The Greatest Sales Letter of All Time


In line with my advice to study headline writing and advertising copy that works, I thought I’d share what many consider to be the greatest sales letter of all time.

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The following is an excerpt from the classic direct-mail piece that generated an estimated $2 billion in revenue for The Wall Street Journal. I’ve seen adaptations and straight rip-offs dozens of times.

Here’s how it starts:

Dear Reader:

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.

Recently, these two men returned to college for their 25th reunion.

They were still very much alike. Both were happily married. Both had three children. And both, it turned out, had gone to work for the same Midwestern manufacturing company after graduation, and were still there.

But there was a difference. One of the men was manager of a small department of that company. The other was its president.

What Made The Difference

Have you ever wondered, as I have, what makes this kind of difference in people’s lives? It isn’t always a native intelligence or talent or dedication. It isn’t that one person wants success and the other doesn’t.

The difference lies in what each person knows and how he or she makes use of that knowledge.

And that is why I am writing to you and to people like you about The Wall Street Journal. For that is the whole purpose of The Journal: To give its readers knowledge – knowledge that they can use in business. …

Is it the greatest sales letter of all time?

So, what do you think?

And most importantly, What’s your story?

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