By Kevin Gault
With competition so tough these days, you’ve got to seize every opportunity to craft content that will compel your readers to buy. But when writing to persuade, if you begin with your own product or service in mind, you’ve started wrong.”To write persuasively, you must put yourself in the reader’s position,” says Bryan Eisenberg, co-founder and executive vice president of marketing consulting firm FutureNow, Inc. (www.futurenowinc.com). “You have to be able to see the world from his or her buying point of view. Think about who your customer is and why he or she is reading what you’ve written. If you start any other way, you’re going to fall short.”
Then take this idea a step further, Bryan says. After you consider at what point in the buying process the reader is, think about where you want him or her to go next. When you have a clear picture of where readers start and where you want them to finish, you can write copy that guides them along the path to purchasing your product.
No Outrageous Claims
Don’t make your product’s benefits sound too good to be true, Eisenberg says. “I often read white papers that are solidly constructed, but all of a sudden there’s an outrageous claim that can’t be substantiated, which immediately disqualifies everything else in the paper. Make sure that your prospect realizes that your claims make sense. If readers question the validity of something you’ve written, you erode their confidence in the information you’ve given them.”
It’s vitally important to describe benefits clearly for the reader. Eisenberg recommends trying this exercise: After you’ve described a benefit, ask yourself the question, “Which means?” This helps you break down benefits into the simplest, most understandable terms. “You may have to ask this question a number of times until you get to the heart of what your product actually means for the reader,” Bryan says.
Ask for the Sale
Don’t waste your efforts to persuade the reader by not asking for the sale. Make it easy for the reader to take action, Bryan says, by listing contact information—including phone number, address, email address, Twitter ID and URL—on every page of your document instead of just at the end. And make each piece of information clickable. “It’s truly amazing the number of people who are too lazy to copy and paste!”
To persuade readers to buy, put yourself in their shoes, both in terms of where they are and where you want them to go. Don’t make outrageous claims—your readers won’t believe them. Be crystal clear when you describe benefits and don’t forget to ask for the sale.
“Every piece of content that you publish can persuade or dissuade your prospects,” concludes Eisenberg, who co-wrote the best-selling books Persuasive Online Copywriting and Call to Action. “All too often, I see content that is just meant to fill blank spaces. Why wouldn’t you put your best foot forward every single time and make your written communication something that promotes your business and asks the reader to buy?”