The Fundamental Elements of Persuasive Writing


“Persuasion is clearly a sort of demonstration, since we are most fully persuaded when we consider a thing to have been demonstrated.” — Aristotle

Did you ever wonder why one ad makes a lasting impression and motivates someone to take a desired action, while another falls flat?

Virtually all successful promotional copy contains varying degrees of eight elements of persuasive writing that make it perform better than most other promotions. Depending on the product or service, some of these elements will be dominant while others are subordinate.

Take investment services, as an example. If you are Charles Schwab, Vanguard, or J.P. Morgan, you have a long track record of success and a well-established reputation. In that case, you will be naturally strong in two of the elements we’ll explore — providing solid proof and establishing credibility.

A new investment company, on the other hand, does not have a track record or reputation. So those two elements won’t be the dominant themes in the copy.

Instead, the strongest element might be the benefits the service offers customers… or perhaps how they take a unique approach to their investing strategy.

The point is, each product or service has its strengths and weaknesses and it is your job as the copywriter to emphasize the former and de-emphasize the latter. But all eight elements of persuasive writing must be present to some degree for the ad to work.

Here are the eight elements of persuasion discussed in a bit more detail:

Element #1) Gain the reader’s attention — Unless you gain the reader’s attention, they won’t read any of the persuasive message you’ve so carefully crafted and the ad will fail.

There are numerous ways to gain attention. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “sex sells.” Well, trust the marketing gurus on this one — it’s true. There are hundreds of products — including exercise equipment, cosmetics, health clubs, cars, clothes, and alcohol — that feature attractive bodies and seductive suggestions in their ads and commercials. It may be sexist, but it’s still effective… even in today’s market.

Ads also use visuals to get prospects to pay attention. Virtually everyone is attracted to pictures of babies and young children. And how many times have you seen heartbreaking images of cold, starving, and mistreated dogs on an appeal for the ASPCA? If you have any emotions at all, there is no way you can shake off those visuals.

So always make sure you examine the features and benefits of the product or service you’re promoting and decide what it is about it that will best engage your reader.

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John Torre

I reside in North Brunswick, NJ, with my wife, Lynn, and daughters Kasey, Jaclyn, and Shelly. We also have a 110 pound, lovable Rottie named Leo that keeps us on our toes! When we're not hard at work we enjoy spending weekends at our bungalow down the Jersey shore, or take extended trips to Walt Disney World as members of the Disney Vacation Club. For kicks, I draw on my dominant "right-brain" and play guitar in classic rock and blues bands, act for local plays and independent productions, and enjoy writing creative fiction. I'm a published author in short fiction and stage plays and a graduate of a local community college's Commercial Writer's Certificate Program. After graduating from the program I was selected as an instructor and taught "Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror" writing for 8 years. I enjoy many fine relationships I made with my students to this day.

One Comment

  • This is so helpful and I will incorporate these elements into writing. Your information was clear and on point. Very informative and understandable to help to learn these techniques.

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