The Part The Letter Plays in Business
What is the most important factor in the transaction of your business? What medium plays the greatest part in selling your goods, collecting your accounts, keeping, you in touch with the other elementsconcerns and individuals-that make your business possible? Run your mind up and down the essentials in your every day work and lay your mental finger upon the one most indispensable.
You can’t miss it. It’s the business letter. The first claim on your attention each morning after you have hung up your hat and drawn a chair to your desk is the morning’s mail. You run through it and you are back again in the hum of things. It has put you in touch with the run of your own affairs, just as your morning paper has laid before you a mental
picture of what the world did yesterday.
Now you take your turn and you dispose of each of those letters as the purposes and policy of your business dictate. Through the medium of your replies and your own letters to others you buy and sell, you give directions, counsel and advice, you cover a thousand subjects-you play the whole game of business over your own desk. And all through the medium of the business letter.
If there has been one development in the past generation that has contributed more than any other to business growth it has been the development of the business letter. Letters-right letters-are no longer the mere stereotyped paper mediums of solicitation and acknowledgment. They are living, breathing personalities, with all the capabilities and characteristics of the men behind them.
Forty years ago the only letters that showed symptoms of red-blooded authorship were impassioned love missives and the opinionated chronicles of statesmanship. Then someone, somewhere, conceived the idea that human interest could be woven into a business letter as well as into a personal message, that a business letter, after all, was but a personal message and that it was possible to talk to a man a thousand miles away in the same words that you would use if he sat beside your desk.
That discovery, developed, has of itself dissolved distance and placed the inter-relationship of business men upon a basis of courtesy and intimacy that no other could accomplish. And more important, it has made possible the transaction of an enormous bulk of business at an insignificant fraction of what personal handling of it would have cost. Eighty-five million dollars in sales made by one house last year entirely by mail-that is a specific example of results.
As the possibilities of the business letter have been realized, it has leaped all the restricted boundaries of former usage. Today the letter, the right letter, remember-does whatever the personal representative can do. It sells goods, collects money, adjusts complaints, and carries on the routine of business with all the efficiency of the individual behind it.
Used rightly, it is in many respects a better medium than a personal representative. Certainly it has all the advantage on cost. A sales letter entails no heavy traveling expenses, hotel bills and entertainment charges; a red stamp carries it the length of the land. Neither does it cool its heels in the outer office and conjure methods to reach the chief within; the courtesy of the mail lays it upon his desk. It follows up persistently when repeated personal calls would be impossible. It is a salesman that says no more and no less than the merchant or manufacturer desires. It makes no false representations, no verbal promises that cannot be lived up to. It is the perfect servant of the user.
But, you may say to all this, that you do not do business y mail. True, you may not conduct a mail order business. But you do have use for correspondence. You may sell your goods entirely through salesmen, yet there never was a sales force so good that it could not get more business with the help of letters from the house.
Correspondence as you use it may serve the simplest needs of routine-the acknowledgement of orders, the notification of shipments-yet there is never a letter goes out in your mail that does not have the possibilities of a business getting touch. If you stop with the acknowledgement or the notification, you miss an opportunity. Go beyond and talk to the man. Look at your letter through his eyes, shift yourself over into his attitude, consider, what you would do if you got that letter. Do that a few times and you will soon be wondering why you didn’t rub the machine finish off your correspondence long ago, take the man-to-man attitude and talk business through the mail. There’s a place for real letters in every business and your’s is one of them.
OR YOU say that you have tried the sales letter and it has failed. Do not indict the letter for its failure. Its possibilities are there. Indict yourself rather along with the hundreds of thousands of other businessmen who have neglected to make the most of a medium that waits to do service at a minimum of cost.
The business letter is the biggest opportunity for expansion that you have today. Employed intelligently, it will find you customers, it will sell your goods, or help your salesman to sell them, it will make your name known wherever mail service penetrates.
But the business-winning letter must be the product of the most analytical thought. If it is to serve as a salesman it must be created with all the care that you would train a salesman before you would permit him to sell your gods. If your argument is to convince it must be planned logically, if your description is to paint a mental picture it must be clear, if your appeal for action is to get results it must be a real appeal with real inducement. You must know your reader’s point of contact and aim your letters there.
Study your sales letters. Study every letter that goes out over your name. Does it play the part it should in your business? Give it a chance. The subsequent chapters of this book tell you how.
PERSONALITY is what marks one man among the thousands what marks the letter we remember among the hundreds it is no effort to forget.
The Part The Letter Plays in Business
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