How to Make Your Small Business Correspondence Look As Professional As Possible

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Image via Flickr creative commons from Foxtongue

There are a number of commonly-applied rules which form the correct etiquette for the format of business and other types of formal communication.

Yet with the spread of email and text communication, the lines between these types of communication, and the more formal written types are often blurred.

As a business owner or manager, you need to give careful consideration to the purpose of your written correspondence, as this will often dictate the format and types of salutations which are used.

In the commercial field, it is often wise to make it plain in any written communication whether there is any timescale during which you expect to receive a reply. Yet this should be done with a balance of politeness and forcefulness, as if expressed in the wrong way it might appear too ‘pushy’.

Phrases such as ‘An early reply would be appreciated’ or ‘I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience’ are accepted forms of framing such a request.

There is an accepted format for the salutation and sign-off of any letter which also applies to business communications, which is as follows: if you don’t know the name of the person for whom the letter is intended, you should use ‘Dear Sir’ or ‘Dear Madam’ as your introduction, and a letter of this type should always be signed off with the phrase ‘Yours faithfully’. If, however, you are writing your letter to someone known to you, you should use ‘Dear Mr’ (or Mrs, Ms or whichever is the preferred form of address of the individual person), and sign off with a ‘Yours sincerely’.

And while written business communications should follow all the strict rules and conventions of English grammar, this is a convention which it can be difficult to remember, especially given that so much modern communication takes the form of an e-mail.

One short cut to remembering how different kinds of business letters should be framed and worded is to use the services of a professional printing company. Such an operation will have experience of framing appropriate communications for a range of clients and other contacts, so should be able to advise on a preferred way of wording such communications.

Of course, another important consideration when drafting business communications is the kind of mage which a company wishes to portray to its customers. In much the same way as wearing a jacket, shirt and tie to work is steadily becoming less essential than in times past, so the type of business which the sender represents – and the customers with which it communicates – can dictate how a latter is both worded and presented.

Business letters fall into a number of categories, such as introductory letters, new contact letters sent to someone whom the sender may not have met, or employee introduction letters, with the purpose of informing a client or contact that they will be dealing with a new contact henceforth.

One absolute no-no when it comes to business communication is getting your recipient’s address wrong. In order to minimise the risk of this happening, it can be a good idea to have pre-printed address labels produced. These can then be carefully checked before any items are sent, and offer the benefit of eliminating the risk of a person inadvertently making a mistake when writing an address by hand, as well as minimising the risk of an address being misread.

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