This is a view from 100 years ago.
The concept is as fresh 'Today' as it was then.
YES!…Even with the advent of The Internet.
Never underestimate the ‘POWER’ of writing
a correctly formatted letter.
Or, from learning the technique from a ‘Master’.
VOLUME I - HOW TO WRITE THE BUSINESS LETTER:
24 chapters on preparing to write the letter and finding the proper viewpoint; how to open the letter, present the
proposition convincingly, make an effective close; how to acquire a forceful style and inject originality; how to adapt
selling appeal to different prospects and get orders by letter—proved principles and practical schemes illustrated by
extracts from 217 actual letters
BUSINESS CORRESPONDENCE VOLUME I
Preparing to Write the Letter:
1: What You Can Do With a Postage Stamp
2: The Advantages of Doing Business by Letter
3: Gathering Material and Picking Out Talking Points
4: When You Sit Down to Write
How to Write the Letter:
5: How to Begin a Business Letter
6: How to Present Your Proposition
7: How to Bring the Letter to a Close
Style—Making the Letter Readable:
8: “Style” in Letter Writing—And How to Acquire It
9: Making the Letter Hang Together
10: How to Make Letters Original
11: Making the Form Letter Personal
The Dress of a Business Letter:
12: Making Letterheads and Envelopes Distinctive
13: The Typographical Make-up of Business Letters
14: Getting a Uniform Policy and Quality in Letters
15: Making Letters Uniform in Appearance
Writing the Sales Letter:
16: How to Write the Letter That Will “Land” the Order
17: The Letter That Will Bring An Inquiry
18: How to Close Sales by Letter
19: What to Enclose With Sales Letters
20: Bringing in New Business by Post Card
21: Making it Easy for the Prospect to Answer
The Appeal to Different Classes:
22: How to Write Letters That Appeal to Women
23: How to Write Letters That Appeal to Men
24: How to Write Letters That Appeal to Farmers
What You Can Do With a POSTAGE STAMP.
PART I—PREPARING TO WRITE THE LETTER—CHAPTER 1
Last year  fifteen billion letters were handled by the post office—one hundred and fifty for every person. Just
as a thousand years ago practically all trade was cash, and now only seven per cent involves currency, so nine-
tenths of the business is done today by letter while even a few decades ago it was by personal word. You can get
your prospect, turn him into a customer, sell him goods, settle complaints, investigate credit standing, collect your
money_--ALL BY LETTER. And often better than by word of mouth. For, when talking, you speak to only one or two;
by letter you can talk to a hundred thousand in a sincere, personal way. So the letter is the MOST IMPORTANT
TOOL in modern business—good letter writing is the business man’s FIRST REQUIREMENT.
There is a firm in Chicago, with a most interesting bit of inside history. It is not a large firm. Ten years ago it
consisted of one man. Today there are some three hundred employees, but it is still a one-man business. It has
never employed a salesman on the road; the head of the firm has never been out to call on any of his customers.
But here is a singular thing: you may drop in to see a business man in Syracuse or San Francisco, in Jacksonville
or Walla Walla, and should you casually mention this man’s name, the chances are the other will reply: “Oh, yes. I
know him very well. That is, I’ve had several letters from him and I feel as though I know him.”
Sitting alone in his little office, this man was one of the first to foresee, ten years ago, the real possibilities of the
letter. He saw that if he could write a man a thousand miles away the right kind of a letter he could do business with
him as well as he could with the man in the next block.
So he began talking by mail to men whom he thought might buy his goods—talking to them in sane, human, you-
and-me English. Through those letters he sold goods. Nor did he stop there. In the same human way he collected
the money for them. He adjusted any complaints that arose. He did everything that any business man could do with
customers. In five years he was talking not to a thousand men but to a million. And today, though not fifty men in the
million have ever met him, this man’s personality has swept like a tidal wave across the country and left its
impression in office, store and factory—through letters—letters alone.
This instance is not cited because it marks the employment of a new medium, but because it shows how the letter
has become a universal implement of trade; how a commonplace tool has been developed into a living business-
The letter is today the greatest potential creator and transactor of business in the world. But wide as its use is, it still
lies idle, an undeveloped possibility, in many a business house where it might be playing a powerful part.
