If you’re doing business online, you need to know how to write effective marketing materials. Even if your business in nothing more than a blog supported by AdSense, knowing how to write effective marketing materials will help you write blog posts that keep people coming back for more.

Of course, you’ll find that writing good marketing materials quickly produces more income than AdSense ever could. Whether you sell a product you’ve created yourself, or sell someone else’s product through an affiliate program, here are the steps you’ll need to take to do it well.

Step 1:  What does the market want?

Until you KNOW what the market wants, you could be spinning your wheels writing a great sales letter that will never sell anything. If you know what they want, then writing a sales-PRODUCING letter is easy.

In this, “the market” means the audience you want to sell to. This could be the readers of a particular blog or ezine, business owners in a targeted niche, or people searching on Google.

Step 2:  Who has the best solution for what the market wants?

Face it, you may make more money promoting someone else’s product than trying to sell your own. As they say in the music biz, 5% of a million CD sales is a lot more than 100% of what you can sell out of the trunk of your car.

When you realize that many product creators will give 50% to their affiliates (aka promotional partners), and those affiliates don’t have to think about creating the product, delivering the product, handling customer service issues, or even maintaining a website, you can see how being an affiliate can be even more profitable than being the product creator.

Of course, this is only the start.  Look at the various products available on the market, and consider how you would evaluate them if you were looking to make a purchase yourself.  Would you prefer an overview product, or would an in-depth encyclopedic treatment of the subject be more interesting?  Is a simple PDF enough, or do you want supporting materials as well.  And how much is all this going to cost?  Would you be more interested in making a $10 investment, or would $100 feel more secure?

Step 3:  Where is the market’s biggest pain?

People are much more willing to spend money to solve a problem than they are to gain an added benefit. When you know their biggest problem, their biggest pain, you’ll know the core message you need to use in your sales letter.

Step 4:  What is the market’s ideal scenario?

Do they want to live on the beach? Do they want to run up steps without having to stop for air? Do they want to eliminate the work and drudgery from their lives? Do they want women crawling on the floor to be with them? When you know the market’s dreams, you can use that effectively in your sales letter.

Step 5:  How does the product move them from pain to pleasure?

You need to be able to describe this in a way that the reader of your sales letter can see themselves doing it. Make it clear and definite.

Step 6:  How does the product compare to other solutions?

If those reading your sales letter see cheaper and/or better ways of solving the problem, they won’t buy. You must be able to compare the product you’re selling to other solutions in ways that draw favorable attention to your product. Show price comparisons to more expensive solutions, and show other advantages over less expensive solutions.

Step 7:  How is the price justified?

No matter how great your sales letter, the reader will need to justify the price before they will buy. Imagine you’re in a court room and you need to present clear and definite evidence that justifies the price.

You may need to include proof that the product does what it’s supposed to do. You may need to present the product creator’s credentials. You may need to include testimonials from satisfied customers who provide further evidence to support your claims that not only does the product work, but that other people can use it effectively.

Step 8:  What other benefits does your product offer?

Beyond solving the core problem and moving the customer closer to their ideal outcome, what other benefits does your product offer? Remember, there’s a big difference between features and benefits. A feature is part of the product itself. A benefit is an effect the product has on the customer’s life.

Step 9:  What stories can you use to communicate all this?

A sales letter with nothing but facts and figures is difficult to read, and produces few sales. The more drama and excitement you can put into it, the better.

Step 10: Write an emotional headline that summarizes all this in 10 words or less.

Although there are many different ways to write a winning headline, the most consistent is a simple statement of what the product offers, using words that paint an emotional word picture in the reader’s mind.

Challenge yourself to come up with a short phrase that could potentially do all the selling for you. If that seems too much, then at least create enough curiosity so anyone who may be interested in the product will feel compelled to read the rest of the letter.

Step 11: Arrange all of the above in a way that flows smoothly from beginning to end.

Now that you have all the pieces you’ll need to write the letter, it’s time to bring them all together. The most important thing is to make sure that all the points flow easily from one to the next. This helps keep the reader’s attention, and presents your sales message in a way that is easy to understand and absorb.

Step 12: Edit for emotional impact, clarity, and accuracy.

Rarely will your first draft be the best it could be. Most writers need to go over their material several times to correct mistakes, improve the presentation, and polish it to perfection.

When you’ve brought it to the peak of perfection, let it sit for a day or two. Then bring it back out and review it again. You’ll be surprised at how many things you’ll find that still need to be fixed. When you’re happy with it, let someone else read it and get their feedback. Are there any points that aren’t clear? Does anything feel stilted or awkward? How does it make them feel? If they ever have the problem addressed, would they buy the product?

Step 13: Publish the letter and measure the results.

In the end, the only way you’ll REALLY know how good your sales letter is, is to measure the results in an actual sales environment. Track the number of people who see the letter, and count the number of sales that result. Divide the number of sales by the number of readers and you have what is known as the conversion ratio. In most cases, this will be somewhere between 1% and 5%, meaning that out of every 100 people who read the letter, 1 to 5 of them buy.

As time goes on, change various aspects of the letter and see how they affect the overall effectiveness. Either do this by making one change at a time, or set up a Taguchi test to measure the effect of several variables at once.

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