June 22, 2018

7 Undeniable Facts of Any Sales Letter


I recently celebrated the anniversary of starting my copywriting business. Over the years, I’ve come to realize a number of facts that seem to hold up for every niche and every type of sales letter.

These facts are undeniable in my opinion and have proven right time and time again.

Without further ado, here they are:

1. Most people in the world are not a targeted prospect for whatever you’re selling.

They’re not interested, already have it, can’t/won’t pay for it, or don’t have a need for it.

You can’t sell a ‘how to care for your dog’ ebook to someone who doesn’t own a dog or doesn’t like dogs… regardless of the amount of copy used.

2. Free = 100% can afford it… but not everyone will take you up on the freebie.

Less than 100% will be willing to sign up to get it because:

A) Its too much work to fill out the sign-up form

B) They don’t want to give up their email address

C) They aren’t deeply interested in what you’re offering.

3. The higher the price, the fewer number of people who can afford or are willing to figure how to afford your product.

Payment plans on high-ticket items can help increase the number of buyers but the vast majority of prospects still won’t buy.

4. The more money a target market has at its disposal, the easier it is for them to decide to buy.

It’s a lot easier to sell a $300 golf video course to golfers then it is to sell a $300 running course to runners. All you need to become a runner is a pair of sneakers and the willingness to run. The financial requirements are much higher to be a regular golfer.

5. Significant testing over many different markets has shown long copy consistently out pulls short copy.

That’s why the copywriting cliché “The more you tell, the more you sell.” has hung around for decades.

As a general rule of thumb, the higher the product price point, the more copy you’ll need to effectively sell it.

6. Studying “old school” direct response marketing can help you create high-converting present day marketing.

One mistake a lot of newer marketers make is only studying current marketing information.  While there is a lot of value in current marketing information, almost all of it draws its foundation from direct response marketing done in the 1900’s.

And unfortunately for many marketers, the modern marketing info-products frequently don’t cover this foundational information.

Case in point, a refund rate under 20% for a ClickBank product is considered quite good.  But 20% in the “old school” direct response world?  You’d be out of business in the matter of months, if not weeks.

So “old school” marketers used tactics like longer money-back guarantees, stick letters, risk-reversal, and more to get refund rates well under 10%… often times hitting refund rates as low as 1%!

Here’s another great example:

Jonathan Mizel is credited with coining the phrase “squeeze page” for an online webpage where a prospect has to enter their email address in order to further into a website. Once the prospect has entered their email address and (virtually) raised their hand as being more interested, then they can be emailed a series of targeted emails.

But with all due respect to Mr. Mizel, it’s not a 100% original tactic. It actually draws its roots from “old school” direct response marketing.

You see, for decades marketers used classified ads in magazines and newspapers. These ads would offer a free report or book to a targeted audience. They may have charged for shipping and handling (which covered their fulfillment costs) but it was a lead generation tool. Once people mailed in the form or called the toll-free number listed in the ad, the rest of the marketing funnel ensued.

7. The marketing trifecta is right prospect, right offer, and right copy in that order.

Target the wrong prospects and you can guarantee nobody buys. Make the wrong offer to the right prospects and most of them won’t buy either. Use bad copy… well, you get the picture.

The first two pieces of the marketing trifecta are so important that if you get them right, you can still make a lot of money in spite of sub-par sales copy.

The thing is, smart marketers know this. They also know that adding great sales copy can cause their sales to shoot up exponentially and that’s why they hire top-notch copywriters to write their marketing.

To use a baseball analogy, great prospect targeting combined with making them a great offer can produce a base hit… maybe even an inside the park home run under the right conditions. But add great copy to the mix and you can get a home run that rockets out of the park and produces millions in new sales.

So what do you think? Post your comments below.

Until next time,




  1. Chris Collings says:

    Hi Michael,

    Congratulations on 8 years in business, you must have written a frightening amount of copy in that time. I totally agree with your appreciation for old school direct response. It`s true to say there’s nothing new under the sun. Sometimes we take it for granted that we live in a digital society when we can write in the morning and see if it’s working by lunchtime.

    I often wonder how much some of the great copywriters from last century would have made today. Mixing their incredible attention to detail coupled with their work ethic. Imagine going back to someone who used physical type setting and showing them today’s word processors. Or showing them pay per click and explain the lead time is no longer 8 weeks,it could be down to a couple of minutes.

    Great times to be in, all the best for your next 8 years Michael

    • Chris,

      It is definitely a frightening amount of copy I’ve written, especially if I factor in all of the marketing I’ve written for my own businesses (1993-present day) plus client projects (2006-present day).

      I think a lot of the great copywriters (Caples, Schwartz, Mel Martin, etc, etc.) would be absolutely crushing it today. Like 7-8 figures in royalties per year type of crushing it. “Okay, guys it no longer takes 8-10 weeks to get the A-B split test results of your mailing. Now we can multi-variate test all of your variations at once and the software will automatically stick with the best converting one. And it will have the results for us before the end of the day.”

      That’s just the advances in testing. Going from a manual typewriter (or worse, a manual printing press) to a modern day word processor with built-in spelling & grammar checker? Wow. I don’t miss the days of using white-out strips with a manual typewriter to fix a typo on a sheet of paper.

      Take care,



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