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Author: 



Smart, Walter Kay 



Title: 



How to write business 
letters 

Place: 

New York 

Date: 

1919 



MASTER NEGATIVE * 



COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES 
PRESERVATION DIVISION 

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ORIGINAL MATERIAL AS FILMED • EXISTING BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD 




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Saart, Walter Kay, 

How to write Imalneao letters. ed» by Walter r 
SMTt... In oollaboration with the edltorlml 
■taff of System. Sew lork, Shaw. 1920. 

160 p. forme, si^ om. (shaw buelne.. 
training aeries) 




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HOW TO WRITE 

BUSINESS LETTERS 



EDITED BY 

WALTER K. SMART, PH. D. 

HEAD OP THE DEPARTMENT OF ENGUSH OF ARMOUR INSTITUTE OF 

TECHNOLOGY AND LECTURER ON BUSINESS CORRESPONDENCE IN 

THE SCHOOL OF CO^LMERCE OF NORTHWESTERN UNF^^ERSITY 



IN COLLABORATION WITH 

THE EDITORIAL STAFF OF SYSTEM 




A. W. SHAW COMPANY 

NEW YORK CHICAGO LONDON 



1920 



COPYRIGHT 1»1«, BY A. W. SHAW COMPANY 

HinikFrintint 






ym ff «D ni tn tmnsD •«▲» ov * imi0 4 



9 ■ 



CONTENTS 



Chapteb 

Page 

I. THE TONE OP A BUSINESS LETTER y 

n. THE MAKE-UP OP A BUSINESS LETTER 

m. INQUIRY. CONTRACT, AND ROUTINE LETTERS ... 19 
IV. ADJUSTING COMPLAINTS BY LETTER . 

V. COLLECTING BY MAtt 

43 

VI. WHAT A SALES LETTER MUST DO 

00 

Vn. GETTING ATTENTION AND AROUSING INTEEEST 
Vin. EXPLANATION-DESCRIBING THE PRODUCT ... gl 

IX. PROVING YOUR CLAIMS . 

88 

X. PERSUADING THE PROSPECT TO BUY . 

* • • • • M 

XI. WHAT INDUCEMENTS TO OFFER 

108 

Xn. SUMMARY AND CLIMAX-CLINCHING THE SALE ... 109 

Xm. DEVEIX)PING A FOLLOW-UP SERIES 

^^^ 118 



XIV. NEWS VALUE 185 

XV. GIVING YOUR LETTERS PERSONALITY 140 

XVI. THE "YOU" INTEREST 140 

INDEX U7 



Exhibit of Acttual Letters Reproduced 



ANNOUNCEMENT 



COICMON ERBOB8 IN ABRANOBMENT 14 

WELL-BALANCED ABRANOEMENT • 15 

HOW ONE COMPANY WBITE8 A REFEBENCE LETTEB 23 

▲ COMPLAINT LETTEB AND AN X7NTACTFUL BEPLT 86 

TACTFUL BEPLT TO THE SAME COMPLAINT 87 

COLLECTION LETTEB SEBIES 54-56 

WELL-BUILT SALES LETTEB 62 

A POOB LETTEB, WITHOUT SALES TALUB ..••.•.. 64 

THE SAME PBOPOSITION IN WINNING FOBM • • 65 

A GOOD LETTEB SHOWING HOW ATTENTION MAT BE WON 71 

LETTEB THAT HOLDS INTEREST TO THE END ......*. 75 

LETTEB COBBECTLT USING EXPLANATION AND PBOOF 90,91 

A BEPLT TO AN INQUIRY, FUBTHEB STIMULATING INTEBEST ..... 08 

THE KIND OF BEPLY TO AVOID 99 

A LETTEB CLEVEBLY EMBODYING INDUCEMENT 105 

BALES FOLLOW-UP THAT BROUGHT BESULTS •...»••• 106 
A SALES FOLLOW-UP SHOWING TYPICAL FAULTS . . . . ' . . .112 
THE SAME PBOPOSITION, REWRITTEN AND CORRECTED 118 

▲ GOOD LETTEB LEADING THE BEADEB TO THE BUYING POINT • . . .115 

BALES FOLLOW-UP SERIES 121-125 

PUTTING NEWS VALUE TO WORK IN THE SALES LETTER . . . . .137 

A POOR LETTER, LACKING IN PERSONALITY AND APPEAL . . • . . 142 

THE SAME ARTICLE SOLD IN REAL MAN-TO-MAN TALK ...... 143 

GOOD EXAMPLE OF STRONG PERSONALITY IN A SALES LETTER .... 145 

HOW AN ADVERTISING MAN SOLD A BOAT BY MAIL 146, 147 

HOW THE SELI^r's INTEREST CROWDS OUT THE *'Y0U" ELEMENT . . . 152 

THE SAME LETTER REWRITTEN FROM THE BUYER'b POI>fT OF VIEW . . . 153 



rno give those who are interested in the study of business cor- 
i. respondenee a discussion of the subject at once brief, logical, 
specific and practical is the purpose of this volume. In producing it, 
the demand every concern feels for more efficient letter writers has 
'>een a controlling factor. Not only the many specimen letters and 
paragraphs reproduced, but also the principles and rules have come 
out of the hard-earned experience of enterprising concerns. No effort 
has been spared to arrange this specific material so that it can most 
readily be grasped and applied. 

Beginning with the simplest correspondence matters and letter 
forms, the discussion leads up to the writing of the successful sales 
letter, which is perhaps the most difficult as weU as the most important 
form of business correspondence. In style and mechanical form the 
aim has been to make the book in a measure an illustration of the same 
arts of persuasion upon which advertisements and business letters 
depend for their vitality. 

As each type of business letter is taken up, the reader or student 
IS shown how to construct it paragraph by paragraph ; securing atten- 
tion; delivering a concise selling description, stating a collection 
arrangement or putting an adjustment into persuasive terms ; proving 
a claim ; proposing a contract, and closing the letter in a way which 
urges to action. As he works out these paragraphs, the correspondent 
can compare them with actual models which have sold goods, adjusted 
difficult complaints, collected slow accounts and handled efficiently the 
various problems of a business. 



Only the free access to the confidential data of business houses 
which the publishers have for many years enjoyed has made this work 
possible. In many cases the source and history of these actual business 
letters cannot be made public. Among the firms which may be men- 
tioned as having contributed valuable matter are : Portland Silo Com- 
pany, The Regina Company, Franklin Automobile Company, Frank 
E. Davis Company, Horton Manufacturing Company, Geo. Stuhler's 
Sons Company, Peoples Gas Light and Coke Company of Chicago, 
Story & Story, Gray & Graham Company, Goodyear Tire and Rubber 
Company, Old Town Canoe Company, A. B. Farquhar Company, 
Link-Belt Company, Holeproof Hosiery Company, Superior Under- 
wear Company, and Lasalle and Koch Company. 

In the earlier editions of the book, issued under the title, 
**How to Write Letters That Win,'* of which many printings were 
demanded, twelve hundred business letters were studied, classified, and 
discussed. In the present completely reconstructed and much enlarged 
volume more than nineteen hundred letters have been considered. The 
correspondence files of many concerns have also been studied, and 
System's editors and letter writers, especially Mr. Dennis, Mr. 
Murphy and Mr. Sumner, have contributed freely of their experience 
with letter work. 

For the present edition, credit is especially due to Professor 
Smart, head of the English department of Armour Institute of 
Technology and lecturer on business correspondence in the School of 
Commerce of Northwestern University, who has contributed much new 
material, and has thoroughly revised and rearranged the book. Grate- 
ful acknowledgment is made also to the hundreds of business men and 
teachers whose corrections and suggestions bearing upon the former 
editions have, we hope, made the present volume accurately reflect 
the best correspondence practice. 

THE PUBLISHERS. 



CHAPTER I 



THE TONE OF A BUSINESS 

LETTER 



T F THERE has been one development in the last gen- 
1 eration 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 personaU- 
ties, with all the capabilities and characteristics of the 
men behind them. 

Forty years ago the only letters that showed symp- 
toms of red-blooded authorship were impassioned love 
missives and the controversial letters of statesmen. 
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 dis- 
tance 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 the personal handling of 



Giving 
letters a 
personal 
tone 



Business^ 
getting 
power qf the 
personal 
letter 



8 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



Personal 
tone means 
showing 
interest in 
ihe cttsUmier 



How the 
personal tone 
can be 
secured 



Regard each 
customer as 
an indi' 
vidual 



it would have cost. Over one hundred million dollars 
in sales made by one house last year entirely by mail — 
that is a specific example of results. 

Getting this personal tone in a business letter is 
largely a matter of showing a personal interest in the 
customer and his affairs. If you are writing a sales 
letter, emphasize the benefit he will derive from owning 
the article you are offering. If it is a collection letter, 
make him feel that you are fair, and considerate of his 
difficulties — until, of course, he has shown that he 
deserves no consideration. In a letter answerinsr a 
complaint, not only adjust the difficulty, but show your 
desire to satisfy him in full, and make him realize that 
you really value his patronage. If it is an acknowledg- 
ment of an order, put a little warmth into your thanks. 
In other words, show that you are interested in the 
matter about which you are writing, and that you do 
not consider it merely as a part of the day's routine 
work. 

In the simpler forms of letters, such as the acknowl- 
edgment of orders, it is not difficult to show this personal 
interest, for there it is only a matter of dropping a few 
cordial words here and there in the letter. In the more 
complex forms, however, such as the sales letter, get- 
ting the right tone will require a special effort. 

In the first place you must learn to look upon each 
of your customers as an individual, not as an abstract 
being — one of a thousand men all of whom have the 
same characteristics. The latter is the attitude of the 
old-school correspondent. He says the same thing in 
the same way every time he writes about a certain matter. 
He makes no attempt to adapt his letters to the differ- 
ent classes of readers. He sees men in the mass, not as 
individuals ; and seeing them thus he cannot help making 
his letters formal and impersonal. 

We are not arguing here that you — ^the correspond- 
ent — must know all your customers personally, for 



THE TONE OF THE LETTER 



that is obviously impossible in a large business concern. 
If it were possible for you to do this, and then if you 
would dictate a personal letter to each customer, you 
would have the ideal conditions for carrying on business 
correspondence. But since this ideal is unattainable, 
you must find a substitute for it — ^you must create a 
typical individual to whom your letters are to bo 
written. 

The first step in this process of creation is to recog- 
nize the fact that men fall into certain broad classes each 
of which has certain general characteristics. Then 
group your customers according to these classes. There 
are various available means for determining to which 
one any given customer belongs. His trade or profes- 
sion, and the section of country in which he lives will 
give some idea. Then you may judge from his letters, 
or you may get information from your traveling sales- 
men who know him, or you may form an estimate from 
a study of his former dealings with your house. This 
information is not difficult to secure, and the added ef- 
fectiveness of your letters will more than repay you for 
the extra trouble involved in gathering it. 

Now, having placed the customer in a certain class, 
try to visualize a typical representative — an average man 
— of that class. Most public speakers single out some 
person, or perhaps two or three persons, in the audience, 
and gauge the effect of their speech on the audience by 
the effect on them. In this connection it is also interest- 
ing to note that one of the leading magazines on business 
is ** written af one business man, who is known to the 
editors. The attitude of the other subscribers toward 
the magazine is judged by his attitude, and his opinion 
is constantly sought. Of course he is not told that his 
judgment is utilized in this way, for the value of the 
test lies in his being unconscious of his influence. Like- 
wise, a well-known housekeeping magazine is tested out 
on one woman, who also is unaware of the part she plays 



''CreaU" a 

typical 

customer 



Place each 
customer in 
his proper 
class 



Visualize a 
representa- 
tive for each 
class 



J' 



II 



10 



Test the 
letter on this 
representa- 
tive 



Talk to him 
as if he were 
at your desk 



Avoid the 

stereotyped 

beginning 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

in shaping the policy of the paper. These people are 
selected as typical of the class for whom the speech or the 
magazine is intended. 

So the business letter writer who would get the per- 
sonal tone in his correspondence picks out a typical rep- 
resentative of each class of customers. It is usually 
some one whom he knows personally; and as he writes, 
he has this man*s face before him and he tests his letter^ 
by the imagined effect upon his representative. 

Having selected your "average'' man, now talk to 
him as if he were face to face with you in your office. 
Imagine him there, and then try to talk to him in the 
meaningless jargon of the old-style business letter. Try 
the old formulas, * 'I beg to advise," '*In reply to your 
valued favor, would say," and a hundred others like 
them. Can you think of yourself talking to a flesh-and- 
blood man in such ridiculous language ? Then don't use 
it in your letters. You can't express personal interest 
in such stereotyped, impersonal language. Write natur- 
ally. Use words that mean something definite. Strive 
for an easy conversational tone. 

In the beginning of the letter avoid worn-out and 
meaningless expressions, such as, **In reply to your 
esteemed favor of the 12th inst. we beg to advise," or 
''Your valued letter of the 15th ult is at hand, and 
in reply would say." These strike the wrong note at 
the start; they can't convey any feeling of personal 
interest. If you want to acknowledge the receipt of a 
letter, do it naturally; as, *'The catalogue for which you 
wrote on the 10th is being mailed to you today," or 
*' We were sorry to learn from your letter of the 7th that 
the goods were damaged when they reached you." 

Likewise, the old-fashioned complimentary close. 
Hoping to hear from you soon, we beg to remain," or 
Trusting that this arrangement will be satisfactory to 
you, we are," is hopelessly stilted and impersonal. 
Many letters — one might almost say the majority — do 



n 



tt 



THE TONE OF THE LETTER 

not need a complimentary close. Finish what you have 
to say, and then sign your name: ** Sincerely yours," or 
** Cordially yours, W. J. Adams." If you think some- 
thing more is needed, make your statement carry a mes- 
sage of personal interest. *'We shall await your reply 
with interest," or **We are confident that you will have 
no further trouble \^dth this order," are very different in 
tone from the stock expressions cited above. 

Throughout the letter avoid conventional phrase- 
ology. Don't always ** advise" a man; why not occa- 
sionally "inform" or "tell" him? Not every letter is 
an "esteemed" or "valued favor;" nor is every order 
"kind." Instead of saying that a letter "is at hand" 
or "has come to hand," say that you have "received" 
it "July" or "August" is more natural and definite 
than "ult." or "inst." Don't give the impression that 
you are not in the habit of reading the letters that you 
receive, by telling a man that in the case of his letter 
the "contents were carefully noted." Remember that 
"begging" is not an honorable attitude among dignified 
business men. And finally, don't be ashamed of the per- 
sonal pronoun "I." The foolish impression has grown 
up that it is immodest to use this perfectly good word in 
business correspondence. To be sure, it should not be 
overworked, but if your sentence requires it, use it. 

In the next letter you write, get a new way of ex- 
pressing the old ideas. Make it original and distinctive. 
Make it a personal message. Do this a few times, and 
watch the results. It will not be long before you are 
wondering why you didn't rub the machine-finish off 
your correspondence long ago and talk business through 
the mail. There's a place for real letters in every busi- 
nessy and yours is one of them. 



11 



Close the 

letter 

ncUuraUy 



Avoid worn' 
out phrase- 
ology 



Try this — 
and watch 
the resvUs 



THE MAKE-UP OF THE LETTER 



13 



u 



' 1 



CHAPTER II 



Danger of 
ignoring 
accepted 
standards in 
the dress of 
letters 



THE MAKE-UP OF A BUSINESS 

LETTER 



npHE first estimate a business man makes of an un- 
1 known correspondent is based on the appearance 
of his letter. A business man who is familiar with the 
ordinary conventional forms of a letter, is quick to notice 
any departure from the accepted standards. His first 
impulse upon receiving a communication of unusual 
shape or arrangement is to criticise. It breaks away 
from the routine ; it obtrudes itself upon his attention ; 
it attracts his notice in the same way as a pecidiar suit of 
clothes or a house of odd design, a unique table service, 
or any other object of everyday familiarity and use that 
departs from the forms to which he has been accus- 
tomed. 

It is undoubtedly true that on rare occasions the 
effects of such changes are pleasing. But it is also true 
that the generally observed forms, especially of business 
letters, have been accepted for certain well defined rea- 
sons after practical experimenting. He who adopts new 
standards sliould do so cautiously and for cause ; other- 
wise he may expect the same criticism that falls to him 
who adopts the unusual in dress or manner. 

For practical purposes the size of a sheet of business 
stationery should be approximately 8 by 11 inches; even 



Accepted 
standards 
have been 
tested by 
experience 



though it vary a little in either dimension, it should 
observe about these proportions. This size has been 
established by no single authority or group of author- 
ities, and a correspondent may vary it if he wishes. A 
man once wrote a message on an oyster shell, stamped it, 
and the postal authorities, in the course of time, delivered 
it to the addressee. But the standard envelope is 3% 
by 61/2 inches in size, and a sheet about 8 by 11 inches 
folds into it very conveniently. This standard envelope 
is handled more quickly and safely by the post office than 
smaller ones that may get lost in the shuffle ; the miscar- 
riage of small, odd shaped envelopes used for sending 
out personal cards and announcements has caused more 
than one social faux pas. 

Furthermore, a sheet of these proportions is con- 
venient to handle and to file. And as business houses 
generally observe the safe and sane usage, envelopes and 
sheets of standard size and form are preferred to the 
oyster shell school of originality. For legal documents, 
manuscripts, and other larger sheets, larger envelopes, 
also of standard size, are provided. 

Every business letter should be written on business 
stationery— with a business letterhead ; and should be 
sent out in an envelope with the name and address of the 
sender printed, lithographed, engraved, or otherwise 
clearly noted in the upper left corner. Then, in case 
of non-delivery, the official pointing-hand stamp of the 
post office, with the instructions *' return to sender," 
may be affixed, without causing undue annoyance as is 
sometimes occasioned by placing the return address on 
the back of the envelope or in some other unusual 
place. 

A copy should be kept of every communication that 
leaves the office. Either a carbon copy may be made at 
the time the letter is written (six good copies may be 
made simultaneously on the average typewriter machine, 
although only one is usually required), or a letter-press 



Standard 
sizes in 
stationery 
are best 



Variations 
to suit 
special uses 



Value of 
engraved or 
printed 
stationery 



J 



III 



} 



s 



n 



I 



1 



I) 
If 



14 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



Letterhead too 
near top of theet 

Dateline 
extending 
beyond margin 



SaliUation 
too high and 
ehotdd not be 
indented 



Margin at left 
too narrow; 
ragped at the 
right 



Paragraph* not 
indented 
uniformly or 
separated by 
uniform epacee 



Crowding at 
bottom of page 



r 



UTTER HEAD 




MBY OF UTTER 



I COMPimENTARY ClOSE | 



I SICMTttRE 



TITU 



COMMON ERRORS IN ARRANGEMENT 

it, tJf\Trt^^rl\^ '*^^' * ^'**'' ^ * Photograph of the bntnness behind 
wMctXXSLL rr^^Zr.^^^*" would su«,est a company in 
cooperation and inXi. ? a proportion, improperly related, hidring in 



THE MAKE-UP OF THE LETTER 



I 



UTTER HEAD 



NAME AND ADDRESS 



lESsI 



DATE 




I] 



SAUITATIOH I 



BODY OF UTTER 



_] 



I COMPUMEMTARY ClOSE ] 



SIGNATURE 



TITU 



15 



Margin* at top 
and sides 
uniform 



indentation and 

paragraphing 

uniform 



All parts of the 
letter in balance 



Not crowded at 
bottom 



A WELL-BALANCED ARRANGEMENT 

In strikjng contrast to the arrangement on the opposite paee this letter 
snggeat, to the mind of the reader a weil-balanced, smooSy nJ^ Sl!'^. 

Tle^r ,h^^M? ?.!^ arrangement encourages buying. Like a good sal«man, 
» letter should be at its best to represent the business effectively. 



16 



t 



J 



it 



Keeping 
copies of 
correspond' 
ence 



!,'• 


Uniform 




position for 


i 


dates and 


f 


addresses 



Pleasing 
appearance 
of well- 
balanced 
margins 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

copy should be made from the sheet after it is signed. 
Both forms have been accepted by the courts as legal 
copies of correspondence. In the average office, constant 
reference is made to former correspondence ; no business 
house can afford to ignore such a record. Carbon copies 
are usually filed alphabetically by the name of either the 
company or individual to whom the letter is addressed ; 
letter-press copies must necessarily be filed chronolog- 
ically even when separate books for each letter of the 
alphabet are maintained. 

In either case the search through the files for a letter 
copy is facilitated by plsfcing "the name, address, and 
date of a letter at the top and in a uniform location. 
The date of a letter sliould be placed in the upper right 
comer of the page ; the recipient must know when the 
communication is sent; it may have a bearing on other 
communications. The name and address of the ad- 
dressee, corresponding to the address on the envelope, 
should in all cases be placed, as the formal salutation, in 
the upper left corner of the sheet. Not only does this 
establish at once the exact individual for whom the com- 
munication is intended, but it facilitates the filing of the 
correspondence. 

The margins of a business letter, owing to the limita- 
tions of the typewriter, are usually of variable width. 
The space occupied by the letterhead must, of course, 
determine the margin at the top of the sheet. Theoret- 
ically, the margins at the left and right should be of 
exactly the same size; practically, however, the type- 
written lines will vary in length and cause an uneven 
edge on the right side. In printing, the use of slugs of 
different sizes not only between the words but between 
the letters themselves, rectifies these variations, but the 
typewriter is not so equipped. The more even the right 
margin is and the more uniform it is with the left mar- 
gin, the better the effect. The margin should be about 
one or one and a half inches in width. The margin at 



THE MAKE-UP OF THE LETTER 

the bottom should not be smaUer and should be prefer 
ably greater than the side margins. Should it be 
smaUer, the pa^e wiU at once appear cramped for space 
as the reading matter will be really running over int<i 
the margin— a typographical blunder that is as notice 
able on typewritten as on printed pages (pp 14 15) 

The spacing between the lines and between the para- 

graphs of a business letter may vary somewhat to suit 

the tastes of the individual, although considerations of a 

practical nature tend to establish a few general prin- 

ciples. Both for convenience and economy, for instance. 

a letter should be as compact as possible, both in words 

and m mechanical production; it should not take up two 

sheets If one will serve. Hence most business letters are 

single spaced : only a single space on the typewriter sepa- 

i^ es one line from another. Even when a letter is short, 

It is advisable, for purposes of uniformity, to use single 

spaces only. ^ 

The first line of each paragraph is usually indented 
from five to fifteen points on the machineJeach bust 
ness house should establish exactly what this indentation 
eici^ ^^,^/^f ^,!or^re uniformity in its correspond- 
en e. instead of indenting the line, some concerns Lig- 
nate the paragraphs by merely separating them by 
several spacings, and beginning the first line squarely 
to:mbo'.'trr ^^^^-t practice, howeveTs'S 
lle™,?t t''"^ "^*^^-- *^^ ^--^e biisiness 
wIlT ^ "" ""^ paragraphs separated by a spacing 

^7x1^ "^1'^' '^ *^" paragraph is usually in- 
S ?• Vf^f ^ ^^^^ ^^*^^' ^^^^ a« ''hanging in- 

aSrl If/"' "^^ ^' ^'^ ^'^'^^"^ ^^'-e 
in^ ! . ^ '^* '^^'•^^' ^^ *^^ remaining lines are 
indented from &ye to fifteen points. 

The use of uniform typewriter ribbons on all the 
m^lunes operated by one concern is rapidly and prop 
erly coming into favor. It is good business to x^keil 



17 

Running 
over into the 
margin 



Single 
spacing vs, 
double 
spacing 



Beginning a 
paragraph — 
indented or 
flush 



18 

Uniformity 
in typewriter 
ribhtms 



Approved 
forms Jot the 
envelope 
address 



Neatness — 
a final 
caution 



HOW TO WKITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

the letters issuing from one house similar in appearance. 
They should be uniform typographically— in spacings, 
margins, forms of salutation, addressing. And no one 
item is more important in securing this uniformity than 
similarity in the color of the typewriter ribbon. In rec- 
ognition of this fact, most concerns now furnish their 
typists with ribbons that are bought in lots and kept in 
stock. Purple ribbons are perhaps the most popular, 
not only because the color is bold but also because the 
chemical ingredients used blend well and give a smooth, 
durable impression on the paper. 

The address on the envelope, to which the salutation 
at the top of the letter should correspond either exactly 
or in slightly condensed form, may be properly type- 
written in various ways. The style which is most ob- 
served, however, and which therefore has the stamp of 
approval, provides for an indentation of about five 
points on each line of the address. StiU another ap- 
proved though less popular form does not indent the 
lines at alL The spacings between the lines are usually 
angle or double ; greater spacing tends to separate the 
address too much to aUow it to be read quickly. 

Any radical departure from those forms should be 
made cautiously, especially if the various items of the 
address are separated from each other. The address, like 
a paragraph, is generally read as a unit— as a single dis- 
tinct idea. The closer the address conforms to the gen- 
eraUy accepted forms, the more readily are the envelopes 
handled by the post office and with less danger of delay 

or loss. . 

Even if all the foregoing details in the mechanical 
production of a business letter have been carefully ob- 
served, its effect may be destroyed by carelessness. A 
conspicuous erasure on the sheet, a blot, or a finger mark 
nullifies the impression that is created by an otherwise 
perfect page. Care should be taken to guard against 
creating any wrong impression. 



CHAPTER III 



INQUIRY, CONTRACT, AND 
ROUTINE LETTERS 



TN EVERY business there are certain letters which 
A are largely a matter of good English. Because of 
the simple nature of the transaction ordinarily involved 
clearness and brevity are the chief essentials and ar^ 
more easily attained than in tiie more complex forms 
of business correspondence. Among these simpler forms 
are letters of introduction, application, reference, recom- 
mendation, and also telegrams and cablegrams. In spite 
of their brevity, however, thousands of doUars or even 
the success of the venture sometimes hangs on the phras- 
ing of such letters. Hence, exact, clean-cut expression is 
required m these forms of correspondence. 

The letter of introduction, as its name indicates is 
^itten to introduce one of your acquaintances to an- 
other. It tells why the introduction is sought, estab- 
lishes a bond of confidence, and requests that the bearer 
t)e given the assistance he desires. The way in which 
the matter is put is highly important in such an inter- 
change of courtesies. 

The following letter of introduction was written by 
the president of a widely advertised company to one of 
his business friends: 



Simple 
forms of 
letters — 
clearness 
and brevitv 
essential 



The letter of 
introduction 



20 

A specimen 
letter 



The lettered 
ajyplication 



How to begin 
iheletter 



Definite 
statement of 
qualifica- 
tions for the 
position 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

This will introduce to you Mr. Frank Adams, who wishes to 
talk with you about your profit-sharing plan. 

Mr. Adams is the secretary of our company and is planning to 
introduce some system for bringing our employees into closer rela- 
tion with the firm. 

Any information that you can give will be greatly appre- 
ciated by him, and your courtesies to him will be regarded as a 
personal favor to me. 

The letter of application might be classed as a sales 
letter, for its object is to sell the applicant's services. 
As such, it requires, in its highest form, the same skill in 
presentation that is necessary in the more elaborate letter 
aiming to sell merchandise. The essential thing to re- 
member in writing a letter of application is this : Con- 
sider what the business man wants, and show your abil- 
ity to supply it. Try to put yourself in your prospective 
employer's position and imagine the questions he would 
put to you in a face-to-face interview ; then answer those 
questions. 

The business man wants to know at the start what 
connection your letter has with him. Therefore, in the 
opening paragraph of your letter, apply for the position 
that is vacant. The employer cannot have the proper 
viewpoint in reading a letter which gives a long account 
of your business career and only at the close makes the 
application. 

This introductory paragraph is followed by a state- 
ment of your qualifications for the position. If you are 
answering an advertisement which contained instruc- 
tions covering the reply, follow these closely. Cover 
fully, but not in too great detail, the points suggested 
as qualifications in the advertisement. If you are not 
answering an advertisement but know only that a va- 
cancy exists, describe your qualifications for the position 
as you understand it. This statement may be in two 
parts : your business experience and your schooling. In 
the majority of cases it is advisable to tell your business 
experience first. Most employers prefer applicants who 
have already been trained in the work of the position to 



INQUIRY AND CONTRACT LETTERS 

be filled, and the earlier your letter catches the prospec- 
tive employer's interest the more favorable will be your 
hearing. If your experience has been in a different line 
of work, however, try to lay your emphasis on those qual- 
ifications which the two positions (the one you have held 
and the vacant one) have in common. 

In giving your business experience, do not say sim- 
ply, ' 'I have had five years' experience with a real estate 
firm. ' ' Name the firms for which you have worked ; tell 
when and how long you were connected with each;' and 
give the kind of work. If you are employed at the time 
of writing, tell why you wish to change your position. 
If you have had no business experience, make the most of 
your promise as raw material that can be worked up 
into a salesman, correspondent, clerk, or executive, as the 
case may be. 

In covering your education tell what schools you 
attended; how long; and whether you are a graduate or 
not. If you have taken special work— in a college or 
professional school, for instance— which would help you 
particularly in the position for which you are applying, 
tell about that specifically. 

Then give references. In some cases these may be 
men who can speak merely of your character. It is bet- 
ter, however, to name men who can testify also as to 
your business experience and ability. In either case 
give their names and addresses in full. 

The letter also calls for some detail of your personal 
history; as age, married or single, and nationaUty. The 
salary which you would expect should also be included if 
the advertisement asks for it. The letter often closes 
with a request for a personal interview. 

The following is an example of the letter of applica- 
tion: 

accoi^\^^? ^J??^«^ in^-«iL applicant for the position of chief 
accoimtant which you advertised in this morning's Times 

in you J atSemrfanT tlud^ '^ *'^ "^^ °' "^'^ '^^^^^^ 



21 



Business 
experience 
in detail 



Education 



References 
and personal 
history 



ir^ 



< 



22 

Example of 
a detailed 
letter of ^ 
application 



The 

reference 
letter 



The letter of 

recornmen-' 

dation 



II 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

Two years, just after graduation from high school, as 
accountant with Hill, Acton & Co., 212 S. State St., Chicago. 

Three years as chief accountant with J. A. Brown & Son, 
125 W. Monroe St, Chicago. 

At present I am unemployed, duv to a complete reorganization 
of the firm of Brown & Son. 

I am a graduate of the four-year commercial course of the 
Robert Vail High School, and also of the Smith School of Com- 
merce, class of 1914. In the siunmer of the same ^ear I passed 
the Illinois C. P. A. examination, ranking second in a list of 
twenty -one. In the School of Commerce my chief work was in 
business organization, factory management^ and accounting. 

My references, by permissi:n, are: 

Mr. C. J. Bowen, 6512 University Avenue, who, I believe, 
is a friend of yours, and who can speak for my character and 
general ability. 

Mr. A. Fo Crowell, Saljs Manager, Hill, Acton & Co. 

Mr. B T, Matthc3ws, formerly general manager of J. A. 
Brown & Son, whose present address is 3128 W. Madison St. 

I am 26 years of age, married, and of American parentage. 

If you will grant me the favor of a personal interview, I can 
call at your office at any time convenient to you. 

This is an example of a detailed letter of application. 
Sometimes a briefer letter is used. But the letter must 
not be 80 brief as to give incomplete information. It is 
always well, however, to pack all the information you 
can into as few words as possible. 

When an employer writes to a person who has been 
named in a letter of application, the communication is a 
reference letter. An example is shown on page 23. 

Letters of recommendation are of two kinds : general 
and personal. The former are addressed **To Whom It 
May Concern," end are employed when the bearer 
wishes to apply for a position, to a number of different 
concerns, using the letter as often as necessary. The 
personal letter, written to a particular employer to whom 
application for a position has been made, is more 
effective. 

The letter of recommendation should be specific and 
moderate in its terms and should show that the writer 
knows the applicant and his work well enough to speaV 
authoritatively of them. No conviction is carried by the 
statement: **Mr. James Bailey is a man of good charac- 
ter and an excellent bookkeeper. I can confidently rec- 



INQUIRY AND CONTRACT LETTERS 



H 



PUNKINGTON COMPANY 

CHICAGO 




June 6tn, 1915. 



Smith and Jones Co., 

Weston, N. J. 
Dear Sirs: 

Fred W. Denny (photo attached) has 
applied to us for a position as lathe hand. 

On his application he stated that he 
was in your employ for eight years, doing 
the same class^of work, leaving April gOfh. 
1915, because he wished to come to Chicago. 

We require all applicants to furnish 
responsible references as to their responsi- 
bility, qualifications for the position 
named, etc., and shall feel greatly obliged 
for replies to the questions below, togeth- 
er with any other information you may eive 
us concerning him. ^ "^ f» ^ 

Very respectfully. 

Is his statement correct? 

Is he. to your knowledge, of 
good character and habits? 

Is his general conduct such as to entitle 
him to the confidence of his employers? 

Do you consider him competent to 
fill the position he applied for? 

REMARKS: 



Dated 



Signed 



Photograph 
odds character 
to the Utter 



Itt brevity 

encourages a 
prompt 



Ample epaee 
l^tfor anttoere 
tobeJUledin 



MAKING THE REFERENCE LETTER EFFICIENT 

This letter brings the actual information required. Pasting a photom-aph 
of tiie appUcant on the reference letter lessens the possibiUfrjr of getting an opinion 
<m the wrong man. Typing the important questions beneath the signature and 
leaving ample space for answers to be written help to obtain a qui<A reply 



This letter 
ffives specific 
information 



2i HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

ommend him for any position for which he may 
apply." 

Say, rather: 

Mr. James Bailey has been a bookkeeper with our firm for 
the last two years, and during that time has worked under my 
personal supervision. He is conscientious and careful, knows his 
work thoroughly, has good habits, and is entirely trustworthy. I 
should like to have him remain with us, but he feels that the 
opportunities for advancement are not as good here as they would 
be in a larger company. I have no hesitancy in recommending 
him for a position as bookkeeper or for general oflfice work. 

