Persuasion is a powerful word for anyone in the marketing space. The ultimate goal of your marketing, after all, is to persuade people to buy from you. But how do you persuade people when everyone seems to sell them something? What tools do you have at your disposal to make your writing more persuasive?
Today, I want to answer all these questions for you by first showing you the persuasion strategy a Nobel-winning laureate developed that will transform the way you write your copy.
Then, I want to share my favorite ten persuasive techniques that will 10x your copy fast.
Let’s get started.
What Is Persuasive Writing?
Persuasive writing is a method that leverages human biases to make a message more attractive in the eye of the recipient.
How to Be Persuasive: A Psychological Explanation
If I asked you whether you are a rational or an irrational person, what would you say? Most likely, you’d pick the former. Sure, you can get emotional every so often, but most likely, you are in charge of your emotions, thoughts, and actions.
Other people are dumb and irrational, but you’re not. You’re different. In reality, all humans fall for the same irrational behaviors and thinking patterns. We consistently make cognitive mistakes that go against our self-interest, despite our deepest efforts not to make them.
Consider smoking: every smoker knows he should stop doing it, but they can’t stop. Most smokers want to quit, but their addictions are simply too strong. It’s not that they can’t stop; it’s that they won’t. We can say the same of highly indebted people; these are people who have maxed out their cards, yet they keep buying shit they don’t need.
Before the 1970s, economists used to think people were rational. Every decision people took was in favor of maximizing their utility—whether that was comfort, health, money, or anything else. Leave people be people, and they’ll do fine. If only it were so easy.
From the 70s onwards, some fringe economists started to question the normative view of human behavior in favor of a more descriptive one; a theory that could explain, for example, why people who win three bets in a row at the casino think they have a higher likelihood of keeping their winning streak, despite having no probabilistic (i.e., rational) reason to believe so. “They’re idiots,” you’d say, but it’s more than that. It’s that they’re humans; they can be irrational when given a chance.
I won’t dwell on the details of their “prospect theory,” as explained in their seminal paper of the same name, but on another part of their extensive theoretical bibliography, one that focuses on the way humans think. According to Kahneman, who wrote the best-selling book Thinking, Fast and Slow based on his extensive research with Tversky, humans think through a pair systems:
- The “Automatic System.”
- The “Reflective System.”
In Kahneman’s words:
System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control.
System 2 allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations. The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice, and concentration.
While both systems work in tandem, more often than not, system 1 takes over the system 2, without us realizing it, making us do things we often can’t explain.
When we think of ourselves, we identify with System 2, the conscious, reasoning self that has beliefs, makes choices, and decides what to think about and what to do. Although System 2 believes itself to be where the action is, the automatic System 1 is the hero of the book.
I describe System 1 as effortlessly originating impressions and feelings that are the main sources of the explicit beliefs and deliberate choices of System 2. The automatic operations of System 1 generate surprisingly complex patterns of ideas, but only the slower System 2 can construct thoughts in an orderly series of steps.
The main takeaway from Kahneman’s theory is that as a marketer, your goal is to work with your prospect’s system 1. This system is what influences the rationale of your prospects, whether they’re aware of it or not.
If you ever made a purchase where everything “felt” right—a situation in which you didn’t need to be sold anything, you just wanted to buy that product—then your system 1 was influencing your system 2, thus overriding any second thought you may have had against that purchase.
System 1 continuously generates suggestions for System 2: impressions, intuitions, intentions, and feelings. If endorsed by System 2, impressions and intuitions turn into beliefs, and impulses turn into voluntary actions.
When all goes smoothly, which is most of the time, System 2 adopts the suggestions of System 1 with little or no modification. You generally believe your impressions and act on your desires, and that is fine—usually.
What I’m covering is just a tiny piece of Kahneman and Tversky’s theories; there’s a whole lot more to write about how both systems work and how biases influence people’s thinking.
For now, I want you to remember this:
The entire list of persuasive techniques featured in this article focus on leveraging your prospect’s system 1. If you use these persuasive techniques in your writing or advertising, you’ll be persuasive.
Let’s now take a quick look at a simple persuasion strategy you can use and adapt within your marketing campaigns.
A Simple Persuasion Strategy
To use the persuasion strategies laid below, you want to have a strategy that helps you tie all of them together in a logical fashion.
To this extent, I’ll use Roger Dooley’s Persuasion Slide, which he structured in the following way: Here’s how this slide works:
- You start by giving a “nudge” to your visitors by having them pay attention to an ad, an offer, or something of value.
- Then, you leverage the target’s internal motivation—the gravity; and,
- You add additional motivation—your angle.
- Both things allow you to overcome resistance—friction—and get to your ultimate goal, which can be a purchase, a subscription, or anything else.
The ten persuasion writing techniques you’ll see below will touch in any of the four elements of the persuasion slide. Whenever you pick one of the techniques, you’ll be affecting of these four elements.
Whatever technique you pick, make sure to remember the ultimate goal: having your visitor continue down the slide. And yes, the following list of persuasive writing techniques will work with your prospect’s system 1. I didn’t forget about that.
Without further ado, let’s dive deep into the ten techniques that will show you how to write persuasively…...Continue reading..
By: Ivan Kreimer