All persuasive writing techniques begin with knowing the person you’re trying to influence.
Every sales copywriter knows that in order to be successful you must do the right type of research before you begin to write a single word.
Gary Bencivenga says that persuasive writing consists of 40% research, 40% writing, and 20% polishing.
So if we accept this great advice then we’ll be spending as much time on the research phase as we are on the writing phase.
But what to research?
The mind of your prospect.
All techniques for persuasive writing will fail if you don’t know what will make your reader buy.
Denny Hatch wrote a book called “Method Marketing.”
In this book he likened prospect research to method acting.
He also said that some of the biggest businesses were started by entrepreneurs and copywriters who understood and made a fortune out of mapping the minds of their prospects.
Companies like Agora and Boardroom, where started by solo entrepreneurs. They soon became multimillion dollar corporations on the strength of their persuasive writing ability.
There’s a story Gary Halbert once told.
It’s about a gorgeous woman at a party in Manhattan who was attracting the attention of most of the men there.
There were several men preening themselves around her hoping to take her home.
The first guy came onto her saying how rich he was. How many millions he had and how he would like to spend his money on her.
The second guy come up to her looking really handsome.
Fine clothes set off his physique. He talked about his sports prowess and the trophies he’d won, etc.
The third guy walked up to her and talked about how powerful he was. How he controlled this empire and that empire.
But all to no avail.
The fourth guy didn’t look much.
He casually went up to her, said a few words, showed her some heroin and they walked out together.
You can imagine all these guys writing her a sales letter. Using their best persuasive writing techniques.
And you can see three of the four totally missing what this woman wants.
They are all wrapped up in themselves and are therefore overdressed.
The fourth guy knew she was a heroin addict.
He’d done his homework.
He didn’t need any psychological manipulation tricks.
Or resort to sneaky underhanded techniques some persuasive writers use.
The fourth guy did his research and knew the answer to the one question that mattered.
And that is…
“What does my prospect lust after?”
Do you know what it is your prospects long for?
Take the headline for a fly fishing magazine:
“Trout spoken here… also salmon and bonefish.”
Do you think this writer knew what his prospect lusts after?
Of course he did.
Is this then is the number one skill of the persuasive writer?
Some call it being ‘The Sales Detective.’
A detective so shrewd she can follow all the clues that lead her to the answer to the question…
“What does my prospect lust after?”
Mastering this skill will separate you from just about anybody else writing to your market.
In fact, this skill will put you so far ahead of your competition that they’ll never catch up with you unless they know what you’re about to read next.
Do the exercises as they come up, and by the time you reach the end you will know exactly what moves your prospects to buy products like yours.
This will make your copywriting come alive in your prospects mind each and every time you write to them.
Persuasive writing technique #1.
How to grow richer BEFORE you write a single word of copy!
You’re about to learn what every persuasive writer does to get people to buy.
You have to pave the way to success.
“It’s not the will to win that counts, it’s the will to prepare to win that counts.”
In just a few moments you’ll discover where to get the best creative ideas and approaches all the best writers use.
At first this may appear to be a little daunting, but then so is any successful endeavour.
It all looks difficult at first, then you dive in and realise it’s no more difficult than failing.
Yes you can even work hard at failing.
I know I have several times.
However, eventually you’ll come out a winner.
And here is your winning formula.
Study it and apply it.
You’ll astound yourself with the results you’ll get in every sales promotion from now on.
Before we begin I’m going to ask you to leave the building.
Yes I want you to go down to your local newsagents or bookstore,
When you’re there, look at the magazine racks.
Each one of these magazines represents a specific marketplace.
No one knows more about their readers than these magazines do.
The magazines you see on the shelves live and die by how well they understand their prospects desires.
Especially if they have subscribes to their magazine.
You’ll see magazines on men’s health, women’s health, running, angling, golf, antiques, gardening, classic cars, photography, shooting, Xbox games, and a whole host of other things.
As you can clearly see, they are all aimed at specific markets.
