One of my favorite  bands, R.E.M., broke up in September 2011. What does that have to do with the new business letter?New Business Letter

Read on.

It is widely argued that perhaps it should have happened when original drummer Bill Berry left in 1997.  (I am, sadly, inclined to agree.)

Nevertheless, they left a great legacy, with untold imitators following in their wake.

There’s a song on their third album, Reckoning, called “Letter Never Sent.”

It’s about, well, a letter not being sent.  Which leads me (yes, I’m getting there) to your agency’s new business effort.

When’s the last time you used an actual business letter to reach out to a prospect?

It Was Ages Ago Wasn’t It?

I’m not going to give you the hard sell and many of you don’t need it.

This is not a paid advertisement for direct mail but bottom line, it still works.

At this point we could pen several blog posts with all kinds of stats about the efficacy of direct mail.

We’re not going there with this post. You may have your own stats showing higher email opens and clicks versus mailing response rates, in which case, please continue doing what you’re doing.

But the simple fact is, individuals and business continue to get less physical mail and more email.

It behooves you to include, in whatever frequency that makes sense for you, a professional yet engaging prospecting letter in your new business tool kit.

Slow Down There Partner

Time to think about what goes in that letter.  (And just to be clear, I’m not talking about a piece of collateral or a post card-a real letter.)

Agencies have a wonderful way of talking about themselves entirely too often.

I’m guilty of it myself and it’s easy to do but you’ve got to do two things up front:

1)      Focus on a challenge you know, generally, exists for them

2)      Engage them with a provocative statement quickly

Often you can knock out both by opening the letter after your initial greeting with one declarative statement about your past results. Something like:

52 months of consecutive sales increases for Company X.

A result your agency has achieved that, in the sentence underneath/following, can be tied into the challenge Company X faced and is likely a challenge your prospect is facing now.

I understand a first sentence like that is salesy.  But it’s also honest (make sure it is) and attention grabbing.

In the rest of your letter, be concise, respectful and professionally conversational.

Follow up on the letter via phone or, yes, email within the week after sending.

Using multiple channels of communication makes for a better new business effort.

Don’t let your own effort include the letter never sent.

(Take us out boys)

I'm the VP of Sales at RSW/US. We specialize in working with services firms to help drive and close new business-if you need help with that, email me at What I actually do: drive sales efforts to bring ad agencies and services firms on board with RSW, create content around successful new business tactics and help drive RSW/US marketing objectives, including social media channels, blog content, webinars, video and speaking engagements. Dig it.