9 Persuasion Lessons from a 4-Year-Old

Image of Boy with Cake

How confident are you in your persuasion skills?

After months and months of providing your most valuable teaching, are you hearing crickets chirping when you finally make your audience an offer?

No feedback. No sales. Earning email list subscribers is like pulling teeth.

And yet other publishers seem to get a tremendous response to everything they do online.

You know who these people are. They get traffic, they get comments, and they get sales. People respond to them.

Tired of eating their dust? If so, allow me a few minutes to show you how a persuasive four-year-old kid might just save the day.

And yes, I wrote that correctly, a four-year-old

Uncovering the secrets of persuasion

Enter Elijah. He’s a child that gets what he wants — almost every time.

How persuasive is he?

He got a woman in the grocery store to open a bag of chips for him that she hadn’t even paid for yet.

He gets an average of two helpings of candy at every door on Halloween.

He randomly picked a stranger at a sporting event and — before I could intervene — got the guy to buy him a large bag of Gummie LifeSavers from a vending machine. I still don’t know precisely what Elijah said to him, but it worked.

These things happen all the time, and I’m so glad he’s my child — because I can ground him for life if he goes to work for a rival marketer.

He’s just that skilled at the art of persuasion. Here are nine things my son has taught me about getting people to do what you want them to do — every single time …

1. The art of the ask

Despite repeatedly assuring Elijah that he would not find cake at the hardware store during a recent trip, Elijah approached an employee anyway and asked, “Do you have cake?”

Instead of turning him away, the employee lead us to the employee lounge where, coincidentally, someone had just celebrated a birthday.

They happily gave Elijah a large slice of birthday cake, and I relearned one of the most basic lessons of persuasion.

Persuasive Tip #1: You’ve got to ask for what you want, or you’ll never persuade anybody to do anything.

And just like asking for cake in a hardware store, there are two common places most writers often don’t think to ask for what they want. They are:

#1 Ask at the end of your article — Any time you’ve given someone something of value (like an informative article on your site), this is a great time to give people a gentle nudge to join your email list or look further into a service or product you offer.

#2 Ask again after they’ve taken action — If someone has just taken action — like joined your email list or purchased something — immediately invite them to take more action. They have action-taking momentum, and it’s a great time to make them an offer they can’t refuse.

Whatever you do, don’t write anything without including a specific call to action.

2. Find the right angle

Elijah has seen Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” far too many times. So when I told him to do something he didn’t want to do, he declared:

“Daddy — off with your head!”

“That’s not a very nice thing to say,” I said.

Elijah changed his tone. “Off with your head … please?”

Persuasive Tip #2: Any message will become more persuasive as you test different approaches and see what works best. Some effective ways to test your copy are:

  • Split testing: Show half your visitors one message, and show the other half a slightly different version of the message. See which one produces better results.
  • Ask prospects: Find your target market online and ask them to evaluate your offerings and messaging. I’ve found LinkedIn groups to be quite responsive.
  • Complaints: They’re really just opportunities to improve. Complaints about your business or complaints about your competitors are equally useful.
  • Ask customers: Ask each of your buyers what persuaded them to accept your offer, and tweak your message accordingly.

Always test and tweak your copy. Professional copywriters and marketers are fanatics about testing and adapting their messages to discover the most persuasive approach.

3. Break the entire process down into manageable steps

Our collection of children’s DVDs is placed out of Elijah’s reach. After repeatedly asking me to pick him up so he could rummage through them (and getting rejected), Elijah employed a new strategy.

“Daddy … stand up.” I had just repeatedly turned down his other requests, so I obliged.

Once I was standing, he said “Pick me up.” Okay. I picked him up.

“Now stand over there.” He pointed to where the DVDs were located.

I had to laugh. The kid had already gotten me halfway there, so I stepped over to where the movies were, and Elijah started picking through them.

Well played, my son.

Persuasive Tip #3: If people aren’t doing what you want, can you break that process down into steps that people will take?

Can you make a phone call, a free trial, or a special offer? Try this anyplace where people aren’t taking action.

As an internet marketing coach, I found a direct sales pitch to my new Facebook friends doesn’t work.

But when I give them some free advice by email, then a complimentary consultation by phone, then offered a free trial to my program — just to try it out — many of my Facebook friends easily became paying clients, because each step was very simple for them to take.

Try this wherever you’re having a hard time persuading people to do something.

4. Emulate successful strategies

“Lauren!” Elijah yelled across the yard to our next door neighbor “You look gorgeous in that dress!”

“Thank you Elijah!” Lauren called back.

“Mom,” Elijah whispered under his breath. “What does gorgeous mean?”

Persuasive Tip #4: If it works for others, try it out yourself.

Look at your competitor’s websites, join their email list, study their ads, and crash their webinars. What persuasive things do they say, and how do they say them? Does it seem to be working?

Next, look closely at sales pitches and persuasive copy outside of your industry. What do they say that persuades you? What moves you to action? Can you adapt it to your copy?

Whenever someone successfully compels you to purchase anything, ask yourself “How did they do that? And can I adapt it in a way that would make sense for my business?”

5. Collect compliments

Elijah has a pretty high opinion of himself, and has no trouble finding people who agree. He’s heard the phrase “You are SO CUTE!” so many times, he thought it was his name.

