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How to persuade without persuading
👉 maybe it resonates with you?
A decade ago I wrote a book that I believe has been the best-selling book on Email Marketing since. It’s certainly got the most 5-star reviews on Amazon.
I called the book Email Persuasion. But I’ve often wondered whether using the word Persuasion was a mistake.
I suspect many people didn’t buy it fearing it would be full of manipulative techniques for getting people to do what you want through clever words in emails. And I’m sure some people bought it and were disappointed because it wasn’t :)
Instead, it talks about persuading by delivering value, and by systematically addressing the psychological “know and feel factors” that your potential clients need to have established in their heads and hearts before they’ll be ready to buy.
And about drip-feeding those factors over time through the stories and examples you use to illustrate the useful insights and ideas you’re sharing.
For example, if you’re a career coach and you want to give your email subscribers some useful tips on writing a CV you could just do a “top 10 tips” email where you lay them out.
But if, instead, you share those same tips while telling a story of a client of yours who used those tips and got three job offers as a result - a few magical things happen:
Firstly, you’re sharing the exact same tips: your readers get the same value as the top 10 list (this is not some show-offy case study).
Secondly, they get confidence that the tips work because of the results your client got - so they’re more likely to apply them.
And thirdly, you’re subtly getting across the fact that your clients get great results from working with you. You don’t have to show off about it or ram it down people’s throats. In fact, very often the things we infer are much more persuasive than the things we’re told directly.
Over the years I’ve become even more convinced that this - and other similar approaches - are absolutely the right way to go for most of us - especially if we’re marketing our business through regular emails and newsletters.
There’s no doubt that a skilled sales copywriter can work wonders with words. Go to any of the sales pages for big-selling online products and you’ll see examples of this salesmanship in action.
You may initially be put off because you’re not the target audience. But look deeper and you’ll see how the copywriter stokes up emotions: desire, angst, jealousy. etc. How they paint a picture of the way things could be different if you only bought this amazing product. How they answer your objections and use social proof and guarantees to allay any fears.
But this is a hard skill to learn. I’ve studied copywriting a lot and my sales pages are OK at best.
And sales pages are also quite blunt instruments. They work best when you have one shot at making the sale. The visitors to those sales pages will either buy or not buy. Usually not. But get enough decent prospects to visit and good sales pages worth their weight in gold.
Either way though, they won’t come back to those pages for fun or out of interest (unless it’s to study copywriting).
The world of email newsletters is very different.
Someone who’s not ready to buy yet will ignore a sales page, or even be turned off by it.
But someone who’s not ready to buy yet will read your newsletter and if they get value from it and if it’s interesting, they’ll be back next time.
If you keep sending valuable, interesting newsletters they’ll keep reading.
And eventually, they’ll be reading it when they’re ready to buy.
Your goal is that by then, they’ll have fallen in love with you and you’ll be the person they want to buy from.
But that only works if they keep reading. Keep getting value. Keep having fun.
So while a sales page is 100% about persuasion, a newsletter is 95% value and entertainment and 5% persuasion.
That doesn’t sound like a lot of persuasion is going on. But over time those 5%s add up. Really add up.
Usually they add up to way more than you could ever achieve with a sales page alone. Even a brilliant one - let alone the OK ones I can write after years of study.
More importantly, writing emails that are 95% value and entertainment and 5% persuasion is easily within the grasp of everyone.
It’s a much smarter way to go I think. At least for those of us who don’t have the time or inclination to become brilliant copywriters or professional salespeople.