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The Business Letter In Detail. Part 6



Chicago, Feb.9,1910.

Mr. P.H. Corwin,

Ferre Haute, Ind.

Dear Sir,

When will you take the agency for your town?

An agency that makes money for you at the start - that will net you on an average of $25.00 on each sale - that brings the wealthiest and best people in torn to your store - that will bo easily worth $10,000 a year to you - that's what we offer you.

$40,000 is the amount we are pending in advertising to popularise the 'SPOTLESS' Vacuum Cleaner. Look in the big magazines and you'll see our full page advertisements which are influencing public opinion the country oyer. Take your own city. Every family reads at least one magazine. So by advertising in thorn all, we appeal to every possible buyer in your district.

The public is interested in hygienic homes, free of dust and dirt. This is proved by the hundreds of inquiries we receive each day in response to our advertising* And the only way to got a spotless, hygienic home is by using a vacuum cleaner* As we write this letter there are twenty-nine live inquiries from people right in your own city, in our files - actual people who want to buy a machine, We want to send those letters to you.

This is what we will do for you when you take our ageneys:-

Advertise extensively in your local papers over your name. Hot for one week, but for three whole months - telling the people to go to your store to see the "SPOTLESS" Vacuum Cleaner.

Supply you for your own exclusive use with, an electrically operated window display which will draw people to your store.

Circalarise 1,000 names in your locality of People selected by you. And on your ova letter paper.

Bead to yon, tree of charge, all inquries wo receive from your district from time to time.

Give yon as much advertising matter as you require - handsome booklets' printed la colore - catchy folders and show cards. And your name printed on then,too.

And not only this, but on the day yon accept our agency, wo will send yon our complete selling plan, baaed on the experience of hundred a of merchants throughout the country who are successfully selling the "SPOTLESS" Vacuum Cleaner.

Ton can get all tola by merely mailing the attached postal. It's already stamped, addressed and filled in with your name and address - your acceptance. Tea sorely drop it in the mail.

Send it NOW.

Yours very truly,

Now, disregarding all errors of detail, we note several things which this letter is: it is to the point; it is full of definite inducements; it is clearly organized and logically progressive.

And it isn't factitiously individual or dishonest. By factitiously individual I mean pretending to an individual knowledge or interest that the writer hasn't, and that any sensible man knows he hasn't. Suppose that a sales manager writes you, "This year I am going to give my attention to your state, Illinois." And suppose the type-writing shows (as that of a letter now before me shows) that the last word, Illinois, was simply filled in. What effect on the buyer do you suppose that will have? Well, form-letters are printed which attempt that sort of deception in every paragraph. That kind of "individuality" is as silly as it is dishonest, and as ineffective as it is disgusting.

It would be a waste of paper for me to give a large number of follow-up form-letters, and pretend to show which were intrinsically business-getters and which were not. There are firms which try to show such distinctions, but the more competent the firm of form-letter writers the less dogmatic it is. An expert understands that much depends on the list used, and that even the best letters fail in time of drouth.

But perhaps I may intrude into the form-letter business enough to offer some trifling criticism of details. There is a bold and all-too-lively little paper called Letters which is grappling with the actual task of rewriting form-letters to make them more effective. If the editor will pardon the intrusion, let us amuse him by joining the game.

Letters has a department of letter-criticism edited by a gentleman called "The Grouch." The owner thus addresses him:

July 19th, 1909

Dear Grouch:

You've had a snap for the past three years.

You haven't done enough actual work to keep body and soul together-and if it wasn't for your "think box" which works alright, when properly oil**, you wouldn't have hung together all this time.

I sometimes feel sorry for your family hat since they knew you before I did, X think that sympathy along that line is wasted.

You are the first one at the Cashier's cage on Saturday and the last one to report at your desk every morning. If you were working according to Union rules you' would hare to start Tuesday's work about 11 o'clock Monday night and at Christmas tine you'd bo eating your Thanksgiving turkey.

Really, Grouch, your work hat boon a joke; you've roasted a few letters each issue - but who couldn't do that - now there has got to be a change-iff simply a ease of "make good" or join Wm. Jennings - I am tired of holding you up all the time.

2 want you to not only "roast" any letters you think deserving but 1 want you to pick out one of them that you think can be improved and re-write it - showing exactly what's what and-don't pick the easiest. I don't want any theory - LETTERS will not stand for that - but I want the same letter rewritten in a more salesmanlike manner - I want you to show my friends and readers. that writing an order-landing letter moans mors than a mere conglomeration of words.

I want you to show them Just how those words should be put to-gether to get the desired results - attentlon - orders - money.

You can do it if you want to and if you want to draw your check after Aug.28th you will for while X won't insist on a letter for this issue, I'll surely have writers cramp or paralysis on Saturday morning August 28th unless you deliver the goods.

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