By Bruce Johnstone

Every time you write a proposal, sales letter, advertising copy or any writing that seeks to influence people, your objective is to persuade. Making an effort to write more persuasively can boost the response rate from your advertising and pitches, and produce an immediate effect on sales and profits.

Here are seven keys to making your writing more persuasive:

1. Clarity. Make your offer simple, clear and easy to understand. We cannot agree to something when we do not understand what the offer is.

2. Completeness. Provide all the information we need to take action. If we remain unsure about some aspect of your offer, we remain un-persuaded.

3. Consistency. It is important to present a message that is consistent with the other messages your organisation communicates. Especially the values associated with your brand. Your message will not be persuasive if it jars with your organisation’s other messages.

4. Reciprocity. The law of reciprocity means that when you give something, people feel compelled to give you something in return. Providing something for free, such as good useful information, makes people more likely to want to do business with you.

5. Social Validation. If we see other people doing something we are more likely to follow along. Especially if they are people we know. This is what makes referrals from people we know, and celebrity endorsements, so powerful.

6. Likeability. People like to do business with people they like. Writing in a friendly likeable tone is much more persuasive that writing in a hectoring or badgering tone.

7. Authority. You can establish your authority as an expert by mentioning your relevant credentials, experience and qualifications. Establish the authority of your organisation though its certifications and track record, and the skills, qualifications and experience of your team.

8. Scarcity. Create a sense of urgency for your reader to act. This might be a special offer involving limited quantity or limited time. This gives us a reason to take action now.

Dr Bruce Johnstone is a director of the Business Growth and Development Programme at Cranfield School of Management. He can be reached on bruce.johnstone@cranfield.ac.uk

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