The telegram— the ''day message'* in particular— is 
The telegram a business letter in condensed form. Ten words may 
be sent for a fixed rate, and an additional charge ia made 
for each word above that number. The telegram en- 
deavors to compress into ten words a message that would 
ordinarily be written in perhaps six or eight times that 
number. The message is expressed in brief phrases, in- 
stead of complete grammatical sentences. All punctua- 
tion is omitted — for each punctuation mark is counted 
as a word. Yet in spite of its brevity, the telegram 
must be so worded that it is easily understood and 
unmistakable in meaning. 

For instance, you miss a train, and are thus unable 
to keep an appointment. If you were to write a letter, 
it would read somewhat in this fashion : 

I missed my train at Clarendon Junction this morning and 
so will not be able to see you this afternoon as we had planned. 
I will arrive in Chicago Monday morning, and if it ia convenient 
to you, will call at your office at 10 o 'clock. 

The following is the telegram that you might send: 

Missed train Arrive Monday morning Meet your office 10 
o'clock. 

Many persons attain clearness and brevity in a tele- 
gram by wording it so that the verbs serve as punctua- 
tion, each marking the beginning of a new thought. 
Notice how this is done in the telegram cited above: 
' * Missed — ^Arrive — Meet. ' ' 

The principles observed in writing a telegram hold 
good for cablegrams. However, the greater cost of the 




The 

cablegram 



INQUIRY AND CONTRACT LETTERS 

latter has developed the code method of transmission. 
Code words are often used for the name and address as 
well as the message. There are several kinds of service. 
We come now to a somewhat different class of letters. 
Like the preceding ones, they are brief; but they are 
more intimately connected with the actual conduct of 
the business. These are the letters on which the buying 
and selling are done, the letters which develop the con- 
tracts between manufacturer, merchant, and customer, 
the letters which involve the policies on which the busi- 
ness rests. Among such letters are market inquiries, 
replies to inquiries, requests for credit information, 
customer letters ordering goods, purchasing letters by 
the buyer for the company, and letters acknowledging 
orders. 

The letters of inquiry discussed in the present section 
are not to be confused with those which are written in 
answer to an advertisement and which are handled by 
the regular sales letter and follow-up. The letter re- 
ferred to here is a special one usually asking for informa- 
tion regarding points not suggested by an advertisement, 
and needs a special letter in reply. These inquiries and 
their answers are so varied in nature that definite rules 
to fit all cases cannot be given. 

An inquiry should always be clear and specific, giv- 
ing all the explanation that is needed for making a com- 
plete answer. 

The reply must take up each part of the inquiry 
separately and answer it fully. It is not sufficient to 
send a catalogue and tell the inquirer to look through it 
and find what he wants. If a catalogue is sent, the 
reply will direct his attention to the definite articles 
listed in it which will fulfill the requirements stated in 
the inquiry. 

The following is an example of a letter of inquiry: 

A party consisting of two friends and myself are going on 
a canoeing and camping trip in northern Wisconsin. As none 



25 



A group of 
letters — 
brief hvi in" 
timately con* 
nected with 
the business 



The letter of 
inquiry 



The reply to 
the inquiry 



26 

A definite 
letter of 
inquiry 



h 



This letter 
answers each 
question 
clearly 



M; 



The letter 
asking far 
credit 
information 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

t"L$:^"tior* KTJf ^» r « V*^?. I «« writing 

We Rhflii «^^ 1 ° *^* ^^^^ ^0 should procure 

«utaw: doZnT' The^'irie'n.^"^ '^^Jl compIete^flS^, and 
consequently the o«tfirm^.? L?-^^ Portages to be made, and 

Can you give me the infonnation that I wantt 

The following is the reply: 
^-nZl7J:rBt^,\i:^^ ^^:^:^^- about outHts for 

list I'^X^^^IsZj^^^^ ^- a complete 

.ou ^a^t'TifUt' B??:?."^' ""^ ^' '"^^ J-t t^e land that 
of this tjvetiJl of^^y othef'nS^^ mexpensiva We seU more 
isfaetion. ^ ''*^®'^ °''®' *°^ ^^ ^as given general sat- 

consi^^- if Tte^ Watlfr'^P'^,^^ '""^^^ ^^^^^ C^^' ^^ A), 
else that>ou til^^n^d iS^i'^S'inr.^^ ''*^°'"'' ^^ everything 
Aid bag. ^In I^ecW%M« w£* ^T^^* and complete First 
five yeafs' e^S^ln ^L^Jft of'w^r ^l ^^'^ ^^ <>«' 
several experiLced cai^ers!^ ""'^ '^^^ ^^ *^« advice of 

cnstolts!''Vi^-u|hWe^^ w«^^' ^/^ ^" * favorite with our 
boote, No. 6,onvrJeZ^^ and waterproof. The huntSg 
light/ durab/e^LiS* <inltotSwe ^"'^ ^"' *°^ *'^ guarantee! 

Perso^f i^'oi;tl?5 andTiiirSf^^ f'^^ ^^apted for three 
Kt for' many others ' ^" ^ «^^°^ ^^* ^^^^^ ^^^ this trip 

cther^'matS ttt^^^co^IV^^^^^ ^°"^^«- <^- any 
goods, let us know^ ^^d th^y ^ ^Z/T .^'^ "^^^^ ^^^ *^« 
ihe order is received. ^ ^ ^""^ **"* ^^'^ *^e ^7 that 

.r^'^^7 ^T '^ ^"^^^^ '' *^« ^^tter asking for 
credit information. SmaUer retail stores use credSJ 
letters less frequently than large department sto^ 

whoksale houses, and manufacturing concerns. IiSe^ 
credit arrangements are usually worked out in a per 

^Trt^.r^^'^^f*^"^- In the larger stores, however, the 
credit man- must often determine by letter to ^hom 
he win extend credit, how large a line of credit, imd wC 
tBma of sale shaU be given. To decide this he mustZt 
find out the amount of the customer's capital, the voluS 

mu^; r-'"%^°' '/^ ^*^^^^ ^ ^-^ome com! 
munity. This information is obtained from commercial 



INQUIRY AND CONTRACT LETTERS 

agencies, such as Bradstreet's or Dun's, banks, other 
customers of the house, other business men, traveling 
salesmen, and the prospective customer himself. In his 
dealings with the customer the credit man will find it 
necessary to use this information in a variety of ways; 
such as, refusing credit, granting credit, extending 
larger credit, decreasing it, holding up credit pending 
an investigation, insisting on regularity in observing the 
conditions on which credit was granted, and offering 
credit as an inducement to larger purchases. Since so 
much depends on this information, the credit man must 
be sure that he gets it accurately ; and hence the letter by 
which he secures it is of great importance. 

This letter illustrates the usual method of request- 
ing credit information : 
Dear Sir: 

Mr. Ford MacKenzie, a grocer who has recently moved to 
Boston, and who seeks to open a credit account with this com- 
pany, has referred us to you. 

WiU you give us, in confidence, your opinion of his financial 
standing, habits of payment, and general credit worthiness! 
How long did you seU to himf What terms did you extendi 
What was his highest recent credit! How much does he owe! 
What is past duel 

We shall heartily appreciate any information you may see 
fit to give us. For your convenience we enclose a stamped 
envelope. We will gladly extend you similar courtesies when- 
ever we can do so. 

Tours very truly, 
Instead of grouping the questions in the body of 
the letter itself, as in the second paragraph, some cor- 
respondents list them below the signature, in order to 
permit the answers to be filled in quickly without necessi- 
tating a formal letter in reply. 

The customer letter ordering goods usually contains 
three chief elements : a list of the goods ordered ; direc- 
tions for shipping; and notification of the method of 
payment. In addition, if you are ordering from a cata- 
logue, the number or date of the latter should be given, 
as the price or style may vary in different catalogues! 
Also, in large concerns, where a number is given to each 



27 



Wide range 
of use for 
this infoT' 
motion 






A courteoue 
letter toith 
epecifiG 
questions 



The customer 
letter order-^ 
ing goods 



28 



'I 



Accurate 
description 
of goods 
ordered 



Instructions 
for shipping; 
and method 
of payment 



Purchasing 
letters 



The letter 
asking for 
guotaiioTis 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

purchase order for convenient reference in future cor. 
respondence concerning it, that also is included. 

Each article or item in the list of goods should be 
described accurately as to quantity, color, size, style, 
pnce, or any other point necessary for correct filling of 
the order. Each item should be given in a separate line 
or paragraph, as this arrangement faciHtates the reading 
and checking of the list. If the list is long, it is better 
to put it on a separate sheet to be enclosed with the 
letter. 

The letter should state how shipment is to be made— 
by parcel post, express, or freight. In the last two 
methods, the express company or railway by which the 
goods are to be forwarded, is usually named. The des- 
tination should be indicated clearly when it is not the 
same as the address of the writer. 

The date when the shipment is to be made is also to 
be noted. Under ordinary circumstances the words 
''Ship at once" or ''Send at once'' are sufficient; but 
sometimes the letter requests a rush shipment or asks 
that the goods not be sent until a certain time. 

Finally, the method of payment is given, unless the 
writer is an old customer and the method is understood. 
If the money is enclosed, attention should be called to it, 
together with the manner of sending, as by check or 
money order. 

Purchasing letters— those used in buying supplies or 
in ordering factory materials or goods for stock— fall 
into four general classes: letters asking for quotations; 
order letters; adjustment letters; and special letters. 

The letter asking for quotations naturally comes first. 
It states exactly what the specifications are, or encloses 
a sample, and asks for the best price that can be made. 
The following is an example : 

♦« x^^ ??^* *° ^,® "* *^^ market soon for 150,000 statements 
to be printed exactly as the enclosed sample. 

In view of the special facilities which you have for pro- 
ducing this type of work, we believe that you can make us a sat 



INQUIRY AND CONTRACT LETTERS 

isfactory price on this job, and therefore ask that you submit 
a quotation at your earliest convenience. 

The order letter may follow in due course. In larger 
concerns a form is usually provided for this purpose, 
with the necessary headings and columns printed on it. 
This leaves only the itemized order and any special direc- 
tions to be written in the body of the letter. In cases 
where such forms are not used, a special order letter is 
employed. It will be more technical than the general 
order letter, for it is usually written by one firm to an- 
other one in the same, or an allied, business, and will 
therefore freely use the trade terms and abbreviations. 
For example: 

Please furnish us, subject to the following prices, specifica- 
tions, and conditions, your best quality, open-hearth-steel boiler 
rivete, all button head: 

600 lbs. %" X 2W 

400 lbs, %" X 2%" 

This material is to be invoiced at 2.5c per lb. net, f. o. h. 
your mill, freight allowed to Chicago; terms 30-2-10 as in your 
quotation No. 8643, of August 28. We note that shipment will 
be made in two days from receipt of the order. We are, there- 
fore, counting on you to ship these rivets not later than Thurs- 
day of this week. 

The adjustment letter gives notice of some mistake 
in filling the order; such as, substituting an inferior 
quality of goods, or an error in quantity, price, carriage 
charge, and similar matters. It suggests some method 
of adjustment which the dealer may accept or decline or 
change as he thinks best. 

Finally, the special letter takes up some phase of the 
transaction that differs from the usual line of procedure. 
For instance, it may request a special price or a special 
time for shipping. An example of the first class fol- 
lows: 

We are just in receipt of your letter of August 25, quoting 
a price of $4.50 a dozen on your garment No. 4562. 

We like the style and material of this article very much, 
but on account of the competition in this city, we are compelled 
to sell this garment at 50c each. With your experience in handling 
this type of merchandise, you must realize that it is impossible 
to operate with this small margin of profit. 



29 



The order 
letter 



The adjust" 
ment letter 



The special 
letter 



30 



An example 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



The letter of 
acknowledg- 
rnent 



How it 
begins 



What has 
been clone 
with the 
order 



If, however, you could arraiiffe to mak« us a Drica nf Ainc • 
dozen, we could no doubt use a l?rge quanti^ I? vS^ cln tf „! 
handle your merchandise on this ^as^ "^ lef'u^ 'Sow S 

AU these purchasing letters, which constitute con- 
tracts, are communications from the buyer to the seller. 
They may, therefore, be made more formal and less per- 
sonal than a letter in which a firm is addressing a cus- 
tomer whom it wishes to satisfy. The essential charac 
tenstics are brevity, clearness, and faimess-for fairness 
pays at both ends of a transaction. 

Afl soon as an order is received, a letter of acknowl- 
edgment should be sent. This tells the customer that 
his order has not been lost, and completes the contract 

The letter begins with the acknowledgment of the 

order, usually accompanied by a word of thanks: as 

Your order of the 10th has just been received, and I 

Then foUows a statement of what has been done 
with the order. If it ha^ been filled as received, this 
statement will be merely that the goods have been for- 
warded, or wiU be forwarded on a certain date 

If the goods are not sent as ordered, the 'statement 
wiU do two things. First, it wiU give the reason for not 
carrying out the order. This reason may be that the line 
has been discontinued; the goods are temporarily out of 
stock; not enough money was enclosed; or the order is 
held up until the cash or further credit information is 
received. In case cash is required before shipment, care 
must be taken to base your request on strict business 
considerations. 

Secondly, the letter will teU or suggest how the diffi- 
eulty IS to be adjusted. The customer may be notified 
that the money is being returned, and a revised catalogue 
sent to prevent future ordering of discontinued lines; or 
he may be requested to send more money, pay cash, or 
give credit references, as the case demanda 



INQUIRY AND CONTRACT LETTERS 



31 



The letter frequently closes With a few words invit- The dose of 
ing further orders. The purpose of this part of the the letter 
letter is to give a touch of personal interest to the ac- 
knowledgment. Sometimes, however, this personal close 
is omitted. 



The following is a letter written when the goods are 
sent as ordered : 

Thank you for your order of the 15th. 

I have seen that your goods were properly packed and 
shipped. They shoiUd reach you now in two days. Let me know 
If they do not come promptly or if you have any question to 
ask about them. 

*u. ^v.^^ confident that you wiU be thoroughly satisfied with 
this shipment. I am therefore looking forward to other orders 
from you in the near future. How may we serve you further! 

The next letter is one used when the order is held up 
until the cash has been sent in : 

f r -"t ^^^ ''"^* received your order of the 8th and thank you 

However, we make it a rule to sell only for cash, and for 
tlus reason, we request all our customers to include the money 
with their orders. The quick turns of capital which such a policy 
enables us to make are one of the reasons why it is possible for 
us to seU our goods cheaply. Under the circumstances, I know 
you would not want me to make an exception in your case 

Your order amounts to $18.55. Will you please maU this 
sum to me today? An addressed envelope is enclosed for your 
convenience. ^ 

I am holding your goods ready to ship the same day your 
remittance reaches nt. '^ i^ t^^-* 



A letter used 
when goods 
are shipped 
as ordered 



A letter used 
when the 
order is held 
up 



COMPLAINT LETTERS 



sa 



CHAPTER IV 



ADJUSTING COMPLAINTS BY 

LETTER 



A satisfied 
customer is 
the object oj 
the adjust- 
ment letter 



The torong 
attitude 
toward com- 
plainis 



¥F IT pays to spend large sums in advertising and 
* sales campaigns to get new customers on your books, 
it is worth while to make a special effort to keep them 
there. No legitimate business transaction is really com- 
pleted until the customer is satisfied with his purchase. 
A satisfied old customer often represents more potential 
business than a bookful of untried prospects. If you 
have given him a square deal, he never stops saying good 
things about your business ; but if you have left him dis- 
satisfied, he never stops driving it away. 

In spite of this fact, however, many business men 
will unhesitatingly appropriate large sums for the sell- 
ing campaign, and then content themselves with the most 
perfunctory and formal adjustment of complaints. If 
the customer is to judge of their attitude from the tone 
of their adjustment letters, their interest in the transac- 
tion ceased when they got his money. 

This disregard for future business dealings with the 
customer is little short of criminal, and the offense is 
made all the worse by the fact that the remedy is com- 
paratively simple. It is not a hard matter to show a 
man that you have given him at least all you have agreed 
to give him, if you go about it in a courteous, tactful 



way. Most people have more than a spark of reason- 
ableness in them and an ability to recognize a fair propo- 
sition when they see it. If they haven't, they haven't 
the possibilities of being good customers, and no conces- 
sion, however generous, would ever satisfy them. How 
to handle the complaint of the man whose business is 
worth while is suggested on pages 36 and 37. 

Satisfying the customer is largely a matter of get- 
ting the right attitude. The right attitude, in turn, is 
determined by the nature of the complaint. The major- 
ity of complaints fall into four general classes: (1) house 
at fault, claim granted; (2) house not at fault, claim 
refused; (3) house not at fault, but claim granted in 
full or in part; (4) fault undetermined, further investi- 
gation needed. 

In the first class the question of attitude is not 
difficult. You acknowledge the mistake frankly, ex- 
plain how it occurred, and minimize it. Then you rec- 
tify it Finally, you express your regrets, and tell the 
customer that a similar mistake will not occur again. 
Here the emphasis is laid on regrets and greater care in 
handling future orders. 

It is in the second class that getting the right attitude 
is most difficult. You have to refuse the request, and 
yet satisfy the customer. How vrill you do it? Here the 
emphasis is on making him see that his request is unjust 
and that your method of settling it is fair. If you ex- 
pect to do this, don't start out by telling him point blank 
that he is wrong and that you can't grant his claim. 

Begin by looking at the proposition from his view- 
point. Look at it through his eyes. Tell him that you 
don't blame him — ^that if you were in the same circum- 
stances you would probably feel the same way. You 
have thus established a bond of sympathy, created an im- 
pression of fairness. Then show him tactfully that he is 
wrong. Explain why you can't grant his claim — ^and 
make him see the fairness of your position 



The method 
used varies 
tvith the 
classes of 
complaints 



First class: 
house at 
fault, claim 
granted 



Second class: 
house not at 
faulty claim 
refused 



34 

The wrong 
way to han- 
dle this class 
ofcomplaints 



The right 
way 



The differ^ 
tnee in effect 



f 



% 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

A book dealer sold a buainess book to a clerk iu a 
railway office, and the young man on receiving it com- 
plained that while the volume might be aU right for a 
man in an established business, it was of no practical 
value to him. Now the dealer might have replied: 
Dear Sir: 

Don't think that because the book seems of no use to you. 
we are going: to take it back and refund your money. You cer- 
tainly understood the nature of this book before you ordered it. 
and If you didn't want it, that was the time to say so instead of 
??f^/;^' T }^y^ f^""® *^ ^^ «^®°«« 0^ sending it to you and 
Jie the^ook back • ^''^'' *'' circumstances, we%annot 

Understand, that's what he might have said, because 
that's just the tone in which many complaints are an- 
swered every day. But he actuaUy wrote thus : 
Dear Mr. Gimbel: 

♦K. I ^^'®^ ^ understand perfectly just how you feel about 
the book. You feel that because your position is a detail one. 
^S^IT T^ ^ ^'"^^ ^ '^ «^°P«' t^« feook is tWcom' 

L™ ff fl *? }^^^ ??"" ^^"^ '"""^ J"«* °o^- ^d that would 
eeem, at first thought, a very just objection. 

♦i»« WW '^^^'*^' ^ecmse your work is limited now, and because 
^ h^^ mostT^^ ^^^ ^' '''''''* ^^^ *^** ^''^ '"^ *»»« ^^^ 

Every man wants to get out of the rut, to grow, to develoo 
fato something better. Yet who ia the man Vho WpromSS f 

^n.f /^.^* ^\T ""^'^ '' ^^ to hii own routine of 
h^\ ?°A'* '^ *^J ""'^ ^^° ^o^« ^ot ozdj his own work^ 

^l ^^h?f *^^ T'^^^'"'' ^' ^^^ *^^* ^ J««* ^^^ this book 
wm enable yon to learn. For it gives you the experiences of 
the most successful men in the coSntry; it desci^T dJteU 
their methods and the results. 

Now in reply to either of these letters the young man 
would have kept the book; but in the first instance he 
would have kept it because he had to, in the second he 
could keep it because he wanted to. And that is the 
difference between the effect of a poor answer to a com- 
plaint and a good one. 

In the third class, the house is not at fault, but the 
clami is granted. In this class your care will be not to 
^ow your manner of granting the request to leave a 
lingermg feeling of resentment. Don't grant the claim 



V 



COMPLAINT LETTERS 

grudgingly— do it cheerfully. Don't tell the man 
bluntly that his complaint is unjust but you ** suppose 
you will have to grant it anyway.'' Make him under- 
stand that you realize the fault does not lie with you, 
but that you value his good will enough to do more than 
fairness and justice require. You are willing to do 
more than you have to do, in order to save him trouble. 
There's a big difference between these two attitudes. 
The first leaves him with the impression that he is being 
treated as an object of charity. The second leaves him 
with a feeling of obligation to repay your fairness, a 
feeling that will be valuable in turning his future busi- 
ness to you. It is not a '* galling" obligation. 

If a customer writes that goods he ordered two weeks 
before have not arrived, and that he doubts whether you 
ever sent them, don't reply by saying: 

If the goods you ordered have not reached you, it is cer- 
tamly due to no fault of ours. We sent them promptly and hold 
the express receipt to prove it. You should know that goods 
are often lost by the express companies even though the greatest 
care is shown in preparing them for shipment. Under the 
circumstances, we think you are hardly warranted in accusing 
us of not having sent them. When we say a thing, you may 
depend upon it. If you doubt our responsibiUty or standinff. you 
may write to the First National Bank of this city or look ua up 
in Dun's or Bradstreet's. *^ 

However, inasmuch as you say you did not get the goods. 
we are duplicating the order, and would ask you to notify us 
11 the first order shows up. 

If you are going to concede the justice of his com- 
plaint at aU or if you are going to grant him his claim 
simply as a favor, do it cheerfully and make the cus- 
tomer realize that you are giving him more than what 
is justly coming to him. Write to the man whose goods 
have not reached him, in this style : 
Dear Mr. Chapman: 
v^ -^^^^x?'® certainly justified in coinplafaiing orer not havinir 

You have been very considerate in waiting so long, and we appJe- 
ciate fuUy how you feel about the matter now. ^ 

fault li«?®^^f».*'li,''^ *^** *^®'*® ^^^ ^® ^o question that the 
rault lies with the express company. The express receipt we 



35 

Third class: 
house not at 
fauUt hvt 
claim 
granted 



The wrong 
way of 
handling 



The right 
way 



il I 



30 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



A letter sent 
hy a local agent 
tothe dothe$ 
house he 
represented 



To his mind a 
juet complaint 



This is how the 

correspondent 
answered 



Virtually 
accuses dealer 
of covering a 
lUuTuler of his 
own 

Then promises 
it "shall not 
happen again" 



Gentlemen : 

r. « "^^ ^^^^ which you Just sent us for Mr. 
E. F. Diokinson has arrived in bad condi- 
tion. The lower part of one trouser leg is 
badly scorched. This was undoubtedly done 
by the man who pressed the suit. 

It is impossible for us to alter or 
remedy this in any way; so we are returning 
the trousers to you by today's express and 
would ask that you immediately replace them. 

Very truly yours. 



A DEALER ^S COMPLAINT 



Dear Sir: 

We have your letter of the 25th and 
have carefully examined the trousers. 

After examination we can confidently 
say that it is impossible for the trousers 
to have been damaged in the way you sug- 
gest. We employ electric irons for all our 
pressing, and they are scientifically heated 
80 that they never reach a temperature hot 
enough to scorch the surface of the most 
delicate material. 

The trousers were undoubtedly damaged 
in the shop of your local tailor where you 
sent them to be pressed, as it is an easy 
matter to scorch a fabric with the old 
fashioned tailor's goose. 

While we feel that we are in no way 
responsible, we have nevertheless decided 
to replace the trousers with a new pair. 
These will be shipped to you Thursday. This 
shall not happen again. 

Yours very truly. 



LOSING TRADE THROUGH AN UNTACTFUL REPLY 

These three letters are an excellent example of how business may be lost 
through an untactful handling of a complaint and how it may be saved when 
BkiU and care are used. The first letter was sent by a local agent for "made-to- 
order" clothes to the house he represented. The unsatisfactory reply accuses tho 



COMPLAINT LETTERS 



Dear Mr. Bridges: 

It seems that those very orders 
on which we are most anxious to 
please are the ones on which the 
annoying little accidents occur. 

ina Jl^ ?;^®i*5®®'^^y desirous of giv- 
ing Mr. Dickinson a suit he will 
feel proud of. He has been a good 
aiid valued customer of yours, and 
tnat has meant a number of suits - 
ordered through you from us. 

» A ^? are totally at a loss to 
understand how this accident could 
have happened. But why try to ex- 
Dlain it? The time we'^would spend 
investigating, we have spent in 

tn®?i^fo^^^il"2^ *.^® P^i^ of trousers 
to replace the pair you returned. 

We will get these to you bv ex- 
F^ss Wednesday. Please apologize 
to Mr. Dickinson for us and make the 
apology as sincere as we would were 
we on the ground. In closing we can 
only assure you that we will be 
doubly careful in the future. 

Very truly yours. 



37 



Suppose the 
complaint had 
been answered 
this way 



Concedes the 
Justice qf the 
complatni 



Recognizes 
value of dealer* § 
and customer's 
patronage 



AN ANSWER THAT WINS MORE BUSINESS 

ha™ 1«^ w« ^" ^^ ^"''* '****'' ""*•' ™Sgests the answer that should 
^J^ ■ ' """^-W't^'y "'""Odes the justice of the man's comriZt 

^ZZZrT'^'^ ""^ '"""'^ ' "P"" °' P""?* cooperation. IX^^r 
would doubtless have meant many a dollar to the firm. 



li 



1^ 



w 



t 

t 
J* 

I 



38 

This Utter 
satufiesthe 

customer 



Fourth class: 
fault unde- 
terminedj to 
he investi- 
gated 



Putting 
yourself in 
a false 
position 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

hold shows that the goods were received by them in good condi- 
tion the very day your order reached us. We knew you were in 
urgent need of this stock, and we made a special request for 
quick service in selecting and packing it 

As your experience has probably shown you, many con- 
cerns hold that their responsibility ceases the moment the goods 
are turned over to the express company. However, we always 
consider the interests of our customer as more important than 
a technical privilege of this kind, and we never consider a trans- 
action closed until the goods are received and found to be 
entirely satisfactory. 

So we are having a duplicate shipment packed and forwarded 
to you today. We are confident that these goods will reach 
you almost as soon as this letter, and in perfect condition. 

The matter of delay in the previous shipment we shall take 
up with the express company at once and shall have them trace 
the goods. In the meantime, should they chance to reach you, 
we will thank you to return them to us, charges collect. 

There you have an answer that not only satisfies the 
customer in every point, but that is bound to make him 
realize that you are more than fair; and the incidental 
talk about your service gives the letter a little sales value 
that the customer isn't likely to forget 

In the fourth class your attitude will be one of open- 
minded fairness: you will do all you can to find where 
the mistake lies and to correct it Don't assume that 
the mistake is necessarily his— you may make a mistake. 
For instance, if a man orders twenty reams of paper 
from you and on receipt of it writes that it is not like the 
sample he ordered from, don't say: 

Dear Sir * 

Your eyesight must be going back on you. The paper you 
ordered is certainly identically the same stock as the sample you 
named. Take it to the window and look again. 

If you do that, you not only insult his intelligence, 
but you may be putting yourself in a false position, for 
there's just a chance that a mistake was made in the 
gtock or shipping room and that the customer is right. 
Better write him something like this: 

Dear Mr. Blake: , « ,, %. .. j * 

We are surprised to learn that the Golden bond does not 
■eem to match exactly the sample from which you ordered. 
CJould you by any chance have gotten this confused with Gordon 
bond, which is right next to it in the sample book? These two 
lines are very similar in finish, and the fact that there is also a 



i 



COMPLAINT LETTBBS 

■imilarify in the names has given rise to errors of fhi« iri«^ 

woOTMr this might be the cause of the discrepancy 
If It u not, and you wiU send us a sample of the oH«r *«n 
received, we wiU have the trouble lookedup here i^edHteW 
We are always ve^ .careful to check over ou^oZ sS^ Jl" 
«iat It IS just what is ordered, but we realize that anerro?^i^ 
have been made somewhere in the process rfDfl^Hn»^„Tlif- ^" 
and we wiU be more than glad tS ?o^ ft ^ * ""^P"*' 

That not only protects you, but also shows the man 
your senous interest in putting matters right 

Now for a few " don 'ts" concerning your 'attitude: 
Don t be too suspicious of every complaint that 
comes over your desk. Remember that when the cus- 
tomer wrote his letter, he believed he had cause for doing 
so, and that the chances are he did have. Bemember 
that most people want to be square with you, that most 
people are honest, and that by far the greater share of 
the w)mplamt8 you get have a real cause at bottom. 
Ihe fault may not be yours, but that is no reason why 
you should snap up a man for telling you about it If 
you are not to blame, the proper thing to do is to find 
out where the trouble lies, and help the customer to 
straighten out the difSculty, 

Don't be flippant Answer the complaint seriously. 
Bven If you are sure that the customer is wrong and that 
his complaint is whoUy unwarranted, treat it as seriously 
as If It were justified. Tour aim is to satisfy the cus- 
tomer, and you can't do that by ridiculing him or his 
judgment. The example given on page 38 is a rather 
extreme case, but it iUustrates a tendency all too common 
among writers of adjustment letters. 

*!.• ^°^'* "?*"' yourself to make an angry reply to any- 
tning that the complainant may write. Back talk simply 
umtates the customer instead of pacifying him, and 
leaves the grievance farther from settlement than it was 
before. And what is more, you ought not to give the 
unreasonable kicker the satisfaction of knowing that he 
naa stirred your temper. 



"D<m't9" for 

adjustment 

letters 



Don't he too 
suspieunui 



Don't be 
flippant 



Don't get 
angry 



40 



Answer the 

complaint 

promptly 



i 



\i 






Three ele- 
ments xn an 
answer to a 
complairU 



First ele- 
menl: how 
the mistake 
was made 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

There remains to be stated one other caution : answer 
the complaint promptly. An immediate reply goes a 
long way toward impressing a man with your sincere 
desire to see him satisfied. If he isn't specific 
enough in his complaint to enable you to an- 
swer fully, write at once for further information. 
If it is going to take you several days to investigate, 
write him first and tell him what you are doing. Every 
day that a complaint hangs over it becomes increasingly 
hard to handle, whereas quick attention will preclude 
many possibilities of future unpleasantness. 

Thus far we have been considering the attitude of the 
correspondent toward the complaint. Now for an 
analysis of the elements of the typical answer to a com- 
plaint. These elements are three in number. The first 
tells where and how the mistake was made ; the second, 
what we will do about it; the third, how we feel about 
it. In all of these the right attitude, as outlined above, 
must be maintained. The purpose of all of them is to 
satisfy the customer; not merely to correct the present 
mistake but also to make him a future customer and a 
living advertisement of the fair dealing of our firm. 

The first element consists of a history of the transac- 
tion as revealed by our records and investigation. If 
the house is at fault, it explains how the mista,ke was 
made — through oversight in filling the order, delayed 
shipment, goods out of stock, mistake in billing, and the 
like. If the house is not at fault, it traces the error to 
its sources — to the railway or express company or to the 
customer's own mistake in ordering, etc. This is the 
part of the letter which says, for example : 

Before your order left our warehouse all the goods were care- 
fully gone over to make sure that they were perfect in every 
reipect. However, the item you mentioned must have failed to 
catch the attention of our inspector. 

Or this may be the explanation : 

Your goods left our warehouse on the 14th, and should have 



COMPLAINT LETTERS 

reached you by this time. Apparently, however, they have been 
lost or delayed somewhere on the way. 

The second element tells how the error will be recti- 
fied. For example, it promises to send a duplicate ship- 
ment, or to send out a tracer for a lost shipment; it 
offers to take back or exchange the goods, or, for suffi- 
cient reasons definitely stated, refuses to do that; or it 
suggests that the customer recover damages from the 
carrier company. Here are two typical illustrations: 

We are having duplicates packed and sent to you today. 
Kindly return the damaged goods to us, at our expense, as soon 
as possible. 

Or in this manner : 

We have found it impossible for us to exchange goods. You 
can see how the cost of rehandling such orders in the correspond- 
ence and bookkeeping departments, and, above all, the cost of 
packing and handling the exchanged goods, would completely 
swallow up our profit. We should have to raise the prices on all 
our goods in order to meet this extra expense. We feel sure that 
you will be able to put to use the goods you received on your order, 
and we know they will give you excellent service. 

The third elementr— ''how we feel about it"— may 
express our regret for the inconvenience the mistake has 
caused the customer; may assure him that we will make 
special efforts to prevent the occurrence of such mis- 
takes in the future ; or may remind him that our policy 
is always to be fair, and even more than fair, in order 
to satisfy our customers. It may do all or any of 
these things. For example: 

I am sorry that this occurrence has caused you inconvenience 
and delay. I have given this matter my personal attention, and 
you may count upon perfect satisfaction. You may rest assured 
that special care will be taken with your orders in the future to 
prevent such a mistake from occurring again. 

In the following illustration the three elements have 
been assembled to form a complete letter: 

I was sorry to hear that the goods, when they reached you, 
were not in perfect shape. 

We make it a rule to go over very carefully all goods that 
leave our warehouse, so as to be sure that they are pwfect in 
every respect. However, the items you mention must have failed 
to catch the attention of our inspector. 

Our shipping department now has instructions to forward 



41 



Second ele- 
menl: how 
the error will 
be rectified 



Third ele- 
ment: how 
we feel 
about the 
mistake 



A typical 
letter con- 
taining these 
three 
elements 



42 



Variaiions 
in their use 



Conclusion 



HOW TO WBITB BUSINESS LETTERS 

"Bured that we ZTSw™ ^^/f^ .^ ""'="' *>"* y" ""? '«* 
any depaXn? of oS h^s^'"' *" "''^J' " "^^^ht made by 

fnJ^^Tl"***' .!°u**^« **"« t^ elenients in concise 

IZk !iir^^/ '' "^P^^*"! ^ «»« ^^^o^d para- 
graph, and the reader is led to believe that such mistakes 
do not occur often. The third paragraph tells what has 
been done to correct the error. The writer's feeling 
concerning the mistake is expressed in the last par^ 
graph, and is also used in the first paragraph to give the 
keynote of regret for the error. P'^wpvethe 

Of cOTirse these elements do not always occur in this 

r1>T.. I'^'^P^' ^ *^^ '•**•>• *o Mr. Chapman, on 
p. 35, the chief treatment of the "How we fed" sJkmsnt 

tekTnT " ^^^ paragraph, before the remedy is 

««.f '*!.f^n^l!!'^''°** *'''*^ •" "l^^ly d«&»ed as they 
are m the mustrations quoted above. Thus, in the letter 

w^ ^*' *° P- ^' *^« "'"^^ «' tJie difficulty has 
not b^n determined, and therefore that cannot be ex- 
plained and no definite remedy can be given. bS t^ 
elements are aU there, in less definite form. 