The letter is a universal implement of business—that is what gives it such great possibilities. It is the servant of
every business, regardless of its size or of its character. It matters not what department may command its use—
wherever there is a business in which men must communicate with each other, the letter is found to be the first and
most efficient medium.
Analyze for a moment the departments of your own business. See how many points there are at which you could
use right letters to good advantage. See if you have not been overlooking some opportunities that the letter, at a
small cost, will help develop.
Do you sell goods? The letter is the greatest salesman known to modern business. It will carry the story you have to
tell wherever the mail goes. It will create business and bring back orders a thousand miles to the very hand it left. If
you are a retailer, the letter will enable you to talk your goods, your store, your service, to every family in your town,
or it will go further and build a counter across the continent for you.
If you are a manufacturer or wholesaler selling to the trade, the letter will find prospects and win customers for you
in remote towns that salesmen cannot profitably reach.
But the letter is not only a direct salesman, it is a supporter of every personal sales force. Judiciously centered
upon a given territory, letters pave the way for the salesman’s coming; they serve as his introduction. After his call,
they keep reminding the prospect or customer of the house and its goods.
Or, trained by the sales manager upon his men, letters keep them in touch with the house and key up their loyalty.
With regular and special letters, the sales manager is able to extend his own enthusiasm to the farthest limits of his
So in every phase of selling, the letter makes it possible for you to keep your finger constantly upon the pulse of
If you are a wholesaler or manufacturer, letters enable you to keep your dealers in line. If you are a retailer, they
offer you a medium through which to keep your customers in the proper mental attitude toward your store, the
subtle factor upon which retail credit so largely depends. If you sell on instalments, letters automatically follow up
the accounts and maintain the inward flow of payments at a fraction of what any other system of collecting entails.
Do you have occasion to investigate the credit of your customers? The letter will quietly and quickly secure the
information. Knowing the possible sources of the data you desire you can send forth half a dozen letters and a few
days later have upon your desk a comprehensive report upon the worth and reliability of almost any concern or
individual asking credit favors. And the letter will get this information where a representative would often fail
because it comes full-fledged in the frankness and dignity of your house.
Does your business involve in any way the collecting of money? Letters today bring in ten dollars for every one that
collectors receive on their monotonous round of homes and cashiers’ cages. Without the collection letter the whole
credit system would be toppling about our ears.
* * * * *
SELLS GOODS DIRECT
BUILDS UP LISTS
ELIMINATES DEAD WOOD
CLASSIFIES LIVE PROSPECTS
OPENS UP NEW TERRITORY
SHOWS POSSIBLE PROFIT
INTRODUCES NEW LINES
AID TO SALESMEN
KEEPS LINED UP
AID TO DEALERS
DRUMS UP TRADE
DEVELOPS NEW BUSINESS
HOW TO SYSTEMIZE WORK
MERCANTILE ACTS - RETAIL ACTS - INSTALLMENT ACTS - PETTY ACTS
EMPHASIZE HOUSE POLICY
EMPHASIZE ADVANTAGE OF GOODS
ESTABLISHMENT OF FORCED COLLECTIONS
COST OF FORCED COLLECTIONS
EXTENSION OF ACCOMMODATION
OF SHUTTING OFF CREDIT
OF WRITING TO REFERENCES
THROUGH LEGAL AVENUES
THROUGH LEGAL AGENCIES
HOUSE COLLECTION BUREAUS
REGULAR COLLECTION BUREAUS
HANDLES LONG RANGE CUSTOMERS
SUPPLIES PERSONAL CONTACT
SHOWS INTEREST IN CUSTOMER
DEVELOPS RE-ORDER SCHEMES
BUILDS UP STEADY TRADE
MAKES CAPITAL OUT OF COMPLAINTS
WINS BACK CUSTOMERS
GIVES PERSONALITY TO BUSINESS
BUILDS UP GOOD WILL
PAVES WAY FOR NEW CUSTOMERS
The practical uses of the business letter are almost infinite:
selling goods, with distant customers, developing the prestige of
the house—there is handling men, adjusting complaints, collecting
money, keeping in touch scarcely an activity of modern business that
cannot be carried on by letter.
