by Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh: President, Word Branch Media
1. Proofread, proofread, then do some more proofreading. This should be obvious, but a lot of times proofreading is overlooked in favor of content. Your most skillful spinning will be negated if the reader can’t get past the typos and grammar and spelling problems. Sloppy proofreading equals an “I don’t care” attitude. If you are a poor proofer, have someone else in your organization look over it or hire a professional.
2. Make your letter easy to read. While it’s tempting to use some of the fancier features of word processing programs, simple is better. Use only one easy-to-read font in the text portion, and stay away from complicated formats.
3. Avoid overdoing hyperbole. While you may want your audience to get excited about your product or service, you don’t want to come off as insincere. Using too many exclamation marks, bolded words and underlined phrases at the best makes you appear to be over-caffeinated and at worst an inexperienced communicator.
4. Format for readability. Use a standard business format: a 1.15 line spacing with a double space between paragraphs and no indentation at the beginning of paragraphs. Use bullet points when listing more than three items, and keep paragraphs short and to the point.
5. Use the Chicago style for a standardized look. If you don’t have a copy of this classic manual for business writing, it is worth the investment or you can have a style guide written for your company to match your industry’s standards.
6. Hire a professional writer or editor. It is much more cost effective than you think and can save you a bundle in sales. A professional writer can put together a sales letter for one campaign or for a template for several. She or he can also proofread or edit existing letters to make them more successful.
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