Welcome back, my friends… In this next installment on Powerful Written Persuasion Techniques we’re going to talk about two more concepts that can help take your sales copy to the next level…
1. The concept of using pre-suppositions and pre-framing in our copy
2. The idea of getting micro-commitments from our audience
So if you’re ready, let’s just dive right in… shall we?
Pre-suppositions and Pre-framing
For the sake of this post, we’re going to combine pre-suppositions and pre-framing together. And define it as “casually implying a statement as a given fact, so we can bypass our readers critical skepticism and have our message more readily accepted.”
OK, I admit that definition is a mouthful (even I couldn’t say it 5 times, real fast). So let’s break it down a little…
Basically, we’re looking at pre-suppositions and pre-framing as it relates to “setting the scene for our reader,” allowing them to more easily accept what we’re about to say next.
We can do this by inserting casual statements, to gain subtle agreement from our audience, without sounding like we’re trying to convince them of anything.
One quick way to incorporate this into your writing is by using “matter of fact” statements followed by a question:
Here’s a simple example of how this might look:
Let’s say we’re selling life insurance. We could casually insert a statement with a question. Something like this…
“As a caring provider for your family, you already know that life insurance is one of the most important things you can own to protect your loved ones in case of your untimely demise.
So the only question is… How much life insurance would you need to buy today, to be sure your family is taken care of tomorrow, if something tragic happens to you?
Our free insurance calculator allows you to…”
So the pre-supposition / pre-frame in that paragraph is that our reader is a caring provider, and they already know how important life insurance is for the security of their family. We’re not even going to dwell on it because it’s already a given, and all they really need to think about is “how much” life insurance they need.
Once they start thinking about “how much” they need, then they’ve already agreed that they need it. So we just need to focus our copy on why they should buy it from us.
Are you starting to see how powerful this subtle technique can be for pulling your reader into your copy?
(Just for the record, I’ve never sold life insurance. But that doesn’t matter, because the concept of pre-supposing and pre-framing works the same no matter what you’re selling)
Would you like to see another example?
OK, let’s say we’re selling (oh, I dunno… let’s go with… coffee)
We can add something like this to our copy (assuming it’s all true, of course)…
“Coffee connoisseurs from all over the world know that coffee beans grown in the high mountain regions produce the finest coffee this world has to offer. And they’re willing to pay the highest price to enjoy the best.
But you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy the finest coffee we offer from the high mountain regions of Columbia, because right now our expert coffee bean growers are offering you their finest gourmet coffee for an incredibly low introductory price…”
Do you see the pre-frame / associative power in that copy?
We haven’t actually said that our coffee is the same stuff people pay big money for, but the best stuff is grown in the mountains… and ours is grown in the mountains… so we’ve associated our coffee with the best, most expensive stuff.
Now we’ve pre-disposed our audience to framing our coffee in the same group as the expensive stuff.
Some people might say this association is a bit deceptive. But is it really? After all, we are offering the best coffee we grow, and it is grown in the mountains. And since individual taste is subjective, maybe our coffee is the best tasting to a lot of people. There’s nothing dishonest about that.
OK, I could go on showing you different examples, and variations of this pre-framing technique. But I don’t want this post to turn into another full length book. So I’m just going to wrap up this chapter with a summary statement…
When writing your copy… Ask yourself how you can use pre-supposition or pre-framing to imply something about your offer, and have your reader casually accept an awareness of your product, in a way that allows them to readily accept what you’re about to say next.
It’s a pretty cool (slightly advanced) technique. And when you do it right, it almost has a hypnotic quality that draws people into your copy and gets them to start making micro-commitments.
Which brings us to part 2 of this post…
Have them make micro commitments
I’m going to touch on the concept of why micro-commitments work, and how we can use them to make our sales copy more impactful.
Let’s start with why they work…
When people make a commitment to an idea, or a belief, it becomes very difficult to change their minds without creating internal conflict or anxiety.
The name for this feeling of discomfort is called “Cognitive Dissonance”, and it can be an extremely powerful force in our lives.