. * * * * *
Do you find it necessary to adjust the complaint of a client or a customer? A diplomatic letter at the first intimation of
dissatisfaction will save many an order from cancellation. It will soothe ruffled feelings, wipe out imagined grievances
and even lay the basis for firmer relations in the future.
So you may run the gamut of your own business or any other. At every point that marks a transaction between
concerns or individuals, you will find some way in which the letter rightly used, can play a profitable part.
There is a romance about the postage stamp as fascinating as any story—not the romance contained in sweet
scented notes, but the romance of big things accomplished; organizations developed, businesses built, great
commercial houses founded.
In 1902 a couple of men secured the agency for a firm manufacturing extracts and toilet preparations. They
organized an agency force through letters and within a year the manufacturers were swamped with business,
unable to fill the orders.
Then the men added one or two other lines, still operating from one small office. Soon a storage room was added;
then a packing and shipping room was necessary and additional warehouse facilities were needed. Space was
rented in the next building; a couple of rooms were secured across the street, and one department was located
over the river—wherever rooms could be found.
Next the management decided to issue a regular mail-order catalogue and move to larger quarters where the
business could be centered under one roof. A floor in a new building was rented—a whole floor. The employees
thought it was extravagance; the managers were dubious, for when the business was gathered in from seven
different parts of the city, there was still much vacant floor space.
One year later it was again necessary to rent outside space. The management then decided to erect a permanent
home and today the business occupies two large buildings and the firm is known all over the country as one of the
big factors of mail-order merchandising.
It has all been done by postage stamps.
When the financial world suddenly tightened up in 1907 a wholesale dry goods house found itself hard pressed for
ready money. The credit manager wrote to the customers and begged them to pay up at once. But the retailers
were scared and doggedly held onto their cash. Even the merchants who were well rated and whose bills were due,
played for time.
The house could not borrow the money it needed and almost in despair the president sat down and wrote a letter to
his customers; it was no routine collection letter, but a heart-to-heart talk, telling them that if they did not come to his
rescue the business that he had spent thirty years in building would be wiped out and he would be left penniless
because he could not collect his money. He had the bookkeepers go through every important account and they
found that there was hardly a customer who had not, for one reason or another, at some time asked for an
extension of credit. And to each customer the president dictated a personal paragraph, reminding him of the time
accommodation had been asked and granted. Then the appeal was made straight from the heart: “Now, when I
need help, not merely to tide me over a few weeks but to save me from ruin, will you not strain a point, put forth
some special effort to help me out, just as I helped you at such and such a time?”
“If we can collect $20,000,” he had assured his associates, “I know we can borrow $20,000, and that will probably
pull us through.”
The third day after his letters went out several checks came in; the fourth day the cashier banked over $22,000;
within ten days $68,000 had come in, several merchants paying up accounts that were not yet due; a few even
offered to “help out the firm.”
The business was saved—by postage stamps.
Formality to the winds; stereotyped phrases were forgotten; traditional appeals were discarded and a plain talk,
man-to-man, just as if the two were closeted together in an office brought hundreds of customers rushing to the
assistance of the house with which they had been dealing.
Sixty-eight thousand dollars collected within two weeks when money was almost invisible—and by letter. Truly there
is romance in the postage stamp.
Twenty-five years ago a station agent wrote to other agents along the line about a watch that he could sell them at
a low price. When an order came in he bought a watch, sent it to the customer and used his profit to buy stamps for
more letters. After a while he put in each letter a folder advertising charms, fobs and chains; then rings, cuff buttons
and a general line of jewelry was added. It soon became necessary to give up his position on the railroad and
devote all his time to the business and one line after another was added to the stock he carried.
Today the house that started in this way has customers in the farthermost parts of civilization; it sells every
conceivable product from toothpicks to automobiles and knockdown houses. Two thousand people do nothing but
handle mail; over 22,000 orders are received and filled every day; 36,000 men and women are on the payroll.
It has all been done by mail. Postage stamps bring to the house every year business in excess of $65,000,000.