In conclusion, remember that in answering a com- 

culty, but also to satisfy the customer so that he wiU 
remain a customer. If you are to do that, you mus^ 
make your letter personal and sympathetic. ZtZ 

T. rj *" ?f r'^'* ^*" '"^ "»»»* *ttit«de is to 
stop and consider how you would handle the customer if 
he came personaUy into your office. You wouldn't quar- 
rel with him; you would be courteous, and would do 
your best to show how sincerely desirous the firm is of 
giving hun a fair deal. "* « oi 



'til 



CHAPTER V 



COLLECTING BY MAIL 



IT IS one thing to induce a man to take something that 
he wants; it is quite another to induce him to give 
ip something that he wants. Therein lies the vital differ- 
ence between the sales and the collection letter. 

The sales letter writer has the pleasant task of pre- 
senting an article in such an alluring way that the 
reader is willing to part with his money to own it The 
writer of the collection letter, on the other hand, must 
persuade a man to give up his money for an article 
which he already has in his possession, and from which 
he has already, in part at least, derived his profit. In 
other words, this writer has the proverbially difficult 
task of inducing a man to *'pay for a dead horse." 

He who would do this must bring into play a wide 
knowledge of human nature and an adaptability that 
will enable him to use the wise argument in the right 
place. The common division of debtors into three 
classes — good, slow, and bad pay — ^is true enough so far 
as it goes, but the problem is not so simple as that. Be- 
tween the two extremes of good and bad pay debtors, 
there are a thousand gradations, representing men of 
many different characteristics and in many different cir- 
cumstances. Bach presents an individual problem for 



The funda- 
mental dif' 
ference 
between sales 
and collec- 
tion letters 



Wide 

knowledge of 
human ha- 
ture needed 
by the coUeo- 
turn toriter 



44 



4 



The misuse 
of form 
leUers 



Giving the 
collection 
letter the 
fight tone 



Regarding 
the debt as a 
strict 
business 
obligation 



HOW TO WBITE BUSINESS LETTEES 

solution. The successful coUection writer cannot afford 
to Ignore these individual problems, these manifoldXr 
acteristies, that make up human nature. 

Recognizing this, collection managers are coming, 
more and more to see the element of dangerin TToJ 
«tr,ct adherence to the use of fonn letters. K hant 
liBg of a great many smaU accounts, as in a mail order 

Plan, they are, of course, an economic necessity and 
m a commercial business also they will alwaT^e'^ 
m ases where there are no special conditions to be ^f 
But If any account is not fuUy covered by the ree^ir; 

dra^dte^lr"".*'"" "^"^^''^ ^"^ nottiSt 

trie is lo^Tt • " ''•^""'' ^"'"^ *o «"d whose 
trade is worth retaining, is certainly worth the extra 

trouble required by this procedure. 

Whatever kind of letter is used-the form or the 

rigttne^Llf d "^n «-* -- to 2el tt 
"ntidir^-f 1 ^5 ^™' ^"* «>«Biderate and 
r^H ? ? ^'^ "^^ **""« ^t« the letter is largely 
a matter of getting the right viewpoint, and thetiZ 

S.T\ **" '"^' ^-"^^ *^'"**>-''« Elation aLdt 
obligation to you really are. 

It is a mistake, in the first place, to look upon a iusf 
debt as anything but the strictest business obUgatS 
The customer has bought the goods on certain ter^ rd 
has agreed to pay according to these terms. SfTr^ 
payment should not be asked for on aay other S^^^ 

Tu^ ■ " P"y™«°t IS placed on any other basis tho 

an obligation; and any suggestion of this sort will be 
eagerly grasped by him as an excuse for evasion 

Especially bad is the practice of asking for payment 
on the ground that the firm is hard up: *"^ ^''^'^^''t 



COLLECTION LETTERS 

We are going to be frank in telling you that we need the 
money. You are only one of a large number of our customers who 
are back on their accounts, and unless you remit at least a part of 
what yon owe us, we may find ourselves in embarrassing circum- 

The moment you write a man like that you let him 
know that you are in the same elaae that he is, and you 
suggest to him a new excuse that he may not have used 
on you before. If you think it advisable to talk at aU 
along this line, do it without losing your dignity. 

But while it is necessary that you regard the debt aa 
a strict business obligation, it is equaUy important that 
you consider the debtor first of all as a customer; that 
his friendly patronage be retained if it is possible to do 
so ; and that he be granted any reasonable extensions in 
time that he may ask. A customer's trade is valuable 
to you until he has shown by a persistent ignoring of 
your requests for settlement that he cannot or does not 
intend to pay his bills voluntarily. Under those circum- 
stances his business is not desirable to you in the future, 
and you are perfectly justified in making a sterner de- 
mand for settlement or in taking any legal steps that 
may seem necessary. 

Keeping the customer's good will is a matter of 
selecting the proper arguments and using the right tone. 
It does not mean a weak-kneed collection policy or an 
apologetic attitude. It means making him see the fair- 
ness of your position and your readiness to give due con- 
sideration to his difficulties. The collection letter offers 
many opportunities for the use of little personal touches 
that give it the tone of friendly interest in the debtor's 
affairs. If you can make your letter show that, if you 
can make it convey the idea that you are interested in 
him and his welfare, as well as your own, you can insist 
upon payment without creating resentment. It is these 
intimate touches that get next to a man when mere 
formalities irritate and antagonize him. 

Keeping in mind this matter of the correct attitude— 



45 



The danger 
of the 
''hard up** 
plea 



Considering 
the debtor as 
a customs 



Keemng the 
good vMl cf 
the customer 



I 



46 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



i 



considering the payment as a business obligation, and 
The elements retaining the good will of the customer— let us see what 
composing a elements compose successful collection letters. Now it 
Utter^ is well to remember that not all of these elements 
appear in every letter; but they represent proved meth- 
ods of handling a number of situations with which the 
collection writer is constantly confronted. The com- 
pleted letter will consist of the combination of these ele- 
ments that will best meet the requirements of any given 
case. 
First ele- The first is the notification of the standing of the 

ment: notifi- account. This element appears in practically every col- 
^^ar^irfof^ lection letter, and usually forms the opening sentence or 
the account Paragraph. It may be a very informal reminder, con- 
veying the idea that failure to pay is due to a mere over- 
sight; thus: 

Dear Mr. Green: 

You have been so busy inaking your preparations for the 

holiday trade, that you have doubtless overlooked the fact that 

your account with us is somewhat overdue. You have settJed your 
I bills promptly in the past, and we feel confident that this re- 
I minder will meet with an equally prompt remittance in this 

instance. 

Starting with this very conciliatory reminder, the 
notification is made more and more emphatic with each 
succeeding letter of the collection series. 

The following is from the second letter of a series: 



Forms of 
notification 
used in 
different 
letters 



I 



The check you were to send me for $18.50, due on your bill of 
March 12th, has not arrived. No doubt you have overlooked the 
bill, or have it pigeon-holed for early settlement. 

In this letter, an oversight is again suggested, but 
such a suggestion is usually far-fetched after the first 
letter has been unanswered. 

This opening from a fourth letter is still more em^ 
phatic : 

I have sent you frequent statements jBud letters about th« 
$18.50 on your account, which is now two months past due. Yet 
you have not paid the account or even answered my letters. 

After this introductory sentence or paragraph con- 



COLLECTION LETTERS 

tainlng the notification of how the axjcount stands, the 
letter proceeds with the collection talk proper This will 
vary with the different classes of debtors and with the 
position of the letter in the series. Naturally, you would 
not write the same to the good-pay and the bad-pay cus- 
tomer, and the arguments that are suitable for the second 
letter would not be the ones to use in the fourth. 

Sometimes you have reason to beHeve that the debtor 
may have some vaUd reason which prevents immediate 
payment He may be dissatisfied with the goods or with 
the treatment his order received, but has not sent in any 
comp aint. Or he may be in temporary difficulty owing 
to sickness, to unexpected and unforeseeable local condi- 
tions which make his own collections slow, etc. If the 
customer is dissatisfied, the writer invites him to make 
his complaint known, and also seizes upon this oppor- 
tunity to impress upon him the firm's desire always to 
give complete satisfaction to every customer. In the 
second case, the coUection writer asks for a frank ex- 
planation, and declares the firm's willingness to make 
any reasonable arrangements to help him. 

For example, this letter offers to clear up any dis- 
satisfaction: ^ 

r.1- ^' .^" ^^* *^ ^^^ 'OJ* dissatisfaction with the contract 

swin^^f"?/' *! Tfu ^* ^» ^«"«^ *« clear Ta^^^S 
l^.^^ ^*.*^ °?J'** *^^ *o ^low the matter to draffTSr 
your account troublesome to us and annoying to you. *^ 

Here is the way one correspondent handled a situa- 
tion of the second sort: 

oMi^^ti^^^^^^^^ :^x^^\,^ 



47 



The coUec' 
tion talk 
proper 



Second ele^ 
ment: asking 
for explana- 
tion of non- 
payment 



When such inquiries are sent to the customer, your 
next procedure wiU depend upon the nature of his re- 
sponse. If he answers with some just complaint, and 
that IS adjusted, the chances are that he wiU settle the 
bill and thus close the transaction. If he writes that 



Third 

element: 
dealing with 
the custom^ 
er*s reply 



^ 



48 

What to do 
if the ex- 
j)lanation is 
gatisfactory 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

he has met with temporary reverses that he could not 
have foreseen, the next step is to suggest some way out 
of the difficulty, such as to take his note with interest; 
to ask for part payment or payment in regular instal- 
ments; or to offer to take back the goods and cancel the 
biU. 

A typical paragraph, offering one of these sugges- 
tions, follows: 

Since you are unable to pay the whole of your bill now, we 
will let you settle for the rest with your personal notes, bearing 
interest at 6%. Send us the $75 which you can pay now. For the 
remainder, $150, you can send us at the same time one note, pay- 
able in sixty days; or two notes equal in amount, payable re- 
spectively in thirty and sixty days; or three equal in amount, 
payable respectively in thir^, sixty and ninety days. Choose 
the plan which suits you best. This arrangement will help you over 
your present difficulty. 



Procedure in 
case the 
explanation 
is not 
satisfactory 



Fourth 
element: 
arguments 
for prompt 
payment 



On the other hand, if the complaint was obviously 
trumped up to evade payment, if the difficulty was one 
which the customer could have guarded against, or if no 
response is made to the inquiry — ^then the collector will 
proceed with his efforts to force prompt and full pay- 
ment. The same" arguments will be used in this case as 
would be employed in a series where no inquiry was 
made concerning the reason for non-payment. 

Various arguments or reasons for prompt payment 
are used. It is to be remembered that these must be in 
harmony with the general principle, already laid down, 
that payment should be asked for only on the ground 
that it is justly due in exchange for value received. The 
following arguments are all valid under this principle : 
**We wish to close our books for the month;" ** prompt 
payment of bills enables us to offer lower prices, in the 
benefit of which each debtor shares;" *'our finances are 
arranged on the assumption that the bills due us will be 
paid promptly;" **a large number of small unpaid ac- 
counts make a big total for one house to carry," etc. 

Here is an example of the second argument : 

Prompt payment of bills by our customers makes it possible 



COLLECTION LETTERS 

for us to seU our goods more cheaply. When our money comes in 
regularly on the date due, we don't have to make an allowance for 
extra interest charges and add a percentage to all selling prices to 
cover the amount. You benefit by the low prices. 

An illustration of the third argument: 

As we arrange, as agreed with you, for monthly payments on 
our charge accounts, our finances are shaped to depend on pay- 
ments every thirty days. Therefore we ask a settlement of this 
account. 

Note the difference between the tone of these two 
letters and that of the one on p. 45. All three base 
their requests for payment on the fact that a business 
cannot be run without money; but the one on p. 45 is 
begging in tone, the other two are dignified and busi- 
ness-like. 

Sometimes a more urgent, personal appeal is needed. 
One effective appeal is to the debtor's sense of fair play. 
For example, one firm writes : 

Eeluctant as we are to believe that you would deliberately dis- 
regard a matter of this kind, we still feel that you are not accord- 
ing us proper treatment, in view of the many accommodations we 
have extended to you in the past. 

Again, a manufacturer writes to a dealer : 

If you realize that you have not paid for goods sold to you 
on sixty-day terms more than four months ago, we think you will 
concede that our treatment of your account has been exceedingly 
considerate, and that we are entitled to be paid without further 
delay, expense, or annoyance. 

In both of these letters the argument is— We have 
been considerate of you, now you be fair to us. **Turn 
about is fair play." 

Another appeal is to the debtor's pride— to his busi- 
ness or social standing, and the like ; thus : 



49 



A dignified 
"need the 
money" 
argument 



Fifth 
element: 
personal 
appeals 

Appeal to 
the debtor's 
sense affair 
play 



Your continued neglect of this obUgation leads us to one con- 
clusion, but It IS hard for us to believe that a man of your reputa- 
tion and standing would attempt to evade payment of a just debt. 

This also touches his pride: 

When you ordered the merchandise you received from us vou 
vC y/>"' o<^<^"Pation as factory superintendent. A position of this 
kind should carry with it considerable personal responsibiUty Yet 
as we wrote you in our recent letter, the account you now have 
With our company has not been se' "ed according to the contract 



Appeal to 
the debtor's 
pride 






6Q 

Appeal that 
suggests the 
iU iff eels of 
non-pay- 
merU 



Typical 
appeaU of 
this class 



Hi 



Appeal 
based on 
avoiding 
annoyance 
and trouble 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

An appeal that will reach many debtors is one that 
suggests the bad effect of non-payment on their business, 
or, conversely, the good effect of prompt payment. In 
other words, it makes the man think of his own loss or 
gain. In this case, the suggestion of loss is usually more 
emphatic than that of gain, for the former plays upon 
his fear of the consequences which may follow his 
refusal to pay what he knows to be a just obligation. 
His guilty conscience — ^unless it is calloused by long mis- 
use — ^will reinforce the appeal The loss that is sug- 
gested may be refusal of future credit by our firm, the 
damage to his credit with other houses, the loss of finan- 
cial standing in his community, and similar matters of 
vital importance to a business man. * 

One firm writes: 

You want to keep your credit perfectly clear. The only sure 
way to do this, a« you well know, is to pay your bills promptly as 
they fall due. Any delay is liable to cause a bad impression, which 
you will find very difficult to get rid of later on. 

Another firm uses this: 

We desire to effect a settlement of this account in an easy 
and amicable way. Giving publicity to it would not help us any, 
but it would certainly bring discredit to you among your friends 
and neighbors. 

This last letter contains not only an appeal to his loss 
in his business relations, but also one to his personal 
pride. 

Then, again, the suggestion may be made that by 
paying he can save himself annoyance and trouble. This 
may be the annoyance of getting more ** dunning*' let- 
ters, or the trouble and expense of a lawsuit. For 
example, in one of the earlier letters of a series, one 
house uses this appeal : 

I not only wish to save myself the trouble of forwarding an- 
other statement, but I am quite as anxious to save you the annoy- 
ance of receiving another reminder. 

In the final letter of a series, this suggestion becomes 
a definite statement that legal proceedings will be 
promptly begun ; as : 






COLLECTION LETTERS 

...7^ is our final notice, and should we fail to hear from you 
within ten days, the matter wiU be placed with our attorneys idth 
mst^ctions to take any action necSsary to effect ^q^Ts^^. 

The appeals just enumerated are the ones most com- 
monly used. They are based upon a sound knowledge 
of human nature and have been proved by tests to be 
effective. The list, however, is by no means complete. 
Each business man can add to it other appeals which his 
experience has proved will reach his dass of cus- 
tomers. 

Another element of the collection letter is that which 
urges the debtor -to do it now,- to pay up at once. 
Some writers content themselves with an urgent request 
for prompt payment; as, ** Please give this matter your 
immediate attention ; ' ' or ' * Send us your check or money 
order today.'' Others go further and suggest some 
means for making the act of paying easy; for example, 
Don 't bother to write a letter. Just pin your check to 
this note and mail it to me.'' Another encloses a blank 
check and writes: '^Simply sign the enclosed check and 
mail It to us. I have already fiUed it out for the right 
sum." • 



51 



Sixth 
element: 
request to 
ao it now** 



<( 



These *'easy.to-pay" methods have the advantage of 
minimizing the actual physical effort needed to make the 
payment. They are effective because they forestall man ^s 
inclination to put off a task unless it is made very easy 
to do. In this respect the collection writer has taken 
over one of the devices of the advertisement and sales 
letter writers, who have long recognized that the return 
coupon and the return post card are among their most 
valuable aids in getting returns. 

There remains for discussion one other element of the 
coDection letter— sales talk. Sometimes in the earHer 
letters of a series, after the customer has been reminded 
that his account is overdue, the writer, apparently for- 
getting that this is a collection letter, calls his attention 
to a new line of goods or intimates that an order from 



Making it 
easy to pay 



Seventh 
element: 
sales tcdk 



sa 



A collection 
letter that is 
a sales letter 



r I 



Summary of 
elements in a 
eoUection 
letter 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

him would be welcome. The object of introducing this 
sales talk into a collection letter is partly, of course, to 
secure further orders, but it is not primarily that. The 
chief purpose is to give the impression that the writer 
bas no other thought than that the account will be settled 
promptly, and that he regards the customer as one of 
the firm's most valued friends. This expression of con- 
fidence will bring many debtors into line for prompt pay- 
ment. It is a subtle and effective appeal to their pride. 

Dear Sir: 

Perhaps you will be interested to know that our "Maryland 
Titbits*' have received such an enthusiastic reception and have 
proved so satisfactory that over 38% of our first customers have 
re-ordered. That speaks well for our goods, doesn't it f 

I am glad to know that you, too, were pleased with the cigars 
sent you some days ago, and I suppose you have smoked quite a 
number by this time, as you have not returned the box. 

In accordance with the terms of our offer, I am enclosing the 
bill. I will much appreciate your early remittance. Why not send 
along an order for another box with your check? 

Yours very truly. 

This letter was signed in ink by the president of the 
company distributing the cigars. It proved an unusually 
successful first collection letter. It is really a sales letter. 
Let us now see how these elements may be arranged 
in a series of six collection letters. For convenience and 
definiteness of reference the principal elements are here 
summarized and numbered : 

I. Notification of the standing of the account. 
II. Request for debtor's reasons for failure or in- 
ability to pay: 1, dissatisfaction with the 
goods or with the company's handling of his 
order; 2, sickness, temporary financial diffi- 
culty, etc. 
in. Adjustment of the complaint, or suggestions of 

ways out of his difficulty. 
rV. Various arguments or reasons for prompt pay- 
ment. 
V. More urgent x>ersonaI appeals: 1, to the debtor's 
sense of fair play; 2, to his pride in his busi- 









COLLECTION LETTERS 

ness or social reputation ; 3, to the bad effect of 
non-payment on his credit standing; 4, to his 
desire to save himself annoyance and trouble. 
VI. Direct request for prompt payment 
Vn. Sales talk. 

In the series shown on pages 54 to 56, the debtor 
makes no reply to the company's request for a state- 
ment of his reasons for not paying; consequently, the 
elements marked III— which are in answer to these 
reasons— do not appear in the series. Likewise, IV is 
not found, for the writer of the letter devotes himself to 
the more urgent personal appeals, marked V. As was 
stated before, not all the elements necessarily, or even 
usually, appear in every letter or every series. 

In the first letter, the notification of the standing of 
the account (I) contains the suggestion that non-pay- 
ment may be due to a misunderstanding of the plan of 
payment expected by the company. The letter then ex- 
plains the plan; asks for the cooperation of the cus- 
tomer in carrying it out; and also assures him that if 
it becomes impossible for him to pay on the agreed dates, 
the company is willing to make the necessary arrange-' 
ments. Since the letter assumes that the failure to pay 
is the result merely of a misunderstanding, none of the 
formal appeals for payment are used. The letter, as is 
usually the case with the first letter of a series, is in- 
tended chiefly to serve as a reminder. 

In the fourth paragraph, sales value (VII) is given 
to the letter by the offer of the use of the free service 
departments. 

The letter ends with a request for payment (VI). 

The second letter opens with a stronger statement of 
the standing of the account (I), which occupies the first 
two paragraphs. 

The third paragraph makes appeals to the customer's 
sense of fair play (V, 1) and to his pride (V, 2) : the 
first, by reminding him that the company has made 



53 



Analysis of 
a series of 
collection 
letters — 
general 



Thefirsi 
letter 



The second 
letter 



54 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



COLLECTION LETTERS 



55 



SuggetUa 
definite eoXUo' 
Hon -polief^ 







DonH wait for 
a statement 



Makes payment 
datet adputable 
uHaer emergency 
condttiont 



Betaimthe 
debtor* 9 good 
wiU 



Dear Sir: 

Whenever one of our customers does not 
promptly remit his first payment under our 
contract with him, his account Is automati- 
cally referred to me. Your account has now 
run behind for two weeks. Often, in han- 
dling accounts called to my attention, I 
find that customers have misunderstood or 
been somewhat confused as to how payments 
are to be made. Perhaps you have done so. 

While as a reminder only we send out 
our statements shortly before payments are 
due, you need not wait for these, as by 
chance they may be delayed or fall to reach 
you. So send In your payment when it is 
due, and you will receive prompt credit and 
acknowlec^ment . 

I would like also to ask your cooper- 
ation In regard to your payments — that 
Is, that you write me if at any time it 
is impossible for you to make your payments 
on the date on which we agreed. This will 
prevent the possibility of any misunder- 
standing . 

Enclosed you will find an outline of 
our various service depaurtments . These 
services are offered to you free. Use thea 
regularly. . 

Will you put your remittance in the 
enclosed envelope and mall it today? 

Yours very truly. 



THE FIRST LETTER 

This is the first letter of an actual collection letter series. The remaining 
letters are shown on pages 55 and 56. The first letter is only a notification of 
the standing of the account. The second letter is a stronger statement of the 
standing of the account and courteously asks for immediate payment. The third 
letter seeks chiefiy for some explanation for the delay. The fourth letter is more 
insistent and peremptory than the preceding letters. The fifth letter carries a 
note of finality and exhausted patience. The sixth letter (not shown) is merely 
a notice of legal action for which the dehtor alone is responsible. 



I 



Dear Sir: 

You have disappointed me. I expected a 
reply to my recent letter regarding payment 
on your account, but none has come. 

It is now almost thirty days since 
payment was due. Your next payment matures 
in a few days, and I am sure you want to 
keep your account in good standing. 

We have granted you a long period of 
credit, broken into monthly payments, be- 
cause we appreciated the fact that this 
would make it easier for you to do business 
and because we were confident that, espe- 
cially under such conditions, responsible 
men are careful to maintain their credit. 

Will you not send us your check while 
this letter is still fresh in your mind? 
Or at least write to me that I may have a 
correct understanding of the situation; this 
will permit your account to be handled in a 
satisfactory manner. 

Yours truly. 



THE SECOND LETTER 



Dear Sir: 

Are you ill? Have you been absent 
from home? Has some unfortunate circum- 
stance overtaken you? 

Perhaps there is some unusual condi- 
tion which has prevented you from answering 
my letters or making your payments. 

I am rather of the opinion, however, 
that you have had the matter fully in mind, 
but have simply neglected it from day to 
day. Intending to forward your payment, but 
never quite "getting around to it." 

At any rate, I would appreciate it 
greatly if you would give this account your 
prompt attention NOW. Then you, too, will 
feel better. 

Yours truly. 



- THE THIRD LETTER 



Touches dAior*» 
pride genUjf 



A fair request 
plainly stated 



Offers an oppor^ 
iunity fof e^ 
planatton 



A firm ending 
which doa» not 
arouse 
resentment 



56 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



i 



III 



Another chance 
to explain and 
an appeal for 
equare deeding 



Loit (^nce to 
explain. 



Creditor insist- 
ent and patience 
waning 



Dear Sir: 

Have you any cause for complaint as to 
the handling of your account since becom- 
ing one of our customers? If so, will you 
write at once? 

I have tried to handle your account in 
a manner fair to you and to this company. 
I seem to have failed. At least you paid 
no attention to my letters and are letting 
your account become seriously delinquent. 

It is not fair to either of us to com- 
pel me to write again and again. 

The spirit of the golden rule is 
strong within us all, however, and I believe 
you will use the enclosed envelope to mail 
either your check for the two payments now 
due or a frank letter explaining why you 
have not paid. 

Sincerely yours. 






THE FOURTH LETTER 



. 



Dear Sir: 

If you are an honorable man, you will 
make payment on your account or mail us an 
explanation iimnediately . We have called 
your attention to this account several 
times. You have not answered. 

We accepted your contract, believing 
you responsible and honorable. We have 
done our part. You have not done yours. 
What shall we believe now? 

Yours very truly. 



THE FIFTH LETTER 






COLLECTION LETTERS 



57 



liberal terms in order to make payment easier for him ; 
the second, by the assumption that he is one of the class 
of responsible business men who are careful about main- 
taining their credit 

The closing paragraph courteously asks for imme- 
diate payment (VI) ; or at least for some explanation 
(II) which will give the company a correct understand- 
ing of the customer's intentiona This request is made 
a general one; the third letter asks specifically for the 
reasons classified as II, 2, the fourth, for those classi- 
fied as II, 1. 

In the third letter, the notification of the standing Xhe third 
of the account (I) is made rather incidentally in the leUer 
second paragraph. 

The letter begins with specific questions intended to 
find out whether the man is in trouble (II, 2) — whether 
unusual conditions prevent his paying. These give him 
an opportunity to explain his inability to pay, and open 
the way for the making of some arrangement to meet 
the new conditions, such as those discussed under III. 
(As no reply is received to this request, there is, of 
course, no opportunity, later, to make this arrangement.) 

The third paragraph asserts the company 's belief that 
the customer fully intends to pay, and has been merely 
putting off the matter until a more convenient time. 

The last paragraph asks that prompt attention be 
given to the account (VI). 

In this letter remittance is not asked for directly, 
although the customer is made to understand that it 
would, of course, be welcomed. The emphasis is on get- 
ting some explanation for the delay. 

In the fourth letter the standing of the account (I) The fourth 
IS given in the second paragraph. letter 

The letter first asks if the customer has any cause for 
complaint about the company's manner of handling his 
account (II, 1 ; the previous letter has emphasized II, 2). 

The rest of the letter plays upon the customer's sense 



i 



m 






ri 



if 



|i^ 



iw 



58 



Theffih 
letter 



The sixth 
letter 



Analysis of 
the series 
according to 
the princi- 
ples of right 
aitituas 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

of fair play (V, 1). In fact, this is the appeal that 
is featured throughout the letter. 

The tone of the letter is more insistent and per- 
emptory than that of the preceding members of the 
series. 

The fifth letter prepares the way for the final letter, 
which gives notice of legal action. This one is chiefly 
a concise statement of the present status of the ac- 
count (I). It sums up the results of the company's 
effort to collect the money : the company has made every 
reasonable offer; the customer has paid no attention. 
What can the company think about him now? It is 
going to give him one more chance, however, to show 
that he is an honorable man (appeal to his pride, V, 2). 

Short, crisp sentences are used to give the note of 
finality, of patience almost exhausted. 

The sixth, and last, letter of the series is a notice that 
the account will be turned over to an attorney, if it is 
not settled within ten days (the extreme form of V, 4). 
The customer's persistent ignoring of the previous 
letters has left the company no alternative; this action 
is forced upon it by his own neglect. 

Now analyze the series according to the two prin- 
ciples laid down in the preceding part of the chapter 
(pp. 44-46). Throughout, the series treats the debt as a 
strict business obligation ; nowhere is there a hint given 
that payment is demanded on any other ground than 
that it is justly due the company. 

Also, the customer is treated with the greatest con- 
sideration; the writer of the series never loses sight of 
the fact that he is addressing a customer whose good 
will is to be retained, and whose future patronage is to 
be secured. Let us see more particularly how this prin- 
ciple is carried out : 

The first four letters assert the firm's willingness 
to do everything in its power to help him. The first one 
offers to change the time of payment if the original 









COLLECTION LETTERS 

arrangement is inconvenient. The second asks in a gen- 
eral way for any explanation that will enable the com- 
pany to make some arrangement whereby the account 
can be handled satisfactorily to both parties in the con- 
tract. The third specifically inquires whether the non- 
pajnnent is due to sickness or other unforeseen difficul- 
ties; and implies that, if such is the case, the company 
is ready to help him out of the difficulty. The fourth 
suggests that perhaps the company has not handled the 
order satisfactorily; if so, the debtor has but to make 
known his complaint, and the company will correct the 
mistake. 

Beyond these four letters it is useless for the writer 
to ignore the suspicion that the customer probably does 
not intend to pay; and consequently, keeping his good 
will is no longer so important a matter. Even in the 
last two letters, however, the writer continues to em- 
phasize the company's desire to be fair, and puts the 
blame for any harsh procedure squarely upon the debtor 
himself. 

After receiving such a series, a man could hardly 
fail to be impressed with the company's fairness and 
willingness to help him. He would be unreasonable in- 
deed if he felt any ill will toward the house that was 
so considerate. Yet in the letters there is no hint of 
weakness or indecision. 



59 

Use of the 
principles in 
the different 
letters of the 
series 



The effect of 
such a series 






lft# 



CHAPTER VI 



WHAT A SALES LETTER 

MUST DO 



The princi- 
ples of sales- 
manship in 
a sales letter 



Careful 

selection of 

ideas and 

logical 

arrangement 

are 

necessary 



V 



nn HERE are certain basic principles upon which every 
A successful sales letter must be built, certain ele- 
ments which it must contain. If it is to take the place 
of a salesman and do what a good salesman would do, 
It must follow a definite line of procedure in making a 
written sale just as he does in making a personal one It 
must win for itself an audience with the prospective 
customer; and once that is gained, it must follow the 
steps of the sale exactly as the salesman does when he 
talks face to face with his prospect, leading him grad- 
uaUy, tactfully, through certain definite processes up to 
the actual signing of the order. 

For this reason every sentence and paragraph that 
goes into one of your letters should have a reason for 
being there. The sole aim of a letter is to get action, 
and non-essentials simply detract from its directness! 
You have no time to write them, nor has your prospect 
time to read them. 

It is the easiest thing in the world to write a letter 
that goes rambling from one topic to another without 
getting anywhere in particular. But the good letter 
writer has a definite end in mind, and he goes straight to 
it over a definite route. 






DIRECT SALES LETTERS 

Go about the writing of a letter as you would the 

preparation of an important speech. There are a 

^ thousand things you might say, but only a few, perhaps 

ten, are vital. Think of as many as you can to begin 

with; then sift them to the few. Confine yourself to 

those points and drive them home, knowing the effect 

that each should have and its relation to the end you 

want to reach. 

^ Consider now the good sales letter. It proceeds 

A through certain steps, which are based logically upon the 

principles of salesmanship. It contains: 

1. The opening, which wins the reader's attention 
and interest, and prompts him to go farther into the 
letter. 

2. Description and explanation, which increase his 
interest by picturing the proposition in his mind. 

3. Proof, which convinces the reader of the quality 
of the article you have to sell, and shows him how other 
men have profited by its use. 

4. Persuasion, which draws the reader to your way 
of thinking by showing the adaptation of the article to 
his needs. 

5. Inducement, which gives him a particular or 
extra reason for buying now. 

6. The climax or clincher, which makes it easy for 
the reader to order, and prompts him to act at once. 

Take these elements up one by one, and compare them 
with cross-sections of a good salesman's selling talk. 
You will be surprised to find how closely the parallelism 
follows and how simple a proposition it is to write a 
^ good sales letter, after all, once you learn that it is 
merely a matter of talking to your man on paper. 

First, you must get the attention of the reader. You 
may do this in a number of ways — ^by an opening sen- 
tence or paragraph, for instance, that arouses his curi- 
osity, or by a striking statement that hits some one of 
his own problems, difficulties, or desires. This initial 



61 



Planning 
the sales 
letter 



The order^ 
getting 
elements in 
a sales 
letter 



These 

elements are 
based on the 
salesman's 
talk 



Getting 
attention 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



AtUnHon and 
inUrest 



Deseripium and 
txplanaiion 



Procf 



Pernuuion 



^ p 



Inducement 



m 



Closing — 
climax and 
cUneker 



Dear Sir: 

Your Christmas tree is waiting for 
you out here on my farm at Kinsvale. Don't 
you want your evergreens and tree brought 
straight to your fireside from the woods? 

,_^ I have a number of straight, bushy 
little hemlock and pine trees ranging from 
3 to 8 feet in height. They willTftaJ^ 
splendid Christmas trees. Many smaller 
ones are suitable for table decoration. 
Wreaths will be made of hemlock. Juniper. 

?SL®J®fP»f®'*' ^K^? ^S i"«^®s in diaieteV. 
They will be carefully and firmly woven, 
with plenty of cones and abundant material. 

You cannot buy fresher and better 
trees, wreaths and greenery than these. I 
have inquired the prices of florists and 
dealers in the city, and find that I can 
deliver them much cheaper than you can get 
them in town. Read the enclosed list of 
comparative prices. 

^H^^?"* ^^^ ^^^ your Christmas mer- 
rier, if the wreaths, the tree, and fes- 
toons, are greener, less broken, fresher, 
and more fragrant than those cut a week 
earlier, and shipped into town by freight? 

Drive over, pick out your tree, tag it. 
if you wish. I»ll cut it down. I wiiralsi 
mount the smaller trees, if you desire, on 
wooden bases. Hy prices cover delivery to 
your door. All orders must be received by 
Dec. 21. Don't bother to send money. In 
case of my regular customers for farm prod- 

?S f A.^^i!^ ^^^^ ^® charged to their month- 
ly accounts. 

