Whether you are writing business letters, emails or proposals, always remember that they are marketing pieces. Every communication you make helps shape positively or damages what others think of you. How well do you write? How well do you communicate?
Your business is only as strong as the content that defines it. Whether you sell party supplies, life insurance, or consulting services, you need high-quality, compelling written materials and marketing collateral that sets you apart from your competitors and clearly conveys the benefits you offer to customers, suppliers, and partners.
As a small business owner, there are several different types of content you’ll need to develop. Here, we’ll provide tips for three of the most important.
Crafting an Effective Business Letter
We’ve come a long way from writing business letters the traditional typewritten, snail-mailed ways of decades past, but the business letter continues to serve as an important marketing tool.
Whether you’re seeking funding from an investor, requesting project support, or suggesting a reciprocal partnership, the same basic guidelines to writing business letters apply:
- Use a professional template and letterhead. If you don’t use professionally designed and printed letterhead, there are dozens of options that can be downloaded from Microsoft Word or from the Internet.
- When writing business letters, address them using the full name and position of the recipient (i.e. “Allen Smith, Operations Manager”).
- Introduce your company. If the recipient isn’t familiar with your business, provide a succinct but informative summary of what you’re all about, the benefits your product or service provides, and any relevant affiliations.
- Get straight to the point. Business professionals are busy—they need to understand your central message as quickly as possible (preferably within the first paragraph). Don’t be guilty of writing business letters with “cutesy” introductions or lengthy stories.
- Tell them what’s in it for them. Rather than emphasizing why you need the recipient’s investment or support for your business, outline the key advantages he or she can expect to enjoy as a result of partnering or doing business with you.
- Remember to provide your name and contact information when writing business letters to make it easy for the recipient to get in touch. Give them multiple ways to contact you.
Mastering the Art of Writing Business Email
In today’s fast-paced, computer-centric business world, a vast majority of correspondence takes place via email. As with writing business letters, business emails are a key marketing piece and should be thought of as another opportunity to convey a positive image of you and your business.
With the constant flurry of quick electronic messages, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that every email you send—whether it’s addressed to a vendor, client, investor, or supervisor—is a direct reflection of both your business and your personal level of professionalism.
When writing business email, heed the following pointers to ensure that you convey your message in a clear, respectful manner:
- Keep it short and sweet. When writing business emails have a compelling hook, give a few quick details, and then provide a link to more information on your website or elsewhere.
- Back up your claims. Any assertions made in your email should be rooted in fact, never exaggerated. There is so much hype and misinformation on the web that it is vital you document your claims.
- Proof it. A business email riddled with misspellings and grammatical errors is an instant red flag. I am amazed at the huge number of emails I receive everyday that lead me to believe no one knows how to write anymore.To project an aura of credibility, take the time to check for mistakes (or, better yet, on really important emails, have an objective third party critique it).
- Consider your audience. The tone and wording of your email should be crafted with the recipient in mind. Use the same type of language you would if you were speaking verbally with the person or professionally writing business letters.
- Never assume knowledge. One of the biggest mistakes people make is omitting important information from a business email because they assume the recipient already has it. Always err on the side of caution.
- Test, test, and test again. Just as you would for a consumer email campaign, experiment with various subject lines and content angles for your business email.
- Avoid attachments. Many companies use filters that kick emails with suspicious attachments into spam folders, increasing the chance that your message won’t get read. Plus, the appearance and format of your file may change based on the software the recipient has installed on their computer. To be safe, link to web pages instead.
Creating a High-impact Business Proposal Letter
When approaching a potential client, a larger business, or a government agency, a well-executed business proposal can be the nudge you need to close the deal. A business proposal letter should clearly outline the advantages the recipient will enjoy by partnering with you.
There are two different types of proposals you may choose to present:
- Solicited business proposal: When a business or government agency is actively seeking someone to provide a service, they may advertise for businesses to place bids for the job. Your proposal will likely be evaluated along with bids from competing providers.
- Unsolicited business proposal: If you have a specific entity in mind for a potential partnership, you may choose to approach them with a proposal for entering into a joint venture.
To maximize the chances that your business proposal will stand out from other submissions and result in a winning partnership, keep the following tips in mind:
- Don’t just make blanket statements about your skills and qualifications—include specific, targeted solutions for how you can solve the unique problems faced by the business. Flesh out as many details as possible, including strategies, timelines, and projected costs.
- Point out the value-adding benefits you offer that set you apart from your competitors, such as expedited turnaround times, unlimited revisions, and referral discounts.
- Including rave reviews from delighted clients is a great way to build credibility in the eyes of a potential investor or business partner. If you’ve been written up in a reputable publication or won an industry award, note that as well.
- Craft your proposal in a tone that’s suited to the industry and audience. A proposal offering dog-walking services to a kennel would be written in a much different style than one suggesting a partnership between a lender and a real estate agent.
When it comes to winning bids, the success of a proposal is measured not by quantity, but by quality. With a carefully crafted, well-timed business proposal letter, you’ll be much more likely to garner high-caliber clients, affiliates, and investors who are a fitting match for your business model.
Make a Difference!
Finally, remember that writing business letters, emails and proposals is a marketing activity. Writing business letters carelessly is like standing in front of a prospect and not thinking about what you’re saying. You will likely make a poor presentation and communicate failure.
If you don’t care how you communicate up front, why should anyone believe you’ll suddenly care once the business relationship has begun. I wouldn’t … would you?