One day the head correspondent in an old established wholesale house in the east had occasion to go through
some files of ten and twelve years before. He was at once struck with the number of names with which he was not
familiar—former customers who were no longer buying from the house. He put a couple of girls at work making a list
of these old customers and checking them up in the mercantile directories to see how many were still in business.
Then he sat down and wrote to them, asking as a personal favor that they write and tell him why they no longer
bought of the house; whether its goods or service had not been satisfactory, whether some complaint had not been
adjusted. There must be a reason, would they not tell him personally just what it was?
Eighty per cent of the men addressed replied to this personal appeal; many had complaints that were straightened
out; others had drifted to other houses for no special reason. The majority were worked back into the “customer”
files. Three years later the accounting department checked up the orders received from these re-found customers.
The gross was over a million dollars. The business all sprung from one letter.
Yes, there is romance in the postage stamp; there is a latent power in it that few men realize—a power that will
remove commercial mountains and erect industrial pyramids.
The ADVANTAGES Of Doing Business By Letter.
PART I—PREPARING TO WRITE THE LETTER—CHAPTER 2
Letters have their limitations and their advantages. The correspondent who is anxious to secure the best results
should recognize the inherent weakness of a letter due to its lack of personality in order to reinforce these places.
Equally essential is an understanding of the letter’s great_ NATURAL ADVANTAGES so that the writer can turn
them to account—make the most of them. It possesses qualities the personal representative lacks and this chapter
tells how to take advantage of them
* * * * *
While it is necessary to know how to write a strong letter, it is likewise essential to understand both the limitations of
letters and their advantages. It is necessary, on the one hand, to take into account the handicaps that a letter has
in competition with a personal solicitor. Offsetting this are many distinct advantages the letter has over the
salesman. To write a really effective letter, a correspondent must thoroughly understand its carrying capacity.
A salesman often wins an audience and secures an order by the force of a dominating personality. The letter can
minimize this handicap by an attractive dress and force attention through the impression of quality. The letter lacks
the animation of a person but there can be an individuality about its appearance that will assure a respectful
hearing for its message.
The personal representative can time his call, knowing that under certain circumstances he may find his man in a
favorable frame of mind, or even at the door he may decide it is the part of diplomacy to withdraw and wait a more
propitious hour. The letter cannot back out of the prospect’s office; it cannot shape its canvass to meet the needs
of the occasion or make capital out of the mood or the comments of the prospect.
The correspondent cannot afford to ignore these handicaps under which his letter enters the prospect’s office.
Rather, he should keep these things constantly in mind in order to overcome the obstacles just as far as possible,
reinforcing the letter so it will be prepared for any situation it may encounter at its destination. Explanations must be
so clear that questions are unnecessary; objections must be anticipated and answered in advance; the fact that the
recipient is busy must be taken into account and the message made just as brief as possible; the reader must be
treated with respect and diplomatically brought around to see the relationship between his needs and your product.
But while the letter has these disadvantages, it possesses qualities that the salesman lacks. The letter, once it lies
open before the man to whom you wish to talk, is your counterpart, speaking in your words just as you would talk to
him if you were in his office or in his home. That is, the right letter. It reflects your personality and not that of some
third person who may be working for a competitor next year.
The letter, if clearly written, will not misrepresent your proposition; its desire for a commission or for increased sales
will not lead it to make exaggerated statements or unauthorized promises. The letter will reach the prospect just as
it left your desk, with the same amount of enthusiasm and freshness. It will not be tired and sleepy because it had to
catch a midnight train; it will not be out of sorts because of the poor coffee and the cold potatoes served at the
Grand hotel for breakfast; it will not be peeved because it lost a big sale across the street; it will not be in a hurry to
make the 11:30 local; it will not be discouraged because a competitor is making inroads into the territory.
You have the satisfaction of knowing that the letter is immune from these ills and weaknesses to which flesh is heir
and will deliver your message faithfully, promptly, loyally. It will not have to resort to clever devices to get past the
glass door, nor will it be told in frigid tones by the guard on watch to call some other day. The courtesy of the mail
will take your letter to the proper authority. If it goes out in a dignified dress and presents its proposition concisely it
is assured of a considerate hearing.
