Of writing, persuasion and “text” appeal

Ninety percent of selling is conviction, and 10 per cent is persuasion.

-Shiv Khera

I noticed that these days, more and more, we are facing an overwhelmingly strong tendency to hit the “Submit” or “Enter” button very much too quickly – be it in accepting T&Cs, in posting Facebook statuses, in sending instant messages and SMS and also… in sending over quotes or emails. And for as much as I’m concerned about #grammarnazi issues here, I am talking about the content. Needless to say that you could be the most talented of translators or freelancer or designer or architect but when communication comes in, you need to produce compelling text that convey the message and get you where you want to be (in a nutshell, writing better content and use persuasion). And writing with “text appeal” (quoting my friend Jorge ), ladies and gents, is part of a smashing brand effort.

Once it's sent, that's when I best proofread.

Once it’s sent, that’s when I best proofread.

As I read on BBC, when writing you can:

  • write to argue
  • write to persuade
  • write to advise
Differences in approach...

Differences in approach…

In all of the above, you are offering ideas to other people. However, each style does this in different ways. If you argue, the writing tends to look at both sides and come to a conclusion. If you persuade, it tends to be one-sided, making your ideas the only sensible choice. If you advise, it tends to be softer, guiding someone towards your ideas.  And the one we want to focus on is persuasion. Get an idea of what it is using this wheel:

Persuasion can be learnt

Persuasion can be learnt

This very interesting article explains in 10 points what are the writing techniques we all should focus on:
  1. Repetition
  2. Reasons Why
  3. Consistency
  4. Social Proof
  5. Comparisons
  6. Agitate and Solve
  7. Prognosticate
  8. Go Tribal
  9. Address Objections
  10. Storytelling

Joanna Wiebe also gives us some interesting tips on how to write and convince people that what we are selling is the right choice for them:

Here are actions you can take right now – CHOOSE ONE:

1. Reorder your bullet lists to ensure the items in the middle are least important to prospects

2. Set up a headline test on any page – it doesn’t have to be on your home page – where you replace 1 of the words in your current headline with something “bizarre”

3. Adjust your most sent autoresponder to repeat your value proposition across each email in the series (e.g., in the email header)

4. Where you have a small line of text – like a subhead or an About Us line in your footer – tweak it to make it rhyme.

In one of my MBA for Translators, run with The Freelance Box (co-hosted by Marta) I illustrate the anatomy of a convincing email to approach a new client / prospect.

  • INTRO: introduce why you’re writing without starting with hard selling from line 1
  • FLATTERY: let the client know you read all about their business and how much you like it
  • THERE’S ALWAYS A BUT: find a reason why what they’re doing could be better (ie. thanks to YOU)
  • YOU COULD BE UP HERE: show why changing what they’re doing is beneficial for their business (eg. hiring translation services) and giving proof (statistics or links)
  • DANDY SOLUTION: present your business and introduce yourself (name, quick reference to experiences without listing too much)
  • CALL ME MAYBE: offer to check back on them in a while or to go and see them in their offices. Setting a deadline or offering a meetup show good faith and openness
  • AU REVOIR: just elegantly close and say goodbye, making sure you attach info or PDFs with your services or T&Cs.

SHAMELESS PLUG: Our next events are in Castellón, Spain and Derby, UK. Join us!

Finally, the best cheat sheet I’ve seen in a while and that you can totally use for shaping your better writing is offered by Vero:

20 tips - and they're all great

20 tips – and they’re all great

I love them all, but if I had to choose, I’d incorporate the following tips in my strategy:

  • 2, SHOW THAT YOU CARE – as people buy from people after all
  • 5, GET PERSONAL – they’d rather buy from a trusted person they can relate to
  • 13, OVERWHELM WITH VALUE – even if it’s your normal service, make it stand out as if it was only for that client
  • 16, MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY – we all like that. And be nice, that’s unexpected!

To expand on persuasion and effective writing:

  1. Copyhackers on writing psychology 
  2. 20 tips from Vero 
  3. Resources to write persuasively 
  4. Writing effective emails 
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One thought on “Of writing, persuasion and “text” appeal

  1. Pingback: Emotional, branded worlds: copywriting aimed to touch your soul  | Rainy London Branding

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