the greatest sales letter of all time

the greatest sales letter of all time

reader comments (36)

  1. that letter is a classic. i didn’t know it was the greatest of all time though.

    and i like the font and size of the comment section. the text is big and makes me feel important. 🙂

  2. it’s clear how this letter could work for the target audience.

    however, personally i find it rather shallow… i guess i am not the target :/

  3. i’ve never even heard of this story, let alone read the letter. i have no idea how or why this ever got “elected” as the greatest sales letter of all time.

    what’s interesting, and certainly what stands out the most, is the implication that the bloke who is president is somehow more successful than the bloke who is department manager.

    maybe i’m in the minority, but i find that implication shallow and preposterous.

    • we have ourselves a few money monks. two men who attended the same school, are both happily married, and for all the reader knows are equal in all ways…..how can you not draw the conclusion that the president is more successful?

      you guys are nutty

  4. you’re right – for the right target audience, this letter is pure money. what young college-grad would want to miss out on all of the knowledge that the wsj has to offer and be left behind as some mid-level manager, while his classmate scrapes his way to the top. i’ve never seen this letter before, but i don’t doubt that it is supremely effective.

  5. keep in mind that the above is only the introduction to the sales letter. it goes on to draw the reader through the sales process and eventually make a great call to action.

    what makes it so great is the profitability and life of the letter… though there are a few other other letters i’d rank up there as well.

  6. keep in mind that the above is only the introduction to the sales letter. it goes on to draw the reader through the sales process and eventually make a great call to action.

    what makes it so great is the profitability and life of the letter… though there are a few other letters i’d rank up there as well.

  7. i am up all night and have been creating ways to convey content and ask for the close. i see why the letter has it’s appeal, but in today’s quick response mindset, the prospects attention span would not allow so many facts, the idea is to condense, convey and close, this is why i’m up all night, and it’s a little tuff!

  8. there was an ad which ran for, what? decades? it featured a silver-haired man saying something along the lines of, “i want to share this with you while i still have time.”

    i’d love to have some information on this history of this ad, as i once read that *it* was the most powerful ad of all time.

  9. it looks like quite an old sales letter (1960’s, at a guess) and follows methods similarly employed in the old versions of the reader’s digest magazine. i like it, i can see how it worked by creating empathy, showing sympathy, causing the reader to feel like an underachiever then sets out a solution that the reader jumps over himself to receive. excellent methodology.

    nowadays, it looks more like a 419 scam. nevertheless, the methodology is as sound as it ever was – tell a great story that elicits an emotional response which can be used to generate a sale.

    thanks for showing it.

  10. brian, you never say why this is the best letter of all-time. what are your thoughts? do people love stories? and if so, why? is it because stories draw them in emotionally? is it because they can relate to the story? why does this work?

    • it’s considered the best of all time because it made $2 billion dollars.

      and yep, it’s the story, showing the contrast in two men who started at the same place and who came out ahead (and why).

  11. this letter is simple and direct. it says, ‘we will make you smart and successful’ without actually hitting you over the head with it. the language is not complex and once you start reading it, you want to see how it turns out. it is also personable. the use of ‘i’ and ‘you’ gives the reader a sense that wsj sent it just to them.

    i would be curious to see how much longer this letter goes on. i am not sure a lengthy letter would be as effective today.

  12. brian,

    such a great post and letter! i think that some of the best advertisements are stories evoke emotions. i felt jealous of the president (we don’t need to unpack why i immediately saw myself in the other guy), and i wanted to have the knowledge that led him to his success. thanks for such a great share.

  13. i miss the classics…

    these days is all about “mention the brand 3 times at least, test your keywords, etc, etc…”

    a short story that makes you wonder “how it ends” therefore you continue to read it.

    and at the end, the selling point.

    classic old school but effective.

  14. i love the letter!

    the letter actually draws the reader in and helps the reader to contextualize the value of the wall street journal.

    today, the letter may not sound as convincing as it was many years ago, because we now have plenty of competing publications; and quite a number of them are even free. however, the magic is clear – compelling, relevant story that can be contextualized.

  15. i didn’t find that letter very interesting and surely didn’t feel like buying a single thing after i read it. i was not moved in any way.

    this lead-in sentence nearly put me to sleep:

    “on a beautiful late spring afternoon, twenty-five years ago, two young men graduated from the same college.”

    classic bore it was, i dozed off after simply wondering where it was taking me zzzzzzz a great bed time story!

  16. i don’t think’s ‘the greatest’… but it’s certainly one of them.

    i’ve always loved the ps to this letter, which reads:

    p.s. it’s important to note that the journal’s subscription price may be tax deductible.

    (whatacopywriter!)

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