It will deliver its message just as readily to some Garcia in the mountains of Cuba as to the man in the next block.
The salesman who makes a dozen calls a day is doing good work; letters can present your proposition to a hundred
thousand prospects on the one forenoon. They can cover the same territory a week later and call again and again
just as often as you desire. You cannot time the letter’s call to the hour but you can make sure it reaches the
prospect on the day of the week and the time of the month when he is most likely to give it consideration. You know
exactly the kind of canvass every letter is making; you know that every call on the list is made.
The salesman must look well to his laurels if he hopes to compete successfully with the letter as a selling medium.
Put the points of advantage in parallel columns and the letter has the best of it; consider, in addition, the item of
expense and it is no wonder letters are becoming a greater factor in business.
The country over, there are comparatively few houses that appreciate the full possibilities of doing business by mail.
Not many appreciate that certain basic principles underlie letter writing, applicable alike to the beginner who is just
struggling to get a foothold and to the great mail-order house with its tons of mail daily. They are not mere theories;
they are fundamental principles that have been put to the test, proved out in thousands of letters and on an infinite
number of propositions.
The correspondent who is ambitious to do by mail what others do by person, must understand these principles and
how to apply them. He must know the order and position of the essential elements; he must take account of the
letter’s impersonal character and make the most of its natural advantages.
Writing letters that pull is not intuition; it is an art that anyone can acquire. But this is the point: it must be acquired.
It will not come to one without effort on his part. Fundamental principles must be understood; ways of presenting a
proposition must be studied, various angles must be tried out; the effectiveness of appeals must be tested; new
schemes for getting attention and arousing interest must be devised; clear, concise description and explanation
must come from continual practice; methods for getting the prospect to order now must be developed. It is not a
game of chance; there is nothing mysterious about it—nothing impossible, it is solely a matter of study, hard work
and the intelligent application of proved-up principles.
Gathering MATERIAL And Picking Out TALKING Points.
PART I—PREPARING TO WRITE THE LETTER—CHAPTER 3
Arguments—prices, styles, terms, quality or whatever they may be—are effective only when used on the right
“prospect” at the right time. The correspondent who has some message of value to carry gathers together a mass
of “raw material”—facts, figures and specifications on which to base his arguments—and then he selects the
particular talking points that will appeal to his prospect. By systematic tests, the relative values of various arguments
may be determined almost to a scientific nicety. How to gather and classify this material and how to determine what
points are most effective is the subject in this chapter
* * * * *
An architect can sit down and design your house on paper, showing its exact proportions, the finish of every room,
the location of every door and window. He can give specific instructions for building your house but before you can
begin operations you have got to get together the brick and mortar and lumber—all the material used in its
And so the correspondent-architect can point out the way to write a letter: how to begin, how to work up interest,
how to present argument, how to introduce salesmanship, how to work in a clincher and how to close, but when you
come to writing the letter that applies to your particular business you have first to gather the material. And just as
you select cement or brick or lumber according to the kind of house you want to build, so the correspondent must
gather the particular kind of material he wants for his letter, classify it and arrange it so that the best can be quickly
The old school of correspondents—and there are many graduates still in business—write solely from their own
viewpoint. Their letters are focused on “our goods,” “our interests” and “our profits.” But the new school of letter
writers keep their own interests in the background. Their sole aim is to focus on the viewpoint of the reader; find the
subjects in which he is interested, learn the arguments that will appeal to him, bear down on the persuasion that will
induce him to act at once.
And so the successful correspondent should draw arguments and talking points from many sources; from the
house, from the customer, from competitors, from the news of the day from his knowledge of human nature.
“What shall I do first?” asked a new salesman of the general manager.
“Sell yourself,” was the laconic reply, and every salesman and correspondent in the country could well afford to take
this advice to heart.
Sell yourself; answer every objection that you can think of, test out the proposition from every conceivable angle;
measure it by other similar products; learn its points of weakness and of superiority, know its possibilities and its
limitations. Convince yourself; sell yourself, and then you will be able to sell others.