In Britain’s the number one woman’s magazine is “Glamour.”
This one is aimed at women who want to look gorgeous.
There are other magazines for different types of women.
Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, and Psychologies are some examples.
The front covers of these magazines show many benefit statements to get you to want to buy the magazine.
In terms of persuasive writing techniques these short benefit statements are known as “bullets” or “fascinations.”
These are mini instructions on how to write persuasively.
Here are some examples from a magazine called “Easy Living.”
- 10 Brilliant tips for a calmer, happier, more efficient you
- The U.K.’s most heavenly holidays (from just £30 a night!)
- Inspirational, achievable, beautiful – gorgeous make up – glorious flowers – simple, stunning home ideas
- A-list beauty exclusive! Julianne Moore shares her anti-ageing secrets
You can clearly see all of these bullet points or fascinations are “talking” to a certain type of reader.
To say it differently, they appeal to a hidden desire the reader has.
And that’s what makes someone pick up the magazine and begin reading.
When you read these magazines, each article in the magazine is calling out a different niche within the main niche of the magazine.
For example: on the front cover of Marie Claire magazine you read
“Boob-job Britain. Why more women are going under the knife.”
The only people who will read that are those who are considering having a special type of surgery.
This demonstrates how clearly each magazine understands their readers.
My next question to you is,
“What magazine does your prospect read?”
Once you have the answer to this insightful question you will get a real understanding of who your prospect is and what their secret desires are.
Not only have these magazines worked out for you exactly what your prospects want, they’ve paid persuasive writers to write bullet points and fascinations on their front covers.
The good news about these bullet points is you can steal them and use them as templates for your own products or services.
And you’ll be adding to your techniques for persuasive writing!
Here’s another insider tip for you.
Don’t buy any of these magazines.
Just get the phone number of the advertising department, ring them up and ask them to send you a media pack.
Also ask for three editions of their magazine.
The reason you’re asking for three is so you can see who their regular advertisers are.
If there are companies in your marketplace that have advertised in all three magazines that you receive, then study their adverts because they are making money from them.
And they will reveal persuasive writing techniques you’ve never heard of.
Also in the media pack the magazine will tell you who they created their magazine for.
In other words, your ideal prospect.
Here’s an example from ‘Start Your Business’ magazine:
WHO ARE OUR PRIMARY READERS?
• They’re both male and female
• Their average age is 38
• They have traded for less than three years
• They are establishing their brand loyalties
• They are looking for expert advice
• The choice of business bank will be their first major decision
• They will require office space or commercial premises
• They will purchase IT equipment with the first three months of trading
• They will re-assess their mobile phone requirements
• 67% will consider upgrading their vehicle within the first year of trading
• 84% of our readers consider business insurance as ‘essential’
• 64% are interested in improving their businesses’ online presence
• on average our readers went to six concerts over the last 12 months
• our readers are actively seeking new business opportunities
• our readers regularly look for special offers in advertisements
When you combine these persuasive writing techniques you’re about to discover with information like this – be prepared for amazing results.
And higher profits!
Next, what I want you to do is read the articles in the magazines your prospects read.
And pay particular attention to the sub niches that align with your product or service.
Another good idea is to find out how many subscribers the magazine has, as this will give you an indication of how popular that magazine is.
You always want to pick a niche with a “high passion index.”
In other words, people who are irrationally passionate about a subject.
Think, golf, fishing, photography, beauty, anti-aging, health, bodybuilding, etc.
If you really want to put yourself in to the highest ranks of researchers then you’ll want to do either or both of the following strategies.
Go to Amazon and look up books on similar subjects to what you’re selling.
Collect the titles of these books and read their back covers.
These will give you even more indications of the desires your prospect has.
Another excellent thing to do would be to look at the comments of people who have read the books.
You’ll be looking for the buzzwords that customers are saying in the reviews and you’ll be using them in your articles, blog posts, etc.
You’ll also be looking for the negative comments about the books you’re researching. These are great for picking up objections that you will encounter when selling your own products.