Remember. I can fill only the earliest 
orders received. Fill in the enclosed 
postal order blank and mail it today. 

Yours truly. 



THE SIX ELEMENTS IN A SALES LETTER 

Here is an actual letter, used by a nursery man hi handling his Christmas 
business, that is ahnost a model in logically presenting every element of sales- 
manship. From the beginning that compels attention straight through to the 
urgent close, the reader is led step by step to a definite desire to buy. 






DIRECT SALES LETTERS 

interest on the part of the man addressed is absolutely 
essential to the success of the letter. No matter how well 
your proposition may be stated in the body of the letter, 
or how strong your close, your efforts will be lost if 
the opening does not start the man reading. 

Following this attention-winning opening, the good 
letter runs directly into the description and explanation. 
This part must be above all specific. Every salesman 
knows the value of the actual demonstration — of having 
his goods on the ground, so that the prospect can see 
and feel and understand. As a letter writer you can- 
not show your goods: you must depend on description. 
Give your man a definite idea of what you have to offer. 
Picture the article, its use, its advantages, so vividly that 
it swims before his mental eye. 

Proof follows logically after description. The sales- 
man doesn't expect the buyer to take his word for the 
quality of his goods; he hands out his samples for ex- 
amination. Then he tells how Mr. So and So in the next 
town has been selling or using the goods for years and 
has just given him another large order. Similarly, in 
the sales letter it is not enough to give the reader your 
unsupported description of the article or explanation 
of what it will do. You must reinforce your statements 
by definite proof of their truth. This you may do by 
some novel demonstration of the quality of the goods, 
or by showing the satisfaction which they have given 
other buyers. 

Persuasion intensifies the desire that has been awak- 
ened by the proof. Proof has demonstrated to the reader 
how the article has helped other men, and has thus sug- 
gested to him that he also may be benefited by it ; that 
is, proof has created a latent desire for it. Persuasion 
turns this latent desire into an active buying force by 
showing the reader definitely how the article will help 
him personally. Persuasion brings the article into rela- 
tion with his own needs and interests, just as the skilful 



63 



Describing 
the article or 
explaining 
the propo- 
sition 



Proving 

your 

statements 



Persuading 
the prospect 
to buy 



r 



^i 



M 



h 



C" 






64 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



Use of worn- 
out figure 



Too general 



Dirednese en- 
tirdy lacking 



No exptanation 
or argument 



Offer not clear 



Weak dou 



My dear Sir: 

Opportunity comes to a man's door 
only once. He must be prepared when it 
knocks at his door, and answer "ready," 
otherwise he is largely a failure; a 
drudge, trudging along daily on a mere 
pittance, awaiting the end, with no one 
but himself to blame. 

Get out of the rut and into a 
field of greater knowledge, and thus be 

?repared to conmiand, yea even insure a 
arger income . Business men are coming to 
recognize the value of a better knowledge 
of existing conditions, of organization 
and systematization. The factory expert 
may safely without fear of contradiction 
be said to be the Business Adviser of 
today. He assists in the organizing of a 
business, and much if not the greater part 
of the success of the manufacturer must 
be attributed to the wisdom and grasp of 
the business foresight of the accountant. 

But it is no longer necessary for you 
to depend upon an outsider for help in 
organizing £ind conducting your business. 
Here is your opportunity to become an ex- 
pert yourself at a nominal cost. Fill out 
your order and get our book Just published 
on "Factory Orgguiization." This book has 
been completely rewritten 

Our prospectus fully eacplains the 
scope of the work and qualifications of 
the writer. Any further information desired 
will be cheerfully given on request. This 
is your only opportunity to take advantage 
of a special offering. Will you grasp it? 
Act at once! Awaiting the courtesy of a 
reply, we are 

Very truly yours. 



A LETTER LACKING IN DIRECTNESS AND APPEAL 

This letter is so full of generalities, and so lacking in personality that It 
entirely misses the individual appeal. The proposition offered is not mentioned 
until the third paragraph and then in an incidental way only. Despite the inter- 
rogation and exclamation points in the last paragraph, the close is weak. 



DIRECT SALES LETTERS 



65 



Uy dear Mr. Colby: 

This morning I received from our 
printers some news that I feel certain will 
be of interest to you. And because this is 
a matter of importance, may I hear from you 
and have the benefit of your opinion before 
any public announcement is made? 

I will receive from our printers 
Thursday a few advsmce copies of C. P. 
Watson's "Factory Organization" — a busi- 
ness book that I believe will save you more 
DOLLARS than any other book in print. 

We have issued no printed matter about 
"Factory Organization." But even a VOLUME 
of printed matter could not show you its 
value as will the book itself. I do not 
expect you to BUY it blindly. I merely want 
you to look it over at MY RISK and give me 
your frank opinion of it. 

YOU WOULD WILLINGLY RISK A DOZEN TIMES 
$2.00 for a SINGLE plan that would reduce 
your factory costs ALONE. Yet this book 
contains 22 money saving plans that will 
reduce expenses throughout your whole busi- 
ness — ^plans of hiring and handling em- 
ployees — plans that will check every leak 
and waste in your factory and office. 

Merely send for the book on approval. 
The $2.00 you forward will not be regarded 
£LS a remittance but as a deposit. And if 
ANY SINGLE CHAPTER alone is not worth $5.00 
CASH to you, I will remit you in all $2.10 
to pay you in addition for your postage. 

Merely pin a $2.00 bill to this letter 
— mail tonight if possible — and use the 
envelope enclosed. 

Yours very truly. 



Pereonal optti' 

ingarousu 

confident 



Explanalum 



Proof 



Persuaeion and 
explanation 



Proof f persuO' 
eion, and in' 
ducement. 



Clincher 



THE SAME PROPOSITION IN MAN-TO-MAN TALK 

Note how the book proposition in the letter on the opposite page is handled 
in this rewritten letter — ^as personal as a call over the phone. Proverbs and 
axioms are replaced by reasons why the chance to buy is worth real cash to th« 
particular reader every hour of his factory day. 



offering an 
inducement 






Making it 
easy to order 




These 
elements 
illustrated 
in a typical 
letter 



m 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

salesman makes his sales talk fit the individual needs 
of each buyer. 

There is another thing which the letter as well as the 
salesman must do — offer a specific inducement. You 
know how the clever salesman manipulates his talking 
points. Always he holds back till the last some extra 
reason why you should accept his proposition without 
delay. This is the part that inducement plays in the 
letter. As you hesitate, undecided whether or not to 
order, the shrewd sales-writer shoots at you one last 
advantage which he has held in reserve, and with which 
he hopes to induce you to act now. 

And, you will also recall, the salesman follows up his 
talk immediately by placing before you an order blank 
ready for your signature. He has learned the secret of 
making it easy to order. And that is what you, too, 
must do in your business-getting letter: follow up your 
last inducement and your **Act today'* by giving the 
man something to sign — a post card, a coupon, something 
that is ready to return. Make what he is to do so plain 
to him that there can be no possible misunderstanding. 
Say it in so many words — '*You do this and we will do 
that" Aim to make your climax so direct, so atrong 
and simple that the reader cannot resist the tMiptation 
to reply. 

To illustrate the use of this outline, take, for example, 
the letter on page 62, an actual business letter that 
was successful in selling a great many Christmas trees 
and wreaths by mail. Note what an analysis of its make- 
up reveals, how it leads step by step to its climax. 

Here attention is won through a striking opening 
assertion that must arouse the curiosity of the reader. 
Then the letter runs quickly into explanation. Proof 
is found in the frank discussion of prices and in the 
enclosed price list, which the reader may test for ac- 
curacy in his local store. The next paragraph persuades 
through suggesting how the goods will make Christmas 



DIRECT SALES LETTERS 

merrier. Then follows inducement in the opportunity 
to pick out one's tree, and the offer of a free wooden 
base and free delivery. Finally the climax comes in the 
last urgent suggestion to act at once because the number 
is limited. And how could ordering be made easier f 
** Don't bother to send money." Simply **Fill in the 
enclosed postal order blank and mail it today." 

Of course, not all letters have the elements marked 
off so clearly as this, or arranged in just this order. 
Various combinations and proportions are employed to 
fit various conditions. Your choice of the form to use 
will depend upon your knowledge of what will win the 
reader's interest. But the finished letter contains, in 
some degree, every one of these elements. 

On page 64 is shown a letter which is lacking in many 
of the elements that make a good sales letter. On page 
65 is the same letter rewritten. 

Another element which is sometimes called '*the 
whip" appears in many letters. It is generally a short 
paragraph usually consisting of a single line, intended 
to summarize pointedly what has gone before, or to whet 
the prospect's curiosity, or retain his interest, or surprise 
him with an inducement, or suggest a definite action. 
Some examples are: **Whyr', ''Here's the big idea.", 
. ''Now, what do you think of this?", "But the book is 
free.", "Yes, it wiU pay." (See pages 121, 122, 125). 
The effect of the "whip" may be either physical or 
psychological; that is, it may serve as a rest period 
between paragraphs, or urge the prospect to the action 
desired. Both effects are sometimes obtained in a 
"whip." 

The only sure method of learning the functions, 
value, and proper use of these elements, is to study 
each one individually. Then, with an appreciation of 
the effect of each upon the reader, you can buUd a 
balanced business letter that will bring results. 



67 



Note the 

inducement 

anddimax 



c« 



The whip'* 



Study the 
elemenU in 
thefoUotoing 
chapters 



j^it 



CHAPTER VII 



GETTING ATTENTION AND 
AROUSING INTEREST 



Arousing 
interest in 
the first few 
words 



Problem of 
beginning — 
in ttDo classes 
of letters 



**/^ET your reader safely past the first six word% 
xJI and his attention is yours'' — ^thus one experienced 
correspondent sums up the importance of the opening 
sentence of a sales letter. **The first few words," he 
continues, **whet or deaden curiosity. Judged by them, 
the letter is either quickly condemned to the forgotten 
heap beneath the desk, or else approved for further con- 
sideration.'' And he is right. A bad start will kill 
an otherwise passable sales letter. 

What is a bad start? It is one that does not nail 
attention with the first phrase, that does not turn this 
attention to vital, personal interest. 

Get attention — ^the successful beginning must first do 
that. But attention may be momentary, transient. It 
must be converted into lasting, compelling interest if you 
are to bring your reader into a receptive attitude toward 
the remainder of your letter and the proposition that it 
presents (page 71). 

The problem of getting attention and arousing in- 
terest varies with the two classes of sales letters : those 
in answer to an inquiry, and the unsolicited letter. In 
the first class the attention and interest of the reader 
are, to a certain extent, assured, and the writer's care 



I 



STARTING THE LETTER 

is not to kill his interest, and also to stimulate it. In 
the second class the attention of the reader must be se- 
cured and his interest aroused. 

For the first class a single caution will be sufficient. 
In answering an inquiry do not begin with a stereotyped 
acknowledgment of the receipt of the inquiry. You only 
deaden the reader's interest— you certainly cannot 
stimulate it— by starting out in the old common-place 
way: ''I have the honor to inform you," or **In reply 
to yours of the 18th I beg to state." There is no par- 
ticular honor involved in informing me and no reason on 
earth why a man should *'beg to state" something I have 
asked him. A business man told me that he got so sick 
of ' ' begging" letters that he fired them all into the waste- 
basket. Equally bad is, *'Your esteemed favor of the 
15th is at hand, and in reply I would say." The begin- 
ning of the letter— the part from which the reader gets 
his first impression— is too important for such meaning- 
less formalities. 

Why not begm directly and naturally? 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 1916 catalogue and trust you may find such a lamp a« you 
require lUustrated therein. r /«« 

Why not break right in : 

The catalogue you asked for the other day is going to you m 
this mail, and we are so confident that you wiU find listed in it 
just the kind of lamp you need that we want you to go through it 
very carefully. The lamps listed on pages 25 and 29\re intended 
ior use under such conditions as you described in your letter,— etc. 

What's the- difference? The first is entirely formal 
and impersonal. I feel that the writer has looked upon 
my inquiry as only one of a thousand, and that he has 
no particular interest in helping me to get what I want. 
Why, then, should I be interested in his letter t The 
second is direct and personal, I feel that this letter 



69 



Infirei class, 

avoid 

stereotyped 

acknowledge 

ments 



Begin 

directly and 
naiuraUy 



Formal vs. 

personal 

beginning 



/ 



70 



A successful 
beffinnmg—' 
personal and 
ncUural 



Second class: 
getting 
atteniion by 
the use of 
the display 
head 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

is really written to me and that tlie writer wants to 
help me. Of course 1*11 read his letter. 
Equally successful are the following : 

We are pleased to get your request for information about our 
improved gas range, and a copy of our catalogue goes forward by 
today ^a mail. 

Your attrition is particularly called to the descriptive matter 
on pages 3 to 9 inclusive, — etc. 

And also: 

The catalogue for which you wrote is too large to enclose with 
this letter, and so you will get it in another envelope. You will 
find on page 4 a complete description of the 1916 Model, Smith 
Calculator, — etc. 

These are direct and personal, and lead the reader 
naturally into the description of the article. 

In letters of the second class — the unsolicited sales 
letters — some successful writers hegin with a display 
head, consisting of a short phrase or sentence, printed 
in capitals or underlined, thus: 

CUT YOUR COAL BILLS IN HALF. 

THIS MEANS MONEY TO YOU— BIG MONEY. 

FIRE TWO OF YOUR CLERKS. 



STARTING THE LETTER 



71 



This plan is based upon successful advertising prac- 
tice. It is to a sales letter what a catch-line is to an 
advertisement. You summarize the most striking feature 
of your proposition in the smallest possible number of 
words, and hurl them at your prospective buyer with 
all the emphasis at your command. 

An admirable example of this scheme was the letter 
of a magazine publisher addressed to subscribers from 
whom renewals of subscriptions were being solicited. 
The letter opened with the single word— ** EXPIRED !' ' 
Very few of those who received that letter failed to 
read further to learn who, or what, had expired. 

The advantage of the display-line opening is that it 
^j -.- virtually compels the reader to continue into the second 

display head paragraph of your letter. Used with discretion, the idea 
is excellent. It makes the reader sit up. The human 



Advantages 
of the 



Dear Mr. Burke: 

You wouldn't think of throwing 
away your fountain pen simply be- 
cause the ink is exhausted. 

Then why throw away your worn 
duplicating machine ribbons? We can 
re-ink them as well as you can fill 
your fountain pen. 

If you will examine one of your 
apparently worthless ribbons, you 
will find that the fabric is scarce- 
ly worn at all. We take these, treat 
them with our special process, re- 
fill them with ink, and return them 
to you practically new ribbons and 
for only one-half the cost. 

Re^ the enclosed folder — it 
explains- our proposition fully. But 
a trial will convince you. And the 
sooner you send them, the more money 
you'll save. 

Why not pack them up, put on 
the enclosed shipping label, and send 
them along right now? 

Yours very truly. 



Attention 



IniereHand 
explanation 



Froofand 
explanation 



Proofs persuth 
Mvon^ and 
inducement 



Clincher 



TWO WAYS OF WINNING ATTENTION 

In this sales letter all the elements of salesmanship are present, yet th^ 
are so cleverly interwoven that the letter stands, first of all, as a unit. Attention 
is won through a combination of two methods of opening a letter — ^use of the 
word *'you" and a direct unusual statement 



1 



'[ 



mi 




n 

P$ychoiogy 
of the 
display head 



Disadvan- 
tages of the 
display head 



The 

'Hrritating*' 
display head 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

mind is so constructed that it requires a positive and 
conscious mental effort to turn aside from any thing 
which has aroused curiosity. The normal operation of 
the mind is to satisfy that curiosity, even though the 
reader's cold reason tells him that he is not likely to 

be interested. 

One disadvantage, in the opinion of some correspond- 
ents, is that the display head suggests a form letter. 
These writers prefer some other method which gives 
them an opportunity at the beginning to give their letter 
more of the tone of a personal communication. 

Another danger is that this spectacular device may 
arouse a degree of attention which the merit of your 
proposition does not justify. This style of opening is 
like the catch-line of an advertisement or the head line 
of a newspaper article. The ad-writer who shrieks 
"Prices Slaughtered'' and then lists staple goods at pre- 
vailing prices misses fire. The newspaper which habitu- 
ally employs lurid headlines and six-inch type to set 
forth the ordinary doings of a dull day has nothing in 
reserve when an event warranting the spread eagle 
scream line occurs. The method is one to use sparingly, 
and only when other means f aiL 

The display head which is intended to secure atten- 
tion by ** irritating" the reader is especially dangerous. 
However, it is sometimes used with good effect. Here ia 
an example from a letter written by a collection agency. 
This concern had a series of form letters dedgned to 
facilitate collections, and the circular letter through 
which it brought the proposition to the attention of pos- 
sible clients opened : 

''YOU DO NOT PAY YOUR BILLS PROJ^IPTLY, 
SIR!" 

Naturally, the man who received such a slap in the 
face did not toss the letter aside without learning more, 
and when he did read on, he found that he had no reason 






STARTING THE LETTER 

to be offended. The letter was written, not to the man 
who did not pay his debts, but to firms whose business 
it was to deal with such men ; and it hit upon the problem 
that they were constantly trying to solve. 

But this ** irritating" device must be used with 
caution. It does impel the reader to go further into 
the letter, but in the hands of an inexperienced or un- 
tactful writer, it is likely to arouse resentment that the 
remainder of the letter will not remove, no matter how 
attractive a proposition it presents. If you feel that 
you must employ this means to get a man ^s attention, be 
sure that you remove the sting before you close the letter. 
Prejudiced readers are not often buyers. 

Some writers use a modified form of the display head. 
Their first sentence is short and emphatic, but it is not 
in capitals or underlined. It is made a part of the body 
of the letter. Here are some examples : 

*' Pay-day — ^what does it mean to you?" 

"Does your money *go 'round'? Or does it fail to 
stop all the gaps made by last week's bills?" 

"You've got to have more money!" 

This method has most of the appeal of the complete 
display head without the latter 's suggestion of the "Yel- 
low Journal" 

What form is best for this short opening sentence, 
used either as a regular display head or incorporated 
in the body of the letter ? Some writers prefer the direct 
command, others the question, and still others the 
declarative form. The direct command demands atten- 
tion, but may easily be made too peremptory and dicta- 
torial. The question is more intimate; it suggests a 
greater degree of personal interest in the reader's needs. 
The declarative form is perhaps more natural than either 
of the others, but ^ *^® opinion of some correspondentar, 
is less forceful. All have been used successfully. The 
choice will depend upon the inclination of the individual 
writer. 



73 



This form is 
to be used^ 
withcatdiom 



A modeled 
type of 
display head 



ThebeH 
form for the 
introductory 
senience 








74 

The differ' 
ence between 
getting atteu' 
iion and 
arousing 
interest 



Combining 
the attention 
and interest- 
getting 
features 



Arousing 
interest: 
specific 
methods 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

Thus far we have been discussing one function of 
the beginning of a sales letter— getting attention. But, 
as we learned in the first part of this chapter, the begin- 
ning must do more. It is easy enough to attract atten- 
tion; the rub comes when you endeavor to vitalize that 
attention into personal, undivided interest. The first is 
often only a trick of words. Cry **Stop!'' and every 
man within hearing will turn to your call. But the next 
word uttered must make its personal appeal or the atten- 
tion gained is lost And attention lost is a double loss, 
for a man once tricked into pausing to hear something 
of no interest will not be tricked again. 

Hence, the means employed for getting attention in a 
letter must either be followed up by some method of 
arousing interest, or be combined with it. Many cor- 
respondents prefer to combine the two elements. They 
dispense with the special attehtion-getting device — ^the 
display head or the short, pithy opening sentence — and 
start in directly with some subject of interest to the pro- 
spective buyer. They aim to secure attention and arouse 
interest at the same time. Note how effectively this 
method is used in the following letter addressed to 
bankers: 

Bear Mr. Hunt: 

There 's a bank here in Chicago — not mnch larger than yonrs — 
that secured over 280 new savings depositors last month! And 
secured them, mind you, on the sole strength of business-getting 
circular letters — ^without the aid of a single personal solicitor. 

That's why this letter is as vital to you as though it were a 
certified check. For it tells about, — etc. 

Such a letter gives greater opportunity for an easy 
personal beginning, and has less suggestion of the form 
letter than one starting with a display head. 

Let us turn now to specific methods for arousing in- 
terest. These methods are numberless, and only a few 
illustrations can be given here. They will suggest others 
which will meet the needs of any partioular business. 
Sometimes they are used in connection with the display 
head; sometimes they dispense with it. 



STARTING THE LETTER 



75 



Dear Mr. Benson: 



You believe in protecting your home 
from fire, don't you? But how about pro- 
tecting it from the other elements? 

The "next time it rains, your roof may 
leak, your ceilings may be water-soaxed. and 
some of the choicest and most valued con- 
tents of your home damaged beyond repair. 

You have often seen poorly constructed 
roofs allowing the rain to beat in. But it 
isn't necessary for you to run this risK. 
For at no more than what ordinary roofs 
cost, you can get absolute protection --in 
Flintoid. Here is a roofing that will with- 
stand year in and year out the most severe 
weather conditions. 

Flintoid is made of the very best of 
raw materials. It is laid in three layers 
over the entire surface. Over that goes a 
red coating that is absolutely unaffected 
by heat. cold, or dampness. 

Just sit down for a moment and figure 
up how long it has been since your roof was 
put on. Can you trust longer to its doubt- 
ful protective qualities? Flintoid can be 
laid right over the old roof, as the book- 
let shows. The cost includes nails and 
cement — and we pay the freight. 

Simply fill in the dimensions of your 
roof on the enclosed order blank, sign and 
nail today. 

Very truly yours. 



Intimate 
question tdna 
aUfntion 

Interest and 
persuasion 



Persuasion and 
explanation 



ExphmaHem 



Perstiasiont 
explanation, 
and inducement 






CUneker 






HOLDING INTEREST TO THE END 

This letter is a good example of interest won and held from beginning to 
end. Almost every paragraph contains explanation, cleverly combined with other 
elements. The proof is given in the enclosed booklet; convincing persuasion 
appears in three paragraphs; and inducement follows. 



I 



I 



76 

The human 
interest 
story: Us 
universal 
appeal 



Using 

human 

interest 

in a later to 

mothers 



Note the 
mingling of 
humor and 
sympathy 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

A common device is the ''human interest story*'— 
one dealing with primitive passions, the incidents of 
which are common experiences. Your wash-woman and 
the heiress at boarding school, your office boy and the 
director of a great railway, are equally, though perhaps 
differently, affected by it. It deals with fundamentals. 
It ignores non-essentials. Human interest it is which 
packs the playhouse, which makes possible a penny press, 
which sells millions of magazines. Properly handled, it 
may be made the basis of nine-tenths of your successful 
sales letters. 

Let us suppose we are writing to a woman on the 
subject of boy's clothing. As this is a subject which 
lends itself readily to the display line opening described 
in the first part of this chapter, we will use it, thus : 
Dear Mrs. Myers: 

ABOUT THAT BOY OF YOURS— 

We have her attention ; of that there can be no doubt, 
for the boy is the most interesting subject in the world 
to his mother, whether he be an effeminate little book- 
worm or the neighborhood terror. Now what statement 
can we next make to turn that attention into interest 
and lead naturally to our proposition ? What little fact 
of human nature will open her mind, enlist her sym- 
pathy, gain her confidence, and bring her to look at our 
proposition from the right standpoint? 

•* i?®4? ^^^^S ** *^*« age ^hen his spirit of manliness asserts 
Itself. You find him imitating his father's manners— he is using 
your embroidery scissors to shave with— he is no longer ambitious 
to be a policeman, but has hia eye on the Presidency. Among the 
serious problems with him today is this: he is beginning to want 
ma^y, square-cut, ''grown-up'' clothes. He is no longer satisfied 
with ordinary boys clothes. He wants something * ' like father 's. ' ' 

This is human interest. We touch upon that pathet- 
ically humorous period of transf onnation between child- ' 
hood and youth in order that we may bring our reader 
to approach the subject of her boy's clothes from the 
boy's own viewpoint. 



STARTING THE LETTEE 



TT 



Again, a maker of eye-wash might say : 

Dear Sir: 

Trouble with your eyesf 

Ten thousand people went blind last year in New York State 
alone. Over 1,000,000 pairs of eye-glasses were sold. Are your 
eyes in danger! 

Here we appeal to fear. 

A letter with the following opening paragraph was 

sent out by a retail meat market : 

Dear Sir: 

Some evening when you feel as though nothing would please 
you more than a nice thick steak or a couple of choice chops, drop 
around to THE T & G, and you'll be able to take home a steak 
or chops that will make your mouth water when they come from 
the griddle. 

An appeal to the palate — a suggestion of an appetiz- 
ing dinner — ^this will interest most of us. 

Similarly appeals to health may form the basis of 
interest in letters written by makers of patent medi- 
cines. Clothing and shoe houses may appeal to comfort 
and style ; business schools to ambition ; and so on with 
the countless other universal human tastes and instincts. 

The news story is another means of arousing interest. 
The opening of the Panama Canal, the Great War, some 
bit of local news or trade news — ^all these are points of 
contact with the reader's interest. For an example we 
may take a letter written by a manufacturer of an elec- 
trie motor-controUing device: 

Dear Sir: 

I was on board the U. S. Monitor "Florida" when she was 
hit by a Whitehead torpedo containing 200 pounds of gun cotton. 

**A ticklish position,'* you sayt 

Not at all. The water-tight compartments of the "Florida" 
are controlled by Ajax Automatic Switches. When the torpedo 
hit us, the Ajax Automatic closed the bulkheads. I felt entirely 
safe and secure because I knew the Ajaz would not fail. 

The writer referred to a subject that had had wide 

publicity. He added a bit of personal experience, gave 

his readers some of the inside history of an important 

event.* 

* This subject of the news story is treated more fuUy in a 
separate chapter. See Chapter XIV. 



An appeal ta 
fear u al" 
ways strong 



An appeal to 
the appetite 



Varioui 
human' 
interest 
appeals 



The news 
story: it 
gives the air 
of heina 
up'tO'date 



^i' ' 



78 

Comparing 
the reader 
toith other 
people in 
similar cir- 
cumstances 



Reaching the 
reader by 
touching on 
one of his 
vexing 
problems 



This tailor 
used this 
idea 
effectively 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

Again, the experiences of other people placed in cir- 
cumstances similar to yours, are always interesting. Fol- 
lowing are two examples : 

You and Mason ought to compare notes. 

fi* ^wi ^^.^°° ^^® "^®^ *^® ^®^ ^^^^ Herald, the Kansas City 
Btar, The Cincinnati Enquirer, and a hundred or more other news- 
papers, weeklies, and magazines for years, and it would be a big 
r fta yo^ " you could get together with him and go over h& 

Similarly : 

Would you like to know what B. H. Aishton, vice-president and 
general manager of the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad- ex- 
Governor Chas. S. Deneen; Dr. John DUl Robertson; Jos. E. Otis, 
vice-president of the Central Trust Co.; Edgar A. Bancroft, gen- 
eral counsel for the International Harvester Co.; and a nimber 
of other prominent Chicago men are doing to keep themselves in 
fighting tnm, both mentally and physically, every day! 

Finally, there is no more effective appeal to interest 
than one that touches upon some special problem or diflfi- 
culty that confronts the reader in his own business, or 
private life. This beginning gets the interest of the 
employing printer by summarizing many of his troubles : 

•* ^J^ ^°^^ P^®^ feeders always showed up on Monday morning; 
If they were never late, never got tired, never became careless, 
never grumbled about working overtime—you would increase the 
output of your plant, have less trouble, make more money. That 
18 why you will be interested in the SpeedweU Automatic feeding 
attachment ^ 

This is the beginning of a letter sent out by a tailor: 

With the incoming of the warm weather, you face the prospect 

% }T^?}^ ^®^P ^^^ '^^ ^^ °«^* eighteen weeks. You already 

w 11^ ^'''* ^J''^?, wearing is much too heavy, and realize 

how much more comfortable you would feel in one of lighter weight. 

This letter presents a problem which is in the proa- 
pect's mind, and thus wins his interest Then the 
writer continues with a description of the cool summer 
fabrics which he has for sale. 

The following letter was written by a manufacturer 
of washing machines: 

Dear Madam: 

Why do you continue the old-fashioned, back-breaking method 
of washing clothes, when the HORTON ELECTRIC will save aU 
that hard work and bother! 



STARTING THE LETTER 

The HORTON is not expensive— you can better afford it than 
sacrifice your health and strength over the washtub. Or if you 
have a wash-woman, the HORTON will save two-thirds of her 
time, which she can give to your other work, — etc. 

Here the writer gets attention by suggesting a solu- 
tion for the most vexing problem of the housewife— the 
Monday washing. 

There are, of course, any number of other ways to 
create real interest— the kind of interest that will carry 
the reader through your descriptive paragraphs and 
lead him to the favorable consideration of your proposi- 
tion (page 75). Appeals to the pocket, to business or 
personal needs, to any one of the thousand matters that 
engage the interest of the normal man — all these are 
available. The field from which you may select is as 
broad as human nature itself, and as varied. 

But whatever method you choose, be sure that your 
appeal is to the reader's interest. The common error 
is to ramble along on a subject which is of interest to 
yourself, not to your prospective customer. 

Don't begin your letter by talking about yourself, 
your company, your business, your growth, your newly 
invested capital. The reader has not the faintest interest 
in you or your business, until he can see some connec- 
tion between it and his own welfare. By itself it makes 
no play whatever to his attention : it must first be coupled 
up with his problems and needs. 

Begin by talking about him, his company, his busi- 
ness, his needs, his ambition. Touch upon some vital 
need in his business— some tangle that is worrying him 
— some cherished ambition that haunts him— and you 
will have his interest.* 

We have now examined various specific means for 
arousing the interest of the reader. Sometimes, however, 
interest is secured without the use of such devices. This 
is especially true of letters written to progressive busi- 

*For further discussion of the "You Element'' in its rela- 
tion to the whole letter, see Chapter XVI. 



79 

A problem of 
the housewife 
is solved fiere 



Be sure that 
the appeal is 
to the read- 
er's interest 
— not yours 



Talk about 
his needs 
and problems 



80 

Letters which 
need no 
special 
device for 
aroueing 
interest 



A trade 
letter to a 
man in the 
trade 



Conclusion 









HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

ness men on matters concerning the conduct of their 
business. Such men are ready and eager to take ad- 
vantage of every improvement; they watch closely every 
new development in their field. In writing to an alert 
manufacturer, for example, about a new machine, a new 
attachment for use on his product, or even a staple 
material, immediate interest can be gained by bringing 
to his notice at once your leading point of superiority and 
explaining it tersely and attractively. 

If you are writing to an electric light man on the 
subject of a new incandescent lamp for use on his lines, 
get right down to cases: 

Dear Sir: 

An efficiency of one watt per candle is guaranteed for the 
Hilight Lamps, which efficiency is maintained through a guaran- 
teed life of 1,000 hours. 

The attached report of tests by the Electrical Testing Labora- 
tories will give you exact, detailed and unprejudiced information 
on this new unit, — etc. 

In letters of this sort the reader's interest is secured 
by strong explanation or description without the aid of 
special devices. Whether or not this method shall be 
used in any given letter will depend upon the nature of 
the proposition and the class of readers. But however 
interest is aroused, it must be there, in order that the 
reader may be induced to continue into the descriptive 
paragraphs. 



CHAPTER Vlir 



EXPLANATION-DESCRIBING 

THE PRODUCT 



i 



you have attracted attention ; you have won interest- 
articr^^^hir^^ ir P^^P^^^i^^ ^r describe you; 
easy. All one has to do is to tell about the goods - 

This sounds easy, does it not? One ha^ but to pro- 
duce a word-picture of a definite object or explain teiS 
a ervice which he offeiu Yet there is no ability C^ 
rare than that of translating a concrete article into 
words so that the reader can see that article vividly 
Before you can make the reader see the article you 

anl \T^% ''' '"'^^^' ''^ ^^^ ^' ^' from every 
evetnaS t '^ ^"^^^^^^^^ ^^il you understand 
every part. See how it works, just what it will do But 

IZl^LT!: "^f '^r'^^ ^'^^ ^"^^^« «f information. 

iUs and . .""^ 'r^ ^^^^* *^^ ^^ ^^*^^i-l^ what 
t IS, and how It IS obtained. Then trace this material 

through the factory go in per^n if possible-and S 

ten. TT "'f ^"^ '^' "^'^'^ ^^ *^e interesting 
steps m IS manufacture. All this will give you vivid 
detail hich will make your description'lifeSe anj 

tion all the details thus gathered, but every one of them 



Description 
is a difficult 
art 



First, study 
your article 
or 

proposition 
thoroughly 



U' 



82 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



Select your 

details 

caresfuUy 



For articles 
oj common 
use, concen- 
trate on 
points of 
superiority 



ThU letter 
emphasizes 
one feature 



helps to give you a complete picture of the article. With- 
out such a thorough knowledge, effective description is 
impossible. You cannot make your reader see the article 
vividly, if you yourself see it vaguely. 

You are now ready to begin your description. First, 
you must decide on what points to select from among 
the many that you have learned. The amount of detail 
that you need will depend upon the extent of the knowl- 
edge which you may presume your reader to have of the 

article. 

If you are selling something with which the reader 
may be expected to be fairly familiar, you will naturally 
slteht the commonly known details and concentrate on 
points of superiority, or on essentials. (In letters written 
to dealers about articles closely connected with their line 
of business, little detail is used. It is in such letters that 
description is found in its simplest form. Indeed, if the 
article is a staple, no actual description is usually needed ; 
a special low price or some other special advantage in 
buying is the only point that is emphasized.) If you are 
seUing a fountain pen, you will not need to describe the 
general construction or explain the principle of opera- 
tion You will perhaps tell ineidentaUy about the good 
material used in it, ite good writing qualities, etc.— the 
features that it has in common with other good pens- 
but you will emphasize the distinctive points of superi- 
ority One firm builds its description about a bent feed- 
stock which insures against leaking. Another dwells 
particularly upon an improved self-fiUing device. 

