This should help you get more sales. Apparently it’s the greatest sales letter of all time.

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I’m ok at marketing. But what I’m really trying to do is get better at developing direct marketing. And to clarify, what I mean by direct marketing is communications that make the recipient actually do something that I want them to – rather than chuck my messages straight into their trash!

That ‘something’ might be to call me for a discussion, attend an event or instantly buy what I am selling.

To get better I’m using the age-old method of study. I’m reading anything and everything I can get my hands on. Preferred texts so far have been written by Drayton Bird, Chris Fill and David Ogilvy. However during a recent internet search I found what was described as “The greatest sales letter of all time”. This grand statement was followed by an even grander one “This letter has generated over $2 billion in revenue for The Wall Street Journal”.

I’ve read it. In fact I’ve read it several times. So what do I think of it? Well if I’ve learned anything during my study so far it’s this.  It doesn’t really matter what I think of it. What really matters is if it works or not. And to quote Chris Fill, direct marketing communications should always be “recipient-centric”. And given that I’m not, and probably never will be, an intended recipient of the letter – my opinion is worthless.

Anyhow, if you’d like to read it to help you develop direct marketing messages and stop your letters and emails being trashed within seconds of being received, you can download here for free: The Wall Street Journal Sales Letter


3 thoughts on “This should help you get more sales. Apparently it’s the greatest sales letter of all time.

    Jason Brooks said:
    September 21, 2011 at 8:58 am

    2billiion in sales uh? Great. But how nany letters were sent and at what cost? How much is an average customer worth to WSJ over a given period and is that based on revenue from the newspaper or other products likes Barrons and other publications.

    This would give us the conversion rates and the cost per acquisition – all numbers that would give us a clearer picture of just how “great” the sales letter is. After if all if I could afford to target the entire planet with a sales letter perhaps mine would be the greatest of all time since even a minute conversion rate for a very low priced offer could earn me enough to buy a small country.

    Think irrelevent volume text messaging and how much revenue these generate – hardly the most compelling of communications but if you look at the money they make then perhaps they too can be considered as great pieces of sales communication.

      Carl Weston responded:
      September 23, 2011 at 6:18 am

      An intelligent and thought provoking reply from you Jason. Of course you are absolutely right that many other factors need to be analysed before the real ROI of the sales letter can be calculated.

      Other than a copy of the letter I have no more information on conversion rates, cost per acquisition, client life-time value etc. So I guess the only fact I have to judge the success of the letter is that it ran for 20 years. Which leads me to assume that, if it wasn’t reaching the WSJ sales objective, they would have stopped using it!

      Thanks for the response and keep em coming!.


    Jason Brooks said:
    September 23, 2011 at 9:12 am

    I suppose that justifes it then but weirdly this was discussed in a content development training day at yesterday and the general feeling was that this type of long copy story telling sales copy works well in th e US and that in the UK people are more cynical.

    I beg to differ – if advertising is targeted correctly then the “cheese” factor associated with sales letters is often overlooked because of the recipients desire to fulfil an important need, after all we buy emotionally and justify logically and the long copy style allows plenty of room to exploit these human motivational and decision making traits.

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