The first source of material for the correspondent is in the house itself. His knowledge must run back to the source
of raw materials: the kinds of materials used, where they come from, the quality and the quantity required, the
difficulties in obtaining them, the possibilities of a shortage, all the problems of mining or gathering the raw material
and getting it from its source to the plant—a vast storehouse of talking points.
Then it is desirable to have a full knowledge of the processes of manufacture; the method of handling work in the
factory, the labor saving appliances used, the new processes that have been perfected, the time required in turning
out goods, the delays that are liable to occur—these are all pertinent and may furnish the strongest kind of selling
arguments. And it is equally desirable to have inside knowledge of the methods in the sales department, in the
receiving room and the shipping room. It is necessary for the correspondent to know the firm’s facilities for handling
orders; when deliveries can be promised, what delays are liable to occur, how goods are packed, the condition in
which they are received by the customer, the probable time required in reaching the customer.
Another nearby source of information is the status of the customer’s account; whether he is slow pay or a man who
always discounts his bills. It is a very important fact for the correspondent to know whether the records show an
increasing business or a business that barely holds its own.
Then a most important source—by many considered the most valuable material of all—is the customer himself. It
may be laid down as a general proposition that the more the correspondent knows about the man to whom he is
writing, the better appeal he can make.
In the first place, he wants to know the size and character of the customer’s business. He should know the customer’
s location, not merely as a name that goes on the envelope, but some pertinent facts regarding the state or section.
If he can find out something regarding a customer’s standing and his competition, it will help him to understand his
Fortunate is the correspondent who knows something regarding the personal peculiarities of the man to whom he is
writing. If he understands his hobbies, his cherished ambition, his home life, he can shape his appeal in a more
personal way. It is comparatively easy to secure such information where salesmen are calling on the trade, and
many large houses insist upon their representatives’ making out very complete reports, giving a mass of detailed
information that will be valuable to the correspondent.
Then there is a third source of material, scarcely less important than the study of the house and the customer, and
that is a study of the competitors—other firms who are in the same line of business and going after the same trade.
The broad-gauged correspondent never misses an opportunity to learn more about the goods of competing
houses—the quality of their products, the extent of their lines, their facilities for handling orders, the satisfaction that
their goods are giving, the terms on which they are sold and which managers are hustling and up to the minute in
The correspondent can also find information, inspiration and suggestion from the advertising methods of other
concerns—not competitors but firms in a similar line.
Then there are various miscellaneous sources of information. The majority of correspondents study diligently the
advertisements in general periodicals; new methods and ideas are seized upon and filed in the “morgue” for further
Where a house travels a number of men, the sales department is an excellent place from which to draw talking
points. Interviewing salesmen as they come in from trips and so getting direct information, brings out talking points
which are most helpful as are those secured by shorthand reports of salesmen’s conventions.
Many firms get convincing arguments by the use of detailed forms asking for reports on the product. One follow-up
writer gets valuable pointers from complaints which he terms “reverse” or “left-handed” talking points.
Some correspondents become adept in coupling up the news of the day with their products. A thousand and one
different events may be given a twist to connect the reader’s interest with the house products and supply a reason
for “buying now.” The fluctuation in prices of raw materials, drought, late seasons, railway rates, fires, bumper
crops, political discussions, new inventions, scientific achievements—there is hardly a happening that the clever
correspondent, hard pressed for new talking points, cannot work into a sales letter as a reason for interesting the
reader in his goods.
* * * * *
SOURCES OF MATERIAL:
/ 1. SOURCES
/ 1. RAW MATERIALS --| 2. QUALITY
| | 3. SUPPLY
| \ 4. PRICE
| / 1. CAPACITY OF
PLANT | PLANT
| | 2. NEW EQUIPMENT
| 2. PROCESSES OF --| 3. TIME SAVING
| MANUFACTURE | DEVICES
| \ 4. IMPROVED METHODS
/- 1. THE HOUSE------|
| | / 1. METHODS OF
| | | SALESMEN
| | 3. KNOWLEDGE OF --| 2. POLICY OF
| | DEPARTMENTS | CREDIT DEPT.
| | | 3. CONDITIONS IN
| | | RECEIVING &
| | \ SHIPPING DEPTS.
