the most successful sales letter of all time

That’s amazing! Thanks for sharing.

Incredible but true. Written in 1975 and in publication until 2003, this now infamous letter written by Martin Conroy for the Wall Street Journal is considered to be the most successful sales letter of all time.

Written at a time when people were inundated with bills, letters, and junk mail, this one letter got the attention of millions of prospects and turned them into paying clients.


By understanding the heart of his prospect, what they dream about, and what they fear. The letter begins:

“Dear Reader:

On a beautiful late spring afternoon, twenty-five years ago, two young men graduated from the same college.  They were very much alike, these two young men. Both had been better than average students, both were personable and both—as young college graduates are—were filled with ambitious dreams for the future.

Recently, these men returned to their college for their 25th reunion.

They were still very much alike. Both were happily married. Both had three children. And both, it turned out, had gone to work for the same Midwestern manufacturing company after graduation, and were still there.

But there was a difference.  One of the men was manager of a small department of that company. The other was its president.”

By reading this letter you can get a very clear image of their target audience:

25-45, male, college educated, and ambitious.

And you can also get an idea about what is keeping their prospect up at night: The fear of losing.

Imagine if you’re a competitive kind of person, upwardly mobile, and you are working for the guy you went to college with. For their ideal reader, this was a humiliating proposition, and could be avoided if they bought a subscription to the Wall Street Journal.

You may be asking yourself, “Yeah, but can this kind of sales letter work in today’s fast-paced world where everyone is inundated with information.”


We fantasize about a time when sales and marketing were easy. When people weren’t as inundated with marketing messages, and would take the time to listen.  Really?

Imagine what it was like being a door-to-door salesman, an ad man, or a shop owner in a small town.  Their potential clients still had limited time and resources.  And all three had to be diligent about overcoming objections, and demonstrating why their product or service was superior to their competition.

The only real issue for us marketers and business owners, is that as marketing has grown more sophisticated so has the average consumer.    Which means that you’re messaging has to be clear, targeted, and compelling.