How to Write a Killer Sales Message

Last Updated Aug 7, 2009 12:06 AM EDT

I've recently been rewriting your 10 second sales messages. Since I don't want to spend the rest of my career doing this, I thought it would be useful if I gave you the five rules for writing sales messages that "get your foot in the door."

To illustrate these rules, I'm going to use a real sales message that a reader actually sent me:

"Companies hire us to tweak the technical aspects of their digital marketing programs."
Let's start with what's right about this message.
  • Rule #1: Tell a story about the customer... not the vendor. This message is indeed all about the customer and how the vendor can help. Good work.
  • Rule #2: Use colorful words rather than biz-blab. I think that "tweak" is quite colorful and original in this context. Once again, good work.
Unfortunately, there are some more rules that the message above violates, namely:
  • Rule #3: Don't use terminology that raises questions. A good sales message spurs the listener to ask a question about your offering, like "How do you do that?" The last thing you want is a question about the terminology, like "What the heck are you talking about?" Therefore, when you use a word or phrase, always ask yourself: "What will the listener think when he hears this?" In the message above, I don't know the meaning of "tweak," "technical aspects" or "digital marketing." I can guess, but that's about it.
  • Rule #4: Differentiate yourself from the competition. A good sales message should position you against the alternatives. Now, I happen to know from other information sent by the reader that the competition consists of traditional ad agencies, but you'd never know it from that message.
  • Rule #5: Provide a quantifiable benefit. A good sales message needs to address some kind of tangible and measurable benefit. In the message above, I have no idea why it's "good" to have my "technical aspects" go through a "tweaking" process.
Taking all of the above into account, here's a sales message that works much better:

Companies hire us to help them market their products online, a service we provide at twice the speed and for half the cost of a traditional ad agency.
See how much better that message works? The story is still about the customer and, while I've lost the "tweak", I've inserted a phrase that compares "twice" with "half" -- a colorful comparison.

More importantly, it would be clear to nearly any businessperson what's being sold and what the business will get out of it. Finally, it successfully positions against the competition.

I guarantee that the message, as rewritten, is much more likely to start a sales conversation than the original.

READERS: I'm still willing to do a few more rewrites, so keep sending them in. EMAIL ME.
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