He collects compliments everywhere he goes, and you should too.

Persuasive Tip #5: Compliments and testimonials are extremely persuasive if used properly — especially these two types of under-utilized testimonials:

Story Testimonials
If you really knocked one out of the park for your client, write a detailed narrative of what happened. The more vividly you paint that client’s story, the better. Detail how your client felt before, during, and after you stepped in. Story testimonials will really speak to your prospects who are dealing with the same situation as your client — and you’re not bragging because it’s your customer doing the talking.

Comment Testimonials
Did you ever look at the positive comments on your website as a bunch of mini testimonials? I collected positive comments and placed them on my email subscribe page, and I get a 37% signup rate on that page.

What do you think? Do you see how those positive comments work just like customer reviews on a product site? They are sincerely and spontaneously given, so they’re very persuasive.

6. Use rich language

Elijah often tries to lure me out of my office with some kind of “horrible,” “amazing,” “dangerous,” or “exciting” situation that needs my intervention.

Today he pressed his mouth up to the crack under my door and described for me how his stuffed animal was maliciously eating imaginary important documents. “Daddy … Kitty is eating your papers. I’m horrified!”

Persuasive Tip #6: Keep your copy full of energy-rich wording, like “horrified,” and your readers will have the energy to take action when you ask it of them.

Words like amazing, gorgeous, terrible, magnificent, repulsive, exquisite, ultimate, bewildered, immense, tremendous …

Used thoughtfully, these words can add excitement, magnetism, and personality to your writing. If your readers feel energized reading your copy, taking action is easy.

7. Paint vivid pictures for your readers

“Elijah, don’t hang from the refrigerator handles,” I ordered him.

Instead of letting go, he hung upside down from the handles and asked “Will I fall down and crack my head open?”

Persuasive Tip #7: The more vivid the pictures you draw in your readers’ minds, the more engaged their minds become in your writing.

“Crack your head open,” one of many graphic phrases I use, has more impact than the standard parental line “Stop or you’ll hurt yourself.” We don’t think in words — we think in pictures.

So how would you apply this visual persuasion technique? How about walking someone through your ordering process?

Or, for some bonus persuasiveness, how about walking them through your ordering process by using a testimonial?

It might sound something like this …

“I clicked that order now button and filled in my information as fast as I could” your happy customer illustrates. “I flew through the ordering process and immediately downloaded your ebook and couldn’t stop reading it! The information had an almost instant impact.”

If you were to place this at the end of a sales video, for example, your prospects watching that video might visualize placing that order themselves and then reaping the rewards.

If they’ve already seen it in their minds, taking that action in real life is a whole lot easier.

8. Show them some love

Nothing helps smooth over the fact that the recliner is now covered in milkshake like a declaration of affection.

But Elijah doesn’t just say that when he’s in trouble. His secret to persuasion is to express his affection regularly, in various situations.

Persuasive Tip #8: If you want people to do something, show them some love. Short comments like the following will encourage people to do more of the things you want:

Want more comments? Let your readers know, “I really appreciate it when people reply with thoughtful comments. Honestly, it makes my day.”

Want more sales? Before they even buy, say, “Thank you for your purchase! I look forward to working with you.”

Want more Tweets, Likes, and Plus Ones? Try saying, “The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others. I sincerely appreciate it.”

Let them know what you want them to do by telling them you appreciate it.

9. Tell them your hopes

So Elijah walks into the bathroom while I’m taking a shower, turns off the light, and says, “It’s dark!” and I agree with him.

Then he snickers, “I hope you have fun in the dark, poopy cave!” (which is what, I suppose, a bathroom without light is) and then he closes the door. So I spent the second half of my shower in total darkness.

Persuasive Tip #9: The key phrase here is “I hope,” and the persuasion secret is knowing how to use these two words to let your readers know that you care.

Have you ever written in an article, “Here’s what I hope you take from this article …” and then proceeded to tell them all the things you were hoping they’d learn and experience while reading what you’ve written?

Doing this will make your reader stop and think about you. They’ll realize right that you’re a real human being who has sacrificed your time and offered up the very best of your knowledge in the hopes that they might benefit.

Give it a try. Write a closing statement titled “What I hope you take from this article.” Write it from the heart, and your audience will likely respond from theirs …

What I hope you take from this article …

I hope you’ve gotten something valuable out of each of the “persuasion secrets” you read here. I spent a lot of time trying to make sure each of the tips above wasn’t something you’ve heard twenty times before or, if it was, I hope I’ve at least given you some unique ways to incorporate them into your writing online.

I hope you found at least one or two things you’re excited to try. And if you experience a difference in your writing, I hope you’ll write me and let me know. I’d love to see how you’ve incorporated some of these suggestions.

If nothing else, I hope you got a good laugh reading about Elijah’s exploits and that you’re inspired by his tenacity. He practices relentlessly. ;-)

And that is the one big secret to writing persuasively — learn about something that might work and test it.

If something you’ve read in this article sparked an idea, write it down before you forget it! And then test it in your own writing.

Everything you publish for your audience — whether it fails or succeeds — will teach you how to better serve them, and help you to become a part of who you are: A naturally persuasive person.

