There is a firm in Chicago, with a most interesting bit of inside
history. It is not a large firm. Ten years ago it consisted of one
man. Today there are some three hundred employees, but it is still a
one-man business. It has never employed a salesman on the road; the
head of the firm has never been out to call on any of his customers.
But here is a singular thing: you may drop in to see a business man
in Syracuse or San Francisco, in Jacksonville or Walla Walla, and
should you casually mention this man's name, the chances are the
other will reply: "Oh, yes. I know him very well. That is, I've had
several letters from him and I feel as though I know him."
Sitting alone in his little office, this man was one of the first to
foresee, ten years ago, the real possibilities of the letter. He saw
that if he could write a man a thousand miles away the right kind of
a letter he could do business with him as well as he could with the
man in the next block.
So he began talking by mail to men whom he thought might buy his
goods--talking to them in sane, human, you-and-me English. Through
those letters he sold goods. Nor did he stop there. In the same human way he collected the money for them.
He adjusted any complaints that arose. He did everything that any business man could
do with customers. In five years he was talking not to a thousand
men but to a million. And today, though not fifty men in the million
have ever met him, this man's personality has swept like a tidal
wave across the country and left its impression in office, store and
factory--through letters--letters alone.
This instance is not cited because it marks the employment of a new
medium, but because it shows how the letter has become a universal
implement of trade; how a commonplace tool has been developed into a
The letter is today the greatest potential creator and transactor of
business in the world. But wide as its use is, it still lies idle,
an undeveloped possibility, in many a business house where it might
be playing a powerful part.
The letter is a universal implement of business--that is what gives
it such great possibilities. It is the servant of every business,
regardless of its size or of its character. It matters not what department may command its
use--wherever there is a business in which men must communicate with each other, the letter is found to
be the first and most efficient medium.