Is writing persuasively really worth the effort? Can't you just inform people and let them make their own decisions?
In a word: No.
I like helping people do and be more than they could on their own. I like to challenge and change things.
And if you do, too, there's no reason to apologize.
Some people call this “sales writing,” but I don't buy that. Sure, sales is another word for persuading someone to buy something, but persuasive copy is a lot more than sales writing.
And you don't have to wear an ugly tie to do it, either.
What is persuasive writing?
Here's how Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger, defines it:
Persuasion is generally an exercise in creating a win-win situation. You present a case that others find beneficial to agree with…
It’s simply a good deal or a position that makes sense to that particular person.
So, do you want to write compelling content that makes a difference?
I thought so. Here's a road map of sorts for writing persuasively:
Start with a question or quote
Grab your reader's attention by catching him off-guard. Use a disarming question or quote an authoritative voice on your topic.
Invite your audience into your article with a compelling lead paragraph that raises a question you answer later on.
The idea here is that you speak to a burning desire or curiosity that the reader already had. She just didn't know it.
Provide customer testimonials or user experiences to establish credibility. This can be a quote or official endorsement — whatever will convince your reader to act.
It can even be social proof in the form of how many people have used the product/service/whatever.
Nobody likes going first. Let the reader know he's not.
Provide compelling reasons
Don't brush over this part. People need a reason to buy into your message.
Provide one for them by doing the following:
- Use rationale to explain why someone needs what you have.
- Use bullet points or historical facts.
- Use logic and deductive reasoning.
It all depends on your audience, but whatever you share, make sure it's relevant and applicable to the reader.
They want to be convinced.
Tell a story
Stories engage your readers in a way that facts cannot. They provide subjective reasoning for your position.
Stories are subjective. They put the reader in your shoes. They allow him to see and feel things as you would.
And they lead the reader to make the same decision you would if in your place. They engage the emotions and motivate the heart.
Empathize with your reader
Anticipate objections. Be your own Devil's Advocate.
Write from the perspective of the reader on his most skeptical day. This will disarm the questions before they come. It will let the reader know you are on her side.
And that's the point of all this: not to convince the reader to “buy” something, but to do what he already wants to do.
What persuasive writing tricks have you used? Share in the comments.
*Photo credit: Jessica Garro (Creative Commons)