Writing business letters is a regular routine to any entrepreneur. One important skill you will need to master to do well in business is writing letters. Deals are won and lost here. Partners, investors, customers can tell so much about you and your company by the Businesskind of letter you send to them. I will share with you tips and principles you need to write well.
Planning the Business Letter
For you to write a letter that is good enough to inform and persuade your reader to act in your favor, you must plan. Planning is a major factor in the accomplishment of any goal. Business letter writing is not an exception. If you want to construct a clear and effective letter, you need to sit down and draw out a good plan.
Some letters require more elaborate plan than others. For instance, a letter to a customer detailing a proposal for a product purchase will obviously need a more elaborate plan than a thank-you note for a business lunch.
Essential Steps in the Planning of any Letter:
Research the facts: Before you ever begin to write a business letter, it is advisable to know beforehand what you plan to talk about. If you just decide to write whatever comes into your head at that moment, you will end up with a confused and ineffective letter that may cause your business harm than good.
Analyze the subject and reader: After you have completed your research for the letter. That is, you have gathered basic facts about the person to whom you are writing, you have put together the topic(s) that will be covered in the letter. Then the information you have gathered must now be analyzed and organized logically and sequentially for ease in understanding and assimilation.
For better results you should prepare an outline for the letter you are about to write. An outline is a good method of organizing topics and visualizing the order in which you want to discuss them in the letter. You can choose to order the letter chronologically, by importance of the topics discussed, or in whatever order is best suited for you. Just make sure it is ordered in a way that will bring the desired result. You should be flexible about the method to use, but whatever your choice is, it must be logical, professional and you should not mix thoughts in sentences or drop them before they are completed.
Know the Objective(s) and How You Want to Accomplish them: What is the objective for the letter? Every letter must have a clear cut objective. If the objective is to get a customer to accept the credit terms you are offering, keep that goal clearly in mind as you plan and write the letter. Your goal and objective for the letter should be loud and clear in your mind as you choose the order of each paragraph and the wording of each sentence.
Following these simple steps in planning and organizing will enable you write business letters that are professional, well received and very effective.
Components of an Effective Letter
I have laid much emphasis on planning and organizing but that’s not all about writing effective business letters. Planning by itself is not enough to assure you of a positive response from your reader. I will now share with you the essential components of a business letter that multiplies the chances of its effectiveness.
The Language of the Letter – Clarity vs. Ambiguity
Language is a means of communication. For any communication to be complete, the sender must covey his or her message in such a way that the receiver accurately receives and understands the message. The language you use in conveying a message should be such that the receiver does not struggle to understand or else there will be friction in the communication process and your message will either be misunderstood, not understood or simply discarded.
A simple rule you should always use is that the English you use in your every- day business should be the same good English used by people in all walks of life.
Granted, there may be terms intrinsic to your industry, but there is not a special type of ‘‘business English’’ to be learned and used when writing business letters. Good English is good English. Good English is that which is easy to assimilate and understand, so that the receiver responds accordingly.
Be clear and straightforward. Write what you mean and make it simple. Don’t make your reader guess what you mean.
Avoid the use of pompous or inflated language. You are writing to communicate with your reader not to impress him or her.
Be clear, direct, and unambiguous. Writing in unclear terms, indirect and ambiguous statements will only make the reader receive a different message from the one you intended. Ensure to remove all unclear, indirect and ambiguous words or statements in your business letters.
Be as direct as possible. If you can pass your message in five words instead of ten, do so. What you are writing is a letter not a treatise or novel. The goal is to convey a message that is well understood and well received.
The Tone of the Letter
The tone of a business letter matters a lot. Your reader can feel the tone or emotion with which you wrote the letter. The tone of a business letter should be courteous and friendly. Don’t be too technical, be plain and simple.
The Focus of the Letter
Focus on the person you’re writing to. The letter should be directed to the readers interest not yours. The reader will respond more easily when he or she sees it’s all about his or her interest.
When planning for the letter as we discussed earlier, these are some of the things to find out about your reader before you commence writing: What will motivate this reader to react favorably to my letter? What interests this reader? What is this reader’s viewpoint on issues I am addressing in my letter? As you write endeavor to address these questions in the letter.
If you’re writing to a partner, investor or customer focus on them, address their possible fears, trigger their motivation and answer questions they may have.
The Length of the Letter
Long business letters generally don’t do well. The length of any letter affects its receptivity. In this our over communicated world where we are daily been bombarded with adverts and all kinds of information, professionals or customers are not going to react favorably to a three-page letter that could have been written in one page or less.
Go straight to the point in your letters. Hit the point quick and early. It should be concise and limited to one page, if possible less. To get your reader to be interested begin talking about the main topic(s) of your letter right in the first paragraph. If you do, your reader will know what to expect as soon as he or she begins to read and would want to follow through to the end.
Take time to plan the letter and clarify your ideas. Doing this before you write will greatly help you to keep the length manageable and within limit. Planning the letter is the most time consuming aspect of letter writing. But if your aim of writing the letter is important then all the efforts is worth it.
Succeeding in the art of business letter writing will go a long way to determine your growth and relationship with partners, investors and customers. A wise entrepreneur will take time to learn and master this skill.