About the Author: Jarom Adair loves individuals who strike out on their own to create businesses, and his website Solopreneur Marketing is specifically designed to help solo entrepreneurs get better marketing results and thrive online. Get his top advice here.

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Comments

  1. This is great Jarom, it’s always amazed me how children can usually get what they’re after. My son does many of these things all the time as well! They are quite the persuasive negotiators! Thanks for sharing this!

  2. I have a grandson who is 4 1/2 and this sounds much like him too. I think I will start paying closer attention to his methods of persuasion to see what more I can learn. After all, being a grandparent is beyond anything you can imagine. Let me ask, would you like to read my post about it? You can here. http://themorningcoffeecup.com/being-a-grandparent/ (persuasive tip#1) Thanks for the article.

  3. Hi Jarom – So great to see you posting on here (I’m already a follower of yours through your website), and I LOVE this piece with its vivid story telling and imagery.

    A really valuable lesson in persuasion indeed, and I can’t wait to see where I can employ some of these ideas into my own writing and marketing. #3 is my current favorite – making the process simpler for people to do by breaking it down into more manageable pieces.

    Now I’m off to see if I can someone to give me cake… :-)

    • Good to hear from you Nigel–I’m glad you found me posting here too and that you like my article.

      Marketing and SEO for photographers, huh? Sounds like we’d have a lot to talk about.

  4. Jarom, I really enjoyed this piece. The advice is spot on and the personal stories about Elijah added a nice touch of entertainment. Frankly, it was tip #1 that hit me the hardest, mainly because it’s the one I don’t do enough despite being the simplest and most obvious. JUST ASK! Thank you for the reminder.

    • Excellent Jarod. One quick thought to go with the whole concept of “just asking”–most the people I talk to don’t ask because they haven’t found a way they’re comfortable asking. So whether you are very overt or just giving people a gentle nudge, it seems the key to remembering to ask is finding a way that works for you.

      Then you test and improve it from there.

  5. This should be a book, Jarom. I have never laughed so much on Copyblogger while absorbing potent truth. You and Elijah just made my day!

  6. Oh, the joy of children! And, what they can teach us about life. Excellent article. I hope to implement a few of the things you mentioned. Thanks for the great insight and help. Make it an outstanding day!

    Deb :)

    • I heard somebody say (and I’m paraphrasing) “There are many teaching moments between parent and child, and occasionally the child is the one that is learning something.” Or something like that.

      Thanks for your note Deb.

  7. Jarom,

    Love the stories and easy-to-understand insights. One I particularly took to heart was “Let them know what you want them to do by telling them you appreciate it.” So simple yet so powerful. Just yesterday I was stuck trying to write a fundraising letter and trying to figure out what was the best way to make the ask. Today I’m going to see if I can apply your maxim. At the heart of the principle is making people feel significant and appreciated, which I think are some of the most powerful motivators in the world.

    If I were to get the funding for this project, it would be the first step into the professional realization of a lifelong passion of mine, and I would be incredibly grateful for any other recommendations or strategies you might have for me in writing this letter more effectively.

    PS – How’s that for my first practice employing your insights? :)

    • I’m glad you found something you can apply Hunter!

      I’m all about seeing people pursue lifelong passions. Maybe we could talk on the phone for a bit and I could look over your letter. I also know some people in the fundraising industry that might make good contacts for you. Let me know if you’d like that.

      • Hi Jarom,

        Wow, that would be amazing! I would love that. Thanks for your quick response and your willingness to help!

        You’ve definitely gotten a new follower in me – I signed up for your newsletter today and I told my business partners about your post and offer to help. I just sent you an email through your website with my contact information and about getting on a phone call. Thanks again, and I look forward to speaking with you soon!

      • Aside from the fact that I really enjoyed your stories about Elijah, I believe I learned some valuable lessons from your post, and was reminded of some things I’d forgotten over the years. It is very true that children can be VERY persuasive! I would love to see even more of Elijah’s antics, and will be subscribing!

        I’m currently working on getting a nonprofit started and will apply these principles to my fundraising and recruitment efforts, including the fundraising letter, as mentioned here. Thank you so much for your wonderful insight!

        • That’s great Janettee, and the same invitation applies to you as to Hunter–I’ve had the opportunity to work with several non-profits as well as organizations that support them, and maybe some of my contacts would be helpful in your endeavors.

          I’m happy to hear my article brought some good ideas back to memory, and that you enjoyed it too. I’ll try to send you more of that by email…

          • That would be wonderful, and thank you for the offer! I’ll contact you privately to discuss this further.

            I look forward to more great ideas, regardless of whether or not they include Elijah:)

  8. Melissa Hicks :

    What a fun and engaging post, Jarom! While I don’t yet have any children of my own I am fascinated by how much we can learn from them. What I enjoyed most about this post was your balance between hilarity and practicality. To your point, I think in pictures (like many of us do) and vivid storytelling can be so effective in not only reaching an audience, but engaging with them. I read CopyBlogger almost daily beacuse the content is always fun, informative and it works – this is by far one of the most engaging articles I’ve read yet! Thanks for sharing.

