Have a Conversation with Your Reader

26 Nov, 2008 | by

Do you talk to your reader in your business letters?  Are you using language that is too formal or stuffy?  Worse yet, are you writing in a style that is too informal?

Formal Language
I talk to so many people that are confused about what is business appropriate in their written correspondence.  Many are convinced that the company expects them to use the old formal language.

Let’s look at an example:
Pursuant to your inquiry of March 17, 2008, I am enclosing some literature regarding our XYZ products.  Our organization is dedicated to providing the utmost quality and cost effectiveness.  We are confident our products will meet and exceed your standards of excellence.

This is too formal and most likely will bore your reader.  You should ask yourself if this is how you would speak to the customer in a face-to-face conversation.

Informal Language
Now let’s consider the opposite approach.  We treat our customers as if they were one of our closest friends.  We use slang, make up adjectives, and forget we have proper grammar and sentence structure to consider. We forget that email, when used for business correspondence must remain business appropriate.

 Take another look at the above excerpt now written in a very informal style:
Hey, thanks for calling.  I put some really cool stuff about our XYZ products in the package.  Our company thinks quality is really important and our pricing is uber-low.  You’ll be totally stoked by our super products.

This is too informal.  It sounds like we are talking to a friend at a college party.

Business Appropriate
Let’s make our excerpt more conversational, while maintaining the appropriateness:
Thank you for your call.  I have sent you some information about our XYZ products.  You might have heard that our company values quality.  We would like to show you how we can help you be most cost effective.  Let’s talk some more about how we can help you and answer your questions.  We want to be sure you feel good about your decision to buy our products.

Does the above example sound too stuffy?  Is it too informal?  Does it sound conversational and still maintain a business-like tone?

Try reading your sales and business letters out-loud before you send them.   Make sure they are written in a conversational style that maintains a business tone.  Give your customers the respect they deserve by communicating in a clear and concise manner.  Choose strong, direct words to convey your message.   Write in a style that encourages your reader to want to talk more with you.

4 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Rich Vinhais
    November 26th, 2008 at 3:00 pm #

    Nice post Valerie! Examples always seem to drive home the point for me.

  2. alex
    December 12th, 2008 at 5:56 pm #

    Add to my Bookmarks ;)

  3. Sandy
    December 23rd, 2008 at 2:20 pm #

    Passed this post on to a few of my colleagues. Being in a Marketing department I see this problem frequently, but unfortunately we always seem to lean towards formal writing because we’re trying to appear ‘professional’ and ‘upscale.’ At the same time, once the mailings go out, our call center gets inundated with questions about the mailing. Is the message getting lost? Seems so.

  4. Target coupon
    February 12th, 2017 at 8:22 am #

    ich fahre selber gerne Rad, aber könnten die Radfahrer in der “Fußgängerzone”, wo viel kinder und ältere menschen gehen(sollen) das Rad nicht schieben? Manche tuns ja schon

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