Appendix A: Common Business Writing Genres

Memorandums and Letters

Learning Objectives

  1. Establish the purpose and format of memorandums and letters
  2. Discuss strategies for effective memorandums and letters
  3. Go over the parts of business letter
  4. Sample business letters

Memos (Memoranda)

Memos are written for an internal audience–people working withing the same organization. The target audience of memos are usually groups rather than individuals. They are used to convey organization changes or information. One of the main purposes for memos are to provide people being informed with it details, rather than speculations or falsehoods. They provide detail and clarity.

TO: Kelly Anderson, Marketing Executive

FROM: Jonathan Fitzgerald, Market Research Assistant

DATE: June 14, 2007

SUBJECT: Fall Clothes Line Promotion

Market research and analysis show that the proposed advertising media for the new fall lines need to be reprioritized and changed. Findings from focus groups and surveys have made it apparent that we need to update our advertising efforts to align them with the styles and trends of young adults today. No longer are young adults interested in sitcoms as they watch reality television shows. Also, it has become increasingly important to use the internet as a tool to communicate with our target audience to show our dominance in the clothing industry.

Internet Advertising

XYZ Company needs to focus advertising on internet sites that appeal to young people. According to surveys, 72% of our target audience uses the internet for five hours or more per week. The following list shows in order of popularity the most frequented sites.

  1. Google
  2. Facebook
  3. Myspace
  4. EBay
  5. iTunes

Shifting our efforts from other media sources such as radio and magazine to these popular internet sites will more effectively promote our product sales. Young adults are spending more and more time on the internet downloading music, communicating and researching for homework and less and less time reading paper magazines and listening to the radio. As the trend for cultural icons go digital, so must our marketing plans.

Television Advertising

It used to be common for us to advertise our products on shows like Friends and Seinfeld for our target audience, but even the face of television is changing. Young adults are turning into reality television shows for their entertainment. Results from the focus group show that our target audience is most interested in shows like American IdolThe Apprentice, and America’s Next Top Model. The only non-reality television show to be ranked in the top ten most commonly watched shows by males and females 18-25 is Desperate Housewives. At Blue Incorporated, we need to focus our advertising budget on reality television shows and reduce the amount of advertising spent on other programs.

By refocusing our advertising efforts of our new line of clothing we will be able to maximize the exposure of our product to our target market and therefore increase our sales. Tapping into the trends of young adults will help us gain market share and sales through effective advertising.

Attachments: Focus Group Results, January – May 2007; Survey Findings January – April 2007


The target audience for letters are usually outside of the organization. Organization letterhead is used and the tone is more formal in nature. These are used when you are seeking out an introduction to someone unfamiliar to your product or service.

Necessary parts of a letter

  • Return address
  • Date
  • Recipient’s Address
  • Salutation
  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion
  • Close
  • Signature

Sample letter

Vance DeHaven
857 California Ave W
Saint Paul, MN 55117

February 20, 20xx

Ms. Margaret Campion
Director, Corporate Services
Riviera Industries, Inc.
245 Dearborn Park Road
Chicago, IL 60610

Dear Ms. Campion:

It was a pleasure meeting you briefly at last week’s Board of Trade event. It’s amazing how small the world does seem sometimes, considering that we both earned our undergraduate degrees at U. of Kansas, even overlapping for one year! I suppose we were destined to eventually meet face-to-face.

I was fascinated by your synopsis of the history of Riviera Industries over the past, almost half-century. Clearly, your company has a rich corporate heritage and tradition. At the same time, the company has been blessed with a continuum of leaders of foresight and imagination who had the courage to change course at key points along the way so that the company could remain competitive and continue to lead its industry.

As I was mentioning to you, Final Edition Publications is a specialty publisher that focuses on corporate publications including annual reports, corporate profiles and corporate histories. We have been in business for over 15 years and during that time we have grown from a two-person start-up, to a serious corporate publisher with over 100 employees. We have been contracted by over a dozen Fortune 500 companies to produce both annual and special occasion publications on their behalf.

After our chat at last week’s meeting, it occurred to me that with Riviera approaching its 50th anniversary, it would be the perfect occasion to produce a Corporate History to celebrate your company’s first half-century. It so happens, that these are exactly the types of corporate publications that we specialize in here at Final Edition. In fact, we have produced corporate histories for dozens of companies.

With Riviera’s 50th just around the corner, I am sure you have been thinking about ways to make that anniversary a special one. Accordingly, I would very much like to meet with you and show you some of the corporate work we have done, and brief you further on our services. I have a strong feeling that what we offer at Final Edition might be just the kind of thing you’ve been looking for to celebrate Riviera’s 50th.

Please feel free to call me at 745-2398 so that we can discuss this further. If I don’t hear from you by the end of next week I will follow up with you and see if we can set up a meeting at your convenience.

Yours truly,

Raymond Gaudet
Manager, Corporate Programs


Key Takeaway

Memos are brief with usually and internal audience and letters are more detailed meant for an external audience.


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