7 things you’ll learn in Dan Kennedy’s “The Ultimate Sales Letter”


Saint Paul

I was browsing my bookshelf the other night, looking for something to start.

(I have more unfinished books than I have fully-read books. Not every book is worth finishing, I’ve learned… though many I plan to return to… I think…)

Now, I noticed my slightly neglected Dan Kennedy section. Dan is a prolific and accomplished copywriter and businessman who has recently fallen ill.

I pulled down my worn copy of The Ultimate Sales Letter and began reviewing the well-loved book.

And not for the first time, I thought of Earl Nightingale.

Earl Nightingale, author of The Strangest Secret, wrote that success comes from being unique in your field. Nightingale said:

“Look at what the majority of people are doing, and do the exact opposite, and you’ll probably never go wrong for as long as you live.”

Today, we can see this path to success with comedian Dave Chappelle. His newest standup “Sticks and Stones” is getting blasted with free publicity by the PC police. They hate Chappelle’s jokes, and have tried their best to discourage anyone from watching his comedy special.

Everyone’s afraid to say what Dave says… but not Dave, who is raking it in with one of the biggest stand-up specials of all time.

Back to our book.

In The Ultimate Sales Letter, first published in 1990, copywriter Dan Kennedy lays down the 28 steps to writing a winning copywriting package… to send in the mail.

In the mail? Why would I do that?” you might ask yourself.

I can attract customers on The MyFace.

And maybe you can.

But that’s exactly what everyone else is doing.

Learn from Nightingale and Chappelle.

Learn from Dan Kennedy.

Stand out in your market with a detailed, winning package.

The Ultimate Sales Letter will guide you through every step of creating a successful mailing package.

(And yes, many of the techniques can be used online or with email marketing.)

Dan S. Kennedy's The Ultimate Sales Letter will have you rethinking your marketing strategy
Dan S. Kennedy’s The Ultimate Sales Letter will have you rethinking your marketing strategy

Here are seven things you’ll learn about marketing and persuasion:

Step 1: Ten questions for researching your market, and six places to get insider knowledge.

PRL readers understand that we connect with our buyer when we understand their position and speak their language (in persuasion terms, we “pace” them). But we don’t always know how to get that understanding. Kennedy was a very successful copywriter— he knows exactly where to find this knowledge.

Step 6: Twelve fill-in-the-blank headlines that play on curiosity, authority, prestige, ego, social proof, and more — and examples of each:

  • Are you ___?
  • How ___ made me ___
  • Secrets of ___

These frameworks are timeless. I’m sure Kennedy isn’t the only one to gather headlines, but he has a good sample that has worked for him.

You can see these headline templates everywhere online, and they continue to work.

Step 7: How to obfuscate your price so it doesn’t scare people away.

People are often price-sensitive, and might decline an offer that perfectly solves their problem, because they look first at the price without knowing about the product.

One method is to compare apples to oranges: you’re not selling the same lawn care service as the next guy, you’re selling free time and lower stress for the homeowner. You’re not selling another mobile phone, you’re selling the feeling she gets when she pulls it from her bag.

Kennedy gives 5 methods in The Ultimate Sales Letter to work around a customer’s price sensitivity. (PRL subscribers received a breakdown of these ideas in yesterday’s email)

Step 8: Dan Kennedy’s favorite methods to write persuasive sales letters. Among the techniques discussed on this website and on the PRL email list, Kennedy says that his most successful tools are scarcity, tribalism and ego, demonstrating value, having a strong guarantee, and telling a good story.

Step 10: Six ways to say the same thing!

Six ways… seems wild but it’s true.

Kennedy lays out six different ways you can convey your message in your sales letter, including customer testimonials, a story, an example, and more.

Now, we know repetition is important in persuasion. Kennedy knew it, too.

He says he likes to tell the customer seven times about his product’s benefits… in a single letter!

(I’m guessing he reuses one of the six!)

Remember, most people don’t accept a new position right away — they are reading your letter to be persuaded and as such you need to repeat the message multiple times.

Steps 9-10-11-17-26: Rewrites! Kennedy suggests you rewrite your letter multiple times. You write to create the general structure… then rewrite to add strategy… and then to add style… and to add passion… and to prune your copy… and more.

When you’re mailing a physical product, it costs money. You want to be sure your copy is pulling the best weight it can.

Step 13: Immediate action! If your letter is successful enough to be opened and read, itself a difficult task, you don’t want the recipient to set the letter aside to get back to it later.

Later may never come!

Instead, imbibe a sense of urgency with your letter. Kennedy gives a few examples, including limited premiums and working with established customer relationships.

Give your customers a good reason (or many) to respond immediately.

(Now’s a fine time to suggest you immediately subscribe to PRL’s free email list to receive regular content around persuasion, marketing, and mindset.

To subscribe 👉🏽 Click Here now 👈 or you’ll kick yourself later when you ‘member then that you shoulda click it now)

In all, Kennedy gives 28 essential steps to creating the perfect package in his book The Ultimate Sales Letter.

Steps that any marketer should work through in crafting their offer.

Because while Kennedy focuses on the contents of a physical envelope in this book, many of these steps and techniques also apply to online and email marketing.

If you’re looking to expand your marketing impact, Kennedy’s classic The Ultimate Sales Letter is one book for your shelf that you’ll read… again and again.

Dan S. Kennedy's The Ultimate Sales Letter will have you rethinking your marketing strategy
Dan S. Kennedy’s The Ultimate Sales Letter