The Business Letter In Detail. Part 8
We'll be glad to submit samples and quote prices. Ask us - you will have prompt attention.
Yours for more business.
Let us make a few microscopic changes, and see also if we cannot save a few words without losing the force of this appeal.
You will agree that the best results from advertising are secured through letters - personal, persuasive letters.
Are your form letters personal? Do they seem to have come straight from the typewriter? If not, they command no attention and sell no goods.
You will find our facsimile typewritten letters to be Just what wo represent them to be, namely, individual letters. They will be a credit and a profit to you to send out.
We're been at it fifteen years. We have studied the problem. Business houses large and small have become our clients because our letters cost them little and bring large results.
Results count. After one trial of our letters you will find than cheap at twice what ethers ask. The results make them cheap.
But they will cost yon loss than others ask. Your first order will cost you less than it costs us. We are not thinking of what your bank account will stand.
You can have from us, free of charge, a typewriter ribbon guaran-teed to match the ink we use in your letters. This will enable you to fill in the names at your office. Better still, wo shell be glad to do this in-serting for you. We will insert names, reproduce your signature la a spe-cial ink, address your antelopes, sad prepare your letters for the mail. We will do all this at a very low cost to you.
We shall be glad to submit samples and quote prices. Ask us, You will have prompt attention.
By the way, tills letter is one of our facsimiles. You have read it. Others will read yours.
Yours very truly,
The D. H. Ahrend Co,
§120. In collection correspondence, form-letters are considerably used, but they are of limited value.
Of course, if the failure to pay is only an accident, any kind of a letter will bring results. But in such a case there is all the more reason that your dun should be incidental, slipped into a personal letter about other matters, and accompanied by some little touch which shows your confidence. If the first letter produces no effect, a second one of about the same tone may. As long as it is possible to show confidence and your desire to sell goods, you should show that confidence and that desire.
If succeeding letters are necessary, they must become briefer and more urgent, but still there should be the personal note, the man to man appeal for honest business. The bad debtor is injuring himself, and if you are skillful you can show him that without directly saying so. It is beneath dignity to plead your own need of money, and it is only too true that your debtor is not much interested in your needs.
If the debtor remains obstinate, a final letter may set the date by which time the account must be settled or be placed in the hands of an attorney. A threat so made must be carried out with precision.
But, more and more, business men are trying to avoid the courts in matters of this sort. Various ingenious devices are being invented for securing payment by means of letters. Some of these seem to me slightly contemptible, and they will not be explained in this place. When it comes to using imaginary detective agencies and lying telegrams, the present writer sees one place where business, so-called, and business English ought to part company.
There was a fine irony in the calm way in which Aristotle descended to explain the tricks of persuasion. If business were purely a matter of dog eat dog - which God forbid - then I should be justified in explaining to the under dog how he might possibly give the upper dog the slip. The cleverest series of business letters I ever read lies before me at this minute. It is a series by which a rascally firm managed to put off its creditors for more than two years. But I am not going to print them.
In answering complaints, justice to the buyer is the first consideration, and the second is generosity. Justice to yourself is of less account. This does not mean that you need be seriously imposed upon, or that you are to impoverish your house by weak compliance with every whining demand. But it does mean that your eloquent self-defense is without interest to your customer.
If his complaint is just, make quick and courteous reparation, expressing your regret at the mistake. If it is wholly unjust and involves a good deal of money, show him the fact briefly but accurately, without casting aspersions or impugning motives. If it is slightly unjust, be generous at once, not after you have proved him in the wrong. Assume no air of virtue or condescension for being generous. Your purpose is merely selfish, intelligently so.
Yet you may seem to yourself very generous in so acting. Well, if in business we must use such terms as generosity and mercy, let us say that the last word of literature to business is Shakspere's Merchant of Venice. Mercy is an essential of good business. The Shylock (whether Jew or Gentile) is bound to be a transitory figure. Duties are more easily defined than rights. In the long run mercy and duty are going to be infinitely more influential in business than those indefinable things called rights.