I’ll wager that when you think of the word persuasion you get all kinds of negative thoughts and feelings coursing through your brain.
You equate persuading with pushing, manipulation—maybe even lying.
You may go to great lengths to avoid taking any action that might be viewed as persuasive—just so no one thinks badly of you.
What if I told you that thinking that way could literally cripple your writing career and dramatically stunt your potential to succeed?
As a writer looking for an audience, you must persuade—and that means becoming skilled in persuasive writing. Your career depends upon it.
The bitter truth is that if you’re to have a realistic chance of getting noticed and becoming successful, you must learn to persuade effectively, unapologetically and ethically.
How Persuasive Writing Techniques Turn a Spotlight on Your Work
I realize the idea of becoming a master persuader may not sit very well with you as a writer. Maybe it’s a bit offensive to you. You may feel that having to persuade others cheapens the craft of writing. Fair enough.
But when you consider the fact that when you need someone—anyone— to…
- Join your email list
- Read your manuscript
- Visit your blog
- Reply to your email query
…then having a mastery of ethical persuasion begins to make a lot of sense.
Persuasion is the spotlight that shines on your work.
With scores of writers all shouting for attention at the same time, you need every advantage you can get to stand out in the crowd. And the way to get that done is by persuading people to choose you over others.
Persuasion doesn’t cheapen your art… it showcases it.
Time to Cut Persuasion Some Slack
I understand where you’re coming from. When you think of having to persuade and convince others to do things, your skin crawls just a little bit.
And why not?
Your entire life, television, movies, and literature have done a spectacular job teaching you that people who persuade others for a living are bad guys who are not to be trusted.
For instance, what has the media taught you about the most obvious group of persuaders: salespeople?
They’re a bunch of thieves. They’re all untrustworthy con-man hucksters lying in wait to deceive and rob anyone who lets their guard down. Right?
Well, no, actually. That’s not right. In fact, the majority of the time it’s completely untrue.
The fact is that most persuaders (at least the ones who succeed long-term) stand on pretty high ethical ground.
And that’s exactly the type of persuader you’re going to have to become to succeed as a writer. It’s time to set your negative preconceived notions about persuasion aside and start putting it to work for you.
Whether you’re writing a blog post, a query letter, a cover letter, or your resume – your ability to persuade others to notice you and then take the actions you want them to take – is critical.
There are two major steps you must take to use the incredible power of persuasive writing to your advantage.
- You need to acknowledge that as a writer, you’ve unfairly judged persuasion and need to make friends with it.
- You need to make friends with persuasion, master it, and incorporate it into your life.
How You Can Be Ethical and Powerfully Persuasive at the Same Time
Have you ever gotten off on the wrong foot with someone – and then later on you find out that they’re actually a pretty cool person who winds up a friend?
I’m going to suggest to you that this is what’s happening between you and persuasion. You’ve had some less flattering experiences that led you to label it as something negative.
But consider that literally every successful organization or entity you can think of has mastered persuasion – even the most altruistic of them.
- Does your favorite charity persuade?
- What about a church?
- Non-profit organizations?
- Missionaries like Mother Teresa?
Do they persuade people to take specific actions for them or give them money? Do they persuade in order to obtain your prayers, donations, labor, or time?
They do. It’s how they survive and thrive. Does that mean they’re greedy or evil? Are they trying to deceive and trick you?
Of course not.
Those types of organizations sincerely try to make the world a better place for all of us.
And they’re masterful, unapologetic persuaders.
Persuasion itself is an innocent and powerful tool… just like a hammer. In and of itself, it’s just a tool.
Its goodness or badness depends entirely upon the intent of the person using the tool.
A person can use a hammer to build homes for the homeless, or they could choose to use it as a weapon to hurt or even murder others.
The hammer itself is powerful and innocent at the same time. And so are the laws of persuasion.
Used ethically, the laws of persuasion can be the catalyst for countless win-win scenarios.
Let’s look closer at some of the laws of persuasion and how they have the ability to immediately impact your persuasive writing.
Your Persuasive Writing Techniques Playbook
While social psychologists have identified well over 200 laws of persuasion, I’m going to share the three simplest and most powerful ones with you below. You’ll be amazed how much more responsive people are to your writing.
(Plus, at the end of this article, I’ll show you how to get your hands on another useful persuasive writing resource!)
These laws are powerful – so remember that with great power comes great responsibility. Any of these laws could be used for either ethical or unethical purposes. Just remember that unethical manipulation never works long-term, the truth comes out every time, and Karma is real. Always persuade ethically.
