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There are at least 12 major elements you need in place to get your sales copy working like new … Any number of these checkpoints could be costing you thousands of dollars in sales right now.

Here’s a chance to turn the game in your favor by evaluating each of these important elements

1. Layout / Format. Is the website layout appealing to website visitors? Is page welcoming and easy to read? Are you using an ideal type of font for your target audience and what of you color combinations? Are you using graphics appropriately and in the ideal positions? Most marketers leave these decisions up to their graphic artist who may not be familiar with direct marketing principles of selling online. These cannot be left to chance and just what makes you “feel all fuzzy inside”. This is a profit and loss decision that you can’t just leave to chance.

2. Headline / Subheads. Some copywriters have estimated that your headline carries up to 80% of the selling power of your sales letter. That’s a lot of responsible for a one sentence if you asked me! Is your headline telegraphing the greatest benefits of your products and building enough curiosity so your visitors are compelled to read the rest of your copy? Your headline could be what stands between you and a river of cash right now. Just think about that for a minute. Can you really afford not to make this the best headline possible?

3. Opening / Attention Step. Apart from the headline, the way you open the letter can cause your entire sales copy to shine or become a big flop. After the headline builds interest then the opening of your letter must seamlessly carry your readers down that “slippery slope” to making a positive decision. In fact, if you give me 10 hours to write a sales letter, I’m spending 9 hours on just the headline and the opening alone! Yes, that’s how important this part of your letter is!

4. Testimonials and Proof Elements. Are your “testimonials” robbing your sales instead of helping you? What are the best types of testimonials? What type of testimonial you should NEVER place in your sales letter? How many type of proof elements can you safely use for your type of market? These are all important questions that you need answered for your copy.

5. Bullet Points. They make your letter inviting to read and can give a lot of information in easy to swallow tidbits. But bullet points go much farther than this. Do the bullet points have the right structure? How many should you group together before they lose their effectiveness? All bullet points are not created equal and just having a point before a sentence doesn’t make it a ‘bullet point’.

6. Your USP. How does your offer separate you from your competition? Do you know what you are actually selling? (The answer to this question may surprise you. TIP: It’s not the physical products or services you provide.) If you are not certain about what you really sell, then neither will your potential customers and your dismal sales results will show it.

7. Your Offer. Sometimes one simple change in your offer can catapult your sales through the roof. Have you tested several different price points? Have you offered the best bonuses? Are you shy about asking for the sale? A powerful sales letter turns on the hinge of a powerful offer.

8. Your “Persuasion Architecture”. Are you saying the correct things in the correct way but in the wrong order? Just like your English teacher taught you that an essay has a certain ‘structure’ so does a sales letter. And don’t think that the AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) works best for every product in every market. Is your product new? Are you trying to break into a competitive market? Do you have a lot of credibility in your market? All this and more will determine how you structure your sales message.

9. Your Target Market. Do you have your ‘ideal customer’ in mind or are you going after every living thing that breathes? Does your copy read like you are talking to one friend across the table or to the whole world? How much do you know about the wants, needs and fears of your audience? Are you familiar with what your competition is offering this same reader? Most business owners write with their business in mind and leave their target market right out of the picture. (Self Test: Just see how many times you used the words “we” and “our” in your sales letter compared to “you” and “your”.)

10. Order Page. An order page can sometimes carry the entire burden of the selling process if well-written. It can also introduce new doubts in the buyer’s mind at the moment of decision. This is the scourge of “shopping cart abandonment” that you may have read so much about for ecommerce sites. Is your order page leaving money on the table?

11. Call To Action. Ever seen those fishing shows on TV where they catch these great bass fish and then through them right back into the water? Always irks me. After you’ve convinced your readers to buy you must now know how to ask for the sale. They are not going to buy simply because they are convinced that your product or service can add value to their lives. You must hook them and get them in the boat!

12. Post Script. The P.S. is one of the most read parts of a sales letter. Are you taking full selling advantage of this fact? What is the best information to place in a P.S.? What should you NEVER say? How many P.S.’s are just too many?

This 12-point check system is part of the critique process that I’ve been doing for my clients and copywriting students for years now … and I’ve never had one client who made the suggested changes and came back to say they didn’t improve their sales.

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