You’re probably an expert on the services or products you sell, but writing about them–maybe not so much. Don’t despair! Just follow these simple guidelines:
1. Think before you write. Decide precisely what result you want your letter to achieve. Is it to build brand visibility? Increase sales? Have more clients? Direct customers to a new location or personnel? Get a loan? Your purpose should create the focus for your letter.
2. Make notes on the key points. In any order, jot down your ideas in rough phrases you will expand upon when you actually begin writing.
3. Prioritize or organize your ideas. Choose a format: most to least important (or the reverse), pros versus cons, chronological, or any other structure that helps you achieve your purpose. Write a number next to each phrase to indicate the order in which you will use it.
4. Write an attention-grabbing first sentence. Give your reader a reason to read more. It might be a question. Example (writing to your bank to get a loan): Would you make a loan to a small business that has increased its revenues by 40% in each of its first three years?
5. “Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em.” Use your first paragraph to prepare your reader for what you plan to explain in the balance of your letter. Example: Let me tell you why I think it would make sense for you to do so.
6. Write the body of your letter. Expand the phrases you’ve jotted down in the order in which you’ve numbered them. Try to keep your paragraphs short for easy reading, and bold face important phrases or paragraph headings if you use them.
7. “Tell ‘em what you’ve told ‘em.” In your closing paragraph, recap your main points so your reader won’t forget them.
8. Then give your reader a call to action. Example: If you’d like to discuss the possibilities of a small business loan to a company that is poised for real growth, please call me personally at 215-555-5555. I’m easiest to reach between noon and 4 PM, weekdays. If I don’t hear from you by Friday, I’ll give you a call.
9. Finally, use your computer spell/grammar check. Then proofread like crazy and have a trusted associate review it, also. It might be a good idea to print out a copy to proofread. If necessary, hire a professional proofreader. The more eyes that check it, the better. Your computer won’t pick up an “on” that was supposed to be an “of” or countless other mistakes. There’s nothing worse than getting a business letter, especially a request for something, that contains errors.
10. Now mail and/or e-mail your perfect business letter. Follow up with a phone call if you haven’t heard anything by Friday. “Good morning. This is Jane Doe. I sent you an e-mail/letter a few days ago with a request for a small business loan. I wonder if you’ve had a chance to review it yet?”