Ivan Levison — Copywriter
Direct Mail, E-mail and Advertising Copywriting


Action Ideas For Better Direct Mail,
E-mail, Web Sites & Advertising

Published by
Ivan Levison, Direct Response Copywriter July, 2006
Volume: 21 Number: 7

Quick answers to questions about
how to copywrite a money-making sales letter

The letter is the most important part of any direct mail package. Write a brilliant,
compelling sales letter and your response rates can shoot up. Make a few
thoughtless blunders and you're in deep trouble.

Maybe that's why so many of the questions I get from readers of the
Levison Letter are about sales letters. Here are some of the many questions
that have been coming my way, along with some quick responses I hope
you'll find of interest . . .

1. Should I use a headline above the salutation?

A headline (boxed or not) can grab the reader's attention and pull them into
your pitch with a terrific benefit. You can fill up to a third of the first page
with your headline/subheadline intro. If the letter is personalized or more formal,
consider dropping the headline.

2. Is it worth dating the letter?

If you're going first class, date the letter. If you're going out bulk rate, you
don't have to. The last thing you want is for your letter to arrive way past the
date you've put at the top your letter.

3. Should I try to make the letter look as though it were typed on a
typewriter, or should I give the letter a more professional, typeset look?

Years ago I would have said go for the typewriter look.
Now, that's not necessary. Make sure you use a serif font like Times Roman.
Readability, not "style," is what counts!

4. Does it make sense to personalize the letter?

A tough question. Personalization does improve response rates but there
are important cost issues to consider. If you're writing to "C-level" executives,
personalize for sure.

5. Should the tone of my letter be conversational or more formal?

It all depends, but generally a friendly, human, conversational tone of voice
does work best. One of the biggest problems that beginning copywriters have
is that they get uptight and start sounding pompous. Their work lacks personality
and energy.

6. How should I start the letter?

Jump right in with enthusiasm and for goodness sakes, get to the point quickly.
You should always talk about the offer on the first page and start hammering
away at benefits. If this subject interests you, see my article
at: http://www.levison.com/may_2004.html

7. What graphic tricks can I use to increase response rates?

A letter should be inviting and easy to read. Use short paragraphs and don't be
afraid to indent or use bullets. Underlining should be done sparingly. A second
color can add punch, but don't splash it everywhere. A little goes a long way!

8. What's the right way to end the letter?

Go out in a blaze of glory. Feel free to invoke the deities or promise eternal life.
But please . . . don't leave them with a flat: "To order, call 1-800-123-1234 or
fax us your order card." That's flat and lifeless.

9. Should I use a P.S.?

Absolutely! It gets high readership and is a good place to repeat the offer,
punch up the guarantee, and urge immediate action. I never met a postscript I didn't like.

10. What's the easiest way to get a high-impact letter written?

Give me a call at (415) 461-0672 and let's talk. (Can you blame me for sneaking this in?)
If you need a lead- generation letter, Webinar invitation, you name it, I can help.
What's more, I can prove it at: http://www.levison.com/testimonials.html

How To Get In Touch

Ivan Levison
Direct Response Copywriting
14 Los Cerros Drive
Greenbrae, CA 94904

Phone: (415) 461-0672
Fax: (415) 461-7738
E-mail: ivan@levison.com
Web Site: http://www.levison.com

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Copyright 2006, by Ivan Levison, All Rights Reserved.

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