When most people think about writing, they think of novels, textbooks, and other resources that are meant to entertain or educate.
But a lot of writing is also about persuading the reader to take an action—such as buying a product, donating to a fundraiser, or contacting someone.
When you’re writing primarily to persuade, you often need different strategies from when you’re writing to entertain or educate.
Here are five tips that can help.
1. Keep It Simple
If you present the information in a complex way, you’re more likely to confuse your readers. You can’t persuade them if you confuse them—because they’ll usually quit reading before you’ve ever made your case.
So keep your writing clear and straightforward so that it will be easier to read and understand.
Readers typically have more patience to push through difficult material if it’s for educational purposes—but with persuasive materials, they’ll lose patience much more quickly.
2. Be Consistent
When people are faced with inconsistencies, they tend to get skeptical and lose trust—both of which are huge roadblocks to persuading someone.
So as you’re editing, it’s important to find and correct any inconsistencies in your writing.
Shameless plug: Sometimes it’s challenging to spot inconsistencies in your own writing, so it’s helpful to have someone else provide feedback. (Cough, cough … Copy editor!)
3. Show Empathy
If you’re asking readers to take action, there’s a good chance they’re trying to solve a problem. That’s where empathy comes in.
For example, people buy aspirin to alleviate headaches. Generally, you shouldn’t avoid writing about the problems you’re helping solve. It’s not about being cruel or manipulative—it’s about showing the reader you understand them.
Persuasion requires trust. It’s hard to gain trust without empathy.
In other situations, your readers aren’t trying to solve a problem; they’re trying to receive some benefit. For example, they’re reading a book because they hope it will be entertaining and educational.
Don’t be afraid to write about the benefits directly. This also requires empathy because you must see things from your readers’ point of view in order to understand what benefits they want, as well as how you can help them get those benefits.
4. Use Proof
People are naturally skeptical when someone is trying to persuade them.
If you’re asking people to make a decision or take action, they might not be convinced it’s in their best interest.
Ultimately, they’re afraid of making a mistake—and they’re worried they’ll regret their decision later.
How do you deal with this problem? You present them with proof. For example, pretend you’re a doctor trying to persuade a patient to try a new diet. What proof could you offer about the diet’s effectiveness?
You could have testimonials from other patients who have tried it. Another option is to show before-and-after photos that illustrate the results.
The details will vary depending on what it is you’re trying to persuade someone to do—but the principle is the same: You must provide proof to overcome your readers’ natural skepticism.
The more compelling the proof is, the better chance you’ll have of persuading them.
5. Use a Call to Action
If readers are interested in what you’re offering, let them know what they should do next.
The right call to action depends on what it is you want them to do.
- If you’re doing a fundraiser, that might be making a donation.
- If you’re selling a product or service, that might be calling for more information or making a purchase.
Typically, the call to action will be placed at the end.
By following these guidelines, you can make sure your writing is persuasive and encourages the reader to take action. Contact us today if you’re looking for a copy editor who understands the challenges of writing persuasively.