| | 4. KNOWLEDGE OF
| | COSTS
| | 5. STATUS OF / 1. CREDIT
| | CUSTOMER’S --| STANDING
| | ACCOUNT | 2. GROWING
| | \ BUSINESS
| | / 1. OLD LETTERS
| | | 2. ADVERTISEMENTS
| | 6. DOCUMENTS --| 3. BOOKLETS,
| | | CIRCULARS, ETC.
| | \ 4. TESTIMONIALS
| | / 1. ACQUAINTANCES
| | | OF OFFICERS
| \ 7. PERSONNEL OF --| 2. INTERESTS &
| FIRM | RELATIONS
| \ OF OFFICERS
| / 1. CHARACTER OR
|- 2. THE CUSTOMERS--| KIND OF BUSINESS
| | 2. SIZE OF BUSINESS
| | 3. LENGTH OF TIME
| | IN BUSINESS
SOURCES | 4. LOCATION & LOCAL
OF | CONDITIONS
| | 5. COMPETITION
| | 6. STANDING WITH
| | CUSTOMERS
| | 7. METHODS & POLICIES
| | 8. HOBBIES & PERSONAL
| \ PECULIARITIES
| / 1. QUALITY
| / 1. GOODS --| 2. EXTENT OF LINES
| | \ 3. NEW LINES
| | / 1. TERMS
| | 2. POLICIES --| 2. TREATMENT OF
| | \ CUSTOMERS
|- 3. COMPETITORS----| / 1. SIZE OF PLANT
| | 3. CAPACITY --| 2. EQUIPMENT
| | | 3. FACILITIES FOR
| | \ HANDLING ORDER
| | / 1. NEW CAMPAIGNS
| \ 4. METHODS --| 2. ADVERTISING
| \ 3. AGGRESSIVENESS
| / 1. METHODS
|- 4. OTHER METHODS--| 2. ADVERTISING
| (NOT |
| COMPETITORS) \ 3. SALES CAMPAIGNS
| / 1. METHODS
| / 1. SUPPLY HOUSES --\ 2. CAPACITY
| | 2. GENERAL MARKET
\- 5. MISCELLANEOUS--| CONDITIONS
| 3. CURRENT EVENTS
| 4. ADVERTISING IN
\ GENERAL MAGAZINES
* * * * *
Gathering the information is apt to be wasted effort unless it is classified and kept where it is instantly available. A
notebook for ideas should always be at hand and men who write important sales letters should keep within reach
scrapbooks, folders or envelopes containing “inspirational” material to which they can readily refer.
The scrapbook, a card index or some such method for classifying and filing material is indispensable. Two or three
pages or cards may be devoted to each general subject, such as raw material, processes of manufacture, methods
of shipping, uses, improvements, testimonials, and so forth, and give specific information that is manna for the
correspondent. The data may consist of notes he has written, bits of conversation he has heard, extracts from
articles he has read, advertisements of other concerns and circulars—material picked up from a thousand sources.
One versatile writer uses heavy manila sheets about the size of a letterhead and on these he pastes the catch-
lines, the unique phrases, the forceful arguments, the graphic descriptions and statistical information that he may
want to use. Several sheets are filled with metaphors and figures of speech that he may want to use some time in
illuminating a point. These sheets are more bulky than paper but are easier to handle than a scrapbook, and they
can be set up in front of the writer while he is working.
Another correspondent has an office that looks as if it had been decorated with a crazy quilt. Whenever he finds a
word, a sentence, a paragraph or a page that he wants to keep he pins or pastes it on the wall.
“I don’t want any systematic classification of this stuff,” he explains, “for in looking for the particular word or point
that I want, I go over so many other words and points that I keep all the material fresh in my mind. No good points
are buried in some forgotten scrapbook; I keep reading these things until they are as familiar to me as the alphabet.”
It may be very desirable to keep booklets, pamphlets and bulky matter that cannot be pasted into a book or onto
separate sheets in manila folders. This is the most convenient way for classifying and filing heavy material. Or large
envelopes may be used for this purpose.
