My simple answer to that question is “no”, there is not one way. However there are some ways that most of the time work better than others.
Unfortunately these better working ways are not always the most obvious, common sense approaches. Indeed sometimes they can look downright odd. Let me explain why…
If you get a letter or an email from a friend or close relative, the chances are that you read it carefully, making sure that you have picked up every nuance. You might even read the piece twice.
But if you receive an advertisement, you probably tend to skip through it, skimming the opening of each paragraph with a hand hovering over “delete” or ready to drop the letter in the waste paper bin.
Thus when you write a sales letter you have to work ten times as hard to get my attention as you would if I were your mate. True, if you write to me about my favourite football club or a certain elderly purveyor of popular music, I am likely to give you a little more time. But that’s as far as it goes.
In short, if you don’t grab me by the throat and hold on tight, you probably won’t get me reading at all.
And yet instead of doing this, 99.99999% (an approximate figure) of sales letters and emails start by talking about what is on offer, the company that has produced it, or how good both the product and retailer are.
Even if you do grab my attention there is another important factor to consider: most people skim by reading the first four words of each paragraph, which means a lot of focus has to be put on the opening words of each paragraph to try to stop the skimming.
It is also helpful if the paragraphs are short, so that there are lots of chances to catch the reader as she or he skims down the page.
There are many ways of achieving higher readership rates, and my experience across the last 3500 years or so is that doing odd things like suddenly exaggerating one’s age a little in the middle of a paragraph can help keep the reader’s attention.
Of course many people don’t believe me when I outline this approach. And why should they? I’m just this old guy who writes sales letters which common sense says won’t work.
And that is one reason why we are always happy to say that you most certainly should try your sales emails your way. If they work, then that’s great and I will be the first to admit my delight and laud you with praise. But if they don’t deliver the sales you want, we’ll offer our suggestions as to why, and if you wish we’ll help rewrite the piece.
What’s more, if it is an email campaign we’ll then send it out again, free of charge.
So, just to assure you: you don’t have to listen to an old scribbler who, had he been there at the time would have started the Book of Genesis with the phrase, “What is the most effective way of creating a new world from scratch?” on the grounds that it would make everyone think.
(Actually I had a great idea for Revelations as well, but I didn’t get that commission either.)
However there is still time to get out some emails to teachers before term ends, and given that this is the busiest time of year in terms of school purchases, that might well be worth it.
At the very least you can try out your approach, and if it works, you’ll be able to re-use it in September. But if not, we can use the summer to work with you on an alternative way of writing emails or sales letters.
Do call Stephen on 01604 880 927 or email Stephen@schools.co.uk. Or if you want to have a look at our services in terms of marketing to schools try this link.
No horsemen will call.