Gene Schwartz’s Little-Known Secret to Writing Stellar Sales Letters

Ever wonder what makes a sales letter (print or web, both apply here) great?

Sure, the headline counts for a lot. Headlines determine whether your letter will get read at all — typically accounting for 80% of your letter’s success.

But there’s another piece of your letter that’s important. So important, in fact, that if you get this wrong, it could cost you dearly.

What is it?

The lead.

Yep, those first few paragraphs of your letter, the ones that are supposed to mesmerize your reader and turn her into a buying (or giving, if you’re in fundraising mode) machine.

Get the lead right, your letter could be an instant home run.

Get it wrong, it’ll be a dud.

But here’s the coolest part: it’s not just a guessing game.

Because when you know what your customer knows, you no longer have to speculate the best way to speak to her. You’ll know how to speak to her.

In fact, copywriter legend Gene Schwartz determined a brilliant little method that tells you exactly how to write a successful lead.

It’s called the “Five Levels of Customer Awareness.” And it looks like this:

Here’s what each level means:

1. The Most Aware

In this lead mode, your customer knows your product, she just needs to know “the deal.”

With a highly aware customer, you don’t need to explain your product for pages on end or try to sell your company or organization to her. She already knows you, she just wants to know the price of what your selling. Heck, she probably doesn’t even care about the price — she just wants to know what new product you’re offering today.

In this arena, you can and should be direct with your customer. Tell her exactly what it is. She’ll probably wait in line around the block for hours to get it.

Think Apple, BMW, various shoe companies, sports teams, etc.

2. Product-Aware

In this customer awareness mode, your customer knows what you sell, but isn’t convinced it’s right for her. In short, she’s on the fence.

Because she knows you exist and what you sell, you can be fairly direct with this lead mode, but you’ll still have to win her trust. That means lots of facts, testimonials, reviews, etc.

With this lead, you can still be direct, but you won’t want to scare your customer away. Don’t be overconfident, but don’t write like she’s never heard of you or your product before.

Win her over, and you’re golden.

3. Solution-Aware

Here, your customer knows she has a need, but doesn’t know your product will satisfy that need.

She’s hoping that somewhere out there there’s a solution that will solve her problem, and all you have to do is tell her your product is the answer. In this mode, you’ll need to educate her on exactly why you’re able to help her reach the outcome she desires.

But before you can do that, you’ll have to convince her you understand her problems, wants and needs.

One example of this is the Shake Weight — everybody’s favorite way to laugh through weight loss. Your customer’s problem is that she wants to lose weight. The solution presented is the Shake Weight. (Being a former personal trainer, I don’t really agree with this, but hey, whatever floats your boat)

4. Problem-Aware

A problem-aware customer knows she has an unmet need or desire, but isn’t sure there’s a solution to her problem.

She’s worried she’s all alone in her struggles. She thinks that nothing can be done.

It’s your job to convince her that there is indeed a solution to her problem — and that your product or service is the answer. Feel her pain.

5. Completely Unaware

In this last mode of awareness, your customer doesn’t even know she has a problem — or that there’s a solution to it.

She’s not only completely unaware of who you are or what you sell, she probably doesn’t even know that products like yours exist. She’s never had a need for it before.

Computers are a good example of this. And laptops. And iPads, iPhones… you get the drift. Before gadgets and technology, everyone got along just fine. But once Apple and Microsoft and all the other technology companies created a need, everyone had to have them.

This is a tough market to crack, but once you crack it, you’ve opened yourself up to a whole new market of potential customers. Congratulations.

Next time we’ll go over exactly which lead types work best with each customer awareness type. Stay tuned.

1 Comment

  1. Krista Stryker » How to Write a Great Sales Letter Using This Little-Known Gene Schwartz Method
    May 9, 2012

    […] Last week, I talked about how to write great sales letters every time by knowing what your customer knows before you start writing. […]


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