In the days of text, when even email is on the wane, it can be easy to get sloppy with business writing.
I mean IDK what’s the problem with sneding qiuck communication if it looks great and its tech freindly lol?
Yeah, no. Case in point. Don’t settle. Stand out. Write a better business letter!
6 Ways to Write a Better Business Letter
1 – Plan that sucker
You want your letter to be seen and carefully read. Even if the business is urgent and your readers are looking for its arrival, a lack of planning can increase the chances that your business letter doesn’t get seen or opened.
Elements to plan for include:
Time of year/cycle of business
For example, are you going up against a holiday? Is it the end of the fiscal year? How does the time of year, or how do the events on your business calendar, interact with this letter?
Interaction with other communications
Have you just sent a big campaign and this letter might get lost in the shuffle? Do you want this letter to precede or follow another key communication? How long has it been since your audience has heard from you?
Even a simple letter needs a design that has a professional font, is easy on readers’ eyes (consider font size if you have an older audience!), carries your brand, and lays out information in a logical way. Keep it consistent with the envelope, too.
When your readers get to your signature line, what have you inspired them and equipped them to do? Your letter needs to be planned to include all the information readers need to take the next step. Does this mean donate? Pay a bill? Call you? Follow you on Instagram? Everything you include in your letter centers on this goal.
2 – Pick two good readers.
This will always help you see your writing from someone else’s point of view. And make sure your readers aren’t just people new on the job and hoping to score points with the boss! Pick at least two discriminating readers, good critics, and ask them to check for:
- Spelling and grammar
- Redundancy (Helps you stick to rule #4.)
- Message and clarity (Can they immediately tell what you’re getting at?)
- Consistency and quality of tone (What kind of impression are you giving?)
- Active verbs (not passive; ex. “We knew,” not “it was known”)
- Ease on the eyes (ex. font, letter design, images vs. text)
- Discriminatory/offensive language (which is often accidental!)
- Unnecessarily long words (ex. “commensurate” instead of “equal”)
- Too much “insider” jargon or slang
Outside readers will be especially good at seeing where your stylistic preferences and faults might crowd out the goal of the letter, clutter the main point, or obscure your brand.
3 – Reel in the feels.
Valentines, thank you cards, and the show This Is Us are written to give you all the feels. Business letters aren’t. This doesn’t mean you can now outsource your correspondence to a robot. It just means there’s an art to doing it right.
You need to balance three things as you decide how personal to get:
A reader-friendly business letter means primarily being clear and sticking to the point. Watch for where you might be leaning on “feel” language too much (ex. “We feel” rather than “we believe”). First, communicate accurate and clear information. (“Just the facts, ma’am!”) Then employ tone, branding, and style to convey all the warmth and personalization you need.
4 – Stick to the one-page rule
You already know what would be in parentheses next to this rule: the word “mostly.” But don’t wiggle off the hook too easily! To say to yourself “I’ll usually stick to one page” will always give you room to believe your letter is the exception to the rule. You may be a masterful storyteller, your charisma may waft from every sentence on the page, your vision might be genius, but many people won’t care to experience it if you stick more than two pages in their hands at once.
5 – Forget the one-page rule
If you’re going to go with two pages, try this rule: don’t bleed, fill. Don’t just “bleed” onto a second page, but fill your second page. Make it substantial and engaging. You may as well. If your story, report, explanation, or greeting really needs the breathing room, then go for it. Just make sure of a few things:
- It’s long because it’s meeting a specific goal.
- You’re not doing it all the time.
- The letter is consistently branded (that is, reflects your organization and not just your personality).
- The pages have plenty of “white space” for your reader’s eye.
- The letter is graphically engaging yet not over-stimulating.
6 – Get it in a great envelope!
You knew we’d go here! The right envelope will tell your readers something about what they’re going to open before they open it. Branded envelopes make your business letters easy to recognize and can even create positive anticipation for opening them. They build consistency in your brand and allow you to play with tone, color, and emotional appeal while staying perfectly professional.
At Letter Jacket Envelopes, we love to get your message looking great. But don’t let quality content slip! There are no emojis in business writing to convey your meaning or cover up gaps in communication. Even a run of the mill business letter deserves time and care—because your clients, partners, employees, or parishioners do, too.