Unsolicited sales letters sound like junk mail, and the bad ones are. But they don't have to be. Companies use direct mail marketing for a reason: When it's done well, it works. A written sales pitch doesn't have to end up in your potential customers' recycling bins, it should end up in their letter files, and on their refrigerator doors or bulletin boards. The trick is relating to the customers in a genuine way, offering them something useful, and telling them how to get it.
Select Your Typeface
Select your typefaces – one for the headline and one for the body. Use something simple and elegant. Times New Roman is a default typeface on word-processing programs for a reason, it's easy to read and it looks good. Set the headline in bold and the body in plain style.
Use a Professional Writing Style
Adhere to common professional writing style. Good sales letters look like regular letters. Bad sales letters look like hackneyed, gimmicky pitches. Write with normal punctuation and capitalization. Tricks such as excessive exclamation points, hot-pink paper and WRITING IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS!! can be off-putting. Refrain from placing a trademark after your product's name, it smacks of heavy-handedness.
Know Your Audience
If you're writing to a specific population (contractors, teachers, lawyers, retirees, young singles, etc.), tailor the content of your sales pitch to the needs of that demographic or profession. If you're writing to a general population, keep in mind what many people wish they could have: A life that is more efficient, more convenient and less stressful.
Address Your Unsolicited Sales Letter
Address your reader. If you have the person's name, use it. Using a courtesy title is safest, though some people do prefer to be called by their first name.
No need to say "My name is," just acknowledge that you're a real person and that you're working for a company. Give the company's name and a simple, plain-language description of what it is and does. "I represent (corporate name,) a locally owned family business that specializes in dog grooming and natural pet-care products."
Make a Connection
Make a connection using any information you know about the person. If you're writing to people in a specific geographic area, for example, use demographic research: "We know people in Chicago are eager for better (product)." If you're writing to an age group, do the same: "Recent retirees are using the Internet like never before, and our website is providing them with regular social and educational activities." Then introduce and summarize your product. Give its name, its purpose and a short, bullet-pointed list of highlights of its features, innovations or other alluring qualities.
Make Your Sales Introduction Letter Useful
Give your reader the gift of knowledge and increase your chances that your letter will be kept. If you're selling lawn-care equipment, for example, include expert tips on quick and easy ways to kill weeds. If it's a cooking product, suggest a few recipes. And if you're selling something geared toward time-saving and personal organization, include tips on easy, on-the-spot stress relief.
Thank the Reader
Thank the reader for his or her time, and include your contact information. "If you'd like to know more, please call me at (phone number), write me at (e-mail address), or visit my company's website at (simplified URL)." Sign the letter in your own hand if possible.
John Zaremba began writing professionally in 1997. He has worked at some of the country's finest small daily newspapers, including "The Beacon News" and "The Patriot Ledger." Zaremba is a graduate of the University of Illinois.