Part of the reason it’s so powerful is because most of us like to think of ourselves as intelligent, rational beings. And few people want to admit when they’re wrong (even to themselves) about a committed belief.
In fact, when given the choice between defending a faulty belief, or admitting ignorance and changing our paradigm… Most people immediately get busy building their defense.
So how can we use this natural human condition to our advantage, when writing persuasive copy?
We use micro commitments.
Micro-commitments can often be as subtle as gaining simple agreement about something inconsequential. (nice weather we’re having, wouldn’t you agree? [assuming it’s actually nice outside] )
Or the commitment can be a bit more deliberate in its intention…
For example: If we’re selling pet supplies, a simple question like “Do you love your pet?” can get your reader to say (or think) “yes, of course I love my pet”.
And from there we can continue with something like… “If you love your pets, like we love our pets, then you want them to be happy and healthy, right? That’s why our_______ is the perfect choice for pet lovers who…”
So in this example, we’ve attached their “yes” commitment (the fact that they love their pet) to our next sentence… the desire for keeping their pet happy and healthy. (which should elicit another nod of agreement from our reader)
And we’ve also implied that we are the same as them (because we love our pets too) which helps build rapport, and makes their decision to stay with us feel even more intelligent and rational to them.
One small note here: If they don’t love their pets, then we’ll probably lose rapport at that first question (which is fine by me, because I don’t like anyone who doesn’t love their pets. And I don’t want to deal with them anyway)
Now, as weak as the above example is, it still shows how a small commitment makes it easier to continue along the path of agreement. And this can start to engage our reader.
Of course this is all easier in face-to-face selling because we can gain agreement by simply talking about something physically in front of us. And we can also gauge the body language of our audience, to see if we need to change direction with the conversation.
But in writing a sales piece or advertisement, we don’t have that option. So we need to anticipate how our audience will respond to our questions.
If we can get 2 or 3 “yes” commitments from our audience, then they’ll start to form a cognitive belief around what we’re saying. Because they’ll be agreeing with their own beliefs.
At that point, their own desire to avoid cognitive dissonance will begin working in our favor.
Pretty cool stuff, right?
Another powerful way of getting micro-commitments is to have our audience physically engage with our writing.
This can often be achieved by having our reader contact us for more information, or sign up for our free newsletter. Which in turn allows us to follow up and build a relationship with our soon-to-be client.
The concept of “sales funnels” is built around the idea of micro-commitments
A simple (online) example of this would be…
1. We place an advertisement in front of our target audience. This ad could ask a question or make a bold promise, but either way the purpose is to get people to take the physical action of clicking on the ad (clicking the ad = micro-commitment)
2. When they click our ad, it brings them to a landing page. Of course we can choose to make this a full sales page, and move right in for the quick sale. But more often, the landing page is an “opt-in” page where we offer something of value in exchange for the visitors contact info (at least an email address) so we can follow up with them. (giving us their email = micro-commitment)
3. And then we follow up with our email marketing (email marketing is a full length topic for a whole other post) But basically, the more we can get people to engage with our emails (open our emails, reply to our emails, click a links in our emails) the more engaged they become with us. (engaging with our emails = micro-commitments)
The point is, when people make small commitments to agree with us, or engage with us, it builds in their paradigm that we must be worthy of their time.
And micro commitments are cumulative. Which means the more of them we gain, the stronger they become. And the easier it is for people to trust us.
Once they start to form a belief around their commitments, it becomes harder for them to change their minds without creating conflict or anxiety in their own belief system. ( Cognitive Dissonance)
Of course this is all just a simplified explanation of how and why micro-commitments work.
But do you see just how powerful this technique can be for your persuasive writing?
OK, true to form my post is starting to get a bit lengthy. So I’ll wrap it up here…
In conclusion… When you’re writing your next sales piece, think about how you can get your reader to make a commitment, even a small one, that you can build upon with more micro-commitments.
Then watch how easy it becomes for your visitors to make bigger commitments. (like saying “yes, I’ll buy what you’re selling”)
Until next time,
Here’s to writing more persuasive copy, more often.
All the best,
- Part 2 – The secret to writing persuasive sales copy - April 30, 2020
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