people in "behind the scenes" at your company...

Are you overstocked on merchandise because for some reason customers only want the deluxe widget - but you ordered tons of the basic one?

Did you have a flood and you need to liquidate your inventory?

Do you need to raise cash so you can pay for your nosejob?

Whatever the reason is, tell your prospects the truth.

For some reason everyone wants to be mysterious about their business. If you're lowering the price nobody thinks you're doing it just because you're "such a nice guy". So let people know the reason why.

I know this probably goes against every grain of business sense, but I promise, if you give people a good, believable reason why, they'll respond with an open minds and more importantly, an open wallet.

About the Author

Leading Online Copywriting Expert, Yanik Silver has helped tens of thousands of companies just like yours create a surge of hot, new, qualified leads, sales appointments and customers with killer sales letter copy that actually sells. Now you can go to & get 49 of Yanik’s hardest-hitting, profit-generating sales letter templates guaranteed to help you quickly and easily create a sales letter guaranteed to sell your product or services.

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