One of the key things to do when you’re writing persuasively is to bring up the objection before the person thinks of it and then resolve it for them in a way that makes them want the product even more.
You could also go down to your local book shop and look at the titles of the books that are selling something similar to your product.
Here you have the advantage of looking inside the book.
What you’re looking for is in the introduction or the first chapter.
Here the author has just a few sentences of persuasive writing techniques to get you buy the book.
These few sentences are priceless for you because you can use them (but not word for word) to sell your product.
Take a notebook with you and make notes of the exact verbiage used in each of the books.
You can use all of this valuable information for creating great content for your website and sales messages.
But we’re not done yet.
Let’s keep going further into the mind of your prospect.
Remember “the deeper the foundation the higher the building.”
Persuasive writing technique #2.
Write into the heart of the mind
To do that we’re going to start with Demographics.
This is ‘jargon’ for the facts of a person’s life.
Like how old they are, whether they are male or female etc.
The great insight you got earlier was to send for a media pack for the magazine your target market reads.
In the media pack will be specific information that will help you answer the following questions.
(If you can’t find the answers to these questions, write down your best guess.)
How old is your prospect?
Are they male or female?
Are they married, divorced, widowed or single?
Do they have any kids?
Do they have aging parents and are their grandparents still alive?
What’s their educational level, high school, college, university, etc.
What do they do for a living?
Do they have any pets?
Are they fit or are they a couch potato?
What are their physical attributes? Are they overweight, etc.
Okay, if you’ve done that you’ve put yourself on the fast track to success.
A study once proved the one main difference between the successful and unsuccessful business owners came down to just three words.
Speed of implementation.
Now you’re in the rare two per cent of those who get things done and achieve more great things in life.
Now let’s look at another important component of the human mind.
Knowing the behaviour patterns of your reader will give you a unique advantage when using these techniques for persuasive writing.
Of course the first thing you want to know is which magazines do they read?
Do you know what TV shows they watch?
This may be a little harder to find out.
Here’s a clue…
What TV shows do you watch?
The chances are you’re similar to your prospects.
Most people are the best prospects for their products, that’s why they made them or were attracted to them in the first place.
So write out the TV shows you think they watch and include their favourite celebrities, actors, singers.
This makes the next part easier.
List the five people they most admire.
Do they have a favourite prime minister or president?
Next, are they the religious type or are they more spiritual?
In other words do they follow some organised religion or do they mainly read books, take courses, or attend classes on spirituality?
Now if your prospect is religious it’s highly likely they will resent those outside of their chosen religion.
Even if they aren’t there’s always a group or groups of people they hate, resent or fear.
The Common Enemy (as used in persuasive writing techniques).
One of the most powerful concepts in persuasive writing techniques is bonding with your prospect by throwing rocks at his enemy.
Yes, the theme of the common enemy or the “us versus them” mentality.
Everyone is prejudice about something or someone.
Now let’s take a look at their self-esteem.
Do they have any emotional issues going on?
Are there frustrations in their day to day life?
Do they have any neuroses?
Write down what you think.
Now answer this question: How do they feel about the hand they were dealt in life?
The last part of this section is all about their hopes, dreams, and future desires.
Hope is a powerful emotional trigger especially when selling health products or longevity plans.
Write down what you think is on their mind when it comes to their future.
Do they own their own home, or do they rent?
Do they own more than one home. For example a holiday home or places they let out.
What kind of car or cars do they own?
Where do they go on holiday, where do they stay, do they even take holidays?
Do they have hobbies… spend time hanging out with a group of friends, etc?
What (if any) are their professional activities?
Do they belong to any organisation?
Are they fitness or health fanatics?
Does your prospect have any world views? In other words do they voice their opinions about economic issues, political issues, or society and the way it’s going or how good the old days were?
What section of the newspaper do they read first?
Sports, business, finance, health, women’s interests, political, world news, etc.
Persuasive writing technique #3.
