Sending letters can feel like a lost and dying art in the age of email, social media, and YouTube shorts. That’s a pity because letters are still a great way to connect with people, especially business owners. Here’s how to mail a letter to a business.
Why do Businesses Still Need Mailing Letters?
Surprisingly, it’s about perception. It’s often a “no-brainer” to fire off an email. We send them off without really taking the time to think about what we want to say or how we can craft and polish our message.
Letters afford us the time to think through our content before sending it out.
Amid the flood of emails that businesses receive daily, a well-written letter stands out. Studies show that people tend to remember information longer from a letter than from online content.
It is an Affordable Form of Communication
So many choices: direct mail, newspaper, television and radio advertisements, social media campaigns, and billboards – see, we made you look. Why send letters?
Compared to the other contenders, business letters are an affordable and effective tool for communication, especially when targeting local businesses.
Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker and salesman extraordinaire, said, “The only way to hit the bullseye is to keep aiming for it.”
Paid advertisements in print and social media are excellent ways to reach businesses if you are trying to hit the side of a barn at 100 paces. You want to hit the bullseye painted on the side of that barn.
With direct mail, you zero in on that bullseye by tailoring your letter to the specific needs of the recipient and the relationship you have with them.
You want a letter that sings, dances, paints beautiful pictures, or shreds a searing guitar solo, to capture your reader’s attention.
Wait a minute. Can my business letter really do that? Yep.
Along with the letter, include:
- Promotional materials.
- Invitations for upcoming events.
Improved Brand Authority
Your brand authority sets you apart. Business-to-business (B2B) letters:
- Demonstrate that you are a professional who takes business seriously.
- Build relationships with key decision-makers you want to work with.
- Generate positive publicity for your brand.
- Build brand awareness.
Components of Effective Business Letters
A letter to your friend is like jazz music: free-flowing, polyrhythmic, and occasionally discordant. Letters to businesses are more like classical music (Philip Glass, not Ludwig van Beethoven): characterized by a focus on melody and harmony, with strict adherence to the written score.
Here is the score on mailing letters to businesses.
The dateline shows the date the letter was written. It consists of the month (always spelled out), day (in numerals), and year.
February 29, 2023, is acceptable (but you can only use that once every four years). Feb. 29, 2023, and 4/29/2023 are not.
Some letters require a reference to items such as files, invoices, account or policy numbers, or orders.
The reference line is a contextual reference for the purpose of the letter.
Special notations have to do with instructions regarding the means of delivery or on-arrival instructions. They are written in all caps.
They can include:
- Personal: to be read by the addressee only
- Confidential: to be read by the addressee or other authorized persons
- Please Reply Immediately
Use them sparingly. These small bits convey essential information, but they can make a letter look cluttered, and no one likes to read those, especially businesses. They can also create a sense of urgency in your recipient that encourages a faster response.
Inside Address of the Recipient
Working our way down the page, we come to the recipient’s address.
Here’s how to address mail to someone at a business:
Addressee’s courtesy title and full name: Courtesy titles can be challenging, but a few tips will help you to avoid a major faux pas:
- Use “Ms.” for a woman you don’t know.
- When the name doesn’t reveal the gender, call the company to clarify how to address the person.
- If you can’t clarify the gender, drop all references and use their full name.
- Use “Dr. Smith” and “Jane Smith, M.D.” for medical professionals and “Dr. Smith” or “Jane Smith, Ph.D.” for academics.
Addressee’s business title, if appropriate: Business titles do not replace courtesy titles. If Jane Smith is the company president, address her as Ms. Jane Smith, President, ACME Widgets.
Name of the business: Make sure it matches their business website, letterhead, publications, or online directories. Even if it looks odd. It’s probably for a carefully thought-out reason.
The full address: a couple of quickies here:
- Street numbers are written as numerals unless they are part of a building name (One Park Place).
- Write city names out in full unless there is an accepted abbreviation (e.g. St. Augustine).
- Write state names in full or use the recognized postal abbreviation followed by the zip code.
Now that we’ve gone through all the setup, it’s time to finally say hello to a fellow business. A simple “Dear Mr. / Ms. /Dr. [name]” followed by a colon is the way to go. If you’re on a first-name basis with them in real life, then it’s acceptable to address them that way in your letter. If in doubt, play it safe and use their full name.
But what if you are sending it to an unknown entity at the company?
Forget about things like “Gentlemen” entirely.
“Sir and Madam” and “Ladies and Gentlemen” don’t just sound stilted; they are stilted. “To whom it may concern” is not much better.
“Dear ACME Widgets” is an elegant solution. Of course, you could always call them and ask to whom the letter should be addressed.
Shakespeare, who liked to write long-winded soliloquies, said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”
Business letters should only be one page. You have two to four paragraphs to get your message across.
Introduce yourself. Don’t start off with the “why” for your letter. Let the recipient get to know you, but keep it brief and relevant to the letter’s purpose. If you have a connection to the business, mention it here and emphasize something positive.
Say what you have to say. If you want the person to do something for you, show them how they’re doing so will benefit them.
End with a suitable call to action that tells them what you want them to do.
Like they say, “All’s well that ends well.”
Your ending is the last thing the business will see. Be friendly and brief. Add an appropriate personal note if you have one. For instance, you could end off with ‘I enjoyed meeting you at last week’s networking group. I appreciated your insight.’
Thank them for any services they have already provided.
For most business letters, you want to end on a friendly note. There are a gazillion terms you can use. We won’t bore you with them – you can look them up anyway if you want to. Your closing should reflect the same tone as your salutation.
Your handwritten signature goes below the complimentary close, with your typed name below it. Include a courtesy title if appropriate.
How to Mail a Letter: A Guide for Businesses
Step 1. Choose An Envelope and the Format of Mailing a Letter
Choose the right size, material, and style of envelope. Do you remember those large packages you opened up only to find air? Avoid those.
There’s a practical side as well. The postal service machinery can’t always process bulky or oddly-sized packages.
Step 2. Enclose The Letter In The Envelope And Seal It
Take your well-crafted letter, fold it properly, and slip it into its awaiting envelope, then seal it.
Step 3. Write Down the Delivery and Return Addresses
Write down the correct delivery address legibly. Include your return address for those “return to sender, address unknown” letters.
Step 4. Find the Right Postage
Postal rates change. Make sure you have selected the right postage and affix it to the envelope.
Step 5. Mail the Letter
What’s that Paul Simon song? 50 ways to mail your letter?
Use Click2Mail API For Direct Mail Automation
All this can be fun to do on your own. But what if you don’t have the time or resources?
Well, that’s where we come in. Click2Mail can automate your direct mail workflow through our API for Direct Mail services. Give us a spin on your next letter campaign to businesses you want to connect with.