Also in the following letter, notice how the manu- 
facturer of a widely advertised breakfast food empha- 
sizes one essential point-the quality of the bran-in sell- 
ing orders by mail to retail grocers: 

Morning Feast is made of a special soft white 'J?"^ ™»«^ *J 

a pr"ess stoilar to that which is used f, "j^'^S^t^'^^h^e bran 
tLX /, :- ;i^i;/.;««a Moat bran is hard and gntty. ine ur»u 



a process similar to xn&i wmcu u. uo^^ "%^r^ ^*tv The bran 
rpiJl fl«vnr ia delicious. Most bran is hard and gntty. ine urau 



EXPLANATION AND DESCRIPTION 

On the other hand, if you are introducing a new 
article or are writing to people who you think know 
little about the goods you are selling, you must use more 
detail-you must describe the construction more fully 
and show with greater minuteness how the article works 
*or example: 

♦nrJ^'TfH"*^* sweeper has a number of new and novel fea- 
^^\ i"^' ' positive-driven, self acting brush which Is acta- 

suction ' ''^'^ '"^ "^ '="P'^'*y '^^ " exceptlonaUy powerful 

■uUe^heTel^^t-i^atXr' "^ •""" "' '"^^-^ ^ 
^^t.T^epa^^^Z^,t^^J* th. machine 

it in a 32S by itoeU. ^^^*""^ improvements which Vut 

fact that It was written, not to dealers, but to prospect- 
ive users who were, presumably, not very familiar with 
electric sweepers. 

v„„^»."^'Tl*''' f^"*'**^ P°'"** ^^'^ y^ description 
you should look at the proposition from the user's stand- 
point and present it in its final relation to that user 
A clever haberdasher never shows a scarf in the box." 
He takes it out and with a deft twist forms a four-in- 
hand oyer his finger, and the customer not only sees the 
^^-'^J°^^\^^<^y% and the play of light over the 
U 'mi'T^^''''* sees it in its relation to himself as 
It wUl look when worn. This should also be the ikea 

fh ^*?" fr '^*"'" "* ''^^ «« «»e salesman-to show 
the goods m their relation to the customer 



88 



More detail 
u needed for 
lessfamihar 
articles 



Choose your 
details from 
the reader's 
tieiepoint 



84 

Two 

examples of 
talcing the 
reader^s 
point of 
view 



Choose 
details that 
mil interest 
your 

particular 
class of 
readers 



Some 
examples 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 
A salt manufacturer carries out this idea: 

You know how ordinary table salt refuses to sift in ^^P 
weather, and when dry, cakes in the saltcellars like adamant. Our 
Xis dways dry and flaky, and it flowa freely on the danapest 
^y. It dois not corrode the metal top of a saltcellar as other 
salt often does in a moist atmosphere. 

And a maker of underwear also strikes home : 

Crown underwear lets your body breathe. A continuous cur- 
rent of fresh air passes through the holes in the fabric, cooling, 
cleaning, and stimulating the pores of the skin. 

Such description wins interest and even arouses de- 
sire because the reader feels its relation to himself. 

Moreover, the points to be emphasized should be 
chosen with reference to the class of readers to whom you 
are writing. In the case of articles of such general use 
as the two represented above, the interests of all readers 
wiU be practically identical. For many articles, how- 
ever, the points of interest will vary according to the 
needs of different classes of users. 

For instance, a gasoline engine has certain features 
that appeal to the farmer, others that make it suitable 
for the man who wants to use it in an automobile. In 
writing to the first class you will dwell especially on such 
points as its adaptability to pumping water and grinding 
feed ; in a letter to the other you will emphasize its com- 
pactness, lightness, and the speed which it will develop. 
Again, suppose you are selling motor boats. For the 
father of several small children who wants a boat for 
family use at his summer house, safety is the important 
consideration. For the young man with racing proclivi- 
ties, speed is the prime requisite. The writer of success- 
fiU sales descriptions will keep these differences in mind, 
and adapt his descriptions to the particular class of 
readers to whom he is writing. 

Make the description specific. Vague generalities 
like **the best on earth,'* ** above competition," and 
** secret process of manufacture'' carry no conviction. 
Avoid extravagances, vain claims, and superlatives. It 



Make the 

description 

specific: 

generalities 

mean 

nothing 



EXPLANATION AND DESCRIPTION 85 

may be true that your product is the ''best on earth," 
but it will take a good presentation of that fact or a 
specific explanation of at least one point of superiority 
to make a stranger believe it. See the difference be- 
tween these two descriptions: 

This tobacco ia absolutely without question the finest smoking 
tobacco on the market today. This statement will be substantiated 
by tens of thousands of smokers. 

Compare with : 

To appreciate the difference between Royal Mixture and the ^ general 
"others,'' just put a little of it on a sheet of white paper by the j^^f,j,ir)tion 
side of a pinch from a package of any other smoking tobacco aescripiwn 
manufactured. You won't need a microscope to see the difference maae 
in quality. Smoke a pipeful, and you wiU quickly notice how specvfic 
different in mellowness, richness and natural flavor Eoyal Mixture 
is from the store-bought kind. ... 

Eoyal Mixture is all pure tobacco, and the cleanest, best- 
cured and finest leaf that the famous Piedmont section of North 
Carolina can produce. 

The following is another example of weak descrip- 
tion. It is not, however, so hopelessly general as the 
first one cited above, for it has some specific detail : 

Buy our hams once, and you will buy them always. All our 
meat is from young hogs, and is not tough, but is high grade. 
Nothing but corn-fed stock is used. We guarantee the quality. 
We use good sugar in curing our hams, the best quality of salt- 
peter, and some salt. The result is a natural flavor that can 't be 
beat. We challenge competition. 

But compare it with the same description rewritten 

with a wealth of concrete details : 

This trade-mark certifies that the hog came f lom good stock— 
that it was corn-fed in order that it might be firm and sweet— AjiQiJi^f 
that it was a barrow hog, so that the meat would be full-flavored i 

and juicy— that it was a young hog, making the ham thin-skinned example 
and tender — that it was well-conditioned and fat, insuring the 
lean of the ham to be tasty and nutritious. The mark certifies 
that the ham was cured in a liquor nearly good enough to drink, 
made of granulated sugar, pure saltpeter, and only a very little 
salt; this brings out all the fine, rich, natural flavor of the care- 
fully selected meat, and preserves it without salty pickling. 

Clothe your description in attractive and original 

phraseology. Avoid worn-out, colorless expressions ; seek 

for those that are new and striking. For example, two 

writers, in letters selling acetylene gas plants, wish to 






< 



86 

Use 

attractive 
and original 
phraseology 



A new way 
to express 
an old idea 



i : i 



A "rtfresh- 
ing" descrip- 
tion 



mi 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

explain that the gas is harmless. One makes the obvious 
and commonplace statement: ** Acetylene gas is harm- 
less, and may be breathed without injury." The other 
is more original; he writes: 

Tour home paper win print your obituary in the next issue— 
rf you ever ''blow out the gas'' when you visit your cousin in the 
city. But when your city cousin comes to your country home, he 

SV'iaThe' it aTnighf'^^^ ^ ^^'^ *°^ '' "^^ '* ^"^ ^^ * ^'* 

Which statement drives home the point ? Which is 
more likely to make you buy 1 

Again take so simple a tool as a tap. All one can 
say about it, apparently, is that it is well made of the 
best steel, and carefully tempered. Everybody who ever 
wrote a letter on these tools said the same thing in the 
same words, until a New England manufacturer tried his 
hand. In describing the goods he said : 

You could forge' a first class razor from one of our taps, and 
the razor would cut smooth and clean for the same reason that 
the tap does— 'twould have the right stuff in it 

He does not say that his tap is made from razor steel 
(that would be commonplace), but that you could make 
a razor from one of his taps (this is distinctive). And 
then instead of a lot of hackneyed phrases designed to 
convince the reader that this steel is the best on earth, 
he states succinctly that his tap has ''the right stuff in 
it. " He simply takes a fresh viewpoint— has the courage 
to use unexpected words. 

Likewise, a real estate promoter might have said: 
''This suburb is supplied with pure, cold water from a 
spring.*' Instead, this promoter wrote: 

Prwh Spring Water, so pure and delicious that it is bottled 
and sold, is piped through aU the streets. Just think of that aj 
compared with having to buy your table water, or to drink Croton 
water unsatisfactorily filtered! 

Sometimes whole paragraphs of description may be 
crystallized into a single suggestion of comparison ; thus : 

The Bell refrigerator is as finely finished as the most expensive 
piano. ^ 



EXPLANATION AND DESCRIPTION 

A furniture maker ^ves me a distinct impression of 
the quality of his goods when he says : 

There is as much difference between the oak used in ordinary 
furniture and the selected quarter-sawed white oak we use in ours, 
as there is between laundry soap and a cake of scented Pears. 

And still another puts a wealth of suggestion into his 

letter by saying: 

Nothing will effectually take the place of the good old cedar 
chest, with its clean, sweet, pungent aroma so dear to the heart of 
the old-fashioned housewife. 



87 

Effective 
description 
by means of 
suggestion 



Value of 

descriptive 

enclosures 



Sometimes descriptive enclosures, such as circulars, 
leaflets, sheets of specifications, and samples, are used 
to help in describing the article. Samples are always a 
valuable aid to description: they enable the reader 
actually to see and handle parts of the article. Wher- 
ever possible, all these enclosures should be small enough 
to enclose in the same envelope with the letter, for then 
the reader can refer to them while the interest aroused 
by the letter is at its height. 

Frequently, most of the description is given in a cir- 
cular or leaflet. Indeed, when the description is com- 
plicated and requires many details, it should always be 
placed there, and not in the letter itself. Then an illus- 
tration or diagram may be used to give a more definite 
picture. But even when this is done, the letter should 
describe briefly one or two of the more important features 
of the article, and should definitely call the attention of 
the reader to the circular. In your letter concentrate on 
getting the reader interested in these essential pointa 
Do that, and you may depend upon his going to the cir- 
cular for details. 

Finally, it must be remembered that the object of Conclusum 
every sales-letter description is to make the reader both 
understand and desire the goods. It is not enough merely 
to tell about what you have for sale. You must tell it in 
a sales-making manner. Make the reader see the article 
clearly, and make him see it in relation to his needs. 



CHAPTER IX 



PROVING YOUR CLAIMS 



Every sales 
claim in a 
letter must he 
proved 



A free trial 
is convincing 
proof 



I T IS a principle in law that a man is innocent until 
* proved ^Ity. It is a principle in business that a 
sales claim is false or exaggerated until it is proved con- 
servative and true. In either event, the work of proving 
a case is a hard one, and caUs for keen thought and 
a wide knowledge of human nature. 

Cold, hard logic, and cold, hard facts— these alone 
will win. **Brag" and rash claims will spell failure. 

When you have explained your proposition in a sales 
letter, you must prove your words. It is not enough to 
express your own personal convictions; it is not enough 
to give hearsay evidence or second-hand testimonials. 
You must prove your claims, and quickly. 

Of course, many times the only way to prove that an 
article is all that you say it is, is for me to get it and 
try It. Suppose I am thinking of buying a mattress and 
the dealer writes to me : 

fnrth^^n^*"r^ ""? ?T/ °'^*' P*^^» ««* ^a^d w lumpy, and 
IT^TT' '\'^ ,f ^solutely non-absorbent, dust-proof, vermL. 
proof, and practically un-wear-out-able. r , uxxu 

Now if all this is true, that is the kind of mattress I 
want ; and to prove to me that these claims are true, the 
writer goes on to say : 






ARGUMENT AND PROOF 

^Uemember, we seU on the complete understanding that if the 
mattress is not perfectly satisfactory, it can be retwned at our 
expense, and your money wiU be promptly refunded. 

I reason instantly that if the writer of that letter 
wasn^t able to prove his arguments by delivering the 
goods as exploited, he would never dare to make an 
offer like this. I know from experience that a plain, 
hard-hitting talk like this means truth. 

Similar proof is offered in the following : 

«,a^?no''**i* *?^ *H* because the price is small, my cigars are 
ri .nJt''^^?K ""^ i^^^'^P ^^^''*»- ^^^«^ a sample 100, cut 
Tln7in %°n *^r !j;o"^ end to end, and if the leaves are not 
all good long filler, I will refund your money. 

A maker of refrigerators proves that his goods are 
quality stock, too, when he says: 

If I could only take you through our factory so you could see 
what goes into the ''Morton^' and how it is put in~tiie care and 

l^ZZfff.-l'rf' ^ l^'llS^^^'or that wil?last a Uf et me! you 
would not hesitate to make the investment. 

^ This is not absolute proof, but it is convincing, for 
It makes the reader feel that the manufacturer is willing 
to have him come to the factory, and he is therefore 
ready to believe that if he did go, he would find the con- 
ditions just as described. 

A varnish manufacturer sends along a sample panel 
finished with his varnish, and writes: 



89 

Money hack 
if trial is UH' 
satisfactory 



An indirect 
proof 



Give this panel the most thorough test possible—stamD on it 
You IT^fZf'fu^ ^.^ " ^r^^V '^^^^ hold VS'Z light 
h^n^t b^n%*rtkeT'"^' ^'" '^^^ ''**°*^' *^« ^''^' *^« ---^ 

A paper manufacturer is even more successful when 
he says: 

Yon can prove the excellence of our word in a second- in«f 
D^^^se^tT/tL^"^. ^^^ '^"^^'^ *^«° ^^ a comer off ^e of* your 
C^o^*^You fiLT ^1" ^^y'^S glaas and exaUe Ch 

J'o™ sIsTibJrie^t! woo V^ ^'^^^'^-^'^ «""' -^^« - 

The man who reads this learns something new about 
paper. He learns how to judge it intelligently-and in 
doing this, he learns what the writer wished him to 
know about his bond. 



Proof 
furnished 
hy samples 
enclosed 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



Proefwitu 

atUntionand 

itiUrest 



Pertutuionr-' 
wUnimum cost 



I 
f 



,. 



Pernuuion — 

opportunity 

pwturti 



Dear Mr. Hunt: 

There's a bank here in Chicago 

— not much larger than yours — 
that secured over 280 new savings 
depositors last month 1 And secured 
them, mind you, on the sole strength 
of business-getting circular letters 

— without the aid of a single per- 
sonal solicitor. 

That's why this letter is as 
vital to you as though it were a cer- 
tified check. For it tells about a 
concise, WONDERFULLY PRACTICAL little 
book that will show you how to write 
the same kind of letters that brought 
this business for the Chicago bank 

— and how you cam get this same 
book for less than you often pay for 
a mere hajidful of good cigars. 

Think of the hundreds of money, 
earners — the thrifty, ambitious 
young men and women, right in your 
own immediate locality — who ought 
to open up savings accounts. If you 
had them all together in your private 
office — where you could talk to 
them as man to man — it would -be no 
trick to secure a big proportion of 
them. 



MAKING YOUR LETTER CONVINCE THE PROSPECT 

In this strong and convincing letter persuasion and proof prevail from the 
opening sentence through to the clinching close. The letter talks straight out, like 
a salesman on the firing-line. Proof is offered at the start, and interest held 
largely by showing how somebody else has solved your problem. By looking into 



::hi|i 



ARGUMENT AND PROOF 



Of course, you can't do this. 
But why not do as the Royal Trust 
Company did? Why not go to THEM? 
Why not put before them the strong 
advantages your bank offers, through 
sincere, heart-to-heart, straight- 
from-the-shoulder letters — '• letters 
that breathe the same ENTHUSIASM, 
the same earnestness and personality 
that you yourself would use in a 
personal talk? 

That is just what this book 
will show you how to do, because it 

gives you plain, simple, practical 
ints on the every-day use of words 
and live vital principles underlying 
the art of convincing writing. 

And mind you, this banker's 
collection course in business English 
•— boiled down to pigeon-hole size 
— costs less than a couple of the- 
atre tickets. $2 brings the book 
to your own desk — and if you do 
not feel that it is worth at least 
half a dozen times this amount, you 
can have your money back for the 
Sf?f}"?- Simply wrap a two dollar 
Dill in this letter and mail today. 

Yours very truly. 



m 



91 



Proof and 
pernuaion 



Method 
explained 



ExplancAion 



Indtu^ment and 
proof 



Clindur 



II 



the problem from the reader's point of view, the writer arouses interest^ and drives 
home his argument with conviction. When proof, persuasion, explanation and 
inducement are combined with the sincerity and enthusiasm apparent in this letter, 
the prospect is carried word by word to the end of what at first may look like a 
lengthy communication. This letter waa unusually successful in bringing in 
business for a publishing house. 



92 

Simple testa 
suggested as 
proof 



Proof by 
reference to 
authorities 



Scientific 
proof 




HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

Similarly, a paint manufacturer encloses with his 
sales letter a small folder showing how to test the purity 
of paint; a clothing manufacturer explains how to dis- 
tinguish all-wool goods from the half-cotton product 
offered in substitution; a maker of acetylene gas light- 
ing outfits proves the simplicity and safety of this gas — 
which is popularly supposed to be dangerous in the ex- 
treme — ^by describing how anyone may make acetylene 
gas with an ordinary tumbler and common clay pipe. 
Such proof, sometimes applied in a most indirect man- 
ner, is wholly convincing. Not the least part of its value 
lies in the fact that it is instructive. The reader feels 
that he is learning a trick of the other man*s trade. 

Another simple expedient is referring for corrobora- 
tion to standard works of reference, to friends of the 
reader, or to specialists in any line. **As any chemist 
will tell you,'* is effective. Or we may say: ** Consult 
your banker as to the solid value of these bonds : he may 
have others he would prefer to sell you, but he will not 
fail to endorse these.'* Nine times in ten the reader will 
never carry the matter further; he accepts your state- 
ment merely because you are willing he should take dis- 
interested advice. 

A well-known glass company which manufactures 
scientific reflectors for all classes of interior lighting uses 
photometric curves, prepared by the most eminent inde- 
pendent authority, to establish its claims. Perhaps not 
half of those who receive this evidence are able to read 
or understand a photometric curve, but the very fact that 
impartial evidence is offered as proof iS enough to win 
the prospective customer's confidence. 

Direct and complete testimonials are also strong 
proof, but the use of these by patent medicine adver- 
tisers, and the numerous stories current as to the trickery 
and unfair means used to secure them, make the testi- 
monial a two-edged weapon which must be handled skil- 
fully to be effective. 



t* : ' 



ARGUMENT AND PROOF 



93 



A testimonial in which names and addresses are 
omitted is prima facie evidence of insincerity— or worse. 
For instance, the writer who refers to "A well-known 
lawyer in this city, whose name we are not permitted to 
use " invites suspicion. On the other hand, 

'*'John Hays Smith, publisher of the Age, 138 West 
42nd St., New York, says:" is sincere. 

**We are permitted to quote the following from a 
letter by Mrs. Albert Ross, president of the Woman's 
League, 462 Woodward Ave., Detroit," rings true. 

The name should be well known ; the title, if any, 
expressed at length ; the addresses given in full. 

Also the testimonial that carries conviction must be 
specific in its statements. One that merely says, *'I am 
very much pleased with your machine, ' ' has little weight ; 
but one that testifies, *'By installing your system of 
lighting, we saved a thousand dollars in one year," gives 
convincing evidence of value. 

Similar to the testimonial is the reference to an 
order from a prominent firm. The announcement that 
** Marshall Field & Company have just purchased 
twenty-five more of our adding machines," backs up the 
quality of the goods with all of that firm's reputation 
for using efficient equipment. 

Another variation of the direct testimonial is the 
list of satisfied users. Such a list, especially if it is made 
up of names of well-known people, is valuable proof. 

Obviously, some kinds of proof cannot be made a 
part of the letter itself. Long testimonials, or a number 
of them, extensive citations of expert opinion, or any 
device that requires much space should be given in an 
enclosed circular or leaflet. When this is done, how- 
ever, the letter itself should be connected up with the 
enclosure by definite reference to the most important 

points. , J. 1 XX 

Finally, one of the best proofs of the truth of a letter 
is the tone of sincerity which pervades it. A letter will 



Testi^ 
menials: 
their use 
and misuse 



I 



Modified 
forms of 
testimonials 



Proof 

presented in 
enclosures 




Ill 



A tone of 
nncerUy U 
ayaluable 
aid to proof 



Cause of 

insincerUy 

intone 



The remedy: 
how to make 
your letter 
sincere 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

get returns if it is sincere, and these returns wiU be 

permanent. But a letter of half-truths, a letter which 

betrays your unbelief or evidences your effort to befoir 

or mislead your reader, will produce nothing but trouble 

It may bring results, but not the kind of resulte that 

90 and 91 is the kind that brings the results a firm do^^ 
want. 

Lack of sincerity in a letter does not necessarily arirue 
dishonesty in the writer. Rather, it indicates a wronL 
point of view toward the trade. We form the habit 
of Taewing our customers in the mass instead of as in- 
dividuals. In the petty annoyances of daUy detail we 
grow impatient of their seeming stupidity, their m'ean- 
nes^ their constant complaints, their attempt* to take 
small advantages. And then, when we sit down to write 
a letter, we address a composite being having Hiese un- 
welcome characteristics. 

For myself, the only sure guide for writing a sincere 
and effectave letter is to picture it as going to some 
shrewd kindly, wise, David Harum sort of individual 
wh<«e keen insight tests every word and statement by 
the light of long experience. I know that evasions and 
twisted half-truths will not escape the eye of that man 
Try this plan for yourself. Think of this man as 
youwntft Try to convince him. And as you hope to do 
that, make your letter sincere. Be honest Be frank. 
Be straightforward-above-board-guileless. Prom the 
date-line at the top of your letter to the stenographer's 
hieroglyphics at the bottom, let every word, phrase, sen- 
tence, and paragraph impress your reader as beins 
whoUy and unreservedly "on the level" 



CHAPTER X 



PERSUADING THE PROSPECT 

TO BUY 



You have now given proof of the qualify of your 
article and of the benefit which other men have 
derived from owning it and using it. This, however, is 
not enough to make the reader feel that he ought to own 
it Suppose, for example, that you are trying to seU 
him an automatic revolver. He may agree that it is an 
exeeUent weapon, and he may trust the statements of 
a dozen men that they would not be without it. It, How- 
ever he has never been in a position where be needed a 
revolver and does not anticipate being in such a position, 
he has no desire to own one. You must make him see 
that he does need this weapon, that it is carel^ness or 
folly not to have it. When you thus bring it mto re^- 
tion to his own needs, he is ready to buy. To make the 
reader see his need of the article you are offering-to 
make him want to own it^is the purpose of persuasion 

in the sales letter. , * j 

Persuasion is of two types: first, exhortation; and 
second, a convincing presentation of the benefits to be 
derived from the possession of the article. The first type 
should be used sparingly, and in some lines of busmess 
is almost never employed. The second type is a promi- 
nent element in every successful sales letter. It per- 



Perstuufion 
thotosthe 
reader hi* 
need for ^ 
your article 



TtDO tyj>es o/ 
persuasion 



% 




II 



First type: 
exhortation 
— too inti' 
mate for 
general use 



The effect of 
the wrong 
use of 
exhortation 



Exhortation 
must be 
tactfully 
worded and 
sparingly 
used 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

vades the whole letter: it is the keynote of the interest- 
arousing device ; it directs the choice of points in the 
description; and it is behind the special inducement. 
In addition, a separate paragraph of direct persuasion 
IS sometimes added ; but this is not always necessary. 

TJie use of persuasion by exhortation involves a cer- 
tarn intimacy at which it is difficult to arrive in business 
Before we dare employ it, we must know that our standi 
mg with our prospective customer is such that he will 
not resent our placing a paternal hand on his knee and 
talking to him -for his own good.- Unless we have 
attained this degree of intimacy, exhortation is likely to 
prove a dangerous weapon. 

Nothing is better calculated to stir the ire and call 
forth the contempt of a big, busy, self-sufficient business 
man than to be asked, -Can you afford to be without 
this great boon another day?'' -Will you let your 
prejudice stand between you and future wealth ?''-^nd 
similar exhortation. Nothing will so quickly freeze your 
prospective client into glacial indifference as, -Will your 
stockholders approve of your rejecting this dividend- 
producing offer?- Yet these phrases and dozens of 
the same sort have been used, and used by men whose 
familiarity with their own work has allowed them to 
become familiar with their customers. 

When tactfully worded, and employed in the right 
place, exhortation has its legitimate use. -Can you 
afford to permit a competitor to gain control of this 
profitable line?- is persuasion to a merchant. -Cer- 
tainly your boy should have the best ! - is a strong appeal 
to a mother. On the other hand, to tell a man that he 
IS damagmg his business by ignoring your offer, or to tell 
a woman that she is not treating her offspring right by 
refusmg to equip them at Jones' Emporium, may be 
untrue, and certainly is lacking in tact. 

But use it sparingly always-and remember that in 
some lines of business it has no place at aU. Insurance, 



Second type: 
showing the 
prospect how 
he will he 
benefited 



PERSUASION 97 

business instruction, banking by mail, building and 
loan propositions, and other lines where the prosperity 
and comfort of clients are at issue, lend themselves to 
sale by exhortation. Commodities of daily business are 
best presented without it. 

The second type of persuasion is more effective. It 
endeavors to present the proposition to the customer in 
such an alluring way that he wants to take advantage of 
your offer. It tactfully points out the benefits which he 
will derive from it, the gain that will be his; and shows 
just how the proposition is adapted to his particular 
needs. A good example is shown on page 98. Notice the 
contrast with the letter on page 99. Such persuasion 
appears in some form in every sales letter. 

Here is the way a business school uses this type : 

Think of those times when you have yearned for a future — 
when you have grown impatient with the barriers that seem to 
hold you down to such a narrow sphere of life — ^when you hear of 
the career of some acquaintance whom you know to be no more 
capable than you. It is a matter of developed opportunity. 

Our instruction perfects you in a profession that is golden 
with opportunity. It fits you for success anywhere. Would you 
like to make your residence in busy, cosmopolitan New Yorkt 
Would you like to live in some quaint old southern town like New 
Orleans? Would you like some bustling western city like Kansas 
City or San Francisco? Would you like to live in a quiet old 
national capital — ^Washington ? 

The profession we will train you for, will enable you to 
choose your own location — there is unlimited demand for it every- 
where. Will you not let me show you how you may reach out 
and grasp this opportunity? 

Another business school also got this idea when it 

wrote: 

Nearly every man can look back — and not so far back either 

for most of us — and say, * * If I had taken that chance, I would be These show 

much better off now.*' That is what you will say some day not |7^^-,,-/^L 

far off, if you fail to consider seriously what we have offered you «*^y«^"'"^'2f 

in our law courses, for our proposition means just what I have "^^ the 

said — a bigger earning capacity, a better position and standing, reader wiU 

and brighter prospects in life. gain 

The preceding illustrations name definitely the bene- 
fits to be derived by the reader from the proposition 
offered in the letter. Sometimes only a suggestion of 



Two 

examples 
from letters 
of business 
schools 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



Urges earful 
reading cf 
catalogue 



inter eH 



Pemuuion 



Indueement 



Clinehef 



14 f 



L 



Dear Sir: 

Put a Silver-side Cemoe through any 
test that you wish, and it will live up to 
your expectations. Pick out any oanoe you 
like from the enclosed catalogue and get 
your share of the canoeing fun. Don't miss 
a day. Silver-side Canoes are built for 
service and pleasure. 

They take to the waters where they are 
used. Just like a duck. Experienced 
fishermen, hunters, guides, and scouts 
require Silver-side Canoes for their ex- 
cursions, because the selection of their 
equipment is never left to chance and they 
know that a Silver-side Canoe never balks. 

With a canoe you can enjoy the water- 
ways near your home, and get the boon of 
health and recreation which nature mesins 
that all of us shall have. Canoeing takes 
you out into the great open air and brings 
you back refreshed and eager to go again. 

Silver-side C£Lnoes are low-priced, and 
they will last for years. Their first cost 
gives you an outfit ready for use and with 
no further expense. Remember, we pay the 
freight this side of Denver. 

Buy now and lose no time when the sea- 
son opens. We ship the day the order reaches 
us, and the railroads can now deliver with 
unusual speed. We have had long experience 
in making and using canoes; so if you are 
undecided which style of canoe to choose, 
write to us on the enclosed blank for 
suggestions. 

Yours truly. 



PERSUASION THAT WINS PROMPT ACTION 

Here is a good reply to an inquiry. It is calculated to win the inquirer's 
personal interest and prompt his immediate action, by an attractive presentation 
of the pleasures of canoeing, and the superior quality of the Silver-side canoe. 
This makes a strong persuasive appeal. 



V 



/ 



PERSUASION 



Dear Sir: 

Agreeable to your recent 
request for a catalogue of our 
school and information regard- 
ing our business courses, we 
wish to state that under separate 
cover we are mailing you a copy 
of our latest catalogue, in 
which you will find complete 
description of what we have to 
offer. We hope that after read- 
ing this, you will decide to 
enroll with us. 

Holding ourselves at your 
disposal for any additional in- 
formation you may require, and 
thanking you for the inquiry, 
we trust to have an acknowledg- 
ment from you on receipt of the 
catalogue in order to know that 
it reached you safely, and 
awaiting your further commands, 
we remain 

Very truly yours. 



Tooformal 



Laekeealee 
value 



Prompteno 
aduw 



WHY A SALES LETTER OFTEN MISSES THE MARK 

This is an actual letter of the type too often used in replying to an inquiry. 
Here the prospect is merely referred to the catalogue, and the letter serves only 
aa a too formal acknowledgment, absolutely wanting in sales value. Commonplace 
phrases and words serve only to make the letter more objectionable. 



!! 






« 



m 



U 




100 



A suggestion 
of benefits 
is often 
effective 



Examples of 
persuasion 
by sugges' 
iion 



Frequently, 
persuasion 
is combined 
with other 
elements 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

these benefits furnishes sufficient persuasion. A promi* 
nent ladies' tailor used this idea effectively when he 
wrote: 

I ain sure, madam, that if you could see yourself in one of 
these suits, you would acknowledge its perfect fit and exceptional 
finish. 

Here is only a suggestion. The active persuasion is 
left to the imagination, which, picturing a desirable 
result, can be counted upon to overcome the objections 
of the reader. 

A watch manufacturer makes good use of suggestion 
in this way: 

You probably do not buy a watch with the idea of selling 
it again; yet that is a pretty good test of value. If you want to 
know the standing of , try to buy one at second hand. 

Another case is that of a piano agency which has 
done a large business in the East, chiefly through sales- 
letters written by the head of the firm. One argument 
presented was: 

Talk this proposition over with your husband. As a business 
man, he will be able to guide you in business matters. The choice 
of the instrument can be left to you safely. 

For letters in some lines of business these separate 
paragraphs of persuasion, even of the suggestive form, 
are too familiar. In such cases the persuasive appeal 
must be kept in the background and brought in inci- 
dentally by combining it with the other elements of the 
letter. For example, the beginning of the letter which 
states the troubles of the employing printer (see p. 78) 
not only arouses his interest but also suggests his need 
of the remedy which the letter offers— that is, it con- 
tains the element of persuasion. So does the beginning 
given on p. 73: **YouVe got to have more money." 
We have also seen that we choose the points in our 
description from the standpoint of the reader's needs 
(see p. 83). That also is persuasion disguised as a 
part of description. Likewise, the special inducement 
which will be discussed in the next chapter, gathers up 



V' 



PERSUASION 

and reinforces all the persuasive appeals in the letter, 
and seeks to turn them into immediate action. 

Thus, persuasion is an essential element in every 
sales letter. Sometimes exhortation is effective, but it 
is too familiar and intimate in tone for frequent or uni- 
versal use. Persuasion of the second type— that which 
makes the reader realize his need of the article— is 
always present. In some letters a separate paragraph 
is devoted to it, but this method also is often too familiar. 
In such a case the persuasion is combined with the other 
elements. No definite rule can be given to guide the 
writer in his choice of the method to use. He must 
decide according to the conditions involved in each in- 
dividual case. But before using the more intimate 
forms, he should be sure that his relations with the 
reader warrant such familiarity. Persuasion should 
never be made intrusive ; the reader should not be made 
to feel that the writer is trying to force him to act. 

This chapter may fittingly be concluded with a warn- 
ing against a practice all too common among correspond- 
ents: don't try to persuade a man to answer your letter 
by assuming an attitude of injury. If a man writes 
to you for information about the article you have for 
sale, or requests the sample or booklet you offer to give 
away free, don't think you can make him send you 
money by causing him to feel that he is indebted to you 
for sending him what you agreed to, free of all charges. 
Don't dictate, or attempt to force him to do business 
with you. Any letter a man writes you because he 
thinks he has to, isn't worth the stamp that carries it. 
Here, for example, is the way one finn begins a letter 
which it expects to win customers : 

Did you ever have the unpleasant experience of addressinff a 
person upon a subject, without even being accorded the courtesy 
of f reply— or worse still, did you ever answer anyone's questions, 
to the best of your ability, without receiving a word in return for 
your time or trouble! If you have had either one or both of these 
experiences, you will understand how we feel because you haven't 
answered our letters. 



101 



Summary of 

preceding 

points 



A warning 
against 
a common 
fault 



An example 
of an *'in'- 
jured dig^ 
nity'^ Utter 



102 

How such a 
letter a^ecti 
the reader 



Abetter 
method 



I 

'iS 



Peretuuion 
prepares the 
way for the 
indiicement 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

That is only the beginning of this wailing and gnash- 
ing-of -teeth letter. The first thing the young man who 
received this letter said was, ''My, look at the raking 
over these fellows are giving me, simply because I 
accepted their invitation to investigate their article. I 
didn't find it what I wanted; so what was the use of 

writing?" 

Antagonism is the first product of such a letter. 
Instead of going after a prospect as though he had com- 
mitted a sin, it would have been a hundred per cent more 
profitable to have continued the follow-up with a letter 
showing the prospect in a new way that the article was 
what he needed and wanted. 