1: The Law of Reciprocity
At the core of this law is the fact that when someone does something nice for us, we have an intense urge to do something nice for them in return. Whether it’s conscious or subconscious, it’s a very real and observable phenomenon.
When you go out to lunch with a friend and they pay the $15 bill, something automatically triggers inside your brain creating an urge to do something for them in return. And when you do reciprocate, it may even be disproportionate. You may pay back the $15 lunch with a $100 dinner and not think twice about it. Now that’s powerful.
The takeaway with the Law of Reciprocity is that if we are to become masterful persuaders, we first need to become serial givers – and the gift we give doesn’t have to be big, substantial, or expensive. It just needs to be sincere and appreciated.
As a persuader, you can ethically and effectively use this law to help your writing career by…
- Offering free downloads to new or existing subscribers
- Volunteering your help to a publisher whose attention you’re seeking
- Routinely emailing your followers with useful information
- Doing someone a favor
- Consistently giving your audience truly high value content
Over time, these actions and behaviors make an impression on the recipients that you’re a giver.
The law of reciprocity dictates that when those people sincerely appreciate your gift, they will reciprocate at some point – either on their own or because you ask them to.
Write to Done’s own Mary Jaksch has a great story about how she benefited from this law. Because of her sincere offer to help super blogger Leo Babauta, her own A-List career was launched.
2: The Law of Social Proof
This law tells us that when people aren’t sure about what to do, they tend to look to other people they identify with to guide their thoughts and actions. In other words, humans have a very strong drive to do what their peers deem socially acceptable. It’s the “If everyone is doing it, then it must be a good thing” mentality.
To leverage this law for your persuasive writing, intentionally incorporate the following types of social proof in your work and communications…
The most common and most obvious type of social proof, a great testimonial features a credible source who knows you lending some of their credibility to you by going on record with a direct endorsement of your work.
- Borrow Credibility
This means using a quote or actual historical fact from a widely known person or entity without their direct endorsement. For instance, if your writing makes the point that the American health care system is about to collapse, you can include a quote or even an image of a headline from the front page of the New York Times that supports your point.
Or, you can use a story or quote from Albert Einstein, Oprah, Edison, or Michael Jordan to show that someone with great credibility supports what you’re writing. Unlike a testimonial, you can borrow credibility from a famous figure even if that person is a stranger… or even deceased.
Just keep it ethical. Don’t falsely make it look like an actual direct testimonial from Michael Jordan if it’s not.
- Others Love It
Lastly, just simply making the point that many other people like your work is a powerful persuasion technique. Right here on Write to Done, somewhere off to the top right hand side of this very post is a short sentence that says, “Join over 2.5 million yearly readers!”
That says a lot with very few words, doesn’t it? What does that immediately tell you about Mary and this site? Anything that you can do to show or imply (truthfully) that your work is in demand or heavily trafficked shows everyone that you’re someone to pay attention to.
3: The Law of Scarcity
This law illustrates the fact that when something becomes scarcer, our desire to own it, use it, or experience it naturally becomes much stronger. This law is related to two other well-known concepts: Supply and demand; and the fact that fear of loss is a much more powerful motivator than desire for gain.
This law is extremely powerful if used correctly and ethically.
For instance, “Hurry! Only 3 left!” is a great motivator if you’re talking about tickets to a popular concert. But it would be sketchy and deceitful if you’re talking about something in nearly limitless supply – like your free eBook download.
Missing out on an opportunity to take advantage of an offer is also a great example of scarcity – even if the opportunity isn’t linked to an actual purchase of a product or service.
For instance, “If you join my email list now, you’ll immediately begin receiving valuable content that can change the course of your career.”
While the offer never really expires, the language implies that if you don’t do it now, you may never do it. That simple and accurate suggestion of potential loss is also a form of scarcity.
How can this law benefit your writing career? Dramatically! And in as many ways as you can imagine…
- Books are selling fast – order now while quantities last.
- I have three time slots still available.
- Don’t let opportunity pass you by.
- As of this morning, I can still take on two more clients.
Again – just make sure you’re using real scarcity. False scarcity, aside from just being wrong, stands out like a sore thumb.
Taking Your Persuasive Writing to the Next Level
When you decide to embrace and leverage the laws of persuasion in your writing, you’ll immediately notice a difference in the way people interact with and respond to your work.
Implement these three laws to stand out in the crowd, attract a larger audience, sell your work, or get new clients.
When you understand and effectively use the laws of persuasion, you’ll open up new opportunities, grow your business, and create win-win scenarios for your followers and clients.
As an added bonus, I’ve created a persuasive writing cheat sheet especially for Write to Done readers called 9 Laws of Power Persuasion – a quick start guide for the aspiring persuader.
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