Reading this blog will teach you to write persuasively.
Do I have your attention?
Now what if this had started: As a content writer, it can be beneficial to have some persuasive writing skills, which you might be able to learn and apply by reading—
And I’ve lost you.
Too often, content writing takes a circuitous route, rolling along in subjective and conditional speaking because, ultimately, it is afraid to venture into a zone that is too salesy – rightfully so. Instead of finding solutions to overt sales-speak, content is prone to meandering about, avoiding the issue completely and losing the reader amid the slow flush of word diarrhea.
Why say a product “could potentially help” when the reader wants to hear what “will help”?
The ledes are weak!
Truth is, writing can take a page from the sales book. In the end, the task for both writer and salesperson is to make an impression on behalf of the brand: and the quickest route is a straight line at the consumer. While salespeople are characterized as sprinting along that line, directly speaking to prospects about their needs, a written approach is by nature more subtle.
It’s the straightforward approach that leads to success, a tact that can be mistook for being bullheaded when in the wrong circumstances. Content’s progression along that line to a persuaded consumer need not resemble a charge, but it should embody the spirit in it, the single-minded action in it. Using this animus effectively in writing – not to bully, but to drive an idea and elicit a reaction – only requires faith in the effort.
In sales it’s known as gumption: The leads aren’t weak, you’re weak! Have some spine and get out there.
Every good story needs a beginning, a middle and an end, a path for the reader: a spine. And your argument could stand a prescription for some old-fashioned backbone. Sit up straight in that ergonomic office chair!
Jack Donaghy Alec Baldwin tells us in the great “Glengarry Glen Ross”: A – B – C.
Airtight writing leaves no room for doubt
So the issue then becomes how to convey this persuasiveness in your writing.
As ever, voice is your most important tool.
The second a salesperson’s voice wavers, the chance at a close is lost. The minute content seems wishy-washy, the reader clicks away. This makes it crucial to appear decisive and knowledgeable in the eyes of the reader. There’s little room for error, and even less for not projecting enough assurance.
Writing-wise, what causes this to happen? It’s the usual suspects…
- Run-on sentences
- Lack of direction
- Grammatical errors
… As well as the more important, but less obvious, culprits:
- Conditional language
- Passive structures
Why is the second group a killer? Because the meekness of a few words will make short work of all the positioning and credibility that you’ve built.
Consider the headline “3 key elements of business strategy to take.” Know that the voice for this blog is active and everything works in unison: the title, the picture, the insights provided; and that the reader is interested. Then we arrive at the transition: “… and here are three key elements of strategy you should embrace to improve business planning.”
The reader thought these were actions “to take“? The subtle turn of a passive phrase at a critical juncture brings you to a grinding halt along that line to the enlightened reader. Persuasive writing takes on the essence of its topic and direction. If you want to inspire the reader to take action, you must express that on every level. That starts with basic blocks of persuasive writing:
- Active verbs
- Active sentence structures
- A clear purpose (the “Why?”)
- Appeal to knowledgeable readers
Phrasing is crucial. It doesn’t mean stripping everything away and laying the argument unabashedly bare. A defter sense of how you present yourself, your argument and your client is far more necessary than any sacrifice of creativity, style and aesthetic.
- “When it comes to planning, the task never stops for most businesses – especially planning for a natural disaster. Businesses should always keep in mind and prepare to train employees on what should be done in case of an emergency. Having the right products for organization and safety could be important to that end.”
… compared to:
- “All businesses need to keep emergency preparedness top of mind. That includes having the right tools and materials to training employees on critical safety procedures. It’s crucial for owners to understand risks, to plan for disaster and to keep employees safe.”
Digging further, use of conditional language – which is only very natural, yet limits must be imposed – is a turn off for readers for a number of reasons. It is puzzling: Like how “car accidents can be a headache for owners.” Well, car accidents are headaches for owners – and then some. Also, it becomes repetitious.
Every “should consider” or “could help” or “might” or “maybe” adds up and drags on readers, leaving them liable to wander or sense a lack of conviction in the content.
Write confidently without sounding like a cheesy salesperson
The knock on this persuasive approach to writing is that you’re telling people what they want to hear, or that they’ll find it’s not true for themselves.
“Oh your business‘s place in a rapidly evolving market depends on implementing the right time-saving software? Well I absolutely, 100 percent guarantee, put that on my momma, am telling you this software will work.”
You don’t have to be over the top to sell yourself and the argument for a cheap win. Rather, your readers will be inclined to listen (and take at face value your value propositions) when you are confident, articulate and effectual in writing. When you know that it works, and who it works for, you don’t have to be afraid to say so.
The goal at the end of the line is an engaged reader, a primed lead. Traversing that precipitous high wire will draw the resolve and courage out of you and into your writing. Assuming a linear mindset will keep you from deviating or digressing in your pursuit, it will keep your writing tight and compelling.
It’s a weighty task to ponder, that is, convincing a reader to try your products; but the less you think about it and the more you allow it to guide you, the more persuasively you will write.