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Effective Letters 1

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EFFECTIVE LETTERS 1. Modern business correspondence.—The exigen cies of competition in modern business have brought the business letter into a new and brighter light. Business correspondence is now, more than ever be fore, an instrument of salesmanship. Progressive business concerns are beginning to require that all let ters be written with careful consideration of their pos sible influence on sales. This attitude, which is prac tical and sound, is due in part to a new conception of the scope of salesmanship.

As explained in the Text on "Salesmanship," the art of selling has the most varied uses. Whenever one man influences another to think and act as he desires, salesmanship is practised. Business correspondence is written to cause the reader to think and act as the writer desires, and in this sense all business letters are selling letters. This practical point of view on busi ness correspondence causes the correspondent to give utmost consideration to the effect his letter will have on the reader. Effectiveness rather than correctness is his aim. He is interested in good form, technic and rhetorical correctness of expression only in so far as they help him to produce the desired e ect upon the reader.

The effect desired is always one that will have, either directly or indirectly, a favorable influence on sales. Effective letters, therefore, are those that tend either to promote sales directly or to increase the good-will that leads to increased sales. Whether or not this influence is direct or indirect makes little difference. The point is, that in business every letter has some in fluence on sales. The degree of influence any letter has in promoting sales depends on the amount of good salesmanship used in writing it.

2. Place of correspondence in basic principles involved in writing effective letters, therefore, are the principles which govern success ful salesmanship. The correspondent is only one de gree less a salesman than the firm's traveling rep resentative. The following analysis of the scope of salesmanship shows the place of correspondence in this field.

I. Oral salesmanship : A. When the seller goes to the buyer B. When the buyer goes to the seller.

II. Written salesmanship: A. When a piece of copy is written to an

individual B. When a piece of copy is written to more than one person.

In this classification all general business correspond ence is included under II. A, while the form letter would fall under II. B, in close relation to advertising copy. But the point here is that business letters are effective because they are written by writers who either consciously or unconsciously apply principles of good salesmanship in their choice of what is said and how it is said.

3. "Keystone" principlc.—Perhaps the first of all the selling principles that apply in writing effective letters is that everything written should be criticised from the standpoint of its effect on the reader. When a young man closed a letter of application for a position with the statement, "I hope to hear from you because I want to connect with a business located in your city," he did not take the point of view of the prospective employer. He did not foresee the effect of indefiniteness, or the advantage of an indication of interest in the particular job that was open. If he bad read over his letter and had applied, as best he could, the prospective employer's point of view, he might easily have foreseen the ineffectiveness of his closing statement. Possessing and using a knowledge of the reader's point of view may be termed the "key stone" principle in the art of writing effective letters.

4. Necessity of practical imagination.—Any letter will serve to show the application or the nonapplica tion of the principle of "practical imagination." The following illustration happens to be a sales letter, but the principle applies in writing all letters. If there is a "secret of success" in writing effective letters, it is this principle of adopting the reader's point of view. Did the writer of the following letter, sent out by an automobile supply company, apply it? Dear Sir: According to our records you are the owner of a Ford car. Now you may not need a new inner tube, but just the same we are sending one to you, and to 99 other men, because we want you to try it out for us. It is going to your address by parcel post, prepaid. Maybe it's there now.

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