In the age of instantaneous, digital communications, it may seem irrelevant to talk about the art of letter-writing. However, letters remain important. They are the only acceptable accompaniment to an enclosure such as a brochure. And they are the most civilised way of introducing yourself, your company or your products when you want to win new business.
But given that the huge volume of ‘junk’ mail sent nowadays has made readers intensely sceptical of any unfamiliar-looking missive, how can writing be used to good effect?
For a start, avoid the ‘daft question’ approach of so much promotional mail: “Would you like to save money?” Who wouldn’t?
How about “A new way to save money.” Hardly original, but readers will feel less patronised and more disposed to read on.
Next, keep early paragraphs simple and factual, yet compelling. And back them up with examples and facts wherever possible. “We’ve developed a new way to save money. It’s very simple. Put your mortgage, savings, borrowings and earnings together. You earn more on the credit and pay less on the debt. What Wonga magazine called it ‘this year’s best product'”.
If you can create a credible, compelling introduction, readers will be more willing to invest time with the rest of your letter.
Finally, keep it short. Unsolicited new business letters are not the place to demand that your audience ploughs through several complex concepts. Leave that to the brochure and the website.