Whether its immediate object is to get a reply to a 
letter or to make a sale, persuasion must not attempt to 
force a decision. It must not antagonize the reader. It 
must put him in the proper frame of mind to consider 
the proposition favorably. If it does that, and leads hiri 
to see the value of the proposition to himself, it has per- 
formed its work. Then a little additional inducement 
ought to lead the prospect over the line and into the 
ranks of the buyers. 



CHAPTER XI 



fc 



WHAT INDUCEMENTS TO 

OFFER 



SKILFUL description, inoontestable proof, and con- 
vincing persuasion will, in some eases, land tht 
order, but frequently these need to be reinforced by 
some inducement that hastens the act of buying. The 
letter without an inducement may convince a man that 
the goods for sale are desirable and that they are suited 
to his personal needs, but it leaves a loophole for pro- 
crastination. 

Your own experience is proof of this. You have 
probably determined to buy mesh underwear, insured 
SOX, a dozen magazines, a piano player, and an auto- 
mobile — some time. You are convinced of their good 
points, you know that you want them, and you have 
the price. All that is necessary is the proper induce- 
ment — ^the galvanic spark which will quicken into life 
this latent desire. And so it is with your customers. 

Gain is at the bottom of all inducements. Gain is the 
root of all business action. But gain is not always a 
matter of dollars and cents. Besides the gain in ** Spe- 
cial price for a few days;*' the gain in the ** Special re- 
duction, if you send your dealer's name," and the gain 
in the free sample, there is also the subtie suggestion of 
gain in ''This may change the entire course of your 



Inducement 

reinforces 

persuasion 



Inducement 
means 
showing 
gain 



104 



Inducement 
is more 
dynamic 
than 
persuasion 



Various 
kinds of 
inducement: 

**Limited 

supply** 

warning 



An effective 
example 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

life;'* in ''Information that may save you hours of un- 
certainty;'' and dozens of others that do not represent 
anything tangible, but mean gain, just the same. 

Thus, the inducement has much in common with per- 
suasion. Both are based on gain, on the good to be 
derived from the possession of the article. But the in- 
ducement is more dynamic: its purpose is to focus the 
attention of the reader on the necessity of making sure 
of the gain by immediate action — ^by accepting the 
offer now. 

Inducements are as various as sunsets. A familiar 
one is the warning that only a limited supply of the 
goods is available. A book publisher uses this effec- 
tively by giving exact figures on the number of copies 
of certain books that he is able to supply : 

In six weeks more our contract with the author expires. 
Three times we have been forced to renew this contract; three 
times we have ceased all book advertising; and still the orders 
have continued to pile in so heavily that another arrangement 
with Mr. was imperative. 

Of the 30,000 sets we have printed altogether, there are now 
about 149 in the stockroom, and 1,000 more are going through 
the bindery. If you had seen the orders streaming in at a 200-a- 
day clip at the termination of other contracts, you would realize 
how quickly these 1,149 sets will melt away. While we still have 
books on hand, I want them to go to our own old customers. I 
cannot, of course, discriminate against outsiders; I must fill the 
orders as they come in. But I can urge you to speak for your 
set now. 

This is perhaps rather long and detailed for general 
use. A similar inducement in briefer form follows : 

We have just 146 sets of these books to sell at $18.50. When 
the new edition is in, it will be impossible to get a set at less than 
$25. The old edition is just as good as the new, but we are entirely 
out of circular matter describing the green cloth binding, and as 
we don 't want to print a new lot of circulars just to sell 146 sets, 
we make this unusual offer. Now is your chance. 

Reduced price is another common inducement. In 
the preceding illustration this is combined with the 
'* limited supply" warning. When a reduced price is 
offered, a good reason for it should be given, for other- 
wise the reader is likely to be suspicious of the quality of 



INDUCEMENT 



105 



Dear Mr. Wilson: 

It is just a year since I sent you 
that memorable letter about the Crown Cal- 
culator. When that letter was written. I had 
an unknown, unheard-of appliance to tell 
you about. Today nearly 5,000 of these 
machines are in everyday use. 

In great business offices all over the 
land, in stores, in factories, the Crown is 
saving time, money, and errors in clerical 
labor. It is no longer an experiment. 

I don't know why you have been silent 
during these twelve months. But whatever 
has prevented you from trying this machine, 
I want to permit you to place this calcula- 
tor in your office and try it. 

So I am making you this offer — an 
offer so fair and broad that even if you 
had made it yourself you could not have 
made the conditions fairer. It is no longer 
a question of whether the machine is really 
practical. It is no longer a question of 
whether or not you can afford it — for 
under the new offer, YOU PAY FOR THE MACHINE 
AS IT PAYS FOR ITSELF. 

Read the offer through. Only a quarter a 
day places the Crown in your office AT ONCE. 
The first payment of $5 enables you to put 
the machine into immediate money-saving, 
money-making use. And the balance you have 
nearly a whole year to pay. 

I have attached a convenient coupon to 
the circular enclosed. Simply sign this 
coupon — enclose it in an envelope with a 
S5 bill, and mail it to me — AT MY RISK. 
Your name is enough security for me. The 
Crown will go forward, all transportation 
charges fully prepaid. 

Yours very truly. 



Natural 
Bxpretnon 



Proof 



Inducernent and 
proof 



Inducement 
mingled with 
persuaeion and 
proof 



Inducement 



Clincher mxik' 
ing ordering 
easy 



STRONG INDUCEMENT NATURALLY EXPRESSED 

Whether the inducement is large or small, it should be clearly understood. 
Therefore the inducement should be stated in the most natural way possible. 
Here the inducement wins the reader's entire confidence. The offer is stated bo 
clearly that there is little chance for subsequent misunderstanding. 





106 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



Eliminating 
Offjteticns 



Relains interest 
btf leading 
direetly to offer 



Ordering made 
§aeif 



I 



Dear Sir: 

Why have you not sent us YOUR subscrip- 
tion to PROFITS? 

It cannot be the price — $1 — for you would 
gladly give many times that amount for 
the ide£ts that a single issue of 
PROFITS will bring. 

It cannot be the want of time— for a mere 
stroke of the pen would place your 
name on PROFITS' mailing list. 

It cannot be that you are not interested — 
for who ever heard of a business man 
who did not want his business, his 
efficiency, his income to grow? 

It cannot be the lack of opportunity — for we 
have written you five letters, giving 
you five opportunities. 

But we write once again. Will you give 
yourself a chance to learn what PROFITS is 
accomplishing for you even while you are 
keeping it from your desk? 

Your choice of any ONE of the remark- 
able series of business books described in 
the enclosed folder I That's the offer. 

Bear in mind: one book FREE with your 
renewal! And every idea in every volume 
is specific, practical. USABLE — ^written by 
experts. Here are correct, definite, de- 
tailed solutions for those business prob- 
lems that so long have vexed you. 

Run your finger down the nine titles. 
Pick out the book YOU need. Mark your' 
choice and send with a $1 bill TODAY. 

We will not only send you PROFITS for 
the next twelve months, but will also 
forward you, absolutely free, even trans- 

? or tat ion charges prepaid, the book that 
OU choose. This is a fair offer. 

Yours very truly. 



AN INDUCEMENT THAT PULLED MANY ORDERS 

This follow-np letter has been successful in pulling ti large number of 
orders. Without the slightest suggestion of apology, it condenses the arguments 
that have gone before and then offers the prospect an attractive inducement as a 
dimax not only of the letter, but of the entire series. 



107 



Inducement 
of reduced 
price for 
introduction 



INDUCEMENT 

the article or of the genuineness of the reduction. The 

publisher with the 146 sets found a good reason in the 

necessity of printing new circulars. 

One reduced price inducement, with an adequate 

reason, is the offer of lower price for introduction : 

The Wricht Copy Holder seUs the world over for $3.00. We 
are ^r?ak^,howeve?f that once you see the holder actuaUy m- 
cWnTSe output of your own typist you J^ wimt to eqmp 
your entire office with them. So, for a Imiited time only, we are 
goLg to make you an introductory price of $2.25. Send today for 
one of these holders, — etc. 

Similarly, low prices are offered during dull seasons: ^. P^^ 

We are going to remodel our store during our dull season-- J^^ 
put in a brLd iew front and sales room, install ^ew cutting seasons 
rooms new fitting rooms, new sewing rooms, and make ours tne 
to«t tSoring^teblishient in the Southwest. We have to do 
this to take care of our rapidly increasing busmess. 

8o-to reduce our stock before we begin to tear .«»f g" J»P» 
we wiU make for you any $50 suit for $35; any $45 suit for $30, 
and any $40 or $35 suit for $25. 

Notice of advance in price also encourages prompt 
action. A business school writes : 

On November 1 the cost of taking the efficiency course will 
advance 25%. After that date, no one can on any account get the 
old tuition rates. 

Sign the enclosed enrollment blank at once— and save the 
25% advance. 

Another inducement is the offer of a free trial or Free trial 
free examination : 

We do not want you to buy in the dark. We ^f^t jou to be 
certam tiiat the Autiior's National edition of Mark Twaan s 
Works will be a valuable addition to your hbrary. That w why 
we will send you the twenty-five volumes at our expense, riiat is 
why you may examine them thoroughly— not ^o^^ » /e^^»»^^*J*T 
but for ten days. That is why you may send the books back 
"collect" if unsatisfactory. The subscription to the magwme 
win be cancelled, and you will owe us nothing if you do not keep 
tlie books. 



Advance in 
price 



This is only a suggestive list of inducements. There 
are many others. You may play up the seasonableness 
of the article, ybu may offer some special service, such 
as advertising in the local paper (when selling to retail 
dealers), <w you may give a special prize. Any offer 



A wide 
range of 
inducements 



108 



Warning 
against 
false 
inducements 



A real 
inducement 
farces a 
decision 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

that impels the reader to act promptly on your propo- 
sition is good inducement. Study the inducements in the 
letters on pages 105 and 106. 

A common error in handling the inducement is that 
of attaching false or fictitious value to what is offered. 
One brilliant sales manager whose firm dealt in mine 
machinery and supplies won many customers by con- 
stant reference to a loose-leaf catalogue for which he 
issued new sheets and revised prices each week. The 
system was so thorough and the new sheets were so valu- 
able that many customers used it simply because it was 
easy to handle. 

Another sales manager tried the same inducement, 
using a bound catalogue of huge dimensions. He failed. 
In both instances the catalogues were remarkable, but 
one was serviceable and the other clumsy— one consti- 
tuted a real inducement and the other was a deterrent. 

The inducement feature of the sales letter must 
always stand before the most searching inquiry. To fool 
a customer into responding to your letter may mark you 
as exceptionally clever, but that customer will neither 
forgive nor forget if he finds it out. 

The inducement, then, must make a real offer. If it 
does that, it hastens the decision of the prospect, and 
leads him to the point where he is ready to buy. ' The 
work of the writer of the sales letter is now almost fin- 
ished; but one task remains— only one, but very impor- 
tant. He must provide a means for making ordering 
easy. This will be discussed in the next chapter. 



CHAFER XII 



SUMMARY AND CLIMAX 
CLINCHING THE SALE 



SUPPOSE a salesman came into your office with an 
article, demonstrated its qualities, proved your need 
of it and its value to you, made you want it so badly A parable 
that you were just reaching into your pocket to pay for of a foolish 
it—and then, when he could have your money for the ^^^^^^^^ 
asking, suppose he suddenly strapped up his sample 
case, said: **I will be glad to talk to you more about 
this some other time,*' and walked out of the door. 

What kind of salesman would you call him ? 

A shoe manufacturer tried to sell me a pair of shoes 
by mail. He wrote a letter that had me interested, con- 
vinced, almost ready to buy. Then instead of a clincher 
that decided me, I struck this last paragraph: **We 
solicit further correspondence with you concerning our 
proposition.'' What did I do? 1 shot that letter into 
the waste-basket, and bought a pair of shoes on my way 
home. 

Any difference between the absurdly imaginary Analogy in a 
salesman in the first paragraph and the very actual letter sales letter 
writer in the second? Not a bit. 

But suppose the shoe manufacturer had closed by 
saying: ** Simply check the size and style you want on 
the enclosed blank ; sign and mail it today with $3.00 in 



110 



The climax 
turns desire 
into action 



Two parts 
of the 
climax: 



1, A strong 
summing up 
of persua- 
sion and 
inducement 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



any convenient form, and the shoes will come to you at 
once, all charges paid." Suppose he had said that! 
The chances are a hundred to one he would have my 
money now and I would be wearing his shoes. 

And there you have in a nutshell the vital essential 
that makes or kills a sales letter. 

You are wasting time and energy when you concen- 
trate your strength in your argument and then fail to 
turn desire into action. What is the use of making the 
prospect want your goods if you wind up your letter 
with a close that lets him feel he might as well wait a 
day or two ? Let him wait, and the chances are that next 
day your competitor comes along with a letter that 
strikes home. Then he gets the business, and your letter 
slides from the hold-over file into the waste-basket. 

Make your prospect want to order, of course, but 
don't stop there. Make it easy for him to order and 
make him do it now. That is what is meant by real 
climax: it tells the prospect what to do and when to do 
it — ^it crystallizes all that goes before into the act itself. 

The successful climax usually has two parts. The 
first consists of what we have termed persuasion and in- 
ducement — it summarizes all the preceding strong points 
of the letter, it shows the gain that is mine in ordering, 
the loss that is mine by delay. It emphasizes return and 
minimizes cost. It is the paragraph that says: **Just 
think what you are getting — ^this and this and this, all 
for the smaU sum of . Think what it means to you. 



B. The 

dineher 



to your future. And remember, you do not risk one 
penny. Every cent of your money will be returned to 
you if you are not satisfied. Why delay a single mo- 
ment?" 

When he reads that, your man is almost ready to act 
— but not quite, for your climax lacks the clincher. 
What is he to do to get all the things you offer? Tell 
him. Make it so plain and so easy that he will have not 
a reason in the world for not ordering. If you don't, 



SUMMARY AND CLIMAX 



111 



you haven't finished your letter; and lacking the effect 
of that clincher, your prospect is going to lapse from his 
'* almost ready" attitude back into indifference. 

Now how can you get him to act? Go back to the star 
salesman. How does he doit? He gives you something 
to sign. He lays before you an order blank complete 
save only for your signature. Note how easy he has 
made it for you to order; he does not ask that you hunt 
up a letterhead and draw up an order of your own. He 
has the order all printed and within easy reach. 

Just apply his idea to your letter. Give the man 
something to sign : a post card filled out, addressed and 
ready to mail, a coupon that simply awaits his name— 
or some little easy-as-lifting-your-finger act to do that 
makes answering almost automatic. Notice how the let- 
ter on page 113 comes up to a strong close, in contrast 
with the weak letter on page 112. 

When it is rightly employed there is something mar- 
vellous about the tempting power of the little blank that 
awaits your name. It must, however, be used tactfully. 
No man likes to be bull-dozed by another into signing 
anything. He balks when the tactless salesman literally 
shoves the order before him and attempts to force his 
signature. Force instantly arouses his antagonism. 

But watch the clever salesman who has learned the 
subtle influence of the waiting blank itself. He places 
the order before you, but he lets it do its own tempting. 
He talks not the order but the goods ; not your name, but 
your needs. And when you pick up your pen and sign 
your name, you do so on your own initiative because you 
want the goods he sells. 

Now the beauty of all this is that the clever sales- 
man's methods fit perfectly into the scheme of paper 
salesmanship. You have built up your interest, proof, 
persuasion, and inducement, and now, when you haye 
your prospect convinced, almost ready to say ** I will 
buy," you do as the salesman does: make it easy for him 



How the 
salesman 
uses his 
order blank 



The clincher 
in the letter 
does the 
same 



It makes 
ordering 
easy 



112 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



Weak and too 
formal 



Lacks interest 



Apology 
weakens appeal 



Why should It 



More weakening 
apology 



Dear Sir: 

We have not had the pleasure of having 
received a reply to the letter we addressed 
to you about two weeks ago, and we pause to 
ask if you received that letter » as well as 
the catalog which we mailed you at the same 
time. If so, we trust that our prices and 
superior quality of Princeton Piano Player 
have so interested you as to insure your 
order when you are ready to purchase. If, 
however, the catalog and letter did not 
reach you, kindly advise us, and we will 
mail duplicates. 

We are real anxious to secure your 
order, yet do not wsmt to annoy you contin- 
ually with a lot of stereotyped letters 
such as are generally sent out by factories 
selling their products by mail — in other 
words we do not abruptly conclude that 
simply because you were kind enough to 
write us relative to our goods that you are 
under obligations to buy of us. We trust, 
however, that after you have gone over the 
matter very carefully you will decide that 
our Princeton Plaver is the best for the 
money, and that when you are ready to 
purchase, you will favor us with your 
order, as we know you will never have any 
cause to regret it. 

In the meantime, if you have no objec- 
tions, we will mail you now and then 
illustrations and descriptions of each of 
our new styles as we place them on the 
market, feeling that you will be interested 
in the latest up-to-date styles, even 
though you may not be in an immediate need 
of them yourself. 

Again thanking you for the inquiry. 

Very truly yours. 



ii^mi' 



A SALES LETTER THAT FAILED 

Here is an actual letter used as the fourth and the last in a follow-up series. 
It is poor because it not only is lacking wholly in explanation and proof as to 
quality or price, but throughout it takes entirely the wrong attituder-that of a 
continual apology for taking the prospect's time, for following him up at all. 



SUMMARY AND CLIMAX 



Dear Mr. Carter: 

The only thing that has kept you from 
ordering a Princeton Piano Player long 
before this is that 

— you are still a little in doubt as to 

its value 

— you still hesitate to believe that it 
offers positively the biggest value 
that your money can purchase. 

There are a number of ways in which we 
might once and for all time remove your 
prejudice, your doubts, your misgivings: 

— We might point to the 8,143 satisfied 
purchasers 

— We might show you the stream of more 
than half a thousand orders each month 

— We might pull open drawer after 
drawer filled to bursting with 
unsolicited testimonials. 

But we have a plan better by far. 

You are to try the Princeton Player in 
your own home for thirty days — one full 
month — AT OUR RISK. 

Simply deposit the first small payment. 
The player will be delivered to your home, 
ready for your use. Then put it to a test 
as thorough — as severe — as you wish; 
If the player does not more than please and 
satisfy you in every particular, simply say 
80 and we will remove it at our expense and 
refund every penny of your deposit. 

Could we possibly make a fairer, more 
liberal offer? 

Accept this offer today. Simply sign 
the enclosed deposit blank, enclose $10 and 
mail now, and the player will come at once. 

Very truly yours. 



113 



Direct 



Three con- 
densed proof, 
convincingly 
stated 



Inducement 



Proof 



Persuasion 
Strong close 



THE SAME OFFER IN WINNING FORM 

This rewritten letter, covering the proposition on the opposite page, without 
a suggestion of apology, goes straight to the point with ample proof and offers a 
still stronger inducement. While this letter is longer than the other, it is easier to 
read because it is broken into short paragraphs. 



114 



Using the 
return card 
or coupon 



The card or 
coupon must 
be simple 
and easily 
HUedin 



This method 
of ordering 
requires little 
effort 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

to decide, literally lay a waiting order blank before him. 

Refer him to your little business-getting supplement 
— ^the blank or card or coupon. Simply tell him what to 
do and what the result will be; say, **You do this and 
we will do that.*' And with the perfect assurance that 
whatever move he makes will be of his own choice, your 
man will find ordering so easy that he can't resist; he 
will '*sign and mail today." 

That is the purpose of the clincher: to make order- 
ing easy. If an order blank or return post card is used, 
it should be completely filled in so that the reader has 
only to sign his name. If money is to be sent, an easy 
means of doing that must be provided. 

Note, for example, how simple an act one house 
makes ordering: 

Merely sign the last page of the booklet enclosed — ^pm a two- 
dollar biU to it — and mail us today. 

Elementary, isn't it? No writing a letter, no buying 
a draft. The homesteader on a stage route with the stub 
of a pencil and a two dollar note could answer that letter 
as well as an executive surrounded by a bevy of stenog- 
raphers. 

These people exemplify the idea perfectly when they 
say: 

Simply pin a $2.00 bill to this letter as a deposit, and we will 
send the book by tJie first mail. Look the book over carefully. If 
you don ^t see a dollar 's worth in almost every page, write a mere 
postal and we will return your $2.00. 

There are no restrictions, no conditions, no strings on this 
offer. It is open to every well rated business man who acts before 
the first edition of the book is exhausted. Pin your $2.00 to the 
letter and mail today. 

Could anything be easier? And could a man find 
one good reason for not accepting that offer? 
Here is another : 



The enclosed postal will bring you full particu- 

Y. 



Don't wait! 
lars without obligation. Sign and mail it TODA 



A typewriter company also uses the idea admirably 
when it says : 



SUMMARY AND CLIMAX 



116 



Dear Mr. Graham: 

You will, of course, as a matter of 
convenience and economy, install stock 
racks in your new factory — racks that will 
classify your supplies and make them 
easily accessible. 

But in addition to securing these 
advantages you will want racks that occupy 
no more ^ace than your supplies actually 
demand. Every foot of space in your 
factory is a fixed expense to you; it costs 
you money every day year in and year out. 

This one feature of compactness alone 
makes the Thompson steel rack superior to 
any other device in use for the storage of 
parts and supplies. For the Thompson is 
adjustable to every varying demand. You 
don't have to waste a large bin on two or 
three parts and stuff a small bin to over- 
flowing. You can adjust each bin separately 
to the nature and quantity of the articles 
it contains, so that parts are given not an 
inch more room than they actually need. 

Yet as your supplies or stock in- 
creases, you will find these racks capable 
of unlimited expansion. You can m£Lke addi- 
tions at anyjpoint to meet increasing re- 
quirements. Each section is a unit, and new 
sections fit perfectly with the old. 

And Thompson racks are built to last. 
Constructed of the most durable steel, they 
are tested to hold the heaviest loads, no 
matter how unequally placed. 

Fill out and mail today the enclosed 

?ost card — it will bring our representa- 
ive to give you a complete estimate of 
your needs. This information puts you under 
no obligation and is yours for the asking. 

Very truly yours. 



Staiement of 
fact vfins 
confidence 



Explanation 
of need 



Explanation 
ahotoing how 
need i$ met 



Advantaget 
eet forth 



Explanation 
of quality 



Brought to a 
definite poirU 
in close and 
clincher 



LEADING THE PROSPECT TO THE BUYING POINT 

Beghining with a statement with which the prospect agrees, this letter leads 
him step by step to the buying point. Ahnost every paragraph contams explana- 
tion. The salesman recognizes the needs of the prospect and shows how the 
article offered for sale will supply his needs now and later. 



116 






11)1 



ifli 






I, 



A compli- 
cated coupon 
arouses 
suspicion 



A guarantee 
blank wins 
confidence 



TJie use oj a 
serially 
numbered 
coupon 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

The factory ia working to the limit these days, and we are 
behind on orders now. But we are going to hold the machine we 
have reserved for you a few days longer. After that we may 
have to use it to fill another order. Sign and send us the enclosed 
blank today, and let us place the machine where it will be of real 
service to you. Remember, it ia covered by a guarantee that pro- 
tects you against disappointment. If you don't like it, simply 
return it and back comes your money. 

The enclosed blank, poet card, or other ordering de- 
vice should be simple and easily understood. If it is 
long and complicated, it is likely to arouse the suspicion 
of the careful business man. Before signing, he has to 
scan the offer critically for possible loopholes and 
"catches.'* The ideal form is one that can be compre- 
hended at a glance. The shorter and simpler the form, 
the better. 

There is something about a guarantee blank, too, 
that coaxes the pen to its dotted lines. A safety razor 
manufacturer who sold his goods on approval enclosed 
with his sales letter a legal looking return contract that 
read: 

ABSOLUTE GUABANTEE 

I deposit herewith $2.50 for which please send me absolutely 
without further cost your * » * Eazor. It is understood that 
if I am not perfectly satisfied with my investment, I will return 
the razor to you within ten days, and you will refund my full $2.50 
promptly and cheerfully, cancelling the order. 

Such a protective guarantee wins the confidence of 
the prospect, and this form got many a buyer because it 
showed him specifically that he could not lose. 

A business school found a winner, too, in a serially 
numbered coupon which it enclosed with a letter telling 
of a special offer to students. Each coupon read: 

This serial coupon will be accepted as $5.00 in cash payment 
toward the tuition for our regular $18, twel ve- weeks ' course in 
bookkeeping, if properly signed and mailed within seven days 
following receipt of this letter. 

But when you give your man something to sign, 
guard well against obscurity. It is human nature to 
search a wordy order blank for statements with double 
meaning. 



SUMMARY AND CLIMAX 

There never was a proposition that didn't have pos- 
sibilities of a sales climax, and there never was a sales 
letter that didn't have a place for a clincher. If you 
can't give the reader something to sign, do the next 
easiest thing. Note, for example, the way the man winds 
up who solicits my typewriter ribbons for re-inking : 

A trial will convince you, and the sooner you send them the 
more you '11 save. Why not press the button and have them packed 
up and shipped right nowt 

Another letter closes : 

You have only to reach over to your telephone, and tell us to 
attach a dictating machine feed wire to the lamp socket in your 
ofS.ce and leave the instrument there at your elbow for a few days 
while you give it a chance to prove that you have been wasting a 
good deal of very valuable time, every day, and missing as great 
and continual a convenience as the telephone. 

Note that this letter suggests not only how easy it is 
to put in the order — ^merely use the telephone beside 
you — ^but also how easy it is to install the machine — ^no 
alterations, no interruption of the work in the office are 
necessary ; the machine is attached to the light socket as 
easily as you would put in a new electric bulb. 

A good climax is the antithesis of procrastination. It 
gets the reader in motion. It tells him what to do. It 
makes him reach for his pen, sign, seal and stamp his 
order, and run to the mail box. It brings him up to the 
buying point, as in the letter on page 115. 

The clincher is the only kind of close that makes a 
sales letter bring results. Give your man something to 
sign or at least give him something so easy to do that 
he can't help doing it. Tell him how and what to do, 
and tell him to do it today. Try it, and you will find 
your sales letters picking up the i^ekels like a magnet 



117 



Another 
form of 
clincher 
suggested 



This letter 
shows how 
easily the 
machine 
may be 
installed 



The clincher 
closes the 
sale and geti 
the money 



f" 



CHAPTER XIII 



DEVELOPING A FOLLOW-UP 

SERIES 



Variety in 
bait is 
needed in 
sales letters, 
as in fishing 



i¥'\ 



if' 



i 



A follow-up 
series 

changes the 
bait in each 
letter 



**1F THE fish don't bite, keep changing your bait. If 
A they don't bite then, change your fishing-hole." 
This is sound advice for every amateur fisherman, as any 
gray-haired angler will tell you. It is equally sound 
philosophy for selling by mail, as every successful sales- 
man knows. 

Mail sales campaigns are rarely worked up on a 
single sales letter complete in itself, but rather on a 
series of letters. The object of your selling campaign 
may be to make a certain class of prospects buy your 
goods through a series of letters directed at that one 
class. Or the object may be to pull orders from many 
classes of prospects in the same list by means of a series 
of letters each one of which convinces a different class. 
In both cases the success of the campaign is due essen- 
tially to the fact that the salesman approaches his pros- 
pect each time from a new angle. He changes his bait. 
He presents his proposition from a different point of 
view. This is the heart of the whole matter. He hopes 
that one of his arguments will hit the particular need of 
a certain class of readers, and arouse an interest that will 
result in orders from them. Another argument will get 
a response from another class, and so on. He recognizes 



SALES FOLLOW-UP LETTERS 



119 



that men are not all alike, and that it is a waste of time 
and money to keep trying to reach them all by the same 
appeal Then if a change of bait doesn't work, he 
changes his fishing hole. 

A single sales letter cannot be expected to exhaust 
the selling possibilities of a list. It will get orders from 
people who are already familiar with the article and are 
easily convinced that they want it. Just how many will 
respond will depend upon the nature of the proposition 
— ^upon the kind of article and the special inducement 
that is offered. If the goods are of universal or general 
value, and an especially attractive price is made, the per- 
centage should be comparatively large. For instance, in 
a campaign for selling safety razors for twenty-five 
cents, an enormous number were sold by one letter. This 
price was so very small that people jumped at the chance 
to buy. On the other hand, if the article is new or if it 
involves the expenditure of considerable money, the cus- 
tomer must be led more or less gradually to appreciate it 
and to see that it is worth the money to him. He must 
be educated as to its value. Hence more than one letter 
— a series of letters — is needed. These constitute a fol- 
low-up series. 

Roughly speaking, sales follow-ups may be divided 
into two classes — ^the general publicity and the direct- 
sales follow-up. The object of the first is primarily to 
keep the firm's name and goods constantly before the 
public. For instance, a firm may, from time to time, send 
to its customers notices of special sales or the arrival of 
new lines of goods. This periodical letter may be merely 
a formal notice of the event, or it may introduce some 
seasonable sales talk. 

But the periodical letter does not hammer away, 
letter after letter, on any one article or line of goods. 
On the other hand, this is precisely what the direct-sales 
follow-up does. It is carried on for the purpose of sell- 
ing a certain article to a list of prospects, and it makes 



A foUow-up 
campaign 
lands orders 
that the 
single sales 
letter misses 



Two 

classes of 
follow-ups: 

1, General 
publicity 



e. Dired 
sales 



120 



;fr 



Mere 

repetition of 
arguments is 
iinsuited for 
direct-sales 
series 



Each letter 
should 
emphasize 
one selling 
jxnnt 



A successful 

foUouhup 

series 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

continued and varied appeals to them until the sales 
possibilities are exhausted— until the returns are so small 
that a continuation of the campaign will not pay. In 
other words, the direct sales follow-up is a series of let- 
ters addressed to the same man with the object of 
making him buy a certain article. This is the kind of 
follow-up on which the emphasis is laid here. 

Hence the necessity for approaching the prospect 
each time from a new angle is evident, for mere repeti- 
tion of the same argument or appeal may create a certain 
sort of interest, but will never bring in the returns ob- 
tainable under a variety of appeals. Mere repetition is 
extensively used in general publicity advertising. For 
example, if I am repeatedly reminded, day after day, to 
'*Use Smith's Shaving Brush,'' that article is uncon- 
sciously fixed in my mind, and when I need a shaving 
brush, I am quite likely to buy Smith's. Such appeals, 
however, do not persuade me that I need it now and 
should buy it now; hence they are not suitable for the 
direct sales follow-up. 

Each letter in the series, then, should make a new 
appeal, present a new argument. Each should empha- 
size one point. Other points— supplementary selling 
talk— may be added, but these are to be kept subordinate 
to the main argument. Also, as the series progresses, the 
preceding arguments may be re-stated briefly from time 
to time, but these, too, should not be made prominent 
enough to distract the attention from the main point to 
which this letter is devoted. 

The letters on pages 121-125 form a sales follow- 
up series used extensively and with excellent results by 
a silo manufacturing company. In counties where the 
letters were mailed liberally, the cost of each sale was 
about half of that in counties where sales were made ex- 
clusively by agents. 

Each of the five letters makes a new appeal. The first 
emphasizes the wisdom of the silo idea and explains it 






I 



SALES FOLLOW-UP LETTERS 



Dear Sir: 

A silo is the beginning of farm wisdom. 
Here's the big idea, the silo idea: 

If your soil is rich, raise your stock 
on silage and fodder. Sell your expensive 
hay. Put your high-priced acres into a 
quick-money crop. 

If your soil is poor, raise your stock 
for profit, and — for manure, which is 
worth more than money in the bank. Keep 
twice the stock you could on pasture £md 
hay, and build up your land rapidly. 

If you keep cows for milk, get the full 
flow, winter and summer, with a really 
cheap and succulent feed — silage. 

Now, that's good farm wisdom, isn't it? 

You need a silo. When you are through 
reading our Silo Book, you'll know why we 
have the silo you've been wanting. Correct 
principles of construction and good work- 
manship produce the right silo. We'll 
build it for you, complete and ready to 
fill. Our experience and an organized . 
force of construction experts enable us to 
do the work Just as it ought to be done. 
And we'll charge you less than it would 
cost you to do it yourself. 

Be wise. If you will sign and return 
the enclosed card, we'll send you a booklet 
fully describing our silos, and also photo- 
graphs of several we have built in your 
county. 

Yours very truly. 



121 



Attenium 



Three-fold idea 

quickly 

explained 



« 



The whip' 



ArffWKMni 
brief and 
toihepoini 



Close toAtfte 
eurioeiiif 



THE FIRST LETTER 

Even a silo can be sold by maa. An actual sales follow-up series used by 
a silo manufacturing company is shown on this and the following four pages. The 
first letter lays a foundation for the following ones by explaining the silo idea. 
Note how effectively this is done in five short paragraphs. 



122 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



A "story** 
quickly told 
easily wins 
interest 



A 



You are carried 
right along 



t« 



The whip" 



Convincing 
argument 



The "goods* 
offered jor 
inspection 



Dear Sir: 

If a man should come along the road 
some day while you are plowing corn and say 
to you, 

"If you will pay me $400, I will take 
10 acres of your corn before it matures euid 
make 20 out of it for you and do that every 
year for the rest of your life," 

You would consider that a good business 
investment, now wouldn't you? 

Most of the farmers up in my part of 
the state do, too, for you can see a silo 
on every farm, and it's a good grain 
country, like yours. 

Why? 

Because they know a silo is a good in- 
vestment. They know that under the old 
methods of feeding they can not raise 
cattle at a profit despite the demaind for 
meat. They cannot keep one head of stock 
to every acre of ground without a silo. 
They cannot build up their land without 
raising more stock. Can you? 

If you expect to invest in a silo, it 
will mean money in your pocket to read 
carefully the booklet we sent you. Study 
closely the advantage of our method of 
construction. Good construction is neces* 
sary to produce the greatest percentage of 
good silage at the lowest cost per ton. 
Drive over to Mr. Wilson's farm and see his 
silo. We sent you a photograph of it. 

You can make your silo earn its cost 
before you pay us for it. When shall we 
come out and talk it over with you? 

Yours very truly. 



