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Writing Better Business Letters & Proposals

Initial contact & marketing

In the last few months we have had the pleasure of working with some interesting up and coming businesses. Whether you are starting out or have been established for a while, it’s likely that you will always be looking to establish new clients. That means writing business letters & proposals or marketing letters & emails. Some people find this an uncomfortable position to be in. How can you come across as enthusiastic about your business without being pushy?


Know your market

Who are you actually writing to? Are they interested in the facts and figures? Or are they interested in the unique qualities of your product design? Have you been nominated for an award? Brilliant – that speaks to everyone. If you are approaching someone to sell your product, they are likely interested in everything. They want to know pricing and how they can market it. If you want someone to buy your product, then you will want to highlight the product properties. Finally, if you want someone to replace something they already have with your product, you need to tell them how yours is BETTER. Think carefully – what is your Unique Selling Point?


Keep it short and sweet

The average adult attention span is shorter than you think. Do not waffle. The phrase short and sweet is extremely relevant when making initial contact. You want to entice your contact, highlighting some interesting points that will pique their interest. If you give them everything in one go, what reason do they have to contact you, apart from to buy? Whilst that is great, that will only ever apply to a minority of your contacts. Your passion for your product is likely to come across stronger when talking to someone than it ever will on paper. You want them to be interested enough in your product to have questions and want to speak to you for further information. This gives you the opportunity to convince them that your product is outstanding.


Introduce yourself

People respond to the personal touch. Read these two introductions and ask yourself seriously: “Which would I respond to?”

Dear sir,
The Carlton sofa is our newest and most innovative design yet.

Dear Mr Jackson,
My name is Marcus Smith, the lead designer of the Carlton sofa at Custom Sofas. I would appreciate you taking the time to consider our newest and most innovative design for your collection.

Firstly, compare “Dear Sir” vs “Dear Mr Jackson”. Writing to Mr Jackson is much more personable. It makes Mr Jackson think you specifically want HIS custom. If you can, always use the prospective client’s name.

Secondly, whilst it is often more practical to go straight into the details, remember you are presenting your brand in every contact. It’s an opportunity to introduce yourself and get your name and brand known. You are looking to establish relationships.


Emotive language

Language is a powerful weapon. The aim of your correspondence is to motivate a prospective client to contact you. A call to action. Using every day language is unlikely to do that. Human psychology indicates that we are more likely to respond to language that makes us feel something, whether that’s guilty, safe, conformable or positive. Our emotional brain processes language quicker than our cognitive brain. Your language will directly relate to the product you are marketing, but consider triggering the following emotions:

Fear – “Don’t get caught with too little insurance”

Guilt – “If there was a simple way to stop the spread of norovirus on cruise ships, why would you let guests suffer?”

Trust – “100% satisfaction or your money back”

Belonging – “Become part of our company family”

Alternatively use single emotive words such as:

  • Outstanding
  • Innovative
  • Exciting
  • Pioneering
  • Revolutionary


An initial contact is not the time for colloquialisms. You might use relaxed language with prospective clients over the phone, but contact in writing should always present your brand at its best. That relates to all emails as well as formal correspondence.
Include your “signature” on all emails and letters. That means your job title, phone number, email and website. Remember your aim is for the prospective client to be intrigued and get in touch. Putting your mobile number in the body of your letter doesn’t look professional. If you’re a new company and you’re not sure yet, “fake it until ¬†you make it”. People will believe you are professional if you sound professional.

At Proof Master we realise some people are gifted designers, and others are gifted wordsmiths. Our services mean you don’t have to be both! We tailor our services to you, so you can focus on what really matters and leave the editing to us.

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