Business letter writing fundamentals
The key to Good Business Communication starts with Letter Etiquette. Writing a business letter is not simply a matter of expressing your position clearly. The manner in which you write, letter layout and the etiquette you employ may all have a significant impact on the success or failure of your business.
The first step is to Standardize the layout of your Letterhead. It is surprising to receive letters from different individuals from the same company with different colours, stretched logo's, company information and overall styling. You don't want contrasting marketing messages every time your company communicates with a potential customer. Build a brand or recognizable identity for your organization. A good letter becomes a key element of overall branding.
Letters should be responded to promptly or within 7 working days. If this is not possible then some sort of acknowledgement should be sent either by letter, fax, phone or e-mail.
Always use reference numbers or clearly state the purpose of the letter at the top, for example, 'Re: Business Letter Etiquette Enquiry'. This allows the receiver to trace correspondence and immediately set your letter within a context.
Always make sure you have spelt the recipient's name correctly. It may sound simple, but you would be surprised at how many people fail to do so. The recipient's name should include titles, honours or qualifications if deemed necessary.
When replying to points or questions the proper etiquette is to respond in the same order as they were asked. Try to keep all business letters formal in style. Even when the receiver is familiar to you. Refrain from using emotional words such as I and you and rather replace these with “We” / “your business name” and the other party’s business name.
Letters should be signed personally. It is unprofessional and disrespectful if a letter is left unsigned. However, having a secretary or PA sign on your behalf is not considered a breach of business etiquette.
Download this letterhead example.