Top 10 Rules: Corresponding With Clients

Here are my rules for corresponding with clients (these rules work for either email or postal letters). If I choose to read a letter (from a company) I’ve made a decision how to spend my time. If I find that the letter wasn’t valuable, then I’ll gradually learn to ignore (or worse, distrust) other letters from that company. Once someone ignores (or distrusts) you it’s very hard to regain their trust. Think before you write!

  1. Make it obvious who it’s from – Do you read all your mail in your mailbox or do you automatically eliminate the junk mail? Let people know the letter is from you.
  2. Keep the letter to one page – When I see a multiple page letter, my first thought is how much time do I have to read it. If I’m busy, I might lose it in my “to-read” pile.
  3. Say the important thing in the first paragraph – When I’m busy, I’m not willing to invest a lot of time to find out what this letter is about.
  4. Make the letter personal – In all your correspondence, you need to build people’s trust in you. Tell a (true) anecdote to illustrate the point if possible. People remember stories.
  5. Make it sharp – Keep it easy to read, even without glasses on! Lots of white space helps. Check your spelling and grammar. Minimize words.
  6. Clarify what you are asking – My rule: one letter = one request.
  7. Specify the time frame – Those “you must respond by midnight to receive your free gift” letters work. If there’s no urgency, why should I read this letter now (if at all)?
  8. Motivate the reader – How does (what you’re writing about) affect them? Does it save them money? Save them time? If you’re unclear about it, so will they. If you don’t know what the reader needs, ask them!
  9. Gain their trust in you – Every communication from you builds on previous messages from you. It takes a while to build trust and a very short time to violate it.
  10. Respect the reader’s intelligence – Don’t repeat the same message many times. Start your letter with your message, give details, and wrap up highlighting the message.

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