How you start your direct mail letter, your email, your landing page or, for that matter, any other direct response piece could mean the difference between success and failure.

Consider what I call the “three-paragraph rule.” This direct response copywriting rule states simply that with most sales pieces, you can cut out the first three paragraphs and start with the fourth.

Yes, this rule is a bit arbitrary, but it tends to prove true when reviewing drafts from companies or copywriters. The copywriter will warm up to the subject, but the critical lead paragraph is buried further down in the fourth or fifth paragraph.

A great sales piece will get to the point right away.

Your objective is to demand and attract the interest of the reader. It is not to set the groundwork for understanding the piece. Rather, it’s to generate immediate interest in the theme that you have chosen.

Also, the beginning paragraph should be in the first person. The fastest way to destroy a letter or other direct response piece is to talk in the third person or have a lot of “we’s” in the copy. You WILL cripple your response if you start your sales message with the word “we.”

Instead, when you begin a letter with the word “you,” it immediately involves the reader in the copy. A “you” -oriented letter speaks directly to the needs of the prospect.

No dogmatic formula exists for writing a lead-in paragraph, but there is a similarity in style from the industry’s great copywriters. Your letters will produce better responses if you follow, rather than break, these rules.

To learn more or even have me evaluate your opening paragraph, call me today at (310)212-5727 or email Caleb at