Wall Street Journal Letter – A Billion Dollar Masterpiece

wall street journal letter

The Wall Street Journal Letter is considered to be one of the greatest sales letters of all time, written by copywriter Martin Conroy. It was the most mailed direct mail piece, which generated over a BILLION DOLLARS in subscriptions for the Wall Street Journal.

Now if you’ve ever studied copywriting, then you know that the headline is considered to be the most important part of a sales letter. Yet this classic letter has no benefit driven or curiosity provoking headline. There’s something else that made it work like gangbusters.

Take a look…
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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 men returned to their college for their 25th reunion.

They were 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, 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.

A Publication Unlike Any Other

You see, The Wall Street Journal is a unique publication. It’s the country’s only national business daily. Each business day, it is put together by the world’s largest staff of business-news experts.

Each business day, The Journal’s pages include a broad range of information of interest and significance to business-minded people, no matter where it comes from. Not just stocks and finance, but anything and everything in the whole, fast-moving world of business… The Wall Street Journal gives you all the business you need when you need it.

Knowledge is Power

Right now, I am reading page one of the Journal. It combines all the important news of the day with in-depth feature reporting. Every phase of business news is covered, from articles on inflation, wholesale prices, car prices, tax incentives for industries to major developments in Washington, and elsewhere.

And there is page after page inside The Journal filled with fascinating and significant information that’s useful to you. A daily column on personal money management helps you become a smarter saver, better investor, wiser spender. There are weekly columns on small business, marketing, real estate, technology, regional developments. If you have never read The Wall Street Journal, you cannot imagine how useful it can be to you.

Much of the information that appears in The Journal appears nowhere else. The Journal is printed in numerous plants across the US, so that you get it early each business day.


A $28 Subscription

Put our statements to the proof by subscribing for the next 13 weeks just for $28. This is the shortest subscription term we offer – and a perfect way to get acquired with The Journal. Or you may prefer to take advantage of a longer term subscription for greater savings: an annual subscription of $107 saves you $20 off The Journal’s cover price. Our best buy two years for $185 – saves you $69!

Simply fill out the enclosed order card and mail it in the postage-paid envelope provided. The Journal’s guarantee: Should the Journal not measure up to your expectations, you may cancel this trial arrangement at any point and receive a refund for the undelivered portion of your description.

If you feel as we do that this is a fair and reasonable proposition, then you will want to find out without delay if The Wall Street Journal can do for you what it has done for millions of readers. So please mail the enclosed order card now, and we will start serving you immediately.

About those two college graduates I mentioned in the beginning of the letter: They were graduated from the same college together and together got started in the business world. So what made their lives in business different?

Knowledge. Useful knowledge. And its application.

An Investment in Success

I cannot promise you that success will be instantly yours if you start reading The Wall Street Journal. But I can guarantee that you will find The Journal always interesing, always reliable, and always useful.

Sincerely yours,
Peter R. Kann
Executive Vice President
Associate Publisher

P.S. It’s important to note that The Journal’s subscription price may be tax deductible.
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So what made this sales letter work so well that it was mailed for 30 years straight?

1. Story

It kicks off with a story. And stories are the most powerful way you can communicate, persuade and sell. The moment you hear a story, your ears perk up immediately. It’s an automatic response because we are hardwired to pay attention to stories.

It’s embedded into our subconscious mind.

And this letter opens with a story immediately. It sets the stage and starts painting a picture.

2. Curiosity

Why after 25 years one guy was a manager, and the other was the company president. “What Made The Difference” – personally I would put a question mark there, but that aside, it raises the question. You want to know, don’t you?

And this keep you reading.

3. The Big Idea

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

Knowledge Is Power – this is the bid idea for this promotion. When you read it, you have to agree that it’s true.

4. Proof

The letter offers proof that the Wall Street Journal will give you the knowledge you need by highlighting what’s inside the newspaper…

“business news, articles on inflation, wholesale prices, car prices, tax incentives…” etc. Notice how detailed this section is. As you read it, you can see a clear picture of yourself reading the journal, getting the information and obtaining the knowledge.

Also notice how the features are translated into benefits – “a daily column on personal money management helps you become a smarter saver, better investor, wiser spender.” This is super important. Because no one cares about the product, they only care about what the product will do for them.

Here what else is important about this: The readers of this letter were actually interested in all of this. Because the appeal would fail if the reader wasn’t interested in gaining knowledge, and becoming a better, smarter investor. So it’s crucial that you know your market, and what their appeals are.

5. The Offer

If you don’t ask for the sale, you won’t make it. This letter offers a Risk-Free offer, with a special discount and a guarantee.

There are some other triggers here, but these are the main 5 ingredients of what made this letter work. It’s simple, easy to read, and has a great offer that perfectly appeals to the reader’s desire for gaining knowledge, power and becoming smarter.

If you want to get better at selling the benefits of your product or service, this classic sales letter is worth studying carefully.

If you found this post on the Wall Street Journal valuable… please feel free to like, share, retweet and comment.

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Vitaly Grinblat has over 20 years of experience in sales, marketing and advertising. Including running his own financial services agency for over 10 years. Since 2005, he has created a number of information products online, as well consulted with and designed advertising campaigns for private clients, generating over $10,000,000 in sales. Currently Vitaly is involved in a number of businesses and projects including creating marketing campaigns for a large publication company, running an e-commerce business, a nutraceutical company and Success Thread.


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