The top 7 myths about writing business letters

business letters,writing,email,transactionsMuch as we focus hard on online communications now, business letters still have a serious role to play in our day-to-day lives. Despite the revolution that online communications have brought about,
many businesses, industries and professions depend on the business letter as the bedrock of their business relationships.

Outdated? Perhaps, but it will take a few more years or even decades before the good old business letter disappears altogether.

Some myth-busting thoughts about business letters

1.Now that we have email, business letters are no longer necessary. See the introduction above. OK, many businesses dispensed with writing formal paper-based business letters some time ago because email made such communications a lot faster, less formal and more efficient than the paper-based variety. BUT … the format of the old-fashioned business letter was and is such that it clarifies just what, where, why, how and to whom business transactions should happen. Jolly, friendly, informal emails tend not to benefit from such clarity.

2.Business letters sent through the snailmail can only act as backups to email. Maybe … but business letters, using their formal and very stuffy approach, are able to clarify in no uncertain terms just what a business or other agreement consists of without the informality that emails demand.

3.You can’t use a business letter format in an email. True: you can’t. But you can attach a business letter to a nice, friendly email so that you kill two birds with one stone, as that incredibly eco-unfriendly term goes. And due to the differing natures of emails and attached business letters, you can use the attached biz letter to hammer home some very much stronger points than you could, when relevant, in an email.

4.If you need to make a complaint about something, emails and phone calls are better. Wrong. This may not be the case in 20-30 years’ time, but for now if you want to kick up a stink about an issue where you feel you have been treat abominably, write letters and mail them in those rectangular receptacles with a stamp on them. Keep a copy and a copy of the postage receipt. Of course you can put your points across online too, but if push comes to shove a good old-fashioned paper trail is very hard to argue with, especially in a court of Law.

5.Business letters will get ignored by your customers and prospects. Well, no – these days they won’t. Increasingly, as people like Caroline McCormack and Mark Orr will tell you, print still has a very strong role to play in the overall marketing mix … perhaps even more so now that direct mailing campaigns, using print, are grabbing the attention of customers and prospects who are heartily fed up with the avalanche of email marketing they and their customers receive.

6.Business letters are hard to write: email is so much easier. Not really. Business letters tend to follow a format if they’re going to bear fruit. In many ways the fact that you’re not hamstrung by the necessarily informal nature of emails, you can use a good, powerful business letter to make your points without any sociable and/or friendly flannel.

7.Business letter formats make the etiquette so hard to get right. Possibly, but I can provide you with some help here. It’s not rocket science. Check out the following articles for some helpful tips:

Help! I’m in a new job and have to write formal business letters. But how? 

Business English Quick Tips: salutations

blog,writing,news,blogging,business,Suzan St Maur,,how to write betterWhat are your views on business letters? Are they really relics from the 20th century that will be dead and buried soon, or do they still have some purpose – and kudos – in contemporary business?

Please share your thoughts here!