    • Wow–I really appreciate the compliment Melissa! Mind if I pass that on to the CopyBlogger people and see if I can get another post published? :)

      It certainly is amazing how much we can learn from children. If you do eventually have children of your own and you also continue a daily reading of CopyBlogger, you’ll have to let me know which teaches you more (it might be a hard call…)

  9. A highly entertaining article with some great advice. Though you forgot #10: Be an adorable 4-year-old.
    i’m guessing that has a lot to do with Elijah’s success.

    • No doubt about it Stephanie–being adorable factors into these situations, and Elijah uses it to his advantage on a regular basis.

      He is a very cute kid–and we adopted him, so I can say that without bragging about my own good looks. :)

  10. lol…good read. There’s some really graphic, great tips in hear and every storytelling example had me visualizing the adventures of Elijah!

  11. I just subscribed to your blog yesterday and I am already loving it! What a cool post! Such great way of giving out a business piece of advice while making a fun parallel with a child. Great work and excellent information. Thank you!

    • I don’t know why it took me so long to find the parallels between raising children and internet marketing, but I’m glad it works for you. I’ll have to write more on this topic and send it out to my list.

      Thanks for subscribing–I hope you continue to love it!

  12. Wow… an immediate classic if you ask me.
    Wonderful story and damn insightful at the same time.
    Thank you very very very much.

  13. LOL, Elijah’s exploits remind me of my oldest son. When he was about 8, he decided to sell his sea shell collection to raise some funds for something he wanted. Much to my surprise, he netted almost $10 from various people in our apartment complex. “I always knew right away if they were going to buy one,” he explained to me. “If they said they just came back from Florida I knew they wouldn’t, but if they hadn’t been to Florida I knew they would buy.”

    • Kids seemed to know who their target market is. Reminds me of the kid who delivers our paper, they only get paid by collecting from the homeowner. Daniel shows up at our door and always so polite, remembers my husbands name and when my husband pays him (he should get $7) he always gets $10 and he offers to get the change. We get a great deal of satisfaction overpaying him and know that his business acumen is growing.

    • Nice story Susanna. I love how fearless kids can be. My mother tells me a story her first fundraising endeavor–she pulled weeds from her family’s garden and went next door and sold them to the neighbors. And they bought them. :)

      My whole goal in life is to raise my kids such that I don’t somehow make them lose that creativity and willingness to try things like selling shells.

  14. Jarom,
    This is so cool! I love the way you made these principles memorable, reminding me about the power of telling a story when you write. I love the “what I hope you take from this article” to emphasize the takeaway and have greater impact. I appreciate your call to come from the heart, which is missing from most marketing these days. Thanks!

    • I’m glad you mention that Jesse. We read so much every day, but it’s too easy to forget that somebody had to write that material (largely because there isn’t any heart inserted into it). As writers I think we need to consciously include something to remind readers that a living human is behind the words.

      Nice testimonials tutorial you wrote on your blog yesterday, by the way. I’ve been playing around with different forms of testimonials lately. That might make for an interesting conversation sometime.

  15. I really connected with this blog post….because my 4 yr old running around saying the exact same things is named Evan. Man, its so true how those darn cute kids can get away with murder sometimes but you just want laugh or pick them up and give them a bear hug.

    Great post that really hits home!

    • They certainly keep things interesting. Maybe this is something shared by kids who’s names begin with “E”. What were you like as a kid Eric?

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post, as well as enjoying raising your 4 year old!

  16. This was delightful and let me guess– Elijah told you to write about him. What’s a dad to do, right?

    • You know how children think, don’t you Mary. :)

      Whenever we take a funny picture of Elijah, he wants us to “put it on the computer for other people to see”. We post it and then read him the comments the picture collects online, and he just loves it.

      I plan on telling him later today that he was the star of a post that got a lot of readers. That should please him.

      • Ha! My son (4 year old Ethan – another “E”) gets horrified when mom “puts him on the computer.” He yells, “No, mommy! Don’t put me on Facebook!”
        He’d be crushed if he knew I gave him some run on Copyblogger. :)
        This whole thread is cracking me up. I’ll never think about sales the same again. Early favorite for best of 2013.

        • That is hilarious Jesse. A kid who doesn’t want his picture on Facebook? I guess we can scrap our “kids who’s names begin with ‘E’ ” theory.

  17. A thoroughly entertaining and informative read..Thank-you for helping me to condense ideas.
    Regards Phillipa

  18. So true! I was grocery shopping with my then 8 or 9 year old daughter, and she asked me for the 100th different item, I said “what is up with you????”. She put her hands on her hips and said (quite emphatically) “Momma if you don’t ask, you won’t get. But if you DO ask, you might!” Out of the mouths of babes!

    • These kids know how to do things, don’t they Lorian?

      At what point did we, as adults, stop asking for what we want? I’m sure there’s a long psychological reason behind it, but we should probably just get over it and start asking again.

  19. Great article! I especially appreciate it because Elijah sounds exactly like my 4-year-old daughter! She gets strangers to give her candy, toys, and other random stuff all the time, and often before I even realize what is happening. And that breaking it down into steps thing–yep, been there. Also, your habit of saying that every mildly dangerous thing will “bust your head open” sounds just like my husband. (and of course my daughter repeats it). :-)

    • That’s awesome Zoe–sounds like we’re living parallel lives. If I had continued as a web designer, I might also have been a CSS guru as it appears you are from your website. Responsive layouts have come up for a couple business owners I’ve worked with lately. I should probably buy your book…

  20. That was such an insightful article Jarom! Thanks for sharing such valuable information. It reminded me of how we once asked our son why he had his name written down so many times for either making the class laugh or distracting others. In response, he gave a wry smile and said “Its because I am so sociable!” We didn’t know whether to laugh or scream! My key take – aways are point 2 – Find the right Angle and point 9 – Tell them your hopes. Ciao!

