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Sales Letter Secrets From The Man Who Sold Coal By The Train Carload

Sales Letter Secrets From The Man Who Sold Coal By The Train Carload
By Yanik Silver

If you were to ask any of the top copywriting pros who they've learned from - one name is sure to be repeated over and over again -- Robert Collier.

In the 1930s, Robert Collier was able to sell just about everything from train carloads of coal to mens clothing simply by using the power of his pen. And right now I'm going to share with you 2 of the most powerful letter concepts he repeatedly used to sell millions!

One of Collier's most successful letters was his "will you do me a favor?" letter. It was based on a story he read about how a manager of a company asked a competing business for a favor, which started a relationship that blossomed into the two companies joining together.

Collier thought this same idea might work in print...and boy did it ever!

Here's how he used this concept to sell 20,000 raincoats at a time (and over a dozen other products). This letter is really universal in its application, so study it carefully:

Dear Customer,

Will you do me a favor?

For twelve years now, you know, we have been selling the famous "Keepdry" Coat direct to the consumer, at a savings of many dollars from the usual retail price.

This year I want to vary our line a bit, so I have changed the fabric to one that looks like a smart topcoat -- but will still shed rain. And instead of the usual double-breasted raincoat model, I'm using a single-breasted topcoat model that appeals to men because it has style, and yet retains that loose, comfortable look of the well-tailored light overcoat.

I believe that anyone who ever gets out in stormy or wet weather will like this "Any Weather" Coat better than any raincoat or topcoat he can buy, but you know how it is in merchandising -- you can never be sure of such things until after you have sunk a lot of money in them.

Which brings me to the favor:

I want to make sure of the demand -- or lack of demand -- before we sink too much money in this new coat. So I've come to you as a customer of the house:

Will you try out one of these new "Any Weather" Topcoats for me for a week -- WEAR IT -- see how it feels, how it looks, how it compares with topcoats you have bought at $25 or $30? Above all, how it keeps out wind and rain? And then write me?

Letter goes on to explain features and benefits of the new coat with a special introductory price for customers only.

Naturally, I am not making offers like this to everyone, so whether you accept it or not, I should feel obliged if you would return the card so as to insure against its falling into other hands.

Naturally, too, your opinion will be of value to me only if I get it NOW -- before the Fall season has really opened -- before we are definitely committed for any great quantity of these new all-weather coats.

Won't you, therefore, fill in the three simple measurements on the card TONIGHT if you can, and mail it? On second thought, better mail it right away -- while you have it in your hand -- so there will be no chance of forgetting it.

You should notice the subtle psychology used here. People love giving opinions and helping, so by asking, you make people feel important.

Boardroom reports, one of the top direct marketing companies in the country, (the people who write Bottom Line Business, Bottom Line Personal, and Bottom Line Health) are using this technique for two different offers (which means it's working very well). Here's the opening to a recent letter I received:

Our records show that you're one of our best customers, and that's why I'm writing.

Frankly, I need you help.

I'm asking you to take part in a little marketing trial I've put together. Our company has a lot riding on the outcome, so I'm really hoping you'll participate.

If you do, I'll send you one of the most valuable gifts we've ever given away. It's our giant new, 51,000-word book, the "DOCTOR'S LITTLE BLACK BAG OF REMEDIES AND CURES, Vol. I."

I'll explain our marketing trial in a moment...and why your "verdict" is so important to us. But first, let me tell you about the special free gift you'll receive just for taking part.

Letter continues by explaining the free gift and goes on to explain how the fairest, most honest way to introduce new products is through sampling.

That's pretty powerful stuff, eh?

Moving on to the second letter opening Collier found to be magical. Here are a few examples:

"With your permission, I am going to send you FREE a new, self-filling black beauty fountain pen-pencil, with your name stamped upon it in 24 carat solid gold leaf."
"With your permission I am going to make an analysis of the soil of your lawn to determine -- at my own risk and expense -- what elements are lacking in it, what you need for stronger, healthier, more closely grown turf."

These openings were used over and over again by Collier because they worked. And they still work just as well today -- here's how a recent mailing from Rodale press started (mind you this is the control for the last 3 years -- not an easy task when you mail millions):

Hot new book reveals...

The Astonishing Sex Secrets Of The Most Satisfied...Most Knowledgeable...And Most Respected Lovers in the World!

Learn to enjoy the best sex of your life, at any age... with the amazing secrets and discoveries in this just-released "For Men Only" book that is dramatically changing men's (and women's) lives literally overnight...

Dear Friend,

With your permission (and with strict precautions for privacy), I am going to send you one of the most important and exciting books every released by an American publisher.


> letter continues.

Now both these letter concepts are incredibly powerful and they've been proven to work for the last 70 years. (And my bet is they'll continue working for at least 70 more!) So what are you waiting for? Start putting these techniques to work right away in your business.

©2000 Surefire Marketing, Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Yanik Silver has developed a whole series of sales letter templates available at http://www.instantsalesletters.com In less than 3 minutes you can create a winning letter guaranteed to sell your product or service...WITHOUT WRITING! Subscribe to his free ezine: *Surefire Marketing Secrets* Send a blank email to: mailto:instantletters@getresponse.com *Plus get his 3 day mini-course on direct mail secrets*

Tags: Communicate



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