How to Write a Sales Letter That Fails Miserably

Perhaps you’re sitting on the fences and not in the trenches—contemplating how to write a sales letter—the right way…or no way at all?

Or you already started to dig in, like surf and turf at happy hour. Sweating with anticipation and fear of authoring yet another epic FAILURE?!

Thing is, most people are like kids; they do exactly what you tell them not to do. Knowing that, I am going to tell you how to write a sales letter that bombs—explosively…

…Fails. Unfavorable results. Low ROI. Low sign-ups. Not a winner…

Let’s launch….

I. Use opt-in popups BEFORE any value is recognized

As soon as someone lands on your website, let the annoyance factor slam into 9th gear.  Care less if the focus on your content—which brought ’em there in the first place—is interrupted. Who cares if they’re halted mid-sentence as an elusive box hovers over the words…or video (or whatever)?!

Let them frantically hunt for the “close” link or “X” button.  It doesn’t matter if they rarely EVER bother seeing what your attention-killing pop-up has to offer!

Even IF you were giving away a free car for subscribing to your list, they usually don’t care!

You piss more people off than you get to sign up. You haven’t yet earned their trust and given them enough value—immediately AFTER they arrive to your site! Allow them to join the club AFTER giving them time to browse.

opt-inDon’t be the annoying, “hurry-up-and-buy-right-now!” lady, or the “can-I-help-you-find-something-even-though-you-just-walked-in?” guy.

Set a timer on your pop-ups so they can part with their email addies after deciding whether or not your content even deserves future reads.  They just might have no need for you or your company, ever!

Don’t like that idea? Ditch that altogether and use a sign-up form ONLY in your navigation panels, footers, sidebars, etc. Get creative, but STOP being so intrusive!


II.  Be a scarcity FREAK

Yes, go right ahead and sell your digital product(s) with no over-the-top support requirements, no physical fulfillment requirements, and no staff to pay. Feel zero inhibition with using that “buy now, only 10 available”  scarcity ploy. Savvy visitors will never see through that. Don’t resist the temptation..just do it!

Ahem. Digital products cannot easily be sold under “limited” pretenses as many other physical products can, unless done carefully—and in alignment with what others (with similar goods and services) are doing; or depending on what the market allows.

Scarcity can make your sales scarce. Use it wisely.


III.  Screw market research. Write your copy FIRST.

Do exactly as I did for one of my digital products when I first launched it years ago. Do what you love to do and money will come. You want the world to see it. You just know people will want it.

Maybe so, but herein lies the issue: You’ll never meet these customers because they’ll most likely never find your site!

Your keywords won’t be relevant because YOU never found out what relevant is. You jumped on the Google-keyword-search bandwagon and rode the highest-searched-horse. Later it became apparent that said searches had no buyers, only “info shoppers.”

Don’t even think about preventing this from happening by grabbing yourself a copy of Market Samurai, and test driving a FREE TRIAL to help with your online market research.


IV.  Testimonials are overrated. Don’t use them.

Yes, it’s like pulling teeth from a shark…getting previous customers to take time out of their schedule-stuffed days to write you blazing testimony. Don’t even fathom the possibility of writing your customers a testimonial based on what you did for them, and have them sign off on it—thereby “approving” it for use! No, don’t even worry about it doing all of that. Let your prospects rely on “trusting you.”  That always works.


V.  “Crappy Copy” Converts, Doesn’t It?

Hopefully your copy is so bad that your visitors forget why they came to your site as soon as they land on it. Maybe they remember why they came, but quickly realize why they need to leave. Immediately.  That will definitely catapult your sales letter to failure.

Are people not compelled to buy or move forward because they have no need for what you’re selling? OR…is it because they DO have a need, but your copy didn’t convey how your offering fixes their problem or solves their need? The latter’s usually the case.

Remember, anyone can write copy. However, it takes substantial trial and error to learn what will actually get REsults instead of INsults. And keep in mind, even “the best” copywriters are not exempt to learning how to write a better sales letter (better), every time they write.

That’s all for now.  Coming soon…”Dissection of a Sales Letter.”

by Jarvis Edwards – B2B Copywriter

Jarvis Edwards

About Jarvis Edwards

Jarvis Edwards absolutely loves helping companies and individuals find more success with their marketing endeavors. As senior copywriter at Ayiam Digital, he provides his time-tested copywriting ability and hands-on marketing strategy for every project he takes on. Follow him on Twitter @Jarvis_Edwards.
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4 Responses to How to Write a Sales Letter That Fails Miserably

  1. kevincarlton says:

    And don’t even think about reading this post before writing a sales letter! I mean, why waste time learning from other copywriters when you can churn that letter out straight away.

    Now I love sharing knowledge with other like-minded people. But I’m so glad there are still plenty of writers out there who fit your ‘how not to’ model Jarvis.

    It just gives us and our clients a competitive advantage – however annoying tyre-kicker copywriting can be.

    • Haha, now that is funny! And the thing is that’s exactly what lots of people do. Churn and burn…and really, really burn. Take a look on Clickbank for too many perfect examples! I’m glad you chimed in with the truth once more!

  2. At first I was wondering if you were being sarcastic until I kept reading. lol. The first one takes it home man. Cant even begin to tell you how much of my day is lost surfing online trying to knock off popups undeserving of being spammed at me.

    Exciting post.

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting Raymond. You are so right. Especially when you’re
      browsing from a smartphone. It’s nearly impossible getting those pop-ups out of the way so
      you can see what you’re reading (or watching). And it only gets worse it seems!

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