Brilliant… you now have the foundational understanding of your prospect.
Chances are you know more about your prospect than any of your competitors.
And that puts you in pole position when it comes to using persuasive writing techniques.
Now let’s go to the place where your writing will give you the highest responses possible.
Remember what Gary Bencivenga said about copywriting. It’s 40% research, 40% writing and 20% polishing.
The problem I see with most people who teach copywriting is they focus mainly on the writing itself.
And that’s because it’s the glamorous side of copywriting.
But that’s not where the big money is.
That’s only available to those who do an amazing job of research.
So let’s go the extra mile now with this next section that begins with these questions:
(By the way, these next questions will give you far more accurate and insightful answers if you ask three or four of your prospects directly.)
What is the big urgent problem that you solve?
If your prospect could ask for one wish, what would he want more than anything else in this area?
This question will help you understand the ultimate result your prospect is looking for so you can design and position your product or service promotion accordingly.
Knowing what your prospect clearly and intensely wants gives you a huge edge when you’re putting together any e-mails, blog posts, articles, landing pages, sales pages, videos or just about any other promotion you are doing.
When you can figure out the dream outcome to your prospect and promise it in an honest way you will appeal to these deep drives they have.
What does he most want to avoid?
Some people are more motivated by pain than they are by pleasure. Often times people go through their lives running away from the things they’re afraid of.
While most people pile on benefit after benefit and just paint a wonderful picture of the future their prospects can have, it’s even more powerful to talk about the pain and frustration these people already have in their lives.
What does he believe deep down about the issue or problem?
This question will help you write in a way that shows your prospect that what you have will work for them. You’re taking them from what’s possible in the mind to what is actually probable in the real world.
What does he believe about your type of product or service?
Does he believe your product or service can work?
One of the biggest objections people have is they think the product they are looking to buy won’t work for them.
What does he believe about other promises from people in this industry?
Does he believe that your type of company or product is trustworthy?
How does your prospect feel when he looks for the type of product or service you’re selling?
Is he intimidated and dreading the process?
Or is he excited and looking forward to owning your product?
How does he feel when he reads what you’ve written?
Are you getting him excited, full of anticipation?
Or if he is avoiding a problem because you are you “backing the ambulance up to his door?”
In other words, are you overdoing the pain?
How does he feel about what you’re offering?
Does he see it as incredibly generous?
That he’d be a fool not to take you up on your offer?
Or does he think there’s a catch somewhere?
Is he questioning why it’s such a low price?
Or why it’s such a high price?
Persuasive writing technique #4.
Let’s “marry” features with benefits.
A feature is what something is. A benefit is what something does.
For example, a feature of a saucepan is its handle.
The benefit is you can move the saucepan using the handle and not get burned.
Of a handle on a coffee cup can be classed as a feature.
Being able to drink your coffee at the temperature you like is classed as the benefit.
Now think of a feature of your product or service.
Remember, a feature is what something is.
Now ask yourself this question.
“Why does this feature exist?”
You just want a basic reason.
Nothing elaborate is needed.
Here’s an example.
A light and sound machine is used by hypnotists and advanced learners.
The reason why I should include it in a learning course is because it speeds up learning.
So using the diagram below I would put “light and sound machine” under the ‘features’ heading and “speeds up learning” in the ‘why it exists’ heading.
Okay now it’s your turn.
Now you’re going to translate this “reason why” answer into a functional benefit.
This will bring the feature to life in the mind of your prospect.
So to continue with my example, the light and sound machine speeds up learning.
When you speed up your learning you master your subject faster and begin enjoying the rewards sooner.
Let’s go a little deeper here to give you a better understanding.
I’m going to expand on my example.
I’m using the light and sound machine to help web-based entrepreneurs learn the techniques of persuasive writing.
They need to learn it and it’s a difficult subject which typically takes years to learn.
I’m going to break this down step by step.
- The light and sound machine speeds up their learning.
- They can master persuasive writing faster
- and begin enjoying getting higher response rates sooner
- and making more money than they are today.
