3 Ways to Add an Urgency Story to Your Sales Letters

Having a deadline in your sales letter adds urgency to your marketing message  and helps increase response. But even better than just a deadline is an urgency story.

What I mean by that is making a mini-story out of your urgency message. It’s one of the techniques I have used in over 25 years of copywriting that almost always elevates response.

When I tell students and coaching client abou  injecting  a story element into their sales letter, they immediately think of the opening of the letter. Actually there can, and should be, mini- stories embedded in the letter. Most of the time, instead of  stating a point rhetorically it is more effective to make a narrative out of it. An urgency message is one of those places where a short embedded narrative can drive home the urgency of acting now. Here are 3 techniques you can use  that have worked beautifully:

1) Event based urgency
A sales letter I wrote years ago about  China stocks was enormously successful and I’m convinced  one of the reasons for its success was this mini-story I wrote within the first quarter of the letter:

“But there is something else about to happen that will catapult selected stocks much higher. And that catalyst is

…The Olympics

China would be the fastest growing country in the world even without the Olympics. But hosting the upcoming Olympic Games is like dousing gasoline on a fire, making growth even more intense than before. You see, the Chinese government is determined to impress the entire world. China’s top political advisor, Jia Qinglin, recently said, To host a good Olympic Games is Beijing’s No.1 task this year. So they’re on a tear  building and expanding to get things done in time. Infrastructure related companies are seeing massive profits and their stock prices continue an upward trajectory.

It’s a rare moment in history.

The biggest industrial boom of all is scrambling to meet a momentous deadline: the start of The Games.”

So way before the call to action, this copy injected the idea that investors who want to enjoy the the best returns would need to subscribe now and find out about those stocks. While the reader is reading the rest of the letter, this urgency story plays as a background subtext.

2) Seasonal Urgency
Putting urgency into   seasonal context has always been effective. In a project for interior designers, I tied the first weeks of Spring with a service about window treatments. The idea was that in the first few weeks of  Spring people start looking outward, literally, and fix up their windows so they can enjoy the view.

For designers looking for custom window treatment business, this window of opportunity to attract prospects while they are in this fix-up mode is brief. So there is a natural urgency for interior designers to use the service I am promoting to attract prospects during this period.

3) Competitive Urgency
In this technqiue, you are purposely limiting the competition for those who buy your product or service. For this particular client, I limited the number of programs sold per geographic region. In this way, the people who bought were not only getting something exclusive, they could also dominate their geographic  market. So how does it inject urgency?

a) In order to to be one of a chosen few in your geographical region to get the service, you need to order quickly before you are closed out of  the opportunity. b) I developed the message that this service is so effective, you don’t want your competition to get its hands on it before you do.

These are just 3 out of many ways to embed  an urgency story into your sales letter.
It is important to make a little of a story out of each message. It doesn’t have to be long. But a narrative of a few paragraphs adds a great deal of  impact to the urgency message.

What it does is dramatize the reason why. When people are given a reason why they should act now, it makes it real to them. When the reason why is put into a story that’s when response rates can really explode.
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Leon Altman is a Internet marketing consultant, copywriter and entrepreneur with 25 years of experience. For  his copywriting services, go to www.altmancopypro.com.


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Coining Marketing-Friendly Phrases for More Powerful Copywriting

Interestingly enough, the word horsepower began as a marketing term back in 1782. James Watt wanted to sell his new invention, the steam engine, but knew that talking about “pounds-per-square-foot” just wouldn’t cut it. So he came up with the concept of horsepower to explain the new kind of power he was generating.

The idea of coining a marketing-friendly word or phrase to reframe and package an abstract or dull concept is powerful and extremely effective. In his newsletter, copywriter John Forde gives some examples of this technique:

“I bring this up because lately I’m seeing a lot of the same logic work its way into today’s marketing copy. And often with huge success.

The trick works like this…

Let’s say a concept near the core of your sales message is a little dense and unwieldy…

Or maybe it carries some emotional baggage…

Or maybe you’re just selling something so familiar, you worry people won’t hear you out long enough to see what’s different about your pitch.

That’s where the “horsepower” technique comes in handy. What it does is let you reframe the concept into something new.

It’s familiar in one way, mysterious in another. So the prospective customer can embrace it instantly. But they’re also intrigued to hear more.

A friend did this recently in a promo for an investment newsletter, where the editor’s latest favorite hot topic was geothermal energy. Knowing that term would bore the socks off prospects before he could lay down his case, the copywriter re-dubbed it “slow volcano power.” And it worked. That one promo is bearing down on $2 million in sales, if it hasn’t passed that mark already.

Another info publisher I know of uses this same technique as a starting point for almost all their new pitches – with huge success. They did $60 million in sales last year.

The same technique can add new drama to common problems that your product can solve. You might even consider a term that adds more mystery rather than clarifies.

For instance, asking your reader if they’re “Tired of suffering the embarrassment of ‘halitosis'”… is just asking them if they want to get rid of their bad breath.

But transforming “bad breath” into the lesser-known “halitosis” – the clinical term for bad breath – both ups the stakes and raises curiosity.”

Years ago, instead of using the medical term, “anemia,”  Geritol, a supplement company focused on seniors, coined the term “tired blood,” because many doctors at the time believed that much of the fatigue in older people was associated with iron deficiency in the blood. “Tired Blood” became one of the most successful makreting hooks of the time.

If this is an old technique, why talk about it now? Because prospects are hit so hard, so often with pitches that say much of the same thing for similar products, re-inventing terminology gives you a time-tested way to breeze past all that new resistance.

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Anxiety is key in determining length of landing page

So how long should your landing page be?

To a great extent it should be determined by your readers’ anxiety level.

In a recent test, research firm Marketing Experiments tested a short landing page versus a long one, asking for the readers’ email in order to get a free assessment to find out what type of communicaters they are.

Turns out the shorter landing page by about 7%.

Then an even shorter landing page was tested – barely any copy – just an image and a button.

That performed best. By far.

So a really short landing page is best, right?

No. Or at least, not necessarily.

Marketing Experiments compared it to another test, for an investment newsletter, which costs $90. Here, longer copy won the day.

So what made the difference?


If the perceived risk is low (free signup) then anxiety is low, and a shorter landing page works better. If the perceived risk is higher (cost, commitment), then anxiety is higher.

More copy (as long as it’s good) is needed to give the buyer reasons to buy. There’s also more room for testimonials and other “credibility indicators” to reduce the buyer’s anxiety.

The length of your landing page makes a big difference.
But you have to know when to go long and went to go short.

Source: Marketing Experiments

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