Persuading people may sound like hard work. Whenever you are facing any task that involves psychology, emotion and buying habits it can seem like a momentous feat, leading many of us to ask…

How can I make my marketing copy more persuasive?

It’s a tough question, and a big one for organisations of all sizes. Thankfully, most written marketing content can be transformed into persuasive copy by adopting these 4 pillars of persuasive copywriting…

1. Talk about the customer rather than yourself

You know you company is great, and I’m sure it is. But no matter how awesome you are, what you really need to convey to your reader is that your company understands the reader’s problems and that you are there to serve their needs. There’s a great quote that I think illustrates this concept really well:

“Make your customer the hero of your story. […] Don’t make your brand the hero.”
Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs

The basis of this concept is rooted in psychology. It may be uncomfortable to hear, but on a subconscious level people are primarily concerned about their own interests above all else. Therefore you need to focus on the reader and their needs in order to write copy that grabs your audience’s attention, as opposed to blatant “we’re awesome”- style self promotion. Which brings us on nicely to…

2. Remember that emotion drives buying decisions

This one is of paramount importance in any marketing efforts. We like to think we’re completely logical, but when it comes to making purchasing decisions, emotions rule the roost. Though communicating your facts and figures is important, you need to empathise with the reader and focus on the emotional reasons that people buy from you. Even if you provide products or services to businesses, you still need to retain a human element – it’s people who make the decisions after all.

People are generally quite mistrustful of the dreaded “hard sell” these days, so fill your text with how you can help solve issues rather than a list of your offerings and why they’re great. You will need to mention the things you provide of course, but frame them within the emotions that go into purchasing what you sell.

For example, if you are producing marketing materials for cleaning services, you need to talk about the convenience and peace of mind that you provide by doing all of the icky jobs that people hate. If you’re selling beauty products, remember the way your products make people feel – desirable, confident, the best version of themselves. If you’re promoting IT support, you may want to appeal to people’s concerns about security and data loss, and focus on keeping people’s important data and treasured memories in tact. You get the idea.

3. Don’t rely on big words and fancy industry jargon

Aim for clarity in everything you write. It’s good to display your knowledge of your field, but if you lean too heavily on industry terms, you shut out people who aren’t familiar with your niche. And if there’s one thing that copy shouldn’t do, it’s exclude people. Well-written copy should appeal to all levels of expertise; in fact it’s usually the people who are the most unfamiliar with your field that need help the most! So don’t blind people with science.

If you are dealing with an abbreviation or a jargon word that some folk are unlikely to know, always provide an explanation within the text or in brackets. Once an abbreviation is explained, it’s ok to go through the rest of the piece referring to the abbreviated version.

Similarly, have you ever come across copy like this?

“Whilst growing our core competencies, we are also aiming to leverage new markets through achievable marketing verticals and scalable synergy.”

Unfortunately, copy like that is out there, and it ain’t pretty. Personally, I’d reword that to:

“We’re focused on building our expertise, whilst also reaching new people through meaningful outreach and collaboration.”

In fact, it could probably be reduced even further to:

“We’re always improving what we offer and are focused on reaching new businesses like yours.”

On the whole, overly grandiose writing is generally a bad idea. Always simplify wherever possible!

4. End on a specific call to action

You should always have an ideal outcome in mind for every campaign you run and every piece of copy you produce. This goal is usually something that you want your customers to do; to buy a specific product or service, sign up for updates, or perhaps to visit you online or in store.

Those who read your copy can’t read your mind; so end on a solid and concise CTA – or call to action (here’s one of those abbreviation explainy bits). A call to action is the part of a piece of advertising that declares the action that the customer should take next: i.e., the bit that says “Call Us on [Number],” “Visit Us in Store,” or “Buy Online!”

Translate the customer action that you would most like the customer to take into a call to action. Remember to give all of the information that the prospect will need to fulfil that action – there’s nothing worse than a “Check Out our Website” where the site is either not provided or is in a strange place that the customer has to go hunting for it. Messing this up the practicalities of a call to action in this way will leave a poor impression on your customer, undoing the good work of your copy.

Navigating the intricacies of human psychology for marketing purposes may seem like a minefield. But by remembering these 4 tenets to writing persuasively and practically, you’ll leave a great lasting impression on your reader.

If you’re interested in reading more about the psychology behind marketing, take a look at my previous article, B2B Marketing Psychology & The Reptilian Brain.

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