By explaining what the feature DOES for my prospect I bring it to life.
I’ve deliberately used action verbs like ‘master’ and ‘faster,’ plus “higher response rates sooner” and lastly ‘make more money.’
Note also that the end result of this little exercise is something my prospect is willing to pay money for.
Now, take the time to write out the functional benefit of one of your features.
Remember to use action verbs.
(Other tips on techniques for persuasive writing can be found on my other post writing to sell https://clivecable.com/writing-to-sell/)
If you get stuck with this at any point, go back to your “reason why” explanation and ask yourself the question, “so what?”
Then answer that and ask the “so what?” question again until you get a functional answer people will pay for.
AND if you get stuck with any of the other features you wrote out, ask this question, “Which means that?”
Now this may seem a little like overkill but you’ll be surprised how many people can’t get the benefit out of the feature because they are what I call, feature creatures. That is they are too logical. And people buy on emotion.
Just for the fun of it I’ll give you a couple of examples about the light and sound machine so you can see how it fits in with these persuasive writing techniques.
It speeds up learning.
You learn faster so you can implement sooner.
When you implement sooner you’ll get more responses than you’re getting now.
You’ll get more new paying customers.
You’ll make more money than you are right now.
Okay, there is more to come but I’ll tell you that in a moment.
You can already see the question, “which means that…” is similar to the “so what?” question in that you get almost the same answers.
Let’s move on to the final part of this section.
You want to create pleasing pictures in the mind of your prospects.
The more real and vivid it is the better.
You want them to see themselves owning and using your product.
Car salesmen do this by letting you test drive the car before buying.
Demonstration is one of the best ways to persuade people.
I’ll give you an example.
Imagine it’s one month from today and you’ve been using the light and sound machine for thirty minutes a day while you were relaxing listening to ways to write more persuasively.
It’s almost like you did nothing but relax. But all this time your subconscious mind was absorbing the material I created for you.
Not only did your subconscious mind absorb it, it remembered it as well.
The word information means new knowledge forming inside of you waiting for the right time to be put into action.
So here you are a month from today and you’re writing to promote one of your products. And for some unknown reason you feel inspired.
As you start writing you’re feeling excited about what you’re doing.
The words are flowing from your mind onto the screen in front of you.
And it feels effortless.
You post your words up on your website and the next thing you know you’re getting emails showing lots more people opting into your email list.
Double or even treble what you’re getting now.
And you know from past experience how many of these new opt-ins will buy from you.
You realise that a few days from now your profits will double. You’ll be able to get that new “toy” you’ve been promising yourself.
Or that holiday.
If you did the exercises in the last chapter you’ll know your prospect well enough to know what they lust after. You’ll also know which ‘driver’ words to pepper your copy with.
In fact you’ll know how to outline your entire sales message and use these techniques of persuasive writing.
Persuasive writing technique #5.
There’s one more strategy you can use.
Well two actually.
The first is to build in some anticipation BEFORE giving your benefit.
The second is using the “little to big” technique.
You wake up one morning and start writing. You notice it’s easier than before. The words just come naturally for you.
You finish up half an hour later and you post your work on line.
A couple of hours go by and a few orders trickle in.
Then you begin to notice something strange just around 3pm.
There’s a spike in responses. And for the next few hours your orders skyrocket.
You’re making more in an hour than you used to in a month. Suddenly you’re getting really excited because you realise it’s the American market that’s seeing your promotion and loving it.
Okay, I hope you can see the value in this.
When you use what you have here you’ll see big changes in your writing.
And you’ll notice there’s no need to use hype or slick salesmanship.
These techniques for persuasive writing are always used honestly and ethically and are based around the real motivations of your readers.
Once you really understand your readers your responses will reach new heights.
Now that you’ve read this, it’s time to discover more persuasive writing techniques found in a free copywriting course I wrote with my friend Barry Dunlop. You’ll find it over at https://www.incomediary.com/free-copywriting-course-copywriter/