    • Yes, I can’t wait till Elijah is in school. Thanks for giving me a preview of things to come Fayo. :)

      I’m glad you found some good take-aways here!

  21. Hi Jarom, This post is awesome. I nominate it for “Copyblogger Post of the Year,” although, admittedly, we’re still in January which means there’s a lot more good stuff to come. Thank you for the insightful and entertaining post. I look forward to reading more of your writing in the months to come.

    • Thanks for your comment Joseph! I think it already made “post of the day”. Not a lot of competition for that prize though…

      When CopyBlogger looks over their best content of the year, I’ll come back here and hit you up for a nomination. :)

  22. I agree with you on complaints being helpful. It is not a good idea to let everyone who complains have the ability to shape what you do. If you can find a helpful tip in those complaints, it is smart to use it. Points of irritation are still ideas, expressed by customers, about your business. Those ideas can help you market more effectively.

    • You’re right MaLinda. I used to get irritated and defensive when people complained. Interesting what a simple shift in mindset will do for you.

      And even if you don’t change your business because of it, people appreciate that you listened to them.

  23. Brilliant story telling, Jarom. I now envision a cartoon, a pinterest pin, or perhaps an infographic. Very visual writing and sound advice.

    • …or do all three–draw a series of cartoons, stack them on top of each other to form an infographic, and then pin it on Pinterest…

      I’m glad you found my post “repurpose-worthy” Bonnie!

  24. What a fantastically fun article! I always thought kids where so good at getting what they want because A- they are cuter than adults (most of them) and B- adults will do almost anything to avoid a screaming hissy fit, especially in public. I’ve got two children, boys, a teenager and a toddler. My kids do a lot of the same things (I too have taken a shower in complete darkness.) What I never realized is that these tactics can work in business, by grown-ups too. I’ve got a list of tweaks and strategies I want to start testing in my business thanks to this article. Bravo Jarom, Bravo.

    • Spoken like a veteran parent Rebecca–never underestimate the power of cuteness and hissy fits. I’m sure they factor in prominently in these situations. I doubt the guy at the hardware store would have given me cake without Elijah there (but, then again, I’ve never asked…and isn’t that the lesson I was supposed to learn when it happened?). I hope those tweaks and strategies help move you further in the right direction Rebecca!

  25. Great article! I really love the way you translate your son’s actions and ways of speaking to highly relevant tips for copywriters and (internet)marketers.
    Next to that, it amazes me how a four year old shows so much “psychology”, for which some of use need to study for years. It’s all there, we just need to recognize and use it, to get what we want. Your article is a real eye-opener that contradicts our inner-voice that keeps telling us stories on how to (and how not to) behave when we try to get something doen by somebody else.

    • You’re right Patrick–it is amazing how we spend years learning the psychology of business only to see it used naturally by a small child. Maybe it doesn’t need to be so complicated. Maybe we are re-learning something that use to be second nature to us. I appreciate your comment!

  26. Personal, poignant and powerful — you’ve spun a fab-tastic tale chronicling the adventures of a very enigmatic individual (never mind that he’s only 4yrs old), and managed to connect it all back to the tenets of good writing — I luv it!

    • Thanks for your comment Ryan. I went to your site and poked around a little, and I really like the quote you posted in your latest entry:
      “If there’s no plan, there’s no attack. If there’s no attack, there’s no victory. How can you have victory, without an attack?” – General Raymond One Crazy Summer

      With a name like “marketing expertise” how could I not hit your site??

  27. I have recently been pointed in the direction of copyblogger.com and have since enjoyed all of the helpful and extremely well written blog posts. I enjoyed this one especially! The authors son Elijah is a hoot! As the father of a young child, I was seriously LOL’ing!!

  28. Oh my gosh…life with Elijah is surely an adventure. I love all the points. They’re so straightforward and human, but no, not the same old thing. My favorite point is #1. So key. I spent many many years being afraid to ask. Afraid of rejection, I guess. But I watch and listen to my 22 year old. She asks for all kinds of things–jobs, higher pay, opportunities. And she gets them because she is just asking for what she wants, with a certain level of purity and innocence…I want to be more like Elijah and my daughter.

    • Life is an adventure with him Elise–my Facebook timeline would be pretty dry if it weren’t for that kid. It sounds like your daughter kept you entertained growing up as well.

      We all need to learn how to ask for what we want, and I’ve found that each of us has a way of doing it that we’re comfortable with. If we can figure that out what kinds of asking comes naturally, then making requests comes across as natural and sincere. Hopefully you can find something that works for you.

  29. It’s brilliant that you’ve not only learned so much from your son, but that you’ve shared it with us. Thank you Jarom.

    • Thanks for the compliment Jason, and I do have a few more lessons learned from my son to pass by the CopyBlogger people. Maybe you’ll see some more here soon. I’m glad you liked it!

