While techniques for creating writing that's persuasive and effective have been around for many, many years, the techniques have had to evolve heavily over the years, as the way readers ingest information has changed.
In the internet age, content needs to be concise and simple if it's going to work. Attention spans are reducing all the time, so your messages need to be clear and to the point, if they're going to get through.
Be under no illusions that it's worth taking time to think about, and create, writing that's captivating and persuasive. It will have a couple of noticeable effects:
- Your audience will avidly read the entirety of your content, right to the end. This means you'll have a better shot at persuading them to take action immediately. Or, you might make an impression on them, so they follow you, and then take action at some point in the future.
- If you get your content right, you'll find readers are compelled to share it, which will help you to reach more people, and improve the chances of it going viral.
The golden rule – keep things simple, concise and crystal clear
Don't worry about oversimplifying your writing. As long as you're still offering value, you're not going to get complaints that it's too easy to understand but at the same time ensure you're writing at the same wave length as your audience.
Keep it sharp and focussed, and remember that you're the expert, so you may need to simplify things to engage your audience. If they don't understand your writing, they won't be back for more, and you'll have blown your chance with them.
‘What's in it for me?' That's the question your readers are unconsciously asking as they read your content, so make sure you answer it for them.
Write your content directly to an imagined reader, and make sure that everything in it will have some value for them. Your reader doesn’t want to know about you, unless it's relevant to them in some way.
WIIFM is something all marketers and writers should be asking, whenever they're creating content of any kind, so burn it into your memory.
Use the second person
There's no better way to aim your content squarely at your reader than by using the second person style of writing – so ‘you' and ‘your' not ‘me' and ‘mine.'
This will help you to talk directly to your readers, and is a natural way to write persuasive sales copy. It's also a simple way to make the content all about your reader.
Press those emotional buttons
To write persuasively, you need to understand your audience's wants, needs & desires, and you need to know how to get them to listen and understand how you can help. These three emotional hot buttons will help you to communicate exactly why they need you.
The buttons are:
Pain: This is the most persuasive one. We all fear losing what we have, or failing in some way. This means content addressing the fears that we have can be hugely persuasive. There's a reason that politicians are constantly warning you of the dangers of not voting for them, and TV ads are queueing up to tell you what you might be about to lose – it's persuasive.
Identify a potential problem for your clients, help them to imagine the consequences of it happening, and then ride in and be the hero who solves that problem for them.
Pleasure: If you can find your audience's pleasure points, and communicate how you're able to hit these points for them, you'll be clearly answering the question ‘what's in it for me?'
Features are boring – people want to know how you'll improve their lives and what benefits they'll experience, so indulge them. Imagine a car salesperson selling air conditioning. The customer doesn't need to know the boring list of AC features. Instead, the salesperson should emphasise the more evocative benefits – that they will feel and look cool on even the hottest and stickiest day of the year, and that their neighbours will be jealous.
Curiosity: Do you know the feeling when you glance at an intriguing headline, and just have to click on it? That's curiosity at work, and it's a very powerful hot button.
It's especially effective in headlines, but it can also be used mid article (by referencing and linking to a previous article), or by referencing what's still to come later on in the article. It can also be put to great use at the end of paragraphs, effectively forcing the reader to keep going.
If you're into Neuro-Linguistic Programing (NLP), you'll recognise the idea of ‘opening a loop.' Basically, this means you'll create a loop in the reader's brain, which they can only satisfy by giving in to their curiosity.
Start interrogating the words you write
Ask the following questions whenever you create new content.
- What? – Have you made it clear what you're talking about. Will a reader know what message you're communicating, and go away with the right message?
- Why? – Is the information actually useful and important for the reader? If so tell them why.
- How? – Does the writing make it clear how the subject you're discussing works? If you're talking about your product, is it clear how the reader can take the next step?
- Even if… – Think of any flaws, or issues, that your reader might identify, and make sure that your content has addressed them. So, if there's a chance they'll think it's too technical, make a specific reference to how even complete beginners can easily use it. This is your chance to cover any last minute objections.
Nothing gives you credibility like providing evidence for your claims. Incorporate stats, testimonials and quotes into your work to add authenticity and authority. This shows that you know what you're talking about, and have the evidence to back it up.
Of course, you can reference other people's work, but be sure to cite them, and to give them proper credit for it.
Wrap it all up
All good stories need a satisfying ending, so bring your content to a neat conclusion by summing up and explaining how you have helped your reader. Let me try…
So, that's how you can write vibrant copy that persuades your audience to keep reading right to the end. Don't forget these key tips:
- Be clear, and keep things simple and concise
- Constantly consider the WIIFM principal
- Remember the emotional hot buttons
- Talk benefits not features
- Question your copy
- The proof's in the pudding, so show your sources
- Bring everything to a satisfying conclusion
If you're interested in using this information (and more) for creating compelling webinar content that converts prospects into eager buyers then checkout my new slide deck here.
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