A good introductory letter captures the essence of the business you wish to win, sets the tone for the conversation and positions you as someone who has taken this vital extra step that others often gloss over. With a focus on showing that you understand the problem at hand and that you can offer value and experience others may lack, a brief business introduction can be your best marketing tool.
Know your Audience
Keep your audience in mind when writing your introduction. A letter to the owner of a used car lot, for example, would probably be best written informally, addressing the recipient by first name. If doing business overseas, take time to understand the recipient's culture – an introductory letter to an executive in Hong Kong, for example, would never begin by addressing the person by first name. Rather, you would address the person as Mr. or Ms., or by a professional title, as in "Dear Director Liu."
Save the Sales Pitch for Later
Regardless of your business, a hard sell in an introduction is never a good idea. An introduction is not the same as a sales pitch, even if the goal is to make a sale. Rather, the goal is to highlight how you can address a prospective client's most pressing problems and deliver measurable results. Be as specific as possible, and include language that allows the recipient to take direct action. The letter should include a call to action or an "ask" in the final paragraph, but that "ask" does not have to be "buy now." More effectively, it is a call to set a meeting.
Include All the Right Parts
Keep the introduction short to avoid losing your audience's attention, however, include everything you need to include. There are three broad parts to an introduction letter: Introduce yourself and your organization, identify your strengths, and close with a direct but polite call to action. That call needs to go beyond "call me for an appointment," but instead reinforces your value by saying, for example, "for more information about how I can deliver insights into improving your bottom line, please call me for a meeting at your convenience."
Be a Problem Solver
Get across the idea that you are a person with skills or a worthwhile product, but don't do that with a simple "buy me" statement. The message should be crafted in a way that makes it about your target audience -- and not about you. Provide a brief discussion of expected outcomes and the main problems that you are uniquely qualified to solve. An introduction letter is seldom just about getting to know someone – you want to make a sale, land a contract or get a job. Make your request clear and actionable, with language that indicates how it will benefit everyone involved.
Use Formatting to Your Advantage
Many business introductions are delivered by email, and rich text formatting can be used to your advantage. Use boldface in the call to action, and use hyperlinks instead of plain URLs. While too much formatting can make the letter look confusing, use of underlines, italics or boldface in the appropriate spots can add emphasis. Avoid images whenever possible though, as many professionals check email on mobile devices not set to view images.
Dan Blacharski is CEO of Ugly Dog Media, a full-service marketing and PR firm focusing on emerging technology and disruptive trends. A "dotcom boom" veteran and graduate of University of California, he is at the forefront of the next wave of innovation that is driven by new cloud enabling tech.