When was the last time you wrote a love letter? You know, that kind of letter persuading the girl of your dreams to accept your love; written on perfumed stationary, stuffed in a gilded enveloped, stamped and dropped into the mailbox around the corner?
Pretty nostalgic, isn’t it?
Do young people write love letters like we did before? Don’t’ they just tweet them or paste them on their Facebook walls with a silly love emoticons to go with them? Or, do they just text them using a language understandable to no one outside of their circle?
Whatever way or manner they come, they are persuasive writing in its simplest and most direct form.
These days, writing persuasive letters serve a far grander purpose other than expressing love. Your career success depends on it, especially if you are in sales and marketing.
Though it serves the same purpose as speaking persuasively, it has distinct differences which, if fully understood, can make your writing more persuasive.
- Persuasive writing cannot make use of body language, voice inflection, hand
gestures, eye contact and other non-verbal means available to persuasive speaking. They are supplanted by the proper use of the right kinds of words.
- The spoken word is easily forgotten. The written word can last for an eternity.
Make sure you write something that is lot more significant than being a bread wrap.
- The spoken word reverberates only within the confines of a conference room or a
hall. The written world can go viral, reaching millions of people around the world. Be sure you are persuading people to do something that can improve their lives.
Because of the inherent power of the words within a piece of persuasive writing, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, in a bit of prophesy, said in 1838, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”
Simple techniques to write persuasively:
Before pounding the first letter of your article, ask yourself “Why am I writing it?” If you don’t have a pretty good answer, then don’t do it. Only when your purpose has become crystal-clear and your conviction unassailable, should you then write your fist sentence.
How are you going to do it? Here are some very useful tips:
1. Immediately give them the reasons why:
Psychological studies show that people are more likely to comply with a request if you give them a reason why.
Giving them a reason establishes specificity, and conditions the minds of your readers to follow your train of thought.
2. Make comparisons between “Now” and “Then”:
This illustrates the benefits they get from your proposal. People, by nature, are interested only in themselves. Their first impulse would be to ask. “What’s in it for me?” on anything you ask them to do.
Just watch diet and health plan ads. They all convey the same message – the before and after scenarios. And they always work.
3. Back your proposal with proofs:
This is the “if this is good for others, it will be good for you,” approach.
Show study results to back your proposal; graphs and figures attesting to its efficacy and, if you can, endorsements from real people who are happy after adopting your proposal.
4. Make it vivid through story-telling:
Without being too fluffy and long-winding, paint a picture of your argument by using analogies, metaphors and similes.
An analogy is a similarity between like features of two things on which a comparison may based.
Example: This product is so safe your child can play with it.
A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance.
Example: The benefits of this proposal are as clear as the stars on a cloudless evening.
Or a simile, a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid.
Example: The benefits of this proposal are much better than having a health insurance card.
5. Etch through repetition:
Studies show that people read only the first one or two paragraphs of a document. If it is interesting, they will go the entire length. If not, they will either stop right there or just skim through it.
Don’t lose your message by confining it to the top. Repeat it several times in your writing’s entirety. Figure it prominently at the beginning, in the middle and in your conclusion.
6. Be consistent:
Nothing hurts your persuasiveness more, oral or written, than to be a person of contradiction.
In my younger days, I worked for a flashlight battery company and, later, with a petroleum company. That was years ago. But I still buy their products today. You may call it force of habit. I call it trust.
If you are trustworthy and reliable, being persuasive will not be as difficult as it seems. It shows in everything you do, and every word you say. And people will notice that.
You make a sale by being persuasive. You make a customer by being trustworthy.
7. Make them feel pain:
“Can you imagine what will happen to your family if tomorrow you will suddenly be taken away from them?” is a favorite line among insurance salesmen. And it works every time.
Fear, pain, loss, suffering, death are very emotional words that can make people think and act.
If used effectively without appearing like an angel of doom, you can make your readers do what you want them to do without much effort.
8. Be available for objections:
One glaring difference between persuasive writing and speaking is in the area of addressing objections.
While there is instant and personal feedback in the latter, such is not available in the former and should there be objections, they will come so much later – if ever.
To address this issue, indicate in your article your personal phone number or your email address where you can be reached to answer objections or provide more information.
Hundreds of thousands of pages are written each day to persuade people to subscribe to a newsletter, opt-in into a website, download a free report or buy a product. These go around the world through emails, social networks, blog posts, website contents, mobile messages or just about any medium needed to reach as many people as possible.
Practically everything you wear, you eat and everything in your house was bought through the most common and powerful persuasive writing of them all – advertisements.
Isn’t it time for you to learn how to write persuasively?