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How to achieve response rates of 12% or more with sales letters

When I worked at an advertising agency many years ago, I learned how to market with sales letters. Now they’re one of my favorite marketing tools.

Sometimes I achieve response rates as high as 12% or more when I send sales letters soliciting camp enrollment. Most people I know are happy with response rates of 2% or less.

Sales letters can be VERY effective sales tools IF you know the nuances involved in creating and sending them. If you don’t, marketing with sales letters can punish you financially.

You know the kind of letters I’m talking about – the typical sales letter you get everyday from credit card companies, gyms, or magazines trying to get you to buy their stuff.

Here’s the thing about sales letters though. You’re competing against every other piece of mail that arrives in your prospect’s mailbox every day. So you gotta make your letter stand out.

Here’s a relatively plain sample sales letter I found online:

Nothing about this letter grabs me. It looks like any other one you’d get. In fact if I got this letter in the mail, I’d probably trash it before I even finished reading it.

Most direct mail experts say writing a jaw-dropping, lip-smacking, smash-them-in-the-mouth headline is the most important step to writing an effective sales letter. I agree the headline is one of the most important components.

But you know how to really stand out from the crowd? Start your letter at the end.


Let me explain. I mentioned I send lots of sales letters to market my camp. But instead of writing them the traditional way, where you’d thank the person for reading your letter and putting your signature at the bottom, I write my letters as if the person has already read the letter. I even put my signature at the top.

Your typical letter starts like this: “Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith …”

But my letters (above the salutation) start like this:

“If you think your child would enjoy all these fun activities, give me a call at 1-888-51-ALOHA. Thanks for your time. 


Eric Naftulin

P.S. I know you’re really busy, but just in case you’re even busier than usual I wanted to give you the gist of my letter first. If you’ve got the time, here’s the rest of the letter…” 

Then I go on writing the rest of the letter.

People like this format. It’s creative and respects their time. It introduces Aloha Beach Camp right off the bat and teases prospects into reading the rest of the letter. While normal response rates for direct marketing sales letters hover around 2%, I consistently draw response rates of 7% to 12% or more. That means for every 100 letters I send, I can expect between 7 and 12 people to sign up for camp. That’s a pretty amazing stat when you think about it.

But forget about me. This blog is for you. And you can achieve the same dramatic response rates with your sales letters with just a little work. Let me know if you’d like any help. Good luck.


  1. Anonymous Anonymous March 10, 2010

    This idea takes the cake! I am going to try it tomorrow! Thanks! -Chief

  2. Casey Fuerst Casey Fuerst March 30, 2010

    Cool Tip Eric…and nice blog. I found you via a google blog search. I also am a camp marketing professional, and LOVE hearing what is working for others. Thanks for putting out great information.

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