Translating The Fourt Part Sales Letter & E-Mail Message

Analyzing the effective unsolicited sales letters you receive and you will notice they contain four interrelated parts:

  1. Gets the reader’s attention
  2. Creates interest and builds desire for the product
  3. Offers convincing proof
  4. Persuades the prospect to act

By integrating the four parts, translating them into foreign languages and maintaining the laws of cultural sensitivity, you should attract enough foreign consumers to make your letter or e-mail campaign successful.

Getting the Prospect’s Attention

Because many consumers throughout the world regard unsolicited sales letters and e-mail messages as junk mail, your first task is to get their attention.  Chicago Chinese Translation Services workers often recommend the use a catchy phrase or slogan, a sample, sketches, attractive design—anything that will make readers take notice.

The Marketing Analysts Translation Services Company recommends that their clients get attention by including a teaser in the subject line or envelope.  For example:


Here is a chance to tell the white house exactly what you think

Be sure the opener is reasonable, culturally acceptable and relates directly to your product or service.  Consumers are not fools.  They reject overstatements such as “Amazing Power,” “absolutely,” “astounding,” “the best,” “without fail,” “fabulous,” “the greatest breakthrough,” “positively,” “tremendous savings.”  Instead, stick to the advice of Atlanta Certified Translation workers of providing an honest description of the problem and its benefits.  By avoiding misleading gimmicks, preposterous claims and overblown language, you increase your chances of success.

The following attention-getters do succeed.  This article explains the Story Opening and later articles will include additional attention-getters that are geared toward non-English language speaking markets.

Story Opening

The mother of Tamara described, after they left Chile, the treatment her daughter received in police detention.  “They undressed (her) and whipped her with a leather whip.  They put her in a barrel with ice water and held her head under the water until she almost drowned.  They threatened to rape her and whipped her again.  This was repeated four times a day for four days.”  At that time, Tamara was three years old. – (Amnesty International/USA)

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.  . . . But (twenty-five years later) there was a difference.  One of the men was manager of a small department of a company.  The other was its president. – (Wall Street Journal)

Persuasive Appeals in Translation

Consumers throughout the world buy products for many reasons: pleasure, prestige, reputation, health, status, approval, security, beauty, love respect, comfort.  In short, the buy to fill social, practical, egoistic needs.  Consumers often don’t know the real reasons for their purchases.  For instance, as one Houston French Translator explains:

Consumers in France might say they buy designer jeans because they fit better, because the color is nicer or because they are more durable.  In reality, they think they look sexier and more stylish in the jeans.

Rational and Emotional Appeals

In the preceding example, consumers rationalized buying the jeans for practical reasons (fit, durability) when, in reality; they bought them to fill emotional needs (looks, status).  Although controversy exists over which appeal is more effective, sales letters combine appeals.  If, for instance, you are selling smoke and fire detectors, your major appeal is rational.  You explain why the prospects need the detector.  But you’re also appealing to their emotions—their love of family, fear of death and the like.

As New York English to French Translators suggest, “Your product therefore determines your appeals.”  When you sell designer jeans, your major appeal is emotional.  Yet you can still include rational appeals (fit, durability) in your letter. In general, emphasize rational appeals when the product is expensive, long lasting or essential to health, security and comfort.  Emphasize emotional appeals when the product is inexpensive, short-lived or non-essential.

Same Product: Different Appeals

Since the sales letters will be sent to target groups in foreign countries, Portland Translation workers suggest that companies vary their appeal for different groups.  Say you’re writing a letter to promote a new computer operating system.  Since the new the new computer operating system will be expensive to switch over and train employees on, your major appeal will be rational and stress increased productivity, enhanced security and lower service costs.  Through product and market analysis, you’ve determined the target markets to be global insurance companies, investment firms and financial institutions.  In your communications to each of these organizations, you might stress different product features and capabilities that might be uniquely tailored for linguistic differences and industry needs.

Using Sales Letters Effectively To Reach Diverse Markets

Sales letters have distinct advantages over other advertising media.  For instance, with accurate mailing lists, you can address your sales message to a specific audience or target market.  Depending on the product or service, you can tailor a message for foreign language speaking college students, women between 18 and 22, people with incomes over $40,000, plumbers, horticulturists, matadors or any well-defined group with well-defined needs.

Besides addressing a specific population or culture, sales letters can be specially tailored to create a familiar and confidential tone.  For instance, one effective sales letter that was written by the Chinese Translation Chicago company begins, “At least for the time being, we would prefer that you do not share this news with friends.” Another begins, “You may just be the solution.” And a third invites the reader’s confidence by saying, “We’re assuming that you’re as fed up as we are with the decline of your dollars.”

Sales letters also are more detailed than other media.  As professional translators at the Chinese Translation Washington D.C. company explain, “Unlike a TV spot, a magazine ad, a column in a newspaper or a billboard, your sales letter can be comprehensive.”  You have time to spell out how the product can fill specific needs—time to describe the product and its benefits.

Sales letters have three disadvantages.  First, many people consider them “junk mail.”  You must overcome this image by convincing prospects your message will benefit them.  Thus, Houston Portuguese Translation workers suggest that their responsibilities are twofold: You must attract prospects’ attention so they will read the message; then you must move them to action, whether ordering the product, requesting more information, or asking that a sales representative call.  Consumer distrust is a second disadvantage.  Many have lost money or received junk by mail and were left with no recourse.  So, besides breaking down initial resistance to sales letters, you must also persuade consumers that you are reputable.  Finally, some consumers simply dislike ordering by mail.  They want to see, touch, smell or try to the merchandise before buying.

To counter these objections, use the flexibility the sales letter package allows.  Include graphic illustrations, colorful pictures, samples, brochures, swatches of fabric—anything that will encourage consumers to order by mail.

To eliminate fear of bad merchandise, offer money-back guarantees, examination periods, delayed payments, 30-day trials, gifts, or any legitimate compensation.  A shirt company, for instance, notes in its sales letter: “What’s more, there’s NO OBLIGATION for you to keep the shirts.  If you’re not completely satisfied after wearing them for a week, send them back and owe nothing.  No questions asked.”