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- Clarify the objective of the mailshot, for example, to collect leads, to make direct sales, or to give information to existing customers.
- Identify your target audience - what do they already know about your business and products, what are their needs, and what objections might they have.
- If appropriate, identify different groups of readers and consider preparing different versions of the mailshot for each group.
- Decide what the main message of the mailshot will be and focus on the single major benefit you offer.
- Decide whether you can write the letter yourself, or whether you should invest a few hundred pounds in using a freelance copywriter.
- Produce a headline and an opening sentence which will highlight the main benefit and encourage the reader to read on.
- Make a credible offer: explain the reasons for buying your product or service, anticipate likely objections and provide facts to back up your claims.
- Maintain the reader's interest throughout the letter, for example, by linking it to topical issues, using 'you', or including provocative questions.
- Use short sentences and keep everything clear, simple and convincing.
- Format the mailshot as a letter, but use underlining, italics and so on to make key points stand out.
- 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).
- Add a PS which restates your main point in a different way.
- Consider what other inserts will support your message, for example, a free sample, a brochure, press cuttings, or an order form.
- Proof read your letter and try it out on colleagues and customers; use sample mailings to test how effective it is.
- Use software to personalise each reader's letter with their name and sign the letters, preferably by hand.
- focus on a single message
- create interest
- explain clearly
- make it easy to reply
- personalise the letters
- confuse the message with unrelated information
- fail to back up your claims with facts
- send mass mailings without testing your copy