THE SECOND LETTER 

A person is almost always willing to listen when he scents a story. Advantage 
is taken of this fact here to win attention. Notice how the opening paragraphs 
run into each other, carrying the reader rapidly along to a point where he agrees 
with the writer and is ready to see ' ' the goods. ' ' 




SALES FOLLOW-UP LETTERS 



123 



Dear Sir: 

One day last summer while I was riding 
on a train through southern Illinois, a 
farmer friend sitting next to me looked out 
over the burning, sizzling corn fields, and 
said: 

"My, I wish I had a silo. I could save 
enough of my crop to winter my stock at 
least, but I'll have to sell part of them. 
It's too late to build a silo now. So I 
must stand for a loss." 



Hor about you? Are you losing the 
price of a silo before you see the value of 
it? Last summer's hot winds made many a 
farmer resolve to have a silo before 
another crop season. Will you build one? 

If you don't, you may have to stand for 
a loss, like my friend. If you build a 
cheap .stave silo out of pine or tameurac, 
you will face a bigger loss. If you build 
of brick or cement block, but without re- 
gard to tested principles in construction, 
you will stand for a still larger loss. 

You will NOT lose money, if you build 
a Rockwall silo. It will cost you no more 
than any permanent silo would cost, even 
should you build it yourself. Silage WILL 
KEEP in our silos. You will NOT lose money, 
if you use our experience. Our profits 
are simply the savings which come from buy- 
ing and building in large quantity and our 
e3q>erience in erecting many silos. 

Why not turn your possible losses into 
profits? Have you been over to see Mr. 
Wilson's silo? Ask any questions you wish 
on the enclosed c£u:d, and mail it today. 

Yours very truly. 



§f. ft 



Another "story 



Immediate 
application to 
prospect 



Clean-eui 
argument 



Proqf 



Laysbtmsfot 

continued 

correspondene0 






THE THIRD LETTER 

This letter also starts out in the narrative style. The incident is brought 
quickly to bear on the reader at the beginning of the third paragraph. The sug- 
gestion of possible loss is Used to stimulate the reader's interest and thus impelg 
him to read on in the hope of finding the means of preventing it. 



lU 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



Annoert pro»' 
peet'i question 
without delay 



I'll 



Explanation 
and description 



Continues to 
assume that 
the prospect 
"wiU buy 



Dear Sir: 

Silage will NOT freeze — if you build 
right . 

If you wanted a house that would be the 
coolest possible in summer amd the warmest 
possible in winter, you would not build one 
with walls of sheeting one inch thick, but 
you would build double walls of brick six 
inches thick. 

That's just the difference between 
silos. If you want to keep silage, you 
must keep it from freezing. If there is 
only one freeze during the winter and the 
silage is not protected, it will freeze 
from 4 to 12 inches deep in from the walls, 
and thousands of cubic feet of good silage 
will be lost. 

The Rockwall silo will keep your silage 
from freezing. The walls of our silo are 
not only six inches thick, but they are 
divided by two air spaces — dead air 
spaces — which stop the cold effectually. 

The only silage which spoils in the 
Rockwall silo is that immediately on top, 
and this spoilage is necessary to keep the 
air from going down through the silage. 

Silage does not spoil next to the walls 
of our silo, because the heat of fermenta- 
tion is not lost. Our block holds the heat 
instead of conducting it away as does most 
cement and masonry construction. So the 
corn is all converted into good sweet 
silage clear out to the walls. 

Don't you want to talk it over with 
Mr. Farthy of our company? He is a silo 
expert and a pleasant fellow to talk 
business with. When may he see you? 

Yours very truly. 



THE FOURTH LETTER 

This letter marks a split in the follow-up series. The prospect's question, 
in response to the previous letter, is answered directly and without delay in the 
first paragraph. The reasons for this answer are fully explained in the five 
paragraphs that foUow. In the close, emphasis is laid on an interview. 



SALES FOLLOW-UP LETTERS 



Dear Sir: 

Yes, our silo will pay. 

You and I know anything is worth only 
what it can do for you, not what you choose 
to spend for it. That's just as true of a 
silo as anything else. You get what you 
pay for, and no more. 

If you want a silo that will last only 
a few years, buy a cheap one; don't buy 
ours. If you want a silo of doubtful con- 
struction, buy a cheap one; don't buy ours. 
But if you want a silo built as carefully 
as a battleship, one that will last many 
years, and cost you less per year than any 
other, then buy a Rockwall. 

You can buy other silos for less money, 
but compare what others offer you with our 
list. Here it is — look at it! 

Hard burned selected clay blocks. 
Heavy gray-iron, non-rusting door 

frames. 
Cypress wood doors, patent lock. 
Iron steps for two ladders. 
Bolts for chute and roof. 
Reinforcing metal for foundation and 

every course of blocks. 
Roof, frame and covering complete. 
Specially constructed scaffold. 
Detailed instructions and blueprints. 
Freight paid on return of tools and 

scaffold. 

If your mason is not familiar with 
silo construction, we are prepared to 
furnish labor at your request. 

Mr. Farthy can drive out to see you 
next Monday morning. Shall I tell him to 
come? If any other date is better, check 
it on the postal card and mail it today. 

Yours very truly. 



125 



Personal tone 
wins confidence 



Persuasion 



Submits data 
for proof 



Climax of the 
series 



Inducement 



Brings persondi 
interview 



THE FIFTH LETTER 

Price and what it covers are reserved for discussion in the final letter of 
the series. The short and direct sentences in the first three paragraphs lead up 
to the climax of the series in the fourth paragraph, in which the superior 
advantages of the article offered for sale are emphasized in one, two, three order. 



L* ' 



I 

I 



It 



^'fl 



126 

Analysis of 
painUmade 
in the series 



Get the most 
effective 
arrangemen 
of arguments 



Test your 
arrangement 
by a try-out 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

pointedly; the second drives home the value of the silo 
as an investment; the third warns against probable but 
preventable losses; the fourth answers an important 
question concerning silage ; and the fifth details exactly 
what the purchaser will get for his money, what the price 
covers. Supplementary points are added in each letter, 
but the main argument stands out 

The arrangement of the arguments in this and in 
every series — ^that is, the order in which the letters are 
sent out — ^is an important matter. It has been proved 
by tests that a change in the order will seriously affect 
the pulling power of the series. The most effective ar- 
rangement cannot always be determined a priori. The 
most that you can do when you map out a letter cam- 
paign is to arrange the letters tentatively in a certain 
order, which is based upon the experience gained from 
previous campaigns, or upon the testimony of sales- 
men as to the arguments which they have found most 
effective. 

However, don^t spend your money in mailing this 
series to your full list of prospects until you have tested 
it on a small list. Send it out to, say, five hundred or a 
thousand names, the number depending upon the scope 
of your campaign. Then keep a careful record of the 
returns from each letter. If the test list has been so 
selected that it is a representative one, the percentage of 
returns should be about the same from the large list. 
Consequently you now know which are the stronger 
letters and which are the weaker. Then on the basis of 
this test rearrange your series, and if necessary, rewrite 
your less successful letters. 

In this rearrangement do not make the mistake of 
using all your stronger arguments in the earlier letters 
of the series. The first letter should, of course, be a 
strong one, for it must not only get orders from as large 
a percentage of prospects as possible and thus save the 
expense of a further campaign, but it should also arouse 



SALES FOLLOW-UP LETTERS 

sufficient interest, among the readers who are not yet 
ready to buy, to insure attention for the succeeding 
letters. Then reserve one or two of the more effective 
arguments for the latter part of the series, for otherwise 
you will close with an anti-climax. Good selling talk 
will be required to bring into line the prospects who 
have resisted the appeals of the earlier letters. 

The series as now arranged is ready to be sent out 
to the complete mailing list. Each letter will bring 
orders from some prospects, inquiries from others, and 
from still others no reply at all. The first class are 
dropped from your present follow-up list. The last will 
be retained to receive the following letters of the series. 
The second class, those making inquiries, will require a 
different procedure. 

A prospect has indicated interest in some phase of 
the proposition and perhaps has made inquiries about 
special points. 

To him, a new letter, not included in the original 
series, will be sent. This will, of course, answer his 
questions fully, and perhaps present new points. The 
subsequent procedure with this man will depend upon 
the nature of his question. If it indicates a field of fc- 
terest not covered by the original series, and if this field 
is broad enough to warrant such a procedure, a new 
series of letters will be sent him, the original one, for the 
present, at least, being put aside. This new series will 
draw its arguments from the new field of interest. 

Suppose, for example, that after receiving the first 
two or three letters of the series on the silo, the man in- 
quires if the value of silage as feed for cattle is sufficient 
to warrant putting in a silo. Here is a man who, 
obviously, needs to be educated to the use of silage ; and 
the company may consider it worth while to devote two 
or three letters to this task. Then when he has been con- 
vinced, the original series of letters, hammering away on 
the advantages of the Rockwall silo, could be resumed. 



127 



Don*t use all 
the best 
arguments 
in the first 
letters 



How to 
handle 
replies — 
especially 
inquiries 



When the 
inquiry 
needs several 
letters in 
answer 




128 

When the 
inquiry can 
be covered 
in one letter 



Forms and 
personal 
letters used 
in the 
"split" 



Elements 
composing 
the follow-up 
letters 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

On the other hand, the question may be one that can 
be answered satisfactorily in a single letter, in which 
case, if this answer does not bring the order, the original 
series is continued. For instance, there is a split follow- 
ing Letter No. 3, p. 123. The prospect has sent in the 
card mentioned in the clincher in No. 3, with the ques- 
tion, **Can a silo be built so that silage will not freeze?'' 
Letter No. 4 answers this inquiry. Then, as this ques- 
tion does not need further discussion, the original series 
is resumed in Letter No. 5. 

The same procedure will be followed each time a new 
question is asked. The question is answered; and then 
the subsequent letters either follow the line of interest 
suggested by the inquiry, or return to the original series, 
as explained above. 

These new letters are not necessarily personally dic- 
tated letters, for in a large follow-up campaign most of 
the inquiries will fall into a few general groups which 
can be handled by forms. But if any person asks a 
question not covered by the forms, his special case must 
be taken care of with individual letters. 

The separate letters of a series — both the original 
series and the splits — will be made up of the elements 
discussed in the preceding chapters. Of course, not all 
the elements will be found in every letter ; and the em- 
phasis on different elements will vary in different mem- 
bers of the series, according to the conditions giving rise 
to a particular letter. 

If the prospect has sent in several inquiries, for 
example, it is not necessary to start a reply with a para- 
graph intended primarily to gain his attention. You 
already have it. He may want only explanation. Or if 
he has thoroughly understood the article and terms of 
sale, the letters may be devoted chiefly to persuasion, or 
inducement. 

The first letter of a series is frequently more com- 
prehensive than the later ones, for it must contain 



SALES FOLLOW-UP LETTERS 

enough information to give the reader a definite idea of 
the article or proposition. Hence in this one the de- 
scription of the article or explanation of what it will do 
is, in many sales series, made full and complete. The 
later letters usually contain less general description, and 
will lay emphasis on persuasion — show the reader the ben- 
efit he will derive from the article — and on inducement. 
These are, of course, important in the first letter also; 
and, likewise, a fresh statement of an important point 
or points in the description is not out of place in any 
letter. Each letter has a two-fold purpose — ^to make the 
sale and to pave the way for the following letters — and 
the best combination to accomplish these two things must 
be determined in each case by the writer. 

The length of the letters cannot be set arbitrarily for 
all cases. Theoretically, the ideal length would be not 
more than one typewritten page, but many letters of 
two and even more pages have been effective. Li general 
it may be said that a first letter in a series answering an 
inquiry may safely be made fairly long. The reader has 
indicated his interest, and if the correspondent uses 
ordinary care and skill, he should be able to write a de- 
tailed letter without sacrificing that interest. The length 
varies, too, with the class of readers; as, for example, a 
letter to a farmer may usually be made longer than one 
to a hurried business man. However, if you are in doubt 
as to the proper length of a letter, don't guess — make a 
test. Then you will have definite information on which 
to base your judgment. 

We have spoken of the value of testing a follow-up 
series, both as to the length of the letters and the pulling 
power of the different arguments. How is such a try- 
out conducted? Send your series to a list of ^we hun- 
dred or a thousand names, selected from localities which 
you think represent average business possibilities. In 
this selection you will be guided by your experience in 
previous selling campaigns, by the reports of salesmen, 



129 

The elements 
vary in 
different 
letters of a 
series 



Length of 
the letters 



How to 
conduct a 
test 



p.i 



130 

Select 
average 
localities — 
not the best 
or worst 



Have similar 
conditions in 
the test and 
the big 
campaign 



''Keying'* 
the replies 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

and by your general knowledge of business conditions in 
your territory. But remember— don't select the best 
localities or the poorest; select the average. If you do 
this, your returns from the test should represent about 
the proportion of replies that you will get from your 
complete mailing list— if the conditions are the same. 

This matter of conducting the test and the complete 
campaign under similar conditions, is important The 
three most essential considerations to keep in mind are 
general business conditions, local conditions, and the 
time when the prospect receives the letters. For in- 
stance, if the test is made during a period of business 
prosperity, and in the interim between the test and the 
mailing to the complete list some event occurs which 
causes a retrenchment among business men, the results 
of your test will not agree with those of the larger list. 
The same will be true if a local drouth, or other cause 
produces hard times in any locality. Also the number 
of replies will vary with the time when the letter reaches 
the prospect. If it is mailed so as to be on his desk 
on Saturday— a busy day, or on Monday or after a holi- 
day—when two or more days' mail has accumulated, 
the replies will not be so numerous as they will be if he 
gets it in the middle of the week or at a time when no 
holiday has piled up his work. It is hardly necessary to 
add that if the follow-up campaign is to be conducted 
in the fall, the test should not be made in the spring or 
early summer. This all means that if the results of your 
test are to be trustworthy, the conditions must be prac- 
tically the same when it is sent as when the complete list 
is mailed. 

When the replies from the test letters come in, they 
must be carefully tabulated. For this purpose, some sys- 
tem of *' keying" the letters is needed. The return post 
card, addressed envelope, or other similar enclosures fur- 
nish the easiest means of doing this. The enclosure to be 
returned is different for each letter, and when replies are 



SALES FOLLOW-UP LETTERS 

received, they can be credited to the proper letter. Fre- 
quently also each letter of a series requests that all in- 
quiries or orders be addressed to a certain clerk, indi- 
cated by a real or fictitious name, or to a certain depart- 
ment, as ** Department A," etc. When the name of a 
clerk or the number of a department is given, the cus- 
tomer is likely to repeat it in his reply, even if he fails 
to use the return enclosure, and thus the inquiry can be 
assigned to the letter which inspired it. 

A test is easy to conduct, and its results are indica- 
tive to a high degree of accuracy of the returns later 
from the complete list. With such a convenient and 
cheap means of finding out the weak atid strong points 
in your follow-up series, there is no excuse for the reek- 
less expenditure of money on expensive, untried cam- 
paigns. 

A follow-up campaign could not be carried on with- 
out form letters. The ideal follow-up would be one in 
which the correspondent knew personally each of the 
prospects to whom he writes, and then dictated a letter 
which would conform to the individual prejudices and 
tastes of each one. But the realization of such an ideal 
is impossible. In the first place no correspondent could 
be expected to know even a small percentage of 100,000 
prospects, and if he did, he could not take the time to 
dictate a special letter to each. Hence a follow-up cam- 
paign is dependent on forma These may be either com- 
plete letters or single paragraphs. The former are used 
in the original series — ^the one mailed out until a split 
occurs — and also in handling the more common inquiries 
which require the same answer. For other inquiries 
which occur frequently but in different combinations in 
different letters, form paragraphs are used. One is pre- 
pared to answer each individual inquiry, and these para- 
graphs can be combined to handle any given set of ques- 
tions. 

The objection frequently made to forms is that they 



131 



Methods 
used in 
keying'* 



« 



The value of 
the test 



Follow-up 
campaigns 
are made 
possible by 
form letters 



132 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



SAliBS FOLLOW-UP LETTERS 



133 



I 



Forms need 
not be 
impersonal 



Manufactur- 
ers* farm^ 
supplied to 
dealers 



Dealer help 
Utter 



are cold and impersonal. However, this is not neces- 
sarily true. The form letter can be made to convey the 
impression of personal interest if the writer will keep in 
mind one essential point. He should write to individ- 
uals, not to men in the mass. This means, not that he 
must know every customer personally, but that he should 
select some man of his acquaintance who fairly repre- 
sents a certain class of customers, and then, visualizing 
this man, write the letter as if he were talking to him. 
The value of the form letter written for the individ- 
ual rather than the mass and carrying the conviction of 
a personal interest is recognized by many manufacturing 
companies in promoting their sales. These companies 
make a practice of supplying their dealers with form 
letters for their local mailing-list. Such letters may or 
may not be a follow-up series. They are, of course, sales 
letters. They may be supplied in quantity by the manu- 
facturer and typed on stationery bearing both his name 
and that of the local dealer, or they may be typed on 
the stationery of the local store and carry only the 
dealer's name. These letters naturally refer to the man- 
ufacturer by name and focus on his product, but they 
are always worded as if written by the dealer. A num- 
ber of clothing and shoe companies have established the 
practice of sending their dealers such letters just before 
the vacation, Easter, or Christmas holiday sales cam- 
paigns. 

This kind of form letter is closely allied to what is 
commonly called the dealer help letter. This form of 
correspondence is highly developed by companies that 
advertise extensively and whose sales policy does not 
stop with selling to the dealer, but includes helping him 
to sell to his customer. To make this policy yield its 
largest return, the cooperation between merchant or man- 
ufacturer and dealer needs to be enthusiastic, close and 
constant. After reading an advertisement the prospect 
fills in the attached coupon or writes a letter a^ing for 



a catalog, or sample, or information, as the case may be. 
Two courses are then open to the manufacturer. He 
may answer the inquiry directly, refer the prospect to 
the local dealer, send the latter the prospect's name, and 
consider the transaction closed; or he may follow up 
the prospect himself with a series of letters, urging the 
advantages of his product and of the service of the dealer. 
At the same time the dealer is in a position to seek an 
interview with the prospect, verify the information in 
the letters, and close the sale. By this second course the 
customer is under a double fire, as it were, and the 
chances for making a sale are increased. The cost of the 
sale may be greater and the margin of profit smaller, but 
this may be offset in the long run by the greater number 
of sales. Which course shall be pursued depends very 
largely on the business itself. 

Too often where companies pursue the former course, 
dismissing the prospect with one letter and turning him 
over to the local dealer, the prospect gains the impres- 
sion that the manufacturer wants to get rid of him as 
quickly as possible, as in the following actual letter : 

Dear Sir: 

Replying to your favor of recent date, we beg to advise that 
A. W. Kissler, 442 East Cleland St., has the sales of our machines 
in your city and we have today referred your inquiry to the above 
named dealer, who will be pleased to give same prompt and careful 
attention. Thanking you for this inquiry and trusting we may 
receive an order for one of our machines through this dealer, we 
remain. 

Now, notice the contrast with the following dealer 
help letter: 

Dear Sir: 

Did you notice when you read the advertisement of the 
Blackwell marine engine that we left out one mighty important 
dimension f We did. It covers a point of great importance in 
the design of an engine, and a point where the Blackwell is 
particularly strong, tkat is, the size, strength and weight of the 
main bearings. Without proper bearings no engine can continue 
to give good power, good service, and long life. 

We left out that dimension because we want you to see the 
bearings for yourself, and for that matter you want to see the 
whole engine, too. You don't have to wait until you buy the 
Blackwell to find out how it works. Just run over to 712 West 



Two ways o/ 
handling 
dealer help 
letters 



How a letter 
can deaden 
interest 



How to 
stimulate 
greater 
interest 






134 



"Ginger-up 
letter" to 
salesmen 



A "roU of 
honor*' letter 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

Adams St. and ask for Mr. Fred Price of W. F. Price and Sons. 
Mr. Price will tell you all about the bearings and let you run the 
engine yourself, if you wish. You can test any engine he has in 
stock and buy it afterwards. Isn't that a fair proposition f 

Mr. Price will be looking for you. Later, if he should be out 
of the city at any time, as he often is, his brother, George Price, 
will show you the engine. Write to us again, if necessary, and 
we will serve you in any way possible. 

One other form of correspondence may be men- 
tioned in connection with sales follow-up letters. It is 
what is often called the '* ginger-up letter.'' Only in- 
directly is it a sales letter. One of the difficult problems 
a sales manager must solve is how to hold his salesmen 
to the same keen interest in their work that marked their 
days of training in the home office before they were sent 
''on the road." One way to do this is through the 
ginger-up letter. The term is almost self-explanatory. 
Anything goes into the letter— a story, a bit of company 
news, a joke perhaps, a clipping from the trade paper — 
anything that will stimulate the salesman and thereby 
increase sales, anything that will keep alive the personal 
contact between manager and man, provided it does not 
endanger the manager's control. For example : 

Dear Mr. MacNieol: 

John Whitman now has his name on our roll of honor. 

When a man is engaged in battle and does an heroic deed, 
they give him the Iron Cross or the Victoria Cross. When he is 
engaged in the battle of business, he is entitled to honorable men- 
tion when he does something unusual. 

The story of Whitman 's feat of salesmanship is this : 

He called on a customer in Kansas and learned that he was 
ill and in a sanitarium twenty-two miles away. Whitman could 
have written to the home office that his man was sick and proceeded 
about his business. But the breath of battle was in his nostrils. 
He wanted an order, and he had confidence in his ability to get 
it. Instead of riding on a famous black charger as General 
Sheridan did at Winchester, Whitman took an automobile and 
drove to the sanitarium. 

While his patient lay on a cot, Whitman sat beside him and 
displayed samples and models, and took his order. After a while 
the doctor pulled Whitman away, but not until he had an order 
for $950 worth of goods. Then he took the doctor downstairs and 
sold him a suit. 

We think you will agree that this is an evidence of enterprise, 
resource, and courage*. 



CHAPTER XIV 



NEWS VALUE 



THEEE is on© impression that you want your letter 
invariably to give— you want it to appear as a **to- 
day" product, a strictly live, up-to-the-minute communi- 
cation from one man to another. And there is one way 
that you can give it this liveness better than any other- 
give it news value. 

What the world wants and has wanted since the be- 
ginning is news. The business world is no exception. If 
you can tell a man something new, particularly some- 
thing that has a relation to his business, you can get his 
attention and interest. Put the information into your 
letter, give it a sales twist, and you can make of it a 
correspondence asset. 

News as used in sales correspondence is of two kinds. 
You can take some live public topic, a good piece of 
newspaper news that you know must be familiar to the 
man addressed, and give it an application that will boost 
your own goods. That's one brand of sales letter news, 
and it makes your paper talk bristle with up-to-date- 
ness. 

Or you can give your prospect a bit of trade news, 
some item connected with his business and yours. This 
is of particular sales value, because when you approach 



News ttories 
make letters 
alive and 
up40'date 



Twokinde 
of news: 
public iopiei 
and trade 
news 



136 



PubHeiopicM 



Two 

examples of 
ifffective use 



M 



JN 



Miscellanea 
ous topics of 
interest to 
readers 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

a man tactfuUy abont his business, you are sure to touch 
a responsive chord. 

The first kind of news— the live public topic— you 
wiU draw chiefly from the daily papers. News of this 
sort can be pressed into service by any man who sells his 
goods through letters. 

A watch manufacturer, for example, wrote : 

One of the last things that Commodore Peary did before 
sailmgon the expedition that found the Pole was to purchase a 
-——-watch. Could you imagine a stronger testimonial to 
Uonai ** * perfect timekeeper under all climatic condi- 

There is news, human interest, and an abundance of 
proof in a reference like that. It makes the letter live 
primarily, and it also carries more conviction as to qual- 
ity than could volumes of argument 

Here is the way a retailer with a clever turn of mind 
made use of a local disaster: 

Dear Mr. Henderson: 

No doubt you read in the Journal Monday that the dweUine 
house of Mrs. Fmdlay, on Front Street, was destroyed by fire. The 
F^nHW J^""^- ^^ -^^l explosion of a gasoline stove which Mrs. 
Fmdlay waa using m her work. In attempting to extinguish the 
f^^J^"^' Fmdlay was badly burned on the face and hands 
t2fi&^ ^ ^ ""^^^ ""^ destroyed, and tiie loss wiU reach 

«.« ^LT'^u^ "^^^J.*** ^y *^^- **^* ^ Mrs. Findlay had had a 
gas range, this would not have happened. A gas range is safer 
^d much cheaper than gasoline. N^w is the time tf buy^our' 
wife a gas range and make her work a pleasure, and her life secure. 

Accounts of injuries and deaths through accidents 
can be used to good advantage in accident and life in- 
surance letters. Burglaries, particularly local ones, 
make strong appeals in letters from locksmiths, hard- 
ware dealers, burglary insurance men, bank and safe de- 
posit men. News items regarding impure water can be 
made use of by the dealer in filters. There are a thou- 
sand opportunities for the retailer, or any other man, to 
make his letters live (page 137). 

The other kind of news— trade news— may be found 
in your everyday work or your trade paper. After aU, 



NEWS VALUE 



Dear Sir: 

Did you read this clipping 
about the boy bandits? It sub- 
stantiates our claim for ease of 
control £Uid flexibility, £ind 
shows that during the chase the 
young bandits traveled 74 miles, 
making fifteen starts and stops. 
The matter of turns and other 

Kerf ormances proves that the 
orth Star automobile is the 
most easily controlled car on 
the market today. 

The car was driven over a 
curb, down an embankment, and 
across a vacant lot without 
injuring the tires or steering 
connections, and without break- 
ing the springs. In attempting 
to follow it, the motorcycle 
policemen smashed their tires 
in jumping the curb. This 
proves that the wonderful tire 
mileage North Star owners are 
securing is not a question of 
luck, but an engineering feat 
of more than passing note. 

Shall we explain to you 
the flexible construction of 
the North Star and show why 
this performance was possible? 

Yours truly. 



137 



Compda 
atteiUion 



Forcttfid 
description 
focused on 
the goods 



Ends quickly in 
u strong 
climax 



PUTTING NEWS VALUE TO WORK 

With this letter was enclosed a newspaper clipping describing a chase by 
the Chicago police of a band of young robbers who had stolen an automobile, and 
had used it in a series of daring robberies. The manufacturer made the incident 
the text for a convincing demonstration of the strength of his car. 



las 



Trade news 
— always of 
value 



V 



Examples 



: 



A novel use 
of advance 
notices of 
styles 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

it is simply a matter of telling your man something of 
newsy interest about your goods. It may be a new 
model you are putting on the market, a new service you 
can give the dealer or the user. Again it may be simply 
advice as to coming fashions, or a suggestion as to the 
best method of handling certain goods. If it is given the 
news turn, it gets the interest. For the retailer who 
uses the mails to keep in touch with his customers or for 
the manufacturer or wholesaler following up his trade, 
this is the kind of news that counts most. 

Here, for instance, is a newsy letter from a fork 
manufacturer to a retailer. It is good because it gives 
him an idea that he probably has not thought of before, 
and best of all, it has practical value : 

Dear Mr. Dealer: 

When business is slow, and you have some time on jour hands 
one of these warm days, wouldn't it pay vou to telephone every 
coal dealer in your town, and try to get his order for coal and 
coke forks f 

Next season 's supply of fuel will be largely delivered to resi- 
dences during the remainder of the summer, and the haulers wiU 
need forks. 

Here is our heavy goods catalogue, showing all patterns and 
sizes. Please write us if your jobber cannot supply you with 
whatever you want. 

Every housewife wants to know what the store has 
in the way of new goods that she can use. She is glad 
when a Montana grocer writes her thus : 

The first shipment of that delicious white plume celery ar- 
rived by express today from Kalamazoo, and although it came a 
long way, it is just as crisp and fresh as when it left the celery 
city. Just call up 72, and we '11 send over as much as you want at 
ten cents a bunch. 

Advance notices of coming styles are especially good 
news items for the lady customer ; and if she gets them 
in a letter, she will be far more impressed with the store 
that writes her than she ever would be through read- 
ing them in its newspaper advertising One storeman 
managed this matter very effectively by sending a list 
of names of lady customers to its Paris buyer and having 
style letters sent from there direct. The novelty of get- 



NEWS VALUE 



139 



ting those personal letters from abroad, combined with 
the actual news value, brought results. 

What you consider just common things may be news News drawn 
to other people. For instance, here is the way a laundry Ao^ 2/owr 
man makes news out of his methods of doing work: 



Dear Mr. Norton: 

You 11 often find among your new laundered collars, some that 
are scratched or blistered on the seam. (That is, unless we do 
your laundry work.) It is not a necessary evil, either. The ex- 
planation is simple. The seams of a double-fold or wing pomt 
should be evenly dampened before folding. Otherwise it blisters 
or cracks. We have a machine to dampen those seams. It must 
dampen evenly, for it does it with mechanical precision. So you 
will get no cracked collars back from us. 

Just step to the telephone and call up Main 427, and your 
laundry will be ready for use whenever you want it. 

And here is another letter that gets the idea, this 

from a bird fancier : 

Dear Sir: 

We have just received a consignment of St. Andreasberg 
Roller Canaries which we can offer you at the special price of 
$3.50. These birds are really a second grade of Golden Opera 
Singer. During their course of training some birds make mis- 
takes—others take up false notes. We call such birds St Andreas- 
berg Boilers. They sing just as often as the first grade birds, and 
they all sing at night; but each bird has some slight imperfection 
in his song. 

Now, personally, I have no possible use for a canary, 
but this man almost sold me a bird simply because, with 
what was news to me, he got me deeply interested. 

Just keep this matter of news value in mind when 
you run through the letters that come to your desk to- 
morrow. Although you may never have stopped to 
analyze it before, you will find that the man who tells 
you something new, the man that throws into his mes- 
sage some bit of live, up-to-now information — ^that man 
gets your interest. 

, Put the idea to use yourself. You will find news 
making your dull, dry correspondence sparkling with 
life. You will find it giving new pulling power to 
letters that have been going to the discard. 



own 

methods of 
doing work 



A letter on 
canaries 



News 

interest will 
enliven 
otherwise 
dead letters 



CHAPTER XV 



GIVING YOUR LETTERS 
PERSONALITY 



The sales- 
man with a 
personality 
is the one 
who gets the 
orders 






The sales 
letter also 
must have 
personality 






il 



YOU have a new line of goods to introduce, and you 
advertise for salesmen to handle them on the road. 
Most of the applicants are ordinary in speech, ordi- 
nary in appearance, and obviously of ordinary ability. 
A few stand out from the others. Their speech is force- 
ful, they have the knack of presenting an idea in a new 
and interesting manner, they give the impression of 
being resourceful, of being able to adapt themselves to 
any conditions. They are alive and aggressive. They 
have personality. Which men will you hire? 

Why, then, be content with the ordinary, the com- 
monplace, sales letter as your traveling representative? 
Why expect it to be successful when you are afraid to 
employ the ordinary salesman who is lacking in person- 
ality ? The same principle applies to both. 

If you expect your campaign by mail to get big 
results, you must make your letters distinctive and in- 
dividual. Give them a personal touch. The ordinary 
letter has no individuality, no personality. And, like 
the salesman without personality, it cannot arouse the 
interest and desire of the customer. We say of such a 
man that he is ** uninteresting.'* So is the letter. The 
letters on pages 142 and 143 illustrate the difference. 






PERSONALITY 

The letter with a personality, then, must be original 
in thought and expression. Read a dozen sales letters 
that were placed on your desk this morning, and what do 
you find in the majority of them? The same stock ideas 
clothed in the same colorless and obsolete phraseology. 
Apparently the writers not only did not care to be orig- 
inal, but actually tried to make their letters conform to 
the old obsolete forms. Seemingly, their only anxiety 
was to show that they were fully accredited graduates of 
the **We-beg-to-advise'' school of correspondence. 

We have already discussed the evils of the stereo- 
typed beginning and close of the business letter in gen- 
eral (page 10). What was said there applies to all 
business letters, but it is especially true of the sales 
letter. In the latter it is doubly important that you 
should be careful to avoid anything that will deaden in- 
terest, for the success of your effort to sell to a man 
depends on your arousing and keeping his interest. 

In the body of your letter, too, strive to get a distinc- 
tive touch that will attract the attention of your reader. 
For instance, compare the two following letters. Ob- 
serve the stilted style of this tiresome, long-drawn-out 

sentence : 

Our connections are snch as to make it possible for you to 
place your order with us right here in the city, where we can show 
you the goods and demonstrate the eflSciency of our ears, and we 
hope that just as soon as you receive the catalogue you will look 
it over carefully and make it a point to call at our sales room 
which is connected with our general offices, and give us an oppor- 
tunity to show you what our cars will do. 

And then turn to the refreshing ease of expression in 
this from a local tailor : 

Do you know that Henry has been cutting clothes for some 
of Atlanta's best dressers for the last ten years, and that many 
of our old customers run in from out of town just to get that 
perfection of fit that they know only Henry can give themt This 
is just an indication of the confidence particular dressers have in 
our ability to give clothes comfort and satisfaction. 

Here the writer has even referred to his cutter by 
name. The ordinary writer, if he mentioned the cutter 



141 

Letter 
personality 
means partly 
originality 



It dispenses 
with the 
stereotyped 
beginning 
and end 



It requires 
freshness of 
expression 



11 



142 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



Failt to touch 
the reader* s 
interest 



The only 
epecific material 
in the letter 



Indifferent 
toealeM 



I 



Unconvincing 



«• 



We hope" but 
don't care very 
much 



Dear Sir: 

Such good results were obtained by our 
customers using Reedman's Nitrogen Fertil- 
izer l£ist year that we have arranged to 
increase our capacity for production this 
year. A large proportion of those who used 
it last year have voluntarily written us 
giving us an account of increased crops 
obtained through its use. We have arranged 
for the production of a larger amount this 
season and accordingly have decided to 
reduce the price on larger orders. 

In the future our five acre bottles 
will be furnished for S6.00 instead of $9.00 
as heretofore. Fifty acres will be fur- 
nished at one time for $55.00 and one hun- 
dred acres at one time for $100.00. The 
price for single acres remains the same — 
and the garden size 50c. 

It is important that you send us your 
order as promptly as possible that we may 
have the nitrogen prepared and shipped 
from the laboratory to you quickly when 
you want it. 

