The opening of your sales letter is really just an extension of your headline. Take a look at any newspaper and the first paragraph gives you a summary of the story, whilst hinting that you should read on and find out more.
For example, I’ve just grabbed a nearby magazine and flicked to an opening paragraph on a random page.
“Pregnant Patricia Bohanon has never met the father of her unborn baby – or the biological mother – after buying an “adopted embryo” from India.
So we have a good idea of what the story is going to be about but it piques our interest by raising questions that we assume will be answered in the following article.
Depending on the product and the audience I’ll begin a sales page any number of different ways, but you can beat the “staring at a blank page” syndrome by considering these main types of opening and choosing one style for your sales letter.
Ask a Juicy Question
We can use the engagement principle (our minds automatically wanting to answer questions put to us) of asking a question in the opening paragraph. It’s like the headline question, except we have a bit more room to start stirring our reader’s emotions.
“Have you ever wondered what it’s actually like to run your own business from home? Perhaps you’ve had an idea for a home business that raises your pulse rate, but then you think about how to actually detach yourself from your full time job, to leave your office, your schedule, and security. If you didn’t have to worry about any of those things, would you still take the leap?”
“What’s the difference between the life-coaches with work backed up for months and those struggling to get clients through the door? How would you feel if I told you it wasn’t just ability or experience? Would you feel that things were unfair, or would you want to learn the techniques these “successful” coaches are using to have the same results in your own practice?
Paint a beautiful picture
This is where you engage your customer by painting a picture of the wonderful experience your product or service gives them. This is where it really comes in handy to know your product inside out because you’re going to stir them up positively in a way that makes them giddy to find out more about what you’re offering.
“Imagine going for a walk with your dog with the confidence that your four legged family member is going to be well behaved. Finally, you’re able to actually enjoy the experience. In fact, it’s positively rejuvenating when you see that your dog is calm and relaxed. No more worrying about whether the black dog is going to set him off growling, or if the tiny yappy fellow will make him tug and pull at the lead. Nope, this day it’s just you and your “best friend” enjoying the exhilarating freshness of the great outdoors.”
Show you understand
In this particular style, we’re going to show that we understand and empathise with the problems our customer is having. When customers see that you understand their pain and their problem, they are more likely to be receptive when you offer a solution.
“You’re about to reach for your credit card when there’s that familiar pang in your stomach. A mixture of guilt, panic and excitement. The sales page in front of you promises that this is the last information product you will ever have to buy, and you try to ignore the fact that the last 8 ones you bought (that you’ve still yet to read) promised you the same thing. You’re stuck. You just want a definitive answer, a voice to listen to and a clear path to follow. You know you need to take bold action with your business and do something now but it’s like being at a crossroads with 10 different ways to turn, not knowing which way is going to show you how to make next month’s rent…”
Now do this:
When you’re writing sales copy, or even the opening to an article, think about how you can use one of these techniques. What questions could you ask your customer or what situation could you describe that would grab their attention?