Forgotten Art: Writing Business Letters

Does anyone write business letters any more?

The kind of letters that go out in envelopes with the company’s logo and address in the upper left hand corner and with a first-class stamp in the upper right?  Or that are neatly printed on company stationery, signed with a person’s actual signature, and folded correctly?

Business Letter

Odds are that today’s preference is to send an E-mail to the intended recipient and wait for a response.  One of the problems we’ve discovered with E-mail correspondence is that the sender assumes, when he/she hits “Send,” that the E-mail will be received by the recipient.  Unless the sender gets some form of confirmation, he/she never knows.

We’re not saying we should abandon E-mail correspondence.  There was a time not long ago when it was proposed that E-mail was a dinosaur and would not be around for long.  Then it was realized how valuable a tool it was and here we are.

What we are standing up for is the good, old-fashioned business letter as a method of correspondence and means of enhancing a corporate brand.  Quality paper displaying a crisp logo with a clean typed message (no typographical or grammatical errors) can be an impressive way of demonstrating the power of a company’s brand image.

The first step is to make sure the information about the person receiving the correspondence is accurate.  Sending a letter with the person’s name misspelled or calling a male Ms conveys a negative impression right from the start and, in most cases, sends the letter to the recycling bin without being read.

The second step is to be concise.  Know the reason you’re sending the letter and what response you intend or would like to receive.  If it’s a congratulatory note, it’s probably best if it’s hand-written and brief.  If it’s a bid or something similar, short bullet points are likely to get the best response.  Keep in mind that even though it’s a somewhat personal letter, people rarely have time to go through their mail and read every piece in detail.  Much of it is junk mail, so your letter needs to stand out when it arrives in the snail mail box.

Write the letter as if you were the person receiving it.  What would you like to see or read if this piece came to you?  How would you respond, based on what was in the letter?

Start with a cordial greeting, and end with your call to action.  No one likes a letter that concludes with the recipient wondering why they even got it.  Make sure the stationery has contact information on it so the person receiving it knows where to send a reply or to call.

It’s also a good idea to include two of your business cards in the envelope.  Why two?  One for the recipient to keep and the other for them to give to someone else to refer your services.  Writing a good business letter can boost your brand identity with customers and prospective clients.

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