Spring planting is now coming on, so 
that you should have the nitrogen on hand, 
ready for use when the weather is Just 
right. Reedman's Fertilizer is the best 
and cheapest way for you to increase this 
year's crops. 

We enclose booklet and order blank 
which we hope you will use now without 
laying it aside. 

Yours truly. 



A LETTER WITHOUT PERSONALITY 

Here is an actual example of how not to write a sales letter. This letter is 
totally lacking in personality and in appeal. There is no sequence of thought, or 
climax. The writer actually closes the letter by suggesting to the prospect tho 
very action that he does not wish him to taka. 



PERSONALITY 



143 



Dear Sir: 

Have you heard what Matthew Harper did, 
over on his farm near Sherrington? 

For three years Mr. Harper had been 
trying to get catches of clover and alfalfa, 
but the clover came up better than the 
alfalfa. Both were thin in spots, and each 
year the scorching August sun burned them 
both out. Then he heard about Alfaclo, 
which is only a trade name for the nitrogen 
germs (in liquid form) which all clovers 
and alfalfas demand. He tried out a bottle 
on his seed — and he got better results 
than he ever dreamed of. He got three 
cuttings of alfalfa, his clover was un- 
usually heavy, and he received 12 to 14 
pounds more of cream per week from the same 
cattle this winter thcin he did last! 

Read the enclosed booklet. It tells 
you why Mr. Harper used Alfaclo. 

Alfaclo is alfalfa and clover insur- 
ance. Figure up the cost of how much you 
actually lose, if you do get a catch and 
then it winter kills, or burns up, or comes 
up so thin that you have to- plant it all 
over again. It is a good investment to pay 
$2.00 an acre for Alfaclo and to know your 
seed is properly inoculated. 

To get you acquainted with Alfaclo we 
enclose our coupon check. It is good for 
50 cents worth of new garden seeds with 
every bottle of Alfaclo. 

Your order sent by mail will receive 
Just as careful attention as if you came in 
person to one of our stores. All you have 
to do is to fill out the enclosed order 
blemk. Check the kind of garden seeds you 
want and the number of bottles of Alfaclo, 
and mail it today. 

Yours very truly. 



Piques curiosity 
in easy, conver- 
sational style 



Touches 
reader's own 
problem 



Proof 



Persuasion 



Inducement 



Easy to order 



HOW GOOD PERSONALITY PRODUCES BUSINESS 

Here also is an actual sales letter, offering the same article as the letter ou 
the opposite page. Curiosity is piqued in the first sentence, and the reader's 
interest held through to the very last sentence. All the elements of the sales 
letter are carefully developed through the paragraphs. The letter is convincing. 



144 



The per- 
sonality of 
the letter 
must be 
pleasing 



A pleasing 
letter 

persojiality 
depends 
largely on 
the man-do- 
man 
attitude 



Note the 
friendly 
interest 
in this letter 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

at all, would have spoken of him simply as an employee. 
But this man recognized the value of the distinctive 
touch. Which letter gets your attention? 

Thus far we have been considering the value of orig- 
inality or individuality in the letter. But there is an- 
other element in letter personality. Go back to your 
salesman. It is not enough for him to have a striking 
personality — it must be attractive and pleasing as well. 
The egotist *s is usually a strong personality, for he is 
likely to have opinions of his own. However, he is so 
engrossed with his own affairs that he has no place for 
other men's interests. A salesman of this sort will not 
sell many goods. Likewise a letter may have a striking 
personality — ^be original, distinctive, clever — and yet fail 
to land the orders. It will fail if it takes the wrong 
attitude — if it emphasizes the writer's interests instead 
of the customer's. 

The chief element which gives the letter the right 
kind of personality is the man-to-man attitude assumed 
by the correspondent toward the reader. This attitude 
is partly the result of putting the **you element" in 
your letter (see the following chapter). The '*you ele- 
ment" requires that you shall talk of the customer's 
needs and show him how your article wiU meet those 
needs (page 145). But the man-to-man attitude means 
more than that. To use it successfully, you must talk of 
his needs as if you were interested in them and wanted 
to help hiuL You must show a friendly interest in his 
affairs. That is what attracts you in a man, and it is 
equally effective in a letter. The following letter to a 
banker strikes this note successfully : 

Dear Mr. Brown: 

As soon as I learned the other day that your bank was making 
special efforts to secure more depositors this winter, I had the 
manager of our printing department get the enclosed proof for 
you. 

It is really the most significant announcement that has been 
made to American bankers in years. And even though it is being 
printed in some of the big magazines, where you might see it, I 



PERSONALITY 



145 



Dear Sir: 

I think if I lived away 
from the seashore and somebody 
wrote me, offering to send me 
fish right from the boats, I'd 
be mighty pleased. I'd jump at 
the chance to get it. 

Perhaps it's because I'm 
80 very fond of good fish, 
mackeral, codfish, and other 
kinds. But I don't believe I'm 
an exception — almost every- 
body I know likes good fish. 
You do, don't you? 

Then why not let me send 
you some of my kind? You'll 
find it altogether different 
from the store kind — differ- 
ent because it does come to 
your kitchen right from the 
fishing boats. 

My circular describes each 
kind fully and gives the deliv- 
ered prices. 

All there is for you to do 
is to tell me on the order blank 
what to send. 

Yours very truly. 



Eoiy reading 
and happy 
ttyU 



AU the "r* 
interest leadi 
up to a strong 
**you** interesi 



Short para- 
graphs help to 
hold attention 
to the end 



EVEN FRESH FISH CAN BE SOLD BY LETTER 

With this letter a fishing company on the Atlantic seaboard sold fresh fish 
to city folks living in Illinois. This chatty letter is a good example of the manner 
in which a correspondent may use "I'' and yet express interest in **yon." The 
tone of the letter is distinctly one of interest in the customer 'a needs. 



146 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



Cam09 convie- 
tion from the 
•tart 



Termpting 
deterifHon 



Strong 
persuasion 



D«ar Sir: 

Commodore and Mayor William Halt 
Thompson was right, when he said. "Chicago, 
the greatest summer resort city in the 
world, has become a reality". 

When I bought the "Sea-Gull" last fall 
I for one looked forward to the most plea- 
surable spring, summer, and fall that I had 
ever had— and I had it, right here in 
Chicago. 

You see, with a boat, you don't have 
to follow any hot, narrow road, bounce over 
bumps, pay for new tires, or "eat other 
peoples' dust" as you do in an automobile. 
You are out on the broad, clear waters of 
the lake, with the city in perspective, 
your friends gu'ound you, an ice box full 
of cool ginger ale or something else down 
below, if you want it, bunks, lockers, 
toilet, electric lights, comfortable chairs 
to sit in, room to move around, power to 
take you anywhere you want to go — I don't 
ask for anything better. 

»^ ,^ learned how to run the two-cylinder 
"fool-proof" engine in an hour. It runs 
like a clock, and drives her along hour 
after hour at a nice clean eight-mile clip. 
With one-man control — throttle, spark, 
lights, etc., accessible from the steering 
wheel, you feel like a "regular" monarch, 
as you "roam the trackless deep" with no 
limitations or restrictions except your own 
inclinations. 

.. After the first wonderful cruises on 
the l£ike — steering the boat to any desired 
destination that fancy dictated, Jackson 



HOW A BOAT WAS SOLD BY MAIL 

An advertising man who owned the ''Sea-GulP' wrote this letter and sent 
it to a selected list of prospects. He sold his boat to good advantage. Inquiriet 
continued to come in. He took these to a boat broker and under an agreement 
with him received a commission of $50 on each deal closed by the broker. The 



PEBSONALITY 



147 



Park Harbor, Gary. Michigan City. Wilmette. 
Belmont Harbor, down the river to Lookport. 
up the north branch through the new drain- 
age oanal to Wilmette. then out in the lake 
and back to Chicago, or Just out around the 
municipal pier for an hour in the evening 
with a party of friends before tying up at 
the mooring for a picnic supper and evening 
of pleasure in the clear bracing air — I 
found that my whole point of view, my 
philosophy, my health, my pleasure and Joy 
in life, seemed to have taken on a broader 
character. 

To my mind the "Sea-Gull" is the 
staunchest. most sea-worthy, the best-built 
and the most satisfactory boat that I have 
seen around Chicago. I keenly regret that 
I must sell it. 

The boat cost over $5,000 to build. 
She is built extra strong all the way 
through with very complete equipment and 
with solid mahogany upper works and inter- 
ior finish — and you could not duplicate the 
boat anywhere as a second hand value for a 
cent less than $2,000. The fall is the 
slack season however, and I will let her go 
for $1,150 for a sale made before Christmas. 

Wouldn't you consider buying the 
"Sea-Gull"? 

Just drop me a line or phone me any 
time, and I will be glad to show you the 
"Sea-Gull". 

Yours very truly. 



Psrsuaaion 



ExjdanaHon 
thai prieparet 
prospect for 
reduced price 



Summarjf 



Proqf&ffered 
ihrowfh per' 
ionafinsveetum 



letter was reprinted with favorable comment in a well-known magazina, and read 
by the president of a large eastern corporation who called the writer by telephone, 
arranged for an interview and offered him the position of western advertising 
manager with a large increase in salary. The offer was accepted. This is only 
one example of the interesting history that surrounds many eales letters. Tempting 
description, strong persuasion, and enthusiasm give the letter a striking personality. 



I 





148 

This 
friendly 
attitude 
hegets 
himds 



But the 
friendly 
interest rmud 
not he 
obtrusive 



The letter 
vnth a 
personality 
is distinctive 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

am having this special proof sent to jou direct so that no circum- 
stance can deprive you of the opi)ortunit7 it offers. 

Here is a chance to secure — in complete, worked out form — 
the exact, practical plan you need to double or triple your busi- 
ness — etc. 

If you were a banker, would that letter get by you? 
It might, but I doubt it, for the moment you start to 
read the letter you must realize that someone is talking 
to you about a matter that is very important to you, and 
is talking as though he could help you and wanted to 
do it 

Of course, this friendly interest must not be made 
obtrusive. The degree of intimacy that you would use 
in a letter to a personal friend would be objectionable 
in a business letter to a stranger or even to an acquaint- 
ance. But if the offer is made tactfully, it is human 
nature to warm up to such an appeal. 

Try this appeal in your next sales letter, and watch 
the results. The letter with a personality— original, dis- 
tinctive, and written with this man-to-man touch — ^will 
untie the wallet strings where the custom-made letter 
goes to the basket It gets the business where the cold, 
formal, and impersonal communication falls on deaf 
ears. And this is true because the letter with a person- 
ality is "different." The letter on pages 146 and 147 is 
a striking example. 



CHAPTER XVI 



THE *TOU" INTEREST 



You would probably leap up in burning wrath if, to- 
morrow, you could see your sales letters kindling 
a hundred morning fires. At least you would want to 
know why your sales letters interest only the man who 
empties the waste-basket— why they fail in their appeal 
to the man who counts, the man whom you expected to 
make a customer. 

If you are to find the answer to this question, you 
must sit down and analyze your correspondence. You 
may find several faults, any one of which is perhaps 
enough to kill a letter. But unless you have the point in 
mind, you may overlook an apparently simple fault- 
simple because the word at issue is so small and seem- 
ingly insignificant. The effect, however, is not insig- 
nificant, for this little word indicates a mistaken point 
of view, a totally wrong attitude toward the prospect. 
' As you analyze your correspondence, see if there is 
not too much '-we" in the opening paragraph. Then, 
as you push your investigation into the body of the 
letter, underscore each * * we ' * as you come to it. Haven *t 
you literally peppered your letter with this word! If 
you have, there is one answer to your question. 

From the beginning to the end, the average letter 



Why do your 
sales Utiera 
go to the 
reader*8 
waste- 
basket? 



See if they 
haveuH too 
much "we** 
in them 



150 



The reader 
looks for 
^'you" md 



A tailor who 
forgot *'you** 



I 



A manufac- 
turer who 
saw only his 
product 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

consists of **we" have this to offer, **we" contemplate 
this, and **we" intend to do that. But what does the 
reader care about what ' * we * ' do ? How are his interests 
affected by a statement regarding *'ours"t The words 
that interest him most in a letter are **you*' and 
* 'yours/' 

Forgetting this, the correspondent kills a hearing 
because he begins talking about his firm instead of about 
the reader, about **we*' instead of about *'you/' For 
example, a clothier writes me a letter : 

We are showing the most attractive line of spring and sum- 
mer woolens in the city. We assure you that the cue of every gar- 
ment will be the latest and up-to-the-minute in style. We pride 
ourselves on the reputation we have made as the outfitters of the 
best dressed men in the city, and we know that if you will give 
us a call, we can satisfy you. 

The writer of that letter was thinking more about 
his firm than he was about me and my needs. **We,'* 
not **you," was the important topic with him. 

Now suppose this writer had said : 

Mr. Smith, do you spend $15 more than you need to for a 
suit of clothes? Let us prove that this is the case by making you 
just as stylish and as wearable a suit for $35 as you have been 
paying $50 for. You will look better and feel better in the 
clothes, and at the same time you will be saving money. 

This letter keeps **you** and **your" interests in the 
foreground ; consequently it appeals directly to the cus- 
tomer. 

Again, a manufacturer writes: 

We have perfected and are now prepared to supply our new, 
patent-lined, double-rimmed, rust-proof, excelsior gas burner — 
the peer of them all. May we not receive your order to install 
these burners in your office f 

In this letter there is nothing which shows how the 
burner will benefit me. I am not an engineer, interested 
in the mechanical construction of a gas burner. The 
patent lining and the double rim are not of particular 
importance to me. The new appliance is worth while 
for me only if it cuts down my light bill or furnishes me 
a better light 



*'YOU" INTEREST 



151 




The writer of the following letter realizes that fact: In contrast, 

this one 



thought of 
''your" light 
bUls 



Don't begin 
every 
sentence 
with **we'* 



See here, Mr. Gas Burner, you spend $2.50 a month more for 
gas light than you should, and yet in spite of this waste you are 
not getting the brilliant illumination you are paying for. I can 
cut your gas bills in two, give you better, clearer, brighter light, 
and save you $2.50 a month. And the whole outlay to you will be 
simply the price of our new gas burners. 

This letter makes a very different impression, and as 
a result, after reading it I probably would have hurried 
to the mail box with a money order. Forget yourself 
and talk about the other man's profits, needs, desires. 
Look at your proposition from his point of view, and he 
will readily see it from yours. 

Don't begin your letter and every other sentence 
with **we." You may be the ruling power in your own 
world, but your reader doesn't know it. To himself he 
is the king of his own little kingdom. He has so many 
things to think about that he isn't interested in what you 
are doing. And yet he is the man you must get close to 
if you expect to get any of his money. He is interested 
only when he is sure of getting some money himself. I 
at once became alive to the proposition when I received 
this letter : 

Mr. Betailer: 

Why is it that you — ^the retailer — ^are compelled to lose more 
good hard cash through bad debts than any other man in business! 

Every month you have to charge up to bad debts, scores of 
good fat accounts that dead-beats refuse to pay. Mrs. Jones puts 
you off; Mrs. Smith tells you to wait; and so it goes — season aiter 
season. You could almost start a new store with the money lost by 
local retailers through bad debts. 

Now suppose we could tell you how to stop this; suppose we 
could tell you of a simple collection scheme used by one retailer 
down in Illinois that enabled him to make thirty of his hardest and 
slowest customers pay up — ^penny for penny — ^the hundreds of dol- 
lars they owed him. Wouldn't you jump at the chance to get itf 

Now, then, in the book described by the circular enclosed, you i olfc about 
can get this very collection system; the simplest, most successful 
collection system ever devised; a system that does not require the 
assistance of an expensive collector ; a system that you can operate 
without help — and the only expense is the cost of two or three 
two-cent stsunps. 

That is the kind of letter that jars money from my 
cash drawer. The guns of attractive argument and 



"you* 



152 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 



Farmed — **our'* 
iUKk 



Our" itylet 



'Our** oxfordt 



**Our" 
guarantee 



"Our'* 

catalogue 



Dear Sir: 

Accept our thanks for your favor Just 
received. We are glad of this opportunity 
to forward you a catalogue showing the 
styles which we carry in our stockroom 
ready for immediate use. 

Of course it is impossible to show all 
the styles which we make. The illustrations 
shown, simply represent some of the season's 
best sellers as selected by the leading 
retailers from our two hundred and fifty 
styles designed by our selling force. 

Our shoes are correct in every sense 
of the word. Our oxfords possess superior 
fitting qualities. They do not gap at the 
ankle; they fit close and do not slip at 
the heel; they are the coolest shoe for 
summer. We have them in green, red, tan 
black and patent. 

Our guarantee is something that is of 
vital importance to you if you oare to be 
assured of full value for your money spent. 

We can make any style required if you 
fail to find illustrated in our catalogue 
just the shoe you desire at the present 
time. We will forward the shoes prepaid 
upon receipt of your order with price, and 
will strive to serve you in a most satis- 
factory manner. 

Yours very truly. 



THE *^WE" LETTER LACKS DIRECTNESS AND FORCE 



J 




Nothing robs a letter of directness more than a lack of the *'you'' element 
This man tries to sell a pair of shoes by talking not about the prospect and his. 
needs but about himself and his product. Note the prevalence of **our" and 
**we" in every paragraph. Half of the words are mere machinery. 



(( 



YOU'* INTEREST 



Dear Mr. Sheldon: 

What is more uncomfortable and aggra- 
vating than an ill-fitting shoe? 

Make up your mind that for once in 
your life you will have a shoe that satis- 
fies you to the smallest detail — a shoe 
that does not slip at the heel or pinch at 
the toe, a shoe that will not wrinkle or 
run over at the side. 

The catalogue you requested is going 
to you todeiy under separate cover. I want 
peurticularly to call your attention to the 
new "Easy Last" style on page 37. This may 
be Just what you were looking for. But it 
is only one of the 54 attractive styles you 
will find illustrated. 

Select the style and finish that you 
like best, then simply fill in on the order 
blamk, the number, size, and width you want, 
and mail to us today. With this information 
to guide us we will send you, all charges 
prepaid, the very day that your order is 
received, a pair of shoes that will fit you 
perfectly. 

Do not miss this opportunity to obtain 
real, genuine shoe comfort. Send your order 
at once — today. 

Yours very truly. 



153 



**Your**»ho$ 
trouUei 

**Your** wants 

**Your** com- 
fort assured 



"Vour" wante 
iupTplied 



**Your** choice 



*'Your** oppor 
tunity gratped 






THE *'YOU" LETTER TALKS LIKE A GOOD SALESMAN 

In this rehandling of the shoe proposition on the opposite page the dealer 
comes over to the customer's side, just as a clever salesman would, and turns in 
to help him **get a fit.*' So the entire letter shows an understanding of "your" 
shoe troubles and **your" needs, and offers **you" satisfaction. 



151 



Show 
interest in 
the custom- 
er's needs 



A Hre manu- 
facturer who 
did not 



I 



An engine 
manufac- 
turer who did 



m 



HOW TO WRITE BUSINESS LETTERS 

effective salesmanship are leveled directly at me. I must 
either get out of the way or stand and take the shot. I 
buy because **you and your collections'* has been the 
attitude of the letter. 

I am not interested in your proposition until you 
have shown some interest in my affairs. And you can 
never make me believe that you are really interested in 
me by everlastingly harping on **we." 

A tire manufacturer answers my inquiry with this : 

We have your favor of the fourteenth stating that you are in- 
terested in our advertisement of Wonder Tires. We are enclosing 
our Wonder booklet which illustrates and describes our Wonder 
tread. We would be very glad to give you any further informa- 
tion and our best price. Trusting that you will insist on Wonder 
Tires, we are, yours very truly. 

Now I was interested in the advertisement, but is 
there one single reason in that **we'' spotted letter why 
I should continue to be interested, why I should ** insist'' 
on having Wonder Tires? What I wanted from that 
manufacturer was tire talk that applied to me. His in- 
terest in the deal was obvious. It was mine that was 
essential to a sale. And that letter killed it. 

Contrast it with this from a manufacturer who would 
sell me an engine : 

You know what a nuisance it is to set out to equip a boat and 
find that you haven 't got this and you haven 't got that. Before 
you finish, it has coat a quarter or a third more than you figured on. 

Customers have often asked us: **What does your equip- 
ment include! Why don't you make it complete?" That's just 
what we're trying to do from now on — ^we are going to **put in 
everything." And what's more, we're going to pay tiie freight. 

That man is talking to me. He knows my boat 
troubles. He's talking to me in my own boat house, and 
I read on through his description and sales argument 
with interest, because I feel from the first word that the 
writer of that letter understands my needs. 

To be a successful writer you must talk about your 
customer and his affairs. See that you get the word 
you" in the opening sentence. For example: 



<< 



''YOU" INTEREST 

Tou can make a larger profit if you sell Dufii 's Molasses, than 
if you don 't. Your customers want Duff 's Molasses, and they are 
going to get it 'somewhere. You can make big profits by getting 
in line early, — and so on. 

The grocer is interested in this proposition because 
it offers to put money in his cash drawer. There is no 
more interesting proposition to him than that. When he 
reads this letter, he must decide whether he will order 
and make good profits, or stand idly by while his com- 
petitor gathers in the benefits. 

And now when you have just about determined to 
inject some of the '*you" element into your letters, culti- 
vate the ability to get over on the buyer's side and look 
at your proposition through his eyes. A good sales- 
man never mentions the selling end of his game; he 
emphasizes the buying point (pages 152 and 153). 

You may think it selfish, but I repeat that the nearest 
subject to me is me. The most interesting theme with 
you is you. It is a human trait — ^as infallible as a phys- 
ical law. 



155 

This letter 
means 

money to the 
grocer 



The "you 
element" 
means em- 
phasizing 
the buying 
points — not 
the selling 
points 





' m\ 



INDEX 



Acknowledging order, letter 25, 30 

— how to begin §0 

— how to close 31 

— when goods are shipped 30 

— when goods are not shipped 30 

Adjustment letter 29 

Advance in price 107 

Appeal, to appetite In sales letter 77 

— to fear in sales letter 77 

Appeals, various human interest 77 

Application, letter of 20 

— business experience, how to state 21 

— education, covering your 21 

— essential element in 20 

— how to start It 20 

— qualifications, how to state 20 

— references and personal history 21 

Arguments, distributing in sales 'ol- 

low-up 127 

— effective arrangement l^o 

Arrangement, common errors in 14 

— well-balanced 15 

Attention §8 

—advantages of display head 70 

— combined with interest 74 

— different from interest 74 

— disadvantages of display bead 72 

— ^formal vs. personal be^nning 69 

— form for first sentence 73 

— ^in acknowledging inquiries 69 

— ^in sales letter 61 

— in two classes of sales letters 68 

— in unsolicited sales letter 70 

—."irritating" display head 72 

— ^modified display head 73 

— psychology of display head 72 

— two ways of winning, illustrated 71 

— use display head cautiously 73 

—winning it at the start 68 



B 



Brevity 



19 



Cablegram 




24 


Curbon copies 


13 


• }2 


Clearness 




19 


Climax, see also Summary and climax 




— in sales letter 




66 


— purpose 
— the clincher 




110 




110 


-—the summary and 




110 



— two parts of the 
Clincher 
— coupon, serially numbered 
— coupon, when bad 
-guarantee blank 



110 
110 
116 
116 
116 



— how to use coupon or return card 114 
— makes ordering easy 111 

—what it does 111, 117 

Collection letter 43 

— a five-letter series shown 54-56 

— appeal to debtor's pride 49 

— appeal to ease 50 

— appeal to fear 50 

— appeal to sense of fair play 49 

— arguments for payment 48 

— a series analyzed 53, 58 

— asking explanation of non-payment 47 
—collection talk proper 47 

— dealing with customer's reply 47 

— dignified "need the money ' argu- 
ment 49 
— effect of series shown 59 
— elements of 46 
— forms of notification 46 
— getting the right tone 44 
—"hard up" plea 45 
— how it differs from sales letter 43 
— if explanation is satisfactory 48 
— if explanation is unsatisfactory 48 
— keeping customer's good will 45 
— ^kinds of debtors 48 
— making it easy to pay 61 
— personal appeals 49 
— regarding the debt as an obliga- 
tion 44 
— request to "pay now" 51 
— sales talk in 51 
— showing personal interest in debtor 45 
— statement of account 46 
— summary of elements in 52 
— use of forms 44 
Complaint letter 82 
— an untactful reply to 36 
—^ specimen complaint 36 
— attitude, angry 39 
— attitude, flippant 39 
— attitude, suspicious 89 
— <:las8es of complaints 33 
—effect of methods of handling com- 
plaints 34 
— fault undetermined 38 
— ^house at fault, claim granted 33 
— house not at fault but claim 

cranted 35 

— house not at fault, claim refused 33 
— how mistake was made 40 

— how mistake will be rectified 41 

— how to concede justice of com- 
plaint 35 
— how salesman feels about mistake 41 



158 INDEX 




'Mi 




—object of adjnatmeot 82 
— prompt reply to 40 
— pattlntr yourself in a false posi- 
tion In 38 
— satisfying the customer 88 
— tactful reply to 37 
— variation of elements In reply to 42 
— writer's attitude 32 
— wrong and right way to handle 

_ complaints 34, 35 

Contract letters 26 

Coupon, bad when complicated 116 

— or return card 114 

— serially numbered 110 

Credit information, reply to letter 

asking for 27 

— requests for 25 

— where obtained 26 

Customer, how to visualize 9 

— keeping his good will 45 

Customer letter ordering goods 27 
— accurate description necessary 28 

— metliod of payment 28 

— shipping instructions 28 

— three chief elements 27 

C*ustomers, how to classify 9 



Dealer help letter 

— bad example 

— good example 
Description, see Explanation and 

scription 

— in sales letter 
Development of the business letter 
Direct sales letter 

— repetition of arguments In 
Display head, advantages of 

— disadvantages of 

— in sales letter 

— "Irritating" head 

— modified form of 

—psychology of 

—use with caution 



de- 



132 
183 
183 



68 

7 

119 

120 

70 

72 

70 

72 

78 

72 

78 



E 



Blements, In sales follow-up aeries 128 

— of answer to a complaint letter 40 

— of collection letter 02 

—of sales letter 62 

Enclosures, as proof 93 

— ^value of descriptive 87 

Bxhortation, how to use 06 

— type of persuasion 96 

Explanation and description 81 

— effective suggestion in 87 

— examples of general and Bpeclile 85 
— examples showing reader's point 

of view 84 
— how to make It vivid 82 
— how to start gi 
— make It specific 86 
— more detail In less familiar arti- 
cles 83 
— new wajs to express old Ideas 86 



— original phraseology 

— pick details to fit the reader 

— points of superiority In article 

— reader's point of view 

— select details carefully 

— value of enclosures 



raise Inducements 

Form letters, and sales follow-op 

— dealer help 

— need not be impersonal 

— supplied to dealer 
Forms, In collecting by mall 
Free trial 

— as proof 



6 



"Ginger-up" letter 

— ^good example of 
Qaarantee blank 



103, 



Indentation 
Inducement 

— advance in price 

— free trial 

— In sales letter 

— kinds of 

— "limited supply" warning 

— low prices, dull season 

— naturally expressed 

— one that pulled many orders 

— ^reduced price 

— relation to persuasion 

— various kinds suggested 

— warning against false 

—-what it means 

— what it should do 
Interest appeal to appetite 

•^^ppeal to fear 

— combined with attention 

— dilferent from attention 

— example of "human Interest* 
appeal 

— "human interest" story 

— methods of arousing 

—-mingled elements in winning 

— specimen letter showing 

— the news story 

— the reader's, not yours 

— touching reader's problem 

— 'Various human interest appeals 

— 'Ways to create 

— when necessary to create 

— won by comparisons 
Introduction, letter of 
Inquiry, letter of 

— a good reply to a 
Inqolry, reply to 



108 
131 
132 
182 
132 

44 
107 

88 



184 
134 
116 



17 

103 

107 

107 

66 

104 

104 

107 

105 

106 

107 

104 

107 

108 

103 

108 

77 

77 

74 

74 

76 
76 
74 
76 
76 
77 
79 
78 
77 
79 
80 
78 
19 
25 
26 



INDEX 



K 



*'Keyinfl^*' methods used in 
— repues to sales letter 



181 
130 



Low prices, dull season 



M 



107 



Make-np of letter, accepted standards 12 
—engraved or printed stationery 13 



envelope address 

—errors in arrangement 

—indentation 

—margins 

— name, address, and date 

— 'neatness, value of 

— size of envelope 

— size of sheet 

— spacing 

— well-balanced arrangement 
Margins 
"Money back," in proof 



18 
14 
17 
16 
16 
18 
13 
12 
17 
15 
16, 17 
89 



N 



Name, address and date 

News story, in arousing interest 

News value 
— a letter on canaries 
—drawn from your business 
— examples of effective use 
— examples of trade news 
— how It was put to work 
— miscellaneous topics 
—public topics 
T— trade topics 
— two kinds of stories 
— ^wliat it will do 



16 

77 

135 

139 

139 

136 

138 

137 

130 

135, 136 

135, 138 

135 

139 



O 



Ordering goods, letters 



25 



Personality, a letter with it 148 

— a letter without it 142 

— at beginning and end 141 

—depends on man-to-man attitude 144 
— ^friendly letter begets friends 148 

— ^Mendly Interest, example of 144 

— friendly Interest must not be 

obtrusive 148 

— In a letter selling a boat 146, 147 



— in a letter selling fish 
— letter like a salesman 
— makes letter distinctive 
— means partly originality 
— must be pleasing 



159 



145 
140 
148 
141 
144 



-requires nreshness of expression 141 

Personal tone, avoid stereotyped 

phrases 10 

— classifying customers 9 

— closing the letter 11 

— creating a typical customer 9 

— how to secure it 8 

— looking at customer as an individ- 
ual 8 
^-opening the letter 10 
— talking to the "average" man 10 
— ^visualizing the customer 9 
— ^wbat it means 8 

Persuasion 96 

— a good example of 08 

— a letter lacking in 90 

— combined with other elements 100 
— examples of suggestive 100 

— exhortation, one type of 96 

— effect of exhortation 06 

— how to use exhortation 96 

—"injured dignity" letter 101 

— in sales letter 63 

— object of 102 

— promise of gain 
— showing prospect 

benefit 
— ^suggesting benefits 
— two types of 
— warning in use of 
— ^what it does 

Power of the business letter 

Proof, by a free trial 
— enclosures 

— example of convincing 
— for every claim 
— Indirect 
— in sales letter 
— insincerity, cause of 
— insincerity, remedy for 
— "money back" 
— reference to authorities 
— samples enclosed 
— scientific 

— suggesting simple tests 
— testimonials 
—testimonials, modified 
— tone of sincerity necessary to 



bow be 



Q 

Quotations, writing for 28 

R 



Recommendation, letter of 22 

Reduced price 107 

Reference letter 22 

— example of a good one 23 

References, in letter of application 21 

Return card 114 




li 



V 



V 



160 



INDEX 



118, 119 
126 



121, 



Sales follow*up series 

— arrangement of arguments 

— a successful series 

— dealer help letter 

— direct sales 

— distributing arguments in 

— elements in 

— form letters 

— general publicity 

— "ginger-up" letter 

— how elements vary in 

— how to handle replies 

— how to handle the "split" 

— "keeping" methods used in 

— length of letters 

— repetition of arguments 

— trying out the arrangement 

— two classes of follow-up 

— series analyzed 

— test, how to conduct 

— test "keeping" replies 

— test, picking places for 

— test, value of 

— ^what each letter does 

— what it does 

— when inquiry 
only 

— ^when Inquiry 
swers 

— why necessary 
Sales letter 

— a good specimen 

— a bad specimen 

— arrangement of 

— climax 

—description 

— elements compared with sales- 
man's talk 

— getting attention 

—how to plan 

— inducement 

— leading up to buying point 

— leagth of 

— one that failed 

— one that won 

— persuasion 

— principles of salesmanship In 

— proof 

— six elements of 

— specimen, illustrating elements 

— "the whip" in a 
Salesmanship in a letter 
Sales talk in collection letter 
Samples, as proof 
Scientific proof 



needs one answer 
needs several an- 



125 
132 
119 
127 
128 
131 
119 
134 
129 
127 
128 
131 
129 
120 
126 
119 
126 
129 
130 
130 
131 
120 
118 

128 

127 
118 
60 
65 
64 
60 
66 
63 

61 

61 

61 

66 

115 

129 

112 

113 

63 

60 

63 

61 

62 

67 

60 

60 

89 

92 



Spacing, single vs. double 

•Split" In sales follow-up 

Standards in letter make-up 

Stationery, engraved or printed 
— standard size envelope 
— standard size sheet 
— variations in size 

Stereotyped phrases 

Summary and climax, another kind of 
clincher 117 

— clincher 110 

— clincher, what it does 111 

— coupon 114, 116 

— coupon, serially numbered 116 

— guarantee blank 116 

— purpose illustrated 109 



17 
128 
12 
13 
13 
12 
13 
10 



Telegram 24 

Test, for sales follow-up series 126 

— how to conduct 129 

— "keying" replies 130 

— methods used in "keying" replies 131 



— selecting places for 

— rvalue of 
Tests, as proof 
Testimonials, as proof 

— modified 
Tone of the modern business letter 
Typewriter ribbons 



130 
131 
92 

m 

03 

7 

18 



w 



"Whip,- In a sales letter 



m 



"You" interest 
— a letter with it, analyzed 
— a letter without It, analyzed 
— customer's needs forgotten 
— customer's needs remembered 
— emphasizes buying points 
— examples of 
— examples of lack of 
— how to get it 
— means profit from a letter 
— waste-basket letters 
— what reader lookg for 



149 
158 
152 
154 
154 
155 
151 
150 
161 
156 
149 
150 







ft 




i ! 



I ' 




li 



AUG2 91994 



* 



NE 







Date Due 




D247.5 
Smart 



How to ,^e business letters. 



O a. H 7 . JT 




COLUMBIA UNIVERS 



Hill 

0041394470 



^t-i a^ 



/ 



L 



TY LIBRARIES 




i i ii i l ii HiilMfcii 



ll ' 



END OF 

TITLE