My bread and butter is writing sales copy or at least promotional copy of some description and that accounts for the vast majority of the demand in the market for scribblers today.
It makes sense to pick up on some techniques for writing in a persusive fashion – it makes no sense to write something that will not help sell or promote the product or service of your commissioning client.
#1 – Repetition
Repeating yourself helps get the point home to your audience. My view is to make your point in several different ways in order to avoid the appearance of treating your audience as if they are brainless. To this end I use quotes extensively both from individuals or from trusted reporting sources e.g. I quoted the “BBC” and “Angelina Jolie” when I wrote about Hoodia, a diet pill.
#2 – Consistency
Keep yourself on-message and on-topic. This will help you maintain a consistent approach to generating copy and advancing your message.
I tend to use this by advancing a position that a reader will find hard to disagree with and then following up with supporting evidence that leads to a hopefully, inescapable conclusion e.g. smokers die younger than non-smokers is a hard to disagree with statement.
#3 – Social Proof – Peer Pressure
I was told once upon a time that “The trend is your friend” and though this was in the context of foreign exchange dealing as traders would look for market trends in order to judge when to make trades, it has direct relevance with our writing as well.
I look for testimonials that can be cited and especially valuable are the rich and famous who use a product or service. You only need look at those companies that bear the Royal “By Appointment” signs to understand the significance of this.
Bottom line here is that you are leveraging the credibility of the readers peers whether it be a case of keeping up with the Jones or playing on the fear of being left behind over something unless the reader takes on the product or service.
#4 Agitate – Create a Need
A basic sales maxim is to generate a need and this is done by “disturbing the client” so that they are led to question whether the current state of affairs they enjoy is actually appropriate or needs attention.
I sold insurance for many years and this tactic is extensively used by that industry and with good reason – it works.
Me: “So Mr Client, tell me, if you died today what would happen to your family?
Client: “The mortgage is paid off and the wife gets £50,000 as a lump sum.”
Me: “OK that sounds good, tell me how much do you earn?
Client: “£25,000 a year”
Me: “So what would happen after two years when the £50k has run out?”
Client: “She’ll probably meet someone else and get married again” [I kid you not – a very common response!]
Me: “And what do you think about that Mrs Client?”
By which time, Mr C is not getting any action for several months thereafter unless he signs up for some more life insurance!
#5 Tell a Story
Story telling is really at the core of the definition of persuasion. We all like stories and we are prone to be taken in by them in a fashion that leads me to suspect we actually like persuading ourselves at times.
Telling a good story is a powerful persuasive technique for convincing your readers with your point of view and I use it extensively in combination with the other techniques already mentioned.