  30. What a fabulously fun article! I continuously thought children wherever thus smart at obtaining what they need as a result of A- they’re cuter than adults (most of them) and B- adults can do nearly something to avoid a screaming hissy match, particularly publicly.
    I am glad that you learn so much from your loving son , hope I could also do that, You have shared wonderful article with us.

    • Kids certainly do have both cuteness and hissy fits in their favor, don’t they Jitendra. It probably makes any persuasive tactics they use that much more effective. I’m glad you had fun reading my article–I certainly had fun writing it!

  31. WOW Jarom, I just had an aha moment that I think may be the turning point for me an my lousy conversions. A few times when I was young and tried similar persuasive tactics, I was punished. Thank you, never saw that one coming!

    • It seems that a lot of this comes naturally to kids, and somehow we lose it as we grow up. I’d imagine for most of us it was through negative experiences. I hope your insight makes a difference for you Michaela!

  32. Good stuff, Jarom! Point #1 about asking actually gave me a push to get fearless about asking for something today that I really didn’t want to but had to. Yep, I got it. Thanks! And although #7 is a just a little too vivid for me and I’d be afraid of traumatizing a kid (kidding, kind of :) I agree–much more effective when we paint a vivid picture with our words. Every point here is great–thanks!

    • I’m so happy to hear that Leah! I’ve had to say that to myself from time to time: “If a 4 year old can do it, so can I.”

      And you’re right–#7 has to be adjusted on a case-by-case basis. No point in scaring the kid to death. :)

  33. I had to laugh at this article as I saw a lot of my daughter in there as well. This gives me a lot to think about, as at the moment, I’m only dabbling in a few blog posts and articles. I haven’t really done much with it, and frankly have been pretty much lost.

    I hadn’t thought about how much we can learn from our children, but she uses all of those tactics as well, and is adorable in addition, so maybe I need to be paying more attention.

    • That’s one of the tricks to really standing out Elaine–going outside your industry for ideas and inspiration (in this case, way outside). Whenever you see something working well for others, you stop and say “How can I do that too?” And you end up discovering strategies that others in your industry haven’t ever seen before.

      This whole idea for this CopyBlogger post was kicked off when I looked at my kid and said “How the heck is it that you always get what you want??” and then I started taking notes. I’m sure your daughter could teach you a new lesson daily on the art of persuasion.

  34. Don’t be afraid to walk in on clients in the shower. Got it! Good stuff :)

  35. Your child is a veritable source of inspiration! You made a great point, that we can learn a lot from children when it comes to persuasion. I for one think it’s most effective when it’s natural, not rehearsed. And my boyfriend often tells me that my behaving sort of like a child in some situations makes it hard for him to say ‘no':)

    • I heard somebody say (and I’m paraphrasing) “There are many teaching moments between parent and child, and occasionally the child is the one that is learning something.” Or something like that. We definitely can learn a lot from children and, as you say Andra, acting like one has it’s benefits too. :)

  36. Hello Jarom – I’ve been trying to get to this piece since I saw it posted. :)
    Thank you for helping me start my day with a chuckle. Elijah sounds like quite the little personality! And, I LOVE his confidence level. Just awesome!
    Suggestion #3 is excellent. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s useful to continue even AFTER a potential client becomes a current one. Some respond well to being given “one action at a time” during a project versus a to-do list leading to completion.
    I just signed up for your newsletter too! Looking forward to your future mailings!

    • That’s a great point Tracy. Getting somebody to become your client is not the end goal–it’s helping them succeed and get full benefit from working with you that you want to achieve. That means you have to continue to make each step easy on them. I like that!

      I’m glad you found the time to read this, and I’ll try to make my future emails to you equally informative and entertaining.

  37. A really engaging post – I’m going to stick it on my pinboard! Thanks.

  38. Very useful insight! Even an introvert like me can learn doing these tips :)

  39. Awesome piece, and great tips!

    What I wonder though.. How do you (or the other readers here :)) keep track of all these persuasive elements. There are many great tips on CopyBlogger for example, but you can’t remember them all..

    Just print them out and keep them in a map or something?

    • I’m glad you got some great tips from the article Elwin, and you bring up an excellent point–how do you keep track of all these things? It’s so easy to get overloaded or forget the things we’ve learned.

      Here’s what I do as I read all the great info on CopyBlogger: When I come upon a good idea, I find a way to incorporate it into my business. I tweak or add it to my existing website as soon as I can. It usually doesn’t take long to do, and I get the benefits right away. Then, as I create new blog posts or web sites, I look back at what I’ve done in the past and I’m reminded of all the dozens of good tips and ideas that went into shaping my work.

      And, if you do these things often enough, pretty soon it becomes second nature. You can get to where you crank out work that naturally incorporates a lot of effective strategies and you don’t need to consciously focus on the individual mechanics.

      So yeah… keep reading and keep practicing.

  40. Amazing! This was a paradigm shift for me. By the, how much does Elijah charge to observe?

    • That is an excellent question Taq’uee. Usually I have to pay people to watch him (typically when my wife and I want to go out on a date) but if you’re willing to pay me I’d be happy to leave you in charge. You can watch him all you want, just remember he’s not allowed candy after 7pm…

  41. Great stuff!
    I’m giggling at Elijah on my screen and my four-year-old and six-year-old keep asking me what’s so funny.

