What do you normally do when you want to sell your boss on a business idea? Or convince your children to do their homework? Or persuade your homeowners' association to decrease the annual dues?
Do you throw a bunch of facts and figures their way... or try to convince them with logic... or just yell at them? If you do, chances are those approaches don't get you very far.
Consider this: Every time you sit down to produce a sales package, use copywriting skills to make your pitch compelling and persuasive. In other words, you use the magical art of persuasion to get your way.
These same skills and secrets can also help you "get your way" in every aspect of your personal life.
The art of persuasion is not about manipulating people. It's about finding a way for everyone to win . . . . and presenting it in such a way that others will listen to you, agree with you, and follow your recommendations.
It doesn't matter if you're writing a memo, sending an e-mail, giving a speech, having a conversation, or building a sales package: Six basic principles of persuasion apply.
Let's say you're trying to convince your 14-year old to save part of his allowance. In this case, here's how you might apply the six principles:
1. Know your "prospect" (who you're dealing with).
For openers, you would talk to your teenager much differently from the way you would talk to a younger child. Your reasoning and information had better be right on with him -- or he'll catch you on any cracks in your argument.
More important, though, you have to figure out what truly motivates your teen. Even though he might not understand his own emotional motivators, you can. And these motivators are what you will use to get him to see your way of thinking.
2. Make the message about the other person and his interests, needs, and desires . . . not about you.
"Your father and I would be happy if... " just won't make it. Instead, lay out a clear plan for your teen, showing him that if he starts saving now, he'll be able to buy his first car by the time he's 17. Now you're talking about HIS interests, needs, and desires.
3. Spell out the benefits he will get.
In this case, the main benefit for your teen -- owning a car -- is his strongest motivator. But there are many others in his "core complex." So you also remind him that owning a car will give him freedom, status among his peers, and the ability to get a good job . . . not to mention how much more attractive he will be to the opposite sex.
You might even sweeten the pot by promising to take him and his best friend to a movie every time he saves $200. (This is like offering a "Free Gift" premium in a sales package.)
4. Make benefits concrete and easy to imagine.
Your 14-year-old can easily relate to the benefits you've outlined for him -- and imagine himself enjoying them -- because you have based them on his core complex.
5. Support your claims with proof and logic.
Don't try to convince your teen with vague promises. Be prepared with a chart showing how quickly he'll be able to achieve his dream by saving a small amount every week.
6. Keep it simple.
One overriding idea presented in several ways is more compelling than a string of different ideas.
You could muddy the issue by telling him how much "fun" saving can be . . . and how exciting it will be for him to see the effect compound interest will have on his bank account. You could, but you'd be wasting your time -- and weakening your argument. He wants that car! And owning that car is the most important motivator in his life right now. So stick with that single, simple idea.
Though this example is about convincing your 14-year-old to save part of his allowance, you can see how easy it would be to adapt these six principles of persuasion -- the very same secrets you use to write good sales copy -- to any social or business situation. We'll talk more about how to apply the principles of persuasion in your personal life in future articles.
Reprinted from the American Writers & Artists Institute's weekly e-zine, "The Golden Thread"
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