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Book Breakdown Break – The Ultimate Sales Letter

Online marketing information can change quickly This article is 15 years and 145 days old, and the facts and opinions contained in it may be out of date.

Book: The Ultimate Sales Letter by: Dan Kennedy

Subtitle: Boost your sales with powerful sales letters

Here’s the scoop:
This book looked kind of iffy when I first picked it up, but it was a very quick Saturday read. Most of the book didn’t really appeal to me much as I really have no desire to do direct marketing any time soon. There were, however, some nice gems that apply to the direct marketing nature of the web that I took away from it that I’ll mention below. The one big thing that this book reminded me of is that it’s sometimes difficult to remain unbiased to what will work as a marketing professional. Just because I am immediately turned off by an center aligned long webpage that promises to solve all my problems, plays on my emotions, and highlights important areas in yellow text background, it doesn’t mean that these types of websites don’t sell for others. In fact, the opposite is most likely true. We see so much of the “cliche marketing” because it works.

“No one ever got rich overestimating the intelligence of people.”

  • -P.T. Barnum

    Interpreted Thesis:
  • There are time tested methods in sales. Many of these same principles apply to writing sales letters.


  • -Psychology
  • -Marketing

  • -Business

    Quotes from dogeared pages:

  • The winner’s and losers pitch:
    Take any hundred people at the start of their working careers and follow them for 40 years until they reach retirement age, and here’s what you’ll find, according to the Social Security Administration: only 1 will be wealthy; 4 will be financially secure; 5 will continue working, not because they want to but because they have to; 36 will be dead; and 54 will be dead broke — dependent on their meager Social Security checks, relatives, friends, even charity for a minimum standard of living. That’s 5% successful, 95% unsuccessful.

    Copywriting tactics:

    • Intimidation
    • Demonstrate ROI
    • Ego Appeals
    • Strong Guarantee

    In the same sales letter, you can convey your basic sales message and promise:

    • In a straightforward statement
    • In an example
    • In a story, sometimes called a “slice of life”
    • In testimonials
    • In a quote from a customer, expert, or other spokesperson
    • In a numbered summary

    Favorite part:
    “Fill in the blank headlines” was probably the most insightful and applicable section of the book. It is a reminder that time tested marketing does still apply to the online world. I have reproduced many of the headlines for my own future reference, and rather than use the author’s examples, I will create some of my own.

    They didn’t think I could ________, but I did

    • They laughed when I told them I sold cat litter online, until I showed them my last check.
    • They thought the design was fine until the new one doubled conversion and sales

    Who else wants _______ ?

    • Who’s site needs higher rankings?
    • Who else needs more high quality backlinks?

    How _______ made me a _______

    • How learning SEO turned me into a salesman
    • How a Google search might make me millions
    • How online marketing made me a better cook

    Are you _______?

    • Are you ashamed of your website statistics?
    • Are you prepared for your virtual competitor?
    • Are you sure your website works?

    How I _______?

    • How I double web traffic for every site I touch
    • How I help my clients retire rich

    How to _______?

    • How to rank higher in 7 easy steps
    • How to learn SEO overnight
    • How to create linkbait without getting beatup

    If you are _______, you can _______

    • If you are a psychologist, you can make money on PPC
    • If you are able to surf the web, you can learn SEO

    Secrets of _______

    • Secrets of search engine engineers
    • Secrets of top search engine marketer’s

    Hundreds (thousands, millions) now _______, even though they _______

    • Thousands of people sell SEO, even though they barely understand meta-tags
    • Hundreds of affiliates make money, even though they don’t know HTML

    Give me _______, and I’ll _______

    • Give me your goals, and I’ll give you a strategy
    • Give me two hours, and I’ll give you SEO solutions
    • Give me yellow pages budget, and I’ll double your advertising ROI

    _______ ways to _______

    • 101 ways to learn SEO
    • 69 ways to improve your site’s sales
    • 11 ways to get ad execs to love you

    Other favorite portions:
    -The description at the beginning of the book of how the author was totally self taught

  • -Some of the stories and examples of sales letter improvements
  • -Author free coupon for $100 worth of consulting 3/4 way through the book

    Application to SEO:

    SEO is sales among other things. There are so many aspects to SEO, but sales is definitely one of the most important. Since SEO is often difficult to comprehend, it makes it difficult to sell. Understanding traditional sales principles is certainly important. Writing better titles is one of the fundamental concepts of this book that has direct relationship to writing for the web. Understanding how to sell to people’s emotions is just as important on the web as it is in direct mail. There are many correlations between direct marketing and internet marketing, and understanding direct marketing aids in becoming a better internet marketer.

    More information about Todd Malicoat aka stuntdubl.

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    • Christoph Cemper

      Hey Todd – this post rocks – get’s into my top100 bookmakr collection :-) I really enjoyed it :-) cheers, Christoph