This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Ultimate Sales Letter" by Dan S. Kennedy. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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Dan Kennedy is a direct-response marketing consultant, speaker, and author of dozens of business books, including The Ultimate Sales Letter. The book provides time-tested foundational strategies in the art of persuasive writing that translate across media in the ever-evolving world of sales and marketing.
Take a look at these quotes from Kennedy’s book, along with a bit of context and explanation.
Quotes From The Ultimate Sales Letter
Here are six Dan Kennedy quotes that help you get a sense of his book The Ultimate Sales Letter.
“Always enter the conversation already occurring in the customer’s mind.”
Kennedy says that, before you write your sales letter, you have to first identify and understand your target customer so you can address their priorities and pitch your product in a way that resonates with them.
Kennedy recommends that try to find out the following things about people who would buy your product:
- Their greatest worry, fears, frustrations, and dreams
- Their age, income, hobbies, political affiliations, and magazines they read
- Their biases and how they communicate
- Trends impacting their business and life
- Whether anyone else has tried and failed to sell them a product like yours
“Write for the buyer, not the nonbuyer.“
Kennedy recommends that you narrow your focus to people who would buy your product as opposed to taking a mass marketing approach.
“In case you had illusions to the contrary, no one is sitting around hoping and praying that he will receive your sales letter. When it arrives, it is most likely an unwelcome pest.“
Kennedy argues that your first goal in your letter is to quickly seize customers’ attention by telling them your product will solve an immediate problem. Failure to do this, he says, will result in your letter getting thrown away.
“Gimmicks too often fail. Saying something of genuine importance and interest to the recipient usually succeeds. You say it with a headline.“
Kennedy recommends inserting a headline, following your initial greeting, that states a problem your target audience faces and the solution your product or service offers to fix it, for example, “Dear Ms. Hannigan: Give me 10 days and I’ll turn your hyperactive dog into your best-behaved friend!”
“Photographs outperform drawings and illustrations.”
Kennedy recommends providing evidence that highlights the benefits of your product or service to your customer, such as testimonials and photographs that show the product is easy to use or that your service delivers great results.
“All successful selling is by nature and necessity manipulative, and must apply pressure to get decision and action.”
Kennedy advises that you move beyond the topic of price by focusing on persuasion techniques that compel your customer to buy your product, saying things such as these:
- You’re about to run out of your product.
- Smart people are buying your product (implication: If the consumer doesn’t buy it they’re not smart).
- Only special people understand the value of your product or have been selected to try it—and not everyone ticks these boxes.
He further argues that, after convincing your customer that they need your product, your goal is to get them to respond to your letter as quickly as possible.
He offers the following tips to compel consumers to respond to your letter immediately:
- Create a deadline by which customers have to respond to get your product.
- Offer incentives, such as premium package deals or discounts, for quick responses, or disincentives, like penalties, for slower responses.
- Provide multiple ways for consumers to respond to you (phone, email, standard mail with prepaid return mail option, even fax).
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Here's what you'll find in our full The Ultimate Sales Letter summary:
- How to craft powerful sales letters that will capture attention
- Time-tested foundational strategies in the art of persuasive writing
- Why you don't need a college degree to be a successful copywriter