“The truth isn’t the truth until people believe you, and they can’t believe you if they don’t know what you’re saying, and they can’t know what you’re saying if they don’t listen to you, and they won’t listen to you if you’re not interesting, and you won’t be interesting unless you say things imaginatively, originally, freshly.” —William Bernbach, famed American copywriter
Part of being a successful copywriter involves mastering the art of persuasion. To become more persuasive doesn’t mean that you need to become an expert shyster or be able to trick people into buying things. It simply means that your copy needs to be convincing.
To be convincing, you must be credible.
To be credible, you must be believable.
Your job is to prove that your product or service is the answer to your reader’s problem — to make them say, “Yes! This is exactly what I need!” — and motivate them to take a desired action.
Bernbach’s quote packs a heavy punch. If you boil it down, you’re left with five key elements of persuasion:
- Attention grabbing
The quote reads such that you must have one before you can get the next, but in reality, each component affects and is affected by the other four.
“The truth isn’t the truth until people believe you … ”
To market an effective message that compels your reader to take action, you must demonstrate you are a credible source. As you draft your copy, picture your reader saying, “So, why should I believe anything you say?”
Consumers are more informed than ever — and more skeptical than ever, too. That’s not necessarily a bad thing considering the hordes of scam artists that plague the marketing world. But you do need to be aware of that skepticism in order to diffuse it and put your prospect at ease.
You can build credibility by quoting facts from reliable sources. The more specific you can be the better. Use real names, numbers, facts, and statistics. Show that what you are saying has been proven — and how.
Dive deeper into the art of establishing credibility with AWAI Co-Founder Paul Hollingshead’s article, Do You Expect Me to Believe That?
“ … they can’t believe you if they don’t know what you’re saying … ”
Michael Masterson is quoted with saying, “Good writing is good thinking clearly expressed.”
Michael founded the concept of “The Power of One©” which maintains that a marketing message with a narrow focus has more impact. Rather than trying to motivate prospects in many ways at once, he has proven it is more effective to focus on stirring one core emotion; emphasize one good idea; tell one good story; direct your prospect to one inevitable response.
Master the ability to craft a clear message by applying the Power of One.
“ … they can’t know what you’re saying if they don’t listen to you … ”
John Caples argued, “If the headline is poor, the copy will not be read. And copy that is not read does not sell goods.”
Many expert copywriters agree that the headline carries more clout than any other part of a sales message. You must tailor a headline that stops them in their tracks and makes them say, “Hey, what’s this? It looks like something I need!”
But Master Copywriter and AWAI instructor Will Newman argues there is more to crafting a headline than just nabbing the prospect’s attention. According to Will, there are four components to achieving a powerful headline:
- A powerful headline begins to develop a relationship with your prospect.
- A powerful headline delivers a complete message.
- A powerful headline compels your prospect to read more.
- A powerful headline grabs your prospect’s attention.
Study how to craft powerful headlines in Will’s article, Why “Grabbing Attention” Is Not Enough for a Truly Powerful Headline.
“ … they won’t listen to you if you’re not interesting … ”
To harness the power of persuasion, you must have a deep understanding of your target audience. People are interested in things that are relevant to them.
The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting teaches us the model of The Golden Thread©:
By repeatedly weaving the emotional appeal throughout your letter, you keep your prospect interested in what you have to say.
This is an elemental concept that ties in with the three fundamental rules of selling listed in the Accelerated Program:
- People don’t like to be sold.
- People buy things for emotional, not rational reasons.
- Once sold, people need to justify their emotional decisions with logic.
Explore all the ways your prospect will benefit from using your product or service and then apply what you learn to your copy by appealing to the emotions they experience as a result of their problem — the problem your product or service solves. Weave those emotions throughout your copy.
“ … you won’t be interesting unless you say things imaginatively, originally, freshly.”
North American movie theaters showed more movies in 2012 than ever before, reporting a record-breaking $10.4 billion in ticket sales.
Amazon reported sales of $61.09 billion in 2012.
The point? Everyone loves a good story. We’ll dole out money hand over fist just to be entertained by an interesting plot.
Now, look at that in the context of selling products and services.
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible and Knock Your Socks Off Selling, among many other books. Gitomer writes about Paul Homoly in an article for Messages from the Masters:
Paul Homoly is a business development expert and a master storyteller, who, upon realizing the importance between storytelling and selling, coined and trademarked the word — StorySelling™. It’s a concept by which you turn the selling situation into an atmosphere where a prospect identifies with you — because you (through storytelling) relate to their situation — and then buys.
“StorySelling™ blends the images and appeal of storytelling with the logic and intention of selling,” says Homoly. “You take the benefits and features of your product and tell a story about them. The value of telling a story is that it projects images and appeal onto the critical selling dialogues of:
- building rapport
- presenting benefits
- showing successful use
- overcoming doubt (creating confidence and trust)
- using testimonials
- describing similar situations
- (and) creating a compelling reason to buy now.”
Stories make sales presentations memorable, fun, and persuasive. Pretty powerful. StorySelling™ is the sex appeal of selling — it’s sales appeal.
“The concept is simple but powerful — facts and benefits are forgotten, but stories are retold. StorySelling™,” says Homoly, “is the art of selling happily ever after.”
I mentioned earlier that these five key elements of persuasion (credibility, clarity, attention grabbing, relevancy, and storytelling) all affect one another. But they can all be achieved through a cleverly-told story that engages the reader and appeals to the emotions fueled by their problem, then presents your product or service as the hero, the solution to their problem that gives them a “happily ever after.”
It all starts with a tour inside your prospect’s head. What does he want more than anything? What keeps him up at night? What is his raison d’être? What is the most important thing in his life?
You’ll also need to dissect your product or service. What solutions does it offer? What are people saying about it? How effective is it? How does it benefit consumers?
Spin your persuasive yarn based on the answers you find there and weave them throughout your message, making sure that it contains all five elements of persuasion.