    I don’t want to tell them and give them ideas so I can take a shower in peace.

    Thanks for the thoughts,

    Jonny B.

    • That’s probably a good idea to keep these things from your kids Jonny. I’ve taken several showers in the dark since and Elijah just thinks he’s so funny every time he does that.

      For your sake, lets just hope our kids don’t somehow end up in the same kindergarten class…

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  42. That’s probably a good idea to keep these things from your kids Jonny. I’ve taken several showers in the dark since and Elijah just thinks he’s so funny every time he does that.

    For your sake, lets just hope our kids don’t somehow end up in the same kindergarten class…

    I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  43. This is one of the funniest articles I’ve ever read. I actually LOLed at a blog post about persuasion. Great jorb!! I’m archiving this for future inspiration!!

  44. I also noticed how children just ask for what they want, something admirable, because adults do not do it that way. We always think about the what ifs and listen to all our inner voices when all we need to do is to simply ask the person that question.

    Very well-written post Jarom! It made me believe that if kids can do it, so do I.

    • No kidding Jim–we get in our own way when it comes to asking for things. I totally agree that the biggest thing that stops us is in our heads. It’s a very silly thing to let those inner voices stop us from getting what we want. Thanks for your comment!

  45. Funny, insightful and useful. Thanks for sharing!

  46. Thanks Jarome for your kid’s advice. I actually like the advice number 6. Yeah, i totally agree with that. Every time i read articles on any website, using rich words like “remarkable, awesome, outstanding, etc” really makes me become somewhat excited to read more of those articles. I think i will also try your other advice about using split testing on call to action messages.

  47. I have a four-year-old grandson who sounds much like Elijah in regard to his use of successful strategies. With each holiday present he opened this year, he exclaimed, “Thank you so much; it’s just what I’ve always wanted.” Then he opened something he didn’t recognize. “Do you know what that is, Ben?” asked his mom. “No,” he replied enthusiastically, “but it’s just what I’ve always wanted!”

    Great article; very thought-provoking. Thanks so much.

    • I love your story Susan. There’s no way adults could ever make this stuff up. Only in the innocent spontaneity of a child’s mind could ““No,but it’s just what I’ve always wanted!” be born. :)

  48. Hi Jarom,
    Any kid who can get an extra helping of candy at Halloween is OK in my book and a worthy role model for any entrepreneur. Thanks to Kasey Steinbrinck of Copyjuice for sharing this one with the BizSugar community!

  49. Fantastic article, as the mother of a very persuasive 4 year old boy, this really hit home. Thanks!

  50. Loved this. Shared it. :) Seriously, your son sounds like a trip but he sounds adorable. Great lessons! Made me stop and think about what I’m doing too!

  51. The thing about young children is that they haven’t learned to feel embarrassed. When they want something, need something or are curious about something, they will just come right and ask. Just being straight and asking for something is clearly a winning strategy.

    • You’re right Victoria. Kids just ask for what they want, and most the time we’re happy to give it to them. Why is it that we, as adults, have such a hard time with this? This is something I’m trying to reprogram myself to do.

  52. Excellent post, brilliant metaphor. This is the kind of post that reminds me why I subscribe to Copyblogger in the first place. While my life drifts farther away from the writing on a regular basis I used to enjoy and so I don’t click on Copyblogger nearly as much as I used to, this is an excellent post that has drawn me back in a bit. Thank you.

  53. Always a good chuckle from your stories. Always insightful. And always come away with something new to spark a challenge. Thanks Jarom for your entertainment and helpful blogs.

  54. Great and inspiring post!:) My daughter is now grown-up, but since she appeared in my life I have always took best life lessons from her. Bringing up a child is like discovering world again and again each day. Is like coming back to your inner true person. For me, it has always been great opportunity for self-development:) I often call my daughter “my best ever teacher”:) Say Hello from me to Elijah;)

    • No kidding Danuta–I’ve learned way more from my kids than they’ll ever learn from me.

      I’ve been reading Elijah these comments (he loves them), so he’ll definitely get your “hello”. :)

  55. Great post! Elijah sounds adorable – and obviously very smart!

    • He’s waaaaay smarter than I was at his age. I’m not sure how I’m going to keep up with the kid.

      I’m glad you like the post Laurie. Thanks for your note!

      • This is brilliant! It’s amazing how so many things in the universe mirror each other. Number 4 is hilarious but I’ll tell you where I struggle: everyone agrees sales pages should have big and bad and red fonts, but they’re a complete turn-off for me. I am very reluctant to use these on my own sales pages, but I definitely apply tips 6 and 7.

        • Brilliant, huh? I’m glad you think so Andre!

          You bring up an interesting point with the red font. My general advice for that is if you don’t like it but you use it anyways, people have a way of picking up on that and it won’t work well for you.

          On the other hand, if you test it out with an open mind it may very well work better for you. So if you can reserve judgement for a bit and it does work better, you may just end up liking it!

          Thanks for your comment!

  56. Jarom,

    Rest easy in the knowledge that you accomplished your goals for this post. Great and fresh ideas to try. These were not the obvious “Me too” ideas rehashed to death. And as a father of two young children also engrossed in this world of online marketing I can totally relate.

