WHY LETTERS MAKE GOOD 1. Value of knowing why a letter makes good.— A sales correspondent in a wholesale house noticed an improvement in the results of his letters just after he had returned from a trip south among the mer chants with whom he had been corresponding. He was curious concerning the cause of this improvement and in an attempt to find an explanation he com pared carbons of letters written before his trip with those of letters written after his return. There was a noticeable increase in warmth and cordiality in his more recent letters. This tone indeed was so ap parent that he feared he had been overdoing it. Yet, since his very cordial letters had brought better re turns than the others, he decided that they must have produced the right effect upon his readers—that the readers had not considered the cordiality overdone. He reflected upon the impressions he had received from letters sent to him, and concluded that what might seem to the writer an excessively cordial tone would not, in most cases, impress the reader as such. He experimented upon a number of similar cases, writing letters of various degrees of cordiality and was surprised at the marked difference in returns, with re sults in favor of the more cordial letters, especially those in which the cordiality was very marked in the opening sentences.
Two letters identical except as to the opening para graphs illustrate this point. The two different open ings follow.
I In response to your welcome inquiry of the tenth, it gives us a great deal of pleasure to report big sales and numerous repeat orders on our Honor Brand overalls, in all parts of the country. This brand is made up especially for us and according to our own specifications—your specifications, I ought to say, because we have built into this brand sugges tions from many merchants who were kind enough to tell us exactly what their trade wanted. Briefly, Mr. Eppinger, here are the specifications : II Your inquiry of the tenth is about a brand of overalls which enjoys big sales and numerous repeat orders in all parts of the country. This brand is made up especially for
us according to specifications which were suggested by mer chants who told us exactly what their trade wanted. Briefly, here are the specifications: The letter with the first opening brought twice as good results as that with the second, tho the latter appears perhaps more businesslike in tone. Mer chants like to have letters get right down to business, but this quality need not rule out the cordial tone. It is quite consistent to write a letter that is both concise and cordial, as will be shown in the following section.
The point here involved is that this correspondent let the little word "why" reveal the means of making his letters uniformly more successful. Whether a letter was a success or a failure, he would ask him self, Why ? and then build future letters on the information that the answer to that question re vealed.
2. Conciseness and good that make good are often concise and good-natured. Many "concise" letters, however, are brief in a me chanical fashion. They suggest brusqueness. They often give the reader a distinct impression that the writer "feels his oats," and considers his time too valu able to waste much of it in writing his letters. "Yours of the 10th received. Goods shipped by express on the 8th," and so on. That is the brusque tone. Com pare it with this : Dear Aa Al to L4—from less than $500 to $1,000,000 and over.
In Maine—in California—Minnesota—Mississippi—and in the states between—you will find adding machines of one style or another.
It serves the Standard Oil Company (Aa Al) and it serves the Little Fellow (L4) and thousands of concerns not so large or so small.
For some it adds and handles 10,000 items per day, where less than 800 were handled before. For others it subtracts and makes an equal saving of time.
Again we find it on multiplication, with its exclusive printed proof, doing 350 to 400 invoices (correctly) where only 225 to 260 came thru before.