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:
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.
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.