There are many ways to communicate with customers and prospects using a computer. Here are a few:
- You can write letters that can be used for mass mailings.
- You can use e-mail for mass mailings.
- You can create newsletters and mail them or post them to a website.
- You can create a blog just like this one.
- You can create a website.
- You can create on-line events such as webinars.
Over the next few weeks we'll address all of these ways of communicating. But in this blog posting we'll focus on letter writing. It is the simplest of the tasks described and involves creating letterhead, letter copy, mailing lists, learning how to do a mail merge and how to print envelopes. If you are using a product like Microsoft Word, there are shortcuts available to you for doing many of these tasks. Word features a wizard that can guide you through the process and pre-built letter style sheets to choose from.
A Microsoft Word FREE alternative is OpenOffice Writer. It too provides wizards and style sheets for creating letters. In fact, this article has been written using OpenOffice Writer.
On-line FREE applications such as Google Docs on the other hand assume you have familiarity with products like Microsoft Word and know your way around designing and formatting a letter. Google Docs, therefore, doesn’t provide wizards or style sheets. You can, however, easily create standard letters and mailing lists using a product like Google Docs. You just have to experiment more.
In the example below, I have accessed the wizard in OpenOffice Writer to help me with my letterhead design.The Writer wizard guides me through the selection of styles and lets me view the results before choosing one that is acceptable to me. The Writer wizard can be used to determine your logo placement, the position of the return address if using a window envelope and many other features. You can create default salutations and complimentary closes. You can create mail merge fields and select a mailing list file to merge with the letter.
You can do all of this with Microsoft Word as well but you won't be doing it for free.
We'll talk about creating mailing lists in my next blog filing. For now what we can take away from this article is that there are many different applications available to you as a small business operator with little computer knowledge to be able to communicate through letters without having to know the intricacies of the software applications you have purchased such as Microsoft Office or downloaded from the Internet for free such as OpenOffice. And if you are feeling pretty comfortable about your own ability to experiment with design without a wizard or other help features, you can always use an on-line document creator such as Google Docs to generate letters.