This is all about how we use some of the smallest words like; "we", "you", "I" and "me". And although these are only small words, changing which you use and when you use them will have a huge effect on your reader's interest levels.
Plus, I'll introduce you to a unique tool I have created which you can use to gauge how persuasive your writing is to your reader.
Grab yourself a cuppa and watch this 10-minute video on how you can write marketing copy which warms your prospect to your business without ever being 'salesy'.
Today, we're going to be looking at how to make your marketing writing sound a little bit more persuasive.
And the way in which we're going to do that is by using a technique, and a tool, which will make your writing sound more personal.
Now, why is it important that your writing sounds personal? Well, if you think about the type of communication that we get, typically during the course of the day tends to fall into one of two camps. The first is from people that know us personally: These are our friends, relatives, colleagues, and so on. And the second type is from people who have no clue who we are: That tends to fall into the camp of marketing literature and advertising.
Now, of course, we respond to the individualised communication that comes from our work colleagues and friends far more readily and more naturally than we do to marketing literature because our brains are hardwired to do this - we will deprioritise stuff that sounds impersonal, and we will prioritise the stuff that is personal.
So it's important for us as marketers to write in a language, which is as personal sounding as possible. Because what this enables us to do is to create a sense of empathy with our reader. And in doing so, they will be more likely to take the action that we're looking for them to take, and hopefully, take advantage of our great product and service.
How can we do this? How can we make our language sound more personal, well, to do this we use pronouns, so I, you, us, we, them, they, etc. but they can't all be used in the same way. Certain pronouns will sound more personal than others, and therefore, be more effective at making our marketing sound that little bit more persuasive.
So, what I've done is organise and group these pronouns into four tiers. And as we advance up, the tiers we’ll find our writing gets more and more personal, and consequently, naturally sounds a little bit more persuasive. We can organise these tiers into what I’ve called the “Persuasion Pyramid”
Let’s start at the very bottom with the least personal tier – the passive voice. This is the most uninspiring, detached and objective sounding writing that you can possibly ever hear. You tend to find it in academic and scientific circles. Examples of passive voice are “the business sold over 10,000 units this year”, or “the car was driven”, or “the new care home was opened”, or “the customer was pleased with the service”.
It really does sound ‘detached’, doesn't it? You find it often on scientific or academic websites because they're very used to writing in that style of language. You also find it in case studies, and sometimes on news pages. But it really is super impersonal. And it's a type of writing that we probably want to avoid when it comes to marketing and sales writing because it comes over as cold and dry.
Now, the next tear up is, is what we call the self-referential pronoun, these are; “I”, “me”, “we” and “us”. These are all pronouns that relate to ‘us’, ‘me’, the individual or the writer. An example of it would be “we have been established since 1977” or “we tailor our service to your needs”, or “we offer a professional service”.
It's interesting that you find this a lot on professional services websites like accountants and solicitors, they tend to fall into this style and talk about themselves a lot; ‘we do this’, ‘we do that’. I guess it's everywhere, actually, I just happened to be looking at a lot of professional services websites recently and probably noticed it a little more.
But if you imagine that you're at a party, and somebody corners you and starts talking about themselves incessantly your natural reaction is to glaze over and look for escape routes.
And that's similar to what happens to your reader if we only write in a way, which talks about ourselves all the time. It's just dull and a bit boring and will switch the reader off. We still need to use these pronouns but we need to know when to use them.
The next tier is called the Subject Pronouns. (I think I'm just inventing all this stuff, by the way, I'm not sure this is really proper grammar, but let's call them the subject pronouns anyway.)
These are “you” and “your”. An example of this would be “if you want more customers”, or “you'll love our new recipe”, or “this will complete your home”, or “here are five quick ways that you can build your business”.
Using ‘you’ creates a more personal feel right away, because it's really being used as a substitute for someone's first name.
If we go back to the party analogy, imagine you meet up with somebody and you start asking them lots of questions. You find out about; their life objectives, their bucket list what they've been up to on holiday, etc.. Eventually, and again because of the way in which the human brain is wired, they will become interested in you. So, in our marketing literature, it really helps to start off by talking about ‘you’, the reader, and how we can help ‘you’. And then naturally as a consequence of showing an interest in them and how we can help them, they will become interested in us. Then further down our marketing copy, we can start to use “we” and talk about what we can do for them because they're ready for it.
Now, the final top tier in the persuasion pyramid is when you're actually able to use someone's name or a Proper Noun if you like – that’s most personal. For example, “Dear Julie”, “John, you'll enjoy this”. Whatever it might be, it's addressing that individual by their name. And that's the most personal your writing can get. And that's why our friends’ and family’s communications gets noticed far more is because they'll tend to use our name.
And interestingly, if you use it a couple of times during your marketing literature that will increase the level of engagement that you have.
So, there is that's the persuasion pyramid! If you write your marketing literature and then compare it to where the pronouns are used in the persuasion pyramid, you can gauge how personal your writing feels to your reader.
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