Planning a Persuasive Message Assignment
Gaining attention. The first task of most persuasive messages is to gain the attention of your readers. You can do this in a variety of ways, including asking a rhetorical question, providing a compelling or interesting fact, providing a compelling