Master This Skill, and You Will Succeed in Marketing
Today I’m sharing some of the best ways to influence through writing. You can apply these ideas to anything – articles, emails, ads, social media posts, a script for a video, etc.
(By the way, if you want to know how to grow your business through Linkedin or how to use the most effective marketing platform in existence, you can read my past articles here and here.)
Whether you prefer to script and record, or write to your audience, or if you like to persuade people in a live situation (presentations, webinars), these strategies will increase your ability to get the response you want.
If you don’t know how to write in a way that influences your audience, you’re business or project is in serious trouble. Perhaps you are more persuasive in front of people than in writing, but without planning the message you want to communicate, without using the tools that are a part of persuasion, you won’t get the response you want.
If you’re wanting to start a crowd funding campaign, create a popular blog, sell your book, grow your support team, or build your business, you need to know how to connect people’s problems with the solutions you provide. You need to show them that:
You understand them and are the right person to listen to
They have a problem that has real consequences if left unsolved
You have a solution their problem
As with other topics I’ve covered, there are good books you can read if you want to go in-depth. But if you just need some ideas right now to help you be more persuasive, then these strategies will be immediately helpful and useful to you.
Preparing to Write
Always start with your target audience. Put yourself in the shoes of the people you want to influence. Think about the following questions:
What problems does my audience have, including problems I can’t solve? (list every single problem you can that is common to your specific audience, though not things common to everyone)
If you were having these same problems, how would you rank them? How important would solving each one be to you?
Now think about the problem that you solve for your audience.
How does this problem compare to the other problems your audience has?
What emotions does your audience feel about this problem? How urgent do they want to solve it?
Be honest as you do this. Now you can answer this last question:
If the problem I solve isn’t urgent or one of the top-ranking problems for my audience, why is that?
A lot of the time, if someone is engaged with you or with your marketing, the problem you can solve for them is one of their most urgent problems. But they might not realize it or feel it until you help them see it. If the problem you solve isn’t that urgent, then maybe you are dangling the wrong carrot in front of the right people, or the right carrot in front of the wrong people. Most of the time when you want to influence your audience, you just need to help them see that the problem you solve is a real problem.
Once you’ve come up with answers, now you can learn a bit more how your audience talks, and perhaps also, learn discover the topics they talk about.
Set a timer for 30 minutes – do not get distracted (it is very easy to do). Search within social media or online forums and find groups of people in your audience. Or, find people who your audience likes to follow. For example, if you are an Estate Planning Attorney, perhaps you need to find a local Facebook group for seniors who play golf. If you are a counselor who wants to help parents, find a Facebook group for young parents, or a blog for newlyweds. Read about how people talk about their lives, problems, and share news. If you’re on a forum, look at the topics that have the most replies. Copy and paste text from these sources into this tool: http://tagcrowd.com/. With this tool you can discover words that are important to your audience. For example, I did a search on homeschooling blogs (say you have an online course designed for homeschoolers), copied a few of the pages, and pasted them into TagCrowd. It then showed me the most popular words used in those blogs.
Do this a few times and write down the most popular words used by your audience. It will help you use that same language/focus on those same topics in your own marketing. Not only will you learn words that are used by your audience, but the topics that are also important to them.
Repeat this as often as needed until you have a good list of words and topics that you can use.
Now you can start to craft your message.
Crafting Your Message
As I said above, there are three main things you need to do to influence your audience.
1) The first thing you do, after you have briefly introduced your topic, is to tell your audience that you understand them and are the right person to listen to.
In other words, you need to show why you have some level of authority to share. Whether you tell a story of your own experience with the problem, or simply show authority by speaking about the problem in a knowledgeable way, you need this authority to start influencing your audience. (Note, usually before you introduce a topic/problem and yourself, you need to get someone’s attention first… I’m not going into that because it is a topic all on its own.)
2) Next you need to dive into problem and the consequences of not solving it. Whether your solution is to help someone learn a skill, or your solution helps prevent their home from burning down, you need to agitate the problem.
There are several ways to agitate, but the first one I recommend is to start with a connected emotion. If you are marketing on social media, this is even more important. People go to social media not to find solutions, but to get an emotional fix (any kind). If you can deliver that emotional fix through a rant, a story, a video, or an image that demonstrates a strong emotion, you will get their attention. Not only this, but because they’re now connected to one emotion behind the problem, they will listen as you tell them more about the problem.
Describe the problem, share a story if you can, and some of the consequences due to not fixing it. The more detailed or specific you can be, the better.
3) Last of all, of course, you have show that you have a solution their problem. Naturally you will describe the solution, but if you can show the results of your solution visually or via a case study, that will have a bigger impact on your response. I would argue that you don’t always need to spend a lot of time here; if the problem and the need for a solution are strong in the mind of your audience, and if you can prove your solution works (or offer a guarantee if it doesn’t), you don’t have to try to intensely sell your solution. People will be asking you for it.
Now you’re done… almost. Do two final checks of your work.
First, copy your writing and paste it here: https://readability-score.com/text/. Your goal is to have a readability score of 4th grade, if you can, but certainly no higher than 8th.
The lower level you reach, the more persuasive your message will be. That doesn’t mean it should sound like it’s for elementary students… but that it is written so simply that anyone can easily understand it.
Second, the more difficult one and not obligatory, print your writing out (or send via email) and share it with some people you don’t know. Just ask them to read it and give any feedback. Don’t worry about any of the feedback you get as to suggestions for improvement, whether they like it, etc. That doesn’t matter. You’ll know you have an influential piece of writing when the readers ask you about and want the solution you offer. Once you get that kind of response, you know it is ready.
Now, you could revise and revise to get it perfect, but don’t. In fact, 80% done and released to your audience is better than 100% perfect but never released… Most of the time, it’s better to publish your marketing than to perfect it.
Do you need me to look at some of your copy? Set up a consultation, and I’ll be happy to coach you on what you can improve.