Friday, March 22, 2013

Pitching Your Skill: How to Write a Sales Letter That Gets Results

Let's say you have identified the type of small business or cause raised by a non-profit group to whom you would like to offer your copywriting services. As a professional freelancer, how should you make your presence felt to your target client?

In magazine writing, there is a term freelance writers use called pitching. And just like the act of pitching in baseball, to pitch in freelancing means to throw, or offer an idea for an article, to the magazine's associate or managing editor.

When writing a sales letter, you aim to "sell" your copywriting services by pitching your offer to small business owners or heads of non-profit groups.

But let me warn you. Great care should be taken when crafting the right pitch for your sales letter, since you want to increase your chances of getting noticed and hired by the people you're targeting.

So how do you do this? Here are several guidelines:

Make your letter sound as personal as possible.

I remember a time when I got a packet from the mail informing me about a group of artists who paint and design greeting cards and sell them to earn a profit. A letter of solicitation was enclosed, informing me how I can place my order.

And yet, no sooner have I gone beyond the first paragraph of the letter when I felt my eyes going droopy from boredom. I felt as if I were reading "marketing fluff," which is nothing but cliched phrases hashed and rehashed in an effort to make a sale.

So the key here is to think about your intended recipient. Be engaging. It must be evident right from the first few lines of your letter that you believe in his cause or would like to support his business. Here's an example:

Dear Mr. Ramirez:

(Notice that I used the person's last name, and not just a generic "Sir" or "Madam.")

A leading citizen among the suburban community. A man devoted to raising  awareness as to what can disturb neighborhood peace and order.

You've been described as such by various newspaper reporters. You're extremely busy, and yet, you  took time to organize a Kennel Club to keep stray dogs away from the streets, and encourage dog lovers to be more responsible towards taking care of their furry, four-legged friends.

(When you write this way, your reader will be impressed because you took time to find out what's most important to him. In Mr. Ramirez' case, his concern for the community and dog owners made him well-known to the suburban population.)

In my next installment, I'll talk about explaining how you can help Mr. Ramirez reach more people to get in on the bandwagon of his altruistic endeavors.

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