Sales letters are some of the most powerful weapons in your marketing arsenal. They allow you to deliver a personalized, specific message to a highly targeted customer base and thus generate a greater return on investment. Not all sales letters are created equal, however, and sometimes the details of what makes a sales letter a response-producing machine can be lost in development. If your sales letters aren’t performing up to par, or if you’re just getting ready to launch your very first sales letter marketing campaign, your results will be better when you incorporate the following three tips and tricks.

1. Start with a very specific mailing list

It’s easy to get mailing lists, but it takes a little more time and effort to create a mailing list that is perfect for a given campaign. Resist the urge to send your sales letters to everyone under the sun; even though it might seem as though blanket coverage will yield more results, you will ultimately waste a large portion of your investment.

Define who your best customer is for the particular product or service you’re marketing. Identify demographics such as age, gender, income, location, home ownership, purchasing history, children, pets and more. Once you know your customers, you can create a matching mailing list that is likely to succeed.

2. Pitch an outstanding offer

The 40-40-20 rule of direct marketing states that a direct-mail sales letter campaign’s success is contingent on the quality of your mailing list (40 percent), the perceived value of your offer (40 percent) and then everything else (the remaining 20 percent). Once you have a targeted mailing list, you need to give your customers an outstanding offer. This may seem obvious, but a woeful number of sales letters I see do not include a relevant offer that seems special in any way.

What is an outstanding offer? It depends on your campaign goals, but in general the best offers help customers feel like they’re getting a great deal while still leaving plenty of room for profit. All offers should also be time-limited to promote the most responses in the shortest amount of time. Finally, include a call to action for your offer so customers know exactly what to do next in order to take advantage of it.

3. Print on your envelope

When your sales letters arrive, the first thing customers see is your envelope. Knowing this, why then do so many marketers leave their envelopes blank? This is the first opportunity to capture customer attention before they throw your envelope in the “junk mail” trash pile!

Print color envelopes, include a photo or graphic, ask a question customers will want to know the answer to (and answer it inside), or go ahead and present your offer – all right on the outside of your envelope. When you can generate immediate interest and excitement, your envelopes will be opened, your sales letters will be read and responded to, and you will make more money.