How to Start A Letter?

How to Start A Letter? :

Not, understand me, which I claim any letter will give returns in every case, but the right sort of a letter will invariably leave the right sort of an impression. Your man may not be in the market, he may not feel able to make the immediate investment, and he may be engrossed with matters of such importance as not to be able to study your proposition. But if the letter is right, it will do its work.

A bad start will kill an otherwise passable sales letter.

What is a bad start? I should say any opening which does not nail attention with the first phrase, which does not turn this attention to vital, personal interest.


Study that word carefully. There are as many ways of attracting attention, as there are colors in the rainbow. A few primary rules may be evolved, but these are subject to an infinite number of shadings and variations. Personal taste will determine how best to attract attention in different classes of letters; conditions, moods and the exigencies of the moment will govern the exact coloring and tone of the individual letter. Your start should make the reader feel as if you yourself were at his desk, making your talk.

As you hope to do this by all means steer away from the stereotyped opening. You will never get a man’s attention if you begin in the same old commonplace way: “I have the honor to inform you,” or “In reply to yours of the 18th I beg to state.” There is no particular honor involved in informing me and no reason on earth why a man should “beg to state” something I have asked him. A businessman told me that he got so sick of “begging” letters that he fired them all into the wastebasket.

Why not say what you have to say right off the bat? When I write for a catalogue, for example, why should a man begin his letter in reply with a preamble like this: “Answering your recent favor addressed to our office, we wish to state that under separate cover we are mailing you a copy of our 1911 catalogue and trust you may find such a lamp as you require illustrated therein.”

Why not break right in: “The catalogue you asked for the other day is going to you in this mail and we are so confident that you will find listed in it just the kind of a lamp you want that we want you to go through it very carefully.” What’s the difference? I feel instinctively on reading the first that they are sending me that catalogue as a favor. The other gets my attention and interest because I am made to feel there is a lamp in that catalogue that I want.

After all, the easiest and best way to start a letter is to be perfectly natural. When a clothier answers my inquiry with “Agreeable to your request of recent date we enclose you our booklet,” he not only fails to make a good impression, but he actually makes a bad one. He begins that way simply because he thinks formalities are necessary. But in doing so he flies wide of a good beginning because the sentence is not only stilted, but also it implies that he is condescending to do me a favor.

How much more natural it is to begin as this motor manufacturer does: “Our idea in the manufacture of a motor is just this—the customer wants a motor that is mechanically correct.” And here is a man who would sell me a cedar chest. He gets my attention and interest from the start when he says: “You know that in Colonial days nothing was considered equal to a red cedar chest for preserving furs, blankets, etc.”

How to Start A Letter?