Another favorite method of arrangement in filing talking points for reference is that of filing them in the order of their
This, in many propositions, is considered the best method. It is not possible, out of a list of arguments to tell, until
after the try-out always, which will pull and which will not. Those pulling best will be worked the most. Only as more
extensive selling literature is called for will the weaker points be pressed into service.
No matter what system is used, it must be a growing system; it must be kept up to date by the addition of new
material, picked up in the course of the day’s work. Much material is gathered and saved that is never used, but the
wise correspondent does not pass by an anecdote, a good simile, a clever appeal or forcible argument simply
because he does not see at the moment how he can make use of it.
In all probability the time will come when that story or that figure of speech will just fit in to illustrate some point he is
trying to make. Nor does the correspondent restrict his material to the subject in which he is directly interested, for
ideas spring from many sources and the advertisement of some firm in an entirely different line may give him a
suggestion or an inspiration that will enable him to work up an original talking point. And so it will be found that the
sources of material are almost unlimited—limited in fact, only by the ability of the writer to see the significance of a
story, a figure of speech or an item of news, and connect it up with his particular proposition.
But gathering and classifying material available for arguments is only preliminary work. A wide knowledge of human
nature is necessary to select from these arguments those that will appeal to the particular prospect or class of
prospects you are trying to reach.
“When you sit down to write an important letter, how do you pick out your talking points?”
This question was put to a man whose letters have been largely responsible for an enormous mail-order business.
“The first thing I do,” he replied, “is to wipe my pen and put the cork in the ink bottle.”
His answer summarizes everything that can be said about selecting talking points: before you start to write, study
the proposition, picture in your mind the man to whom you are writing, get his viewpoint, pick out the arguments that
will appeal to him and then write your letter to that individual.
The trouble with most letters is that they are not aimed carefully, the writer does not try to find the range but blazes
away in hopes that some of the shots will take effect.
There are a hundred things that might be said about this commodity that you want to market. It requires a
knowledge of human nature, and of salesmanship to single out the particular arguments and the inducement that
will carry most weight with the individual to whom you are writing. For even if you are preparing a form letter it will be
most effective if it is written directly at some individual who most nearly represents the conditions, the circumstances
and the needs of the class you are trying to reach.
Only the new correspondent selects the arguments that are nearest at hand—the viewpoints that appeal to him.
The high score letter writers look to outside sources for their talking points. One of the most fruitful sources of
information is the men who have bought your goods. The features that induced them to buy your product, the
things that they talk about are the very things that will induce others to buy that same product. Find out what
pleases the man who is using your goods and you may be sure that this same feature will appeal to the prospect.
It is equally desirable to get information from the man who did not buy your machine—learn his reasons, find out
what objections he has against it; where, in his estimation, it fell short of his requirements; for it is reasonably
certain that other prospects will raise the same objections and it is a test of good salesmanship to anticipate
criticisms and present arguments that will forestall such objections.
In every office there should be valuable evidence in the files— advertisements, letters, circulars, folders and other
publicity matter that has been used in past campaigns. In the most progressive business houses, every campaign is
thoroughly tested out; arguments, schemes, and talking points are proved up on test lists, the law of averages
enabling the correspondent to tell with mathematical accuracy the pulling power of every argument he has ever
used. The record of tests; the letters that have fallen down and the letters that have pulled, afford information that
is invaluable in planning new campaigns. The arguments and appeals that have proved successful in the past can
be utilized over and over again on new lists or given a new setting and used on old lists.
The time has passed when a full volley is fired before the ammunition is tested and the range found. The capable
letter writer tests out his arguments and proves the strength of his talking points without wasting a big appropriation.
His letters are tested as accurately as the chemist in his laboratory tests the strength or purity of material that is
submitted to him for analysis. How letters are keyed and tested is the subject of another chapter.
No matter what kind of a letter you are writing, keep this fact in mind: never use an argument on the reader that
does not appeal to you, the writer. Know your subject; know your goods from the source of the raw material to the
delivery of the finished product. And then in selling them, pick out the arguments that will appeal to the reader; look
at the proposition through the eyes of the prospect; sell yourself the order first and you will have found the talking
points that will sell the prospect.
|BUSINESS CORRESPONDENCE. Pt 1 of 5.
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