At school you were taught to write properly. That’s properly as in old-fashioned, dry and deadly serious English. In your small business, it’s the equivalent of pouring cold water over your client as you’re talking to them about your products and it’s just not going to help you sell.
Writing a business letter the old fashioned way, we might start something like…
Dear Mr Bracket,
Herewith please find enclosed the items as requested in your call of 15th September 2008. Notwithstanding the twaddle in this letter, I would be delighted to introduce ourselves to your company at your earliest convenience. To take advantage of blah blah blah…
It’s not easy to read and it’s certainly not going to win you any favours for being friendly to customers. So when you’re writing to customers, take the time to use their language so that you don’t build a barrier of strange words between you.
In the last week I’ve been working with a couple of clients on their sales copy. One of these is a letter that sells a service to lawyers, another is selling a software product to IT people and the third is for a restaurant’s advert in a local paper.
The language in each of these is very different to appeal to three very different groups of potential customers. No school teacher is going to mark it, so don’t worry about using abbreviations or phrases your teacher told you to avoid. Just make sure it’s a language that your audience will understand.
One of the most successful direct mail letters I’ve written got a phenomenal response – so good that most people shake their heads and say it’s not possible (10% response to a cold list). It was to a very specific audience and took around two days in total to write, over about 6 weeks of to-ing and fro-ing with my client.
It looks horrible because it uses technical manufacturing and engineering language that most of us have never seen before. Yet it generated £15,000 per month of orders because it speaks in the language of the customer.
Right, it’s time for your business coach to take his next lesson in “How To Speak Geek” – handy for talking to my teenage son…