This short post is about Powerful Written Persuasion techniques (as the title would suggest).
Whether you’re writing an advertisement, a sales page, or an email… These simple, yet powerful persuasion techniques will make your job of persuasion much easier.
These techniques can (and will) help you ramp-up the power of your advertising and sales copy.
But before we get started I need to emphasize one major point… “Any” written persuasion techniques are only as good as the whole package of your offer. In other words…
- If you don’t understand your target audience, and what they want…
- If you’re presenting the wrong offer, to the wrong audience, at the wrong time…
- If you’re selling something of little to no value…
- If the rest of your copy is full of hype and B.S….
Then the best techniques in the world ain’t gonna help you sell very much.
Also, if your intent is to just trick people into giving you their money…
These techniques can help you make a few sales in the short term. But at the end of the day, deceiving people will always come back to haunt you.
So use these methods to improve your legitimate sales copy (with my blessings) or use them to manipulate people (at your own peril)
So without further ado (or further adon’t 🙂 ) Let’s get started…
Powerful Written Persuasion Technique – # 1 (appealing to identity)
Who a person is, and how they see themselves is probably the single biggest factor in how they act, and what actions they take in the world (followed closely by who they would like to be)
If you can understand how a person sees themselves, and tie in your product or service with their identity, you’ll have a great chance of getting them to want your product in their life.
One powerful method of bringing your offer into their life, is to tell a story of how someone similar to them acted, in a similar situation.
Telling a story about someone else allows people to enter the story in their own minds (and visualize themselves as the main character) without feeling like they’re being sold to.
In fact, if you tell a good enough story you can often cause someone to want what you’re selling, without you even needing to sell.
If you don’t have the time, or space to tell a long story… another powerful method is to quickly shortcut the connection of identity, by telling them how other people similar to them are already making the same decision.
Here’s a quick example: Say we’re selling running shoes. We could start a sentence with…
“Other runners like you have found our shoes to be the most comfortable running shoes they’ve ever worn. In fact, many trained athletes have found our running shoes to be…”
Do you see what we started there? We took the identity of our audience (the identity of a runner) and enhanced it with the vision of trained athletes. So now our reader has been elevated to the status of a trained athlete. at least in their own mind (but only if they buy our running shoes 🙂 )
Of course people have more than one identity in their lives. They can be a wife, sister, mother, daughter, business executive, and more… all at the same time.
So one of our main jobs as copywriters is to identify the most powerful identity our target audience has, that relates to our product or service. And then tie the two together in way that makes buying what we’re selling a natural, and obvious decision for our reader to make.
So while you’re writing your next sales piece, ask yourself “Who is this person I’m writing for…? Who do they think they are…? Who would they like to be..? And how does my offer fit into their story?”
Powerful Written Persuasion Technique – # 2 (invoking emotions)
As professional marketers, we all know of the concept “you sell something by getting people’s emotions involved.” or “people buy on emotion first, and then justify the decision with logic”
Positive emotions like hope and love, and negative emotions like anger and fear, spur people into action.
So for us advertisers, we need to use emotionally charged words that add impact to our writing.
If someone reads your copy and says “Oh, that sounds nice. The grammar and punctuation is perfect” or if they say “Oh, it’s so clever”… Then your copy is a loser, and it’s time to start over.
Because in sales copy…
We don’t want people admiring our grammar. We want them to feel our message and find it so interesting that they buy what we’re selling.
So after you complete your first draft… When you go back over your copy, try to pull out bland words and expression, and grab your trusty thesaurus to find words that have more emotional impact to them.
I’d love to give you a bunch of examples here, but it really comes down to “what” emotion you’re trying to invoke in your audience. And I don’t want to turn this post into a full length book.
So let me just give you a simple example of invoking emotions, just to show you how this powerful persuasion technique works…
Let’s say we’re selling a weight loss supplement… What emotion can we invoke to get our reader engaged, and pull them into our copy?
I can think of a bunch of different emotions we could choose, but I’m just going to pick a couple for this example…
How about “anger” at a common enemy? Followed by “hope” for a better solution?
So our example could look something like this:
“If you’ve tried everything to lose weight, and you feel like a failure because nothing seems to work, there’s something you need to know… It’s not entirely your fault…
Big Pharma, and those corrupt officials at the FDA have been lying to you for years.
They sell you their bogus weight loss pills, (which can carry deadly side effects) and their fad diets (which rarely ever work). And when none of it works for you… those self serving Fat Cats simply come up with another LIE to sell you even more useless garbage. All in the name of the almighty buck!
But I want you to know there is a better, safer and more effective way to permanently lose weight. Without all the un-natural side effects of taking potentially harmful drugs. Introducing…”
So what we did there was identify a common enemy… invoke a bit of anger at the enemy… and start to offer some hope. Which opens the path that will lead us into our main offer.
Of course the copy above is not highly polished sales copy. But can you already start to see, and feel how much more impact this can have over boring unemotional advertising?
