Last year fifteen billion letters were handled by the post officeone 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 businessgood 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 goodstalking 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 factorythrough lettersletters 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-builder.
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 businessthat 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 usewherever 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 territory.
So in every phase of selling, the letter makes it possible for you to keep your finger constantly upon the pulse of trade.
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.
Consider how business letters can aid your business and start planning a strategic letter writing campaign to boost your businesses image, stature and profits today.