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How to write a mailshot

Checklist

  1. 1 Clarify the objective of the mailshot, for example, to collect leads, to make direct sales, or to give information to existing customers.
  2. 2 Identify your target audience - what do they already know about your business and products, what are their needs, and what objections might they have.
  3. 3 If appropriate, identify different groups of readers and consider preparing different versions of the mailshot for each group.
  4. 4 Decide what the main message of the mailshot will be and focus on the single major benefit you offer.
  5. 5 Decide whether you can write the letter yourself, or whether you should invest a few hundred pounds in using a freelance copywriter.
  6. 6 Produce a headline and an opening sentence which will highlight the main benefit and encourage the reader to read on.
  7. 7 Make a credible offer: explain the reasons for buying your product or service, anticipate likely objections and provide facts to back up your claims.
  8. 8 Maintain the reader's interest throughout the letter, for example, by linking it to topical issues, using 'you', or including provocative questions.
  9. 9 Use short sentences and keep everything clear, simple and convincing.
  10. 10 Format the mailshot as a letter, but use underlining, italics and so on to make key points stand out.
  11. 11 End with a call to action, telling the reader what to do next; make it easy (eg by including an email or web address, freephone number or reply-paid card).
  12. 12 Add a PS which restates your main point in a different way.
  13. 13 Consider what other inserts will support your message, for example, a free sample, a brochure, press cuttings, or an order form.
  14. 14 Proof read your letter and try it out on colleagues and customers; use sample mailings to test how effective it is.
  15. 15 Use software to personalise each reader's letter with their name and sign the letters, preferably by hand.

Cardinal rules

Do:

  • focus on a single message
  • create interest
  • explain clearly
  • make it easy to reply
  • personalise the letters

Don't:

  • confuse the message with unrelated information
  • fail to back up your claims with facts
  • send mass mailings without testing your copy