Would like to see another example?
OK, I think we have time for one more one more before we move on to the next technique…
Let’s say we want to sell pet toys for dogs. What emotion can we invoke for this one?
How about joy, and love? (after all, most dog owners love their pets)
So a short example could be something like…
“When you come home from a hard days work, who’s always there to greet you with unconditional love?
Your four legged friend never judges you, never talks down to you, and knows for a fact that you’re the greatest person in the world.
Show the love for your dog that he or she shows you, by giving your best friend one of our veterinarian approved, super durable, K-9 chew toys.
As a loving pet owner you know the feeling of pure joy that can only come from watching your best friend enthusiastically play with their favorite, well loved, chew toy…”
And from there we can begin to describe the benefits of our dog toys, over other similar toys on the market. Or if it’s the same toy others are selling, then we can explain why they should buy from us, instead of buying from anyone else.
Of course, there’s a number of powerful emotions that you can use in your sales copy.
Like anger, revenge, fear, frustration, hope, love, compassion or empathy (just to name a few)
But generally speaking, it’s best if you stick with just one or two main emotions in any particular sales piece.
You can certainly use a couple more emotions in supporting roles, but if you start bouncing people around with too many powerful emotions, you run the risk of exhausting your audience before they get to the point of your sales message.
So let me just wrap this section up with a final thought…
“When you start writing your next piece of copy, ask yourself “What emotions do you want to invoke in your audience, and what words can you use invoke them?”
Powerful Written Persuasion Technique – # 3 (consequences of inaction)
OK, now we’re going to talk about showing your reader the consequences of not taking action.
Why is this technique so powerful?
Because as most of us already know, there’s really only two ways people are motivated to do pretty much anything…
Either towards pleasure… or… away from pain
I’m personally a big fan of writing copy that’s uplifting, and that shows people a brighter future when they accept my offer. (mostly because people are exposed to enough negative news all day, and I don’t want to add to all the negative energy)
But, I’m also fully aware that most people are more motivated moving away from pain, rather than towards pleasure.
To put it in a simple terms… people will pay a few bucks for the promise of good health… But they’ll give you their last dollar to cure a painful disease they already have.
That’s why showing people the consequences of inaction becomes a powerful motivating force, and a powerful persuasion technique.
Showing your audience the consequences of inaction simply means showing them how they’ll lose out by not doing what you suggest. In other words, what pain or discomfort will they experience (or continue to experience) if they don’t take action?
This doesn’t mean you should make threats. And I’m not suggesting you just pound them with negative consequences. If you do, then you run the risk of having them associate “you” with those negative feelings.
And if that happens, then you’re screwed. Because they’ll be motivated to move away from YOU (because you’ve become a source of pain)
But what you can do, and should do, is show them some negative results of not choosing to take the desired action you want them to.
Do you want to see a quick example of how this could work?
OK, let’s say we’re selling a self improvement course and we want to show people the consequences of not buying it.
Here’s a quick example of how that might look:
“Our home study course has helped thousands of people just like you achieve incredible success in their lives. And we’re certain it can help you do the same.
If you’re not currently living your life on your own terms, then you owe it to yourself to let us help you create the life you desire.
Don’t put this important decision off any longer. This is your life we’re talking about, and your future is right in front of you.
So which scenario would you rather experience 30 days from now?
Would you rather see dramatic, positive changes already manifesting in your life? Or would you rather still be sitting there, wishing and hoping things will somehow get better…”
So in this example, most of the copy is a message of hope (which is the way I prefer it) but we also start to bring in the consequences of not taking action.
From there we can amp up the emotion a bit more, and bring in a few more negative consequences of not taking action. (like the frustration of never living up to your full potential, or always getting passed over for that promotion, etc.)
Just remember… don’t dwell on the negatives for too long, or make them too powerful without presenting a solution. Or you’ll run the risk of chasing your audience away.
Whenever possible, we want to incorporate “both” types of motivation in our sales copy (moving towards pleasure, and moving away from pain). That way we can show our audience the consequences of not moving towards a positive solution (ideally, our solution) and the possibilities of moving towards a brighter future.
OK, let me just wrap up this section with a final thought…
When you’re writing your sales copy, ask yourself… “How will my reader lose out if they don’t act now? Or, what are the consequences of inaction?” Once you figure that out… make sure you show it to them, in your sales copy.
OK, at the beginning of this post I said it was going to be a “short” post. And true to form (as most people who know me can testify) once I get started talking about this stuff, I sometimes lose track of just how long my posts get.
But this one is starting to get a bit lengthy, and my dog is tugging at my pant leg (in an obvious attempt to let me know it’s time to get off my ass and play with him) so I’m going to end it here.
If you’d like to see a “part 2” of this post about Powerful Written Persuasion Techniques, just let me know in the comments below.
So 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
- The Secret To Writing Persuasive Sales Copy - April 19, 2020
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