A Sample Exchange With
The Writing Coach

 

The Original Letter Submitted To The Writing Coach

November 2, 2010

Johnathan Burris
Accel Temporary Services|
11 High Court Plaza
Tempe, AZ 87335

Dear Johnathan:

I am simply contacting you early in the fourth quarter to let you know that I can help you with a 401(k) plan. My experience is that most companies tend to either think about implementing a plan on January 1st or make any changes to their existing plan on that date. I have access to numerous 401(k) providers. Each provider has different strengths and weaknesses, and my job is to match my client with a 401(k) provider that satisfies my clientís needs and cost parameters.

All of the providers I use have state-of-the-art technology for daily switching via either a toll-free telephone call or the Internet. They all provide accurate and timely (typically 10-14 days) quarterly employee benefit statements and newsletters. The investment options can either be from one mutual fund family or a multiple fund family approach, depending on the clientís desires. If "high touch" service to your employees is important in one of these "high tech" programs, I can assure you that your employees will get the service they need.

Again, this is just a quick reminder that I can help you with your retirement needs. Please let me know how I can be of service.

Best personal regards,

 

Travis Burke, CLU
Employee Benefits Specialist
 

The Revision From The Writing Coach

November 2, 2010

Johnathan Burris
Accel Temporary Services|
11 High Court Plaza
Tempe, AZ 87335

Dear Johnathan:

Does Accel Temporary, like many companies, consider implementing or revising a 401(k) plan on January 1st? If so, I can help.

You can benefit from my relationships with many 401(k) providers. Each has different strengths and weaknesses and my job is to match you with a provider who can meet your needs at the best price. Plan benefits you might enjoy include:

Iíll call in a few days, Johnathan, to make sure you have received this letter and see if you have any questions. Iíd like to show you how Boston Benefit Consultants can help Accel Temporary get the best value for its benefit dollar.

Best personal regards,

 

Travis Burke, CLU
Employee Benefits Specialist
 

Comments From The Writing Coach

Your use of words and sentence structure is largely correct; however, your language is a bit stilted. Strive for a more conversational approach. Before beginning to write, decide who your audience is and what it is you would like them to do after reading your letter. Imagine that a member or your audience is sitting next to you and you are delivering your message verbally. This should set a more personal and appropriate tone for your business writing. Try to avoid cliches like "state of the art", "high-tech" and "high-touch". It is better to define these terms specifically. (Note that I left "high touch" in my revision as I was not sure what this actually meant in the context of your letter.) Use the close in your writing to tell the reader what you would like them to do or what to expect. With "cold call" letters, as this appears to be, you may want to have the reader expect a follow-up call. Note the following general rules for your future writing and give me a call at 336-288-8713 if youíd like to discuss this further.

General Rules for Johnathan to apply in the future:

Opening - Use the first paragraph in your business letters to establish credibility and generally introduce your topic. This can usually be done in 1 or 2 short sentences. Benefit-oriented openings often serve to "hook" the readerís attention.

Reader Focus - Use the readerís name or company name to stimulate interest. There is nothing wrong with the pronoun "I" in business writing; however, the pronoun "you" forces your message to be more reader focused. When writing the same letter to many readers, you may use mail merge fields sparingly to provide a personalized reader focus.

Sentence Length - Make the short declarative sentence your primary structure for business writing (subject-verb-object). Usually these sentences can be written with 18 words or less. Longer sentences with more complex structures should be used sparingly.

Simple Language - Use words that are simple and easy to understand. ("proximity" becomes "near"; "in reference to" becomes "regarding"; "numerous" becomes "many") If you have the choice between a complex word and a simple word, business readers will most often prefer the simple.

Avoid Cliches - Everything is "state-of-the-art" and "a number-one priority" in our "fast-paced" and "topsy-turvy" world. Proofread your writing to eliminate cliches and substitute more specific language in their place.

Closing - Use the close in your business writing to tell the reader what you would like him or her to do after reading your document. Avoid "If you should have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me" and similar trite endings. (If you really want the reader to call you after reading your letter then tell them in a less cliched way.) If you donít want the reader to do anything, tell them what future action they should be prepared for. If you donít want the reader to do anything and there is no future action you are preparing him or her for, ask yourself if you really need to write what you are writing.

The Writing Coach is Bill Spaulding. You may reach him at 336-288-8713 or spaulding@spauldingassociates.com.

 

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