    My son, Quincy, is 3. He thinks I spend too much time on my computer (my iPad), though I attempt to justify it to no avail by telling him that this is where Daddy writes. And if daddy writes well enough, Quincy might be able to go to a nice college.

    He responded by going over to the light switches, turning off all the lights, coming over to my chair, pulling off my glasses and replacing them with a race car, pointing to the race track and demanding, “Play with me.”

    Talk about clear and concise call to action.

    Great job!

  57. Sounds like an awesome kid you’ve got there Mark. College though? Elijah won’t let me work unless food is on the line…

    “You like food, don’t you?” I ask.
    “Yes”
    “Well then I’m going to have to work today.”

    Otherwise he has a hard time letting me go into the office. The joys of working at home.

    I love all the shared experiences we have with our kids.

  58. My son is now 12 and he’s straddling that bridge between child and teen. I wish (oh how I wish) I’d understood the value of his wisdom as a younger child and listened closer to what he had to say. They say they’re only young once, but I never truly understood that until now. Loved your article.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the article Christine! I’m working on a follow-up right now and my kids have given me plenty of material to work with. Like you say, there’s a lot of wisdom in the simple ways kids operate. :)

  59. I love how you tied your son into this. Very cute. Quite endearing…and interesting.

    • I’m glad you like it Anton! It was fun to write and my son has had enough adventures since then that I’ve got a follow-up article in the works.

  60. Very enjoyable article! I truly smiled as I read about Elijah and his persuasive techniques (especially the cake). As adults I think we have a tendency to lose the childlike ability to ask for what we want or to be persuasive for fear of being embarrassed. Thanks for reminding us that it’s the little things in life that make us smile and Elijah’s stories definitely made me smile.

  61. Hi Jarom,

    Wow, what an inspiring post. What one can learn from children is truly amazing. The one thing that we should probably get from them is “Never accept ‘no’ for an answer”. The saying: “If at first you fail; try and try again” comes to mind. And children would probably tell you “… and try, and try, and try, and try…” well, you get my meaning. :o)

    Thanks again for a great post.

  62. Hay Jarom,
    Killer headline, Compelling intro, Persuasive subhead, Great article.

    All and all a very compelling read, not to mention intriguingly enlightening.
    I’m new to copyblogger and I feel I’ve found a new and valuable resource, in my relentless quest for all things copywriting.

    This article works on so many levels… there should be some sort of prize, or award… like the Oscars – for copywriters. You have my nomination, and I’ll stuff a few extra votes in the box for you.

    But it seems we, they, prefer to remain the unseen engines driving commerce. After all, if the audience were invited behind the curtain… oh my… the illusion might not be so elusive and the persuasion might not be so persuasive.

    Does it only work because the tongue is faster than the eye, the ear more persuasive than the mind, and the heart – the key to it all?

    Copywriting is truly the most fascinating subject I’ve studied (and I’ve studied some of the great mysteries). I fear copywriting is like the ancient Chinese game of “Go” of which they say, “Only an hour to learn the rules… a lifetime to master them.”

    My hat’s off to you Sir.

    For a classic piece of copywriting and… Oh, the content is great too.

    Thank you.

    • Your response is practically a literary work in and of itself Richard.

      I appreciate your comments, I’m glad you found the copywriting up to snuff, and I believe Copyblogger does have some kind of “best content of the year” contest. I’m not sure what it takes to get nominated though.

      But until that time, we will remain the unseen drivers of commerce and, in your case, the writers of better fiction (nice site).

  63. I loved this and it’s definitely made me look at kids differently. It’s true that they can get away with murder when they want to. All they have to do is pull the big puppy dog eyes look and the jutting lower lip and I’m toast LOL… Now I just have to find a way to translate that into words ;)

    And I must compliment you on an amazingly smart son. I especially loved the story about you getting conned into helping Elijah reach his DVDs.

    • Thanks for your comment Stef! In the right circles, getting away with murder can be quite lucrative and it seems our kids have perfected it.

      And I’m not sure where my son gets his smarts–must be my wife’s side of the family…

  64. Thank you, Jarod! This article really made me laugh out loud. Brilliantly written. Great content – I picked up some very useful tips. And Elijah is certainly an entrepreneur in the making!

    • Thanks for your comment Kerrie! I’m glad you found it entertaining and educational, and as far as him being an entrepreneur in the making… well, it seems I’m not alone when I say “I have no idea how I’m going to keep up with my kids.”

      They seem so much smarter than I was at their age. :)

  65. I absolutely love this article. We are living parallel lives sir:)

  66. Ellen Amy Cohen :

    Jarom, I loved this – I kept smiling out loud the whole time. Your son Elijah is very expressive, and I dig that you are able to learn from him. We are, in essence, forever learning!

    • Forever learning indeed! That’s a good outlook to have on life to begin with, and kids have a way of keeping you on your toes to boot.

      I’m glad you enjoyed this Ellen. Thank you for your note!

  67. I was drawn to read this article as I have my very own almost-four-year-old. A lot of this rings very true to me! Elijah sounds like a great kid. I love the creativity, expressiveness and melodrama that comes naturally to children of this age.