Persuasion is an extremely powerful writing tactic, but only when executed correctly. I wanted to speak to someone who knows how to use this tactic for good. Henneke Duistermaat is an expert writer, an author of two five-star rated books on writing, and a writing instructor--and needless to say, she knows how to leverage persuasion for effective writing.
I asked her a few questions about how to write persuasively, and she was gracious enough to share three of her best tips on the subject.
Tips for Writing Persuasively
1. Define your objective. "The first step is to think about the purpose of your content," she said. "From there, work backwards. Think about what objections you need to overcome, what questions need answered, and what you need to do to make the reader believe you."
2. Mirror their feelings. Next, you have write in a way that speaks to your target audience's needs, desires, and pain points. How do you do that? "When it comes to writing your marketing messages, you'll be surprised how much you can "steal" from your customers. Listen to the phrases they use; and repeat those back to them in your writing," Duistermaat said.
3. Translate features into benefits. Persuasive writing means leveraging features into benefits to add substance and credibility. "The benefits tap into your readers' emotions---that's how you connect with them. The features provide the rational facts that justify a purchase, but the benefits, the emotions do the actual selling," she said. Putting features to work as benefits means creating a "buy now" mindset for the reader.
Mind the Pitfalls
Duistermaat also noted that many writers make some of the common mistakes that chip away at the power of persuasion.
"One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is using generic statements like "We're passionate about creating awesome websites" or "We're committed to customer service excellence," she said. "Such generic statements don't help persuade readers to hire you or buy your products because everyone else says the same thing."
Rather than speaking in generic statements, she encourages writers to add detail--because detail shows you know what you're talking about, and passion shines through. In a sales context, this is especially important. "Specifics make sales copy more interesting, credible, and persuasive," she said.
What Persuasive Writing Is All About
Duistermaat closed on an interesting thought about persuasive writing that sums up an important reminder for any writer:
"Persuasive blogging isn't about sharing helpful content. The internet is overflowing with helpful tips. We need to do more to attract attention and be heard. We need to sell our ideas and persuade people to implement our tips so they can be happier, healthier, or more productive. That's how we build authority, grow an audience, and earn an opportunity to sell to our readers," she said.
Interested in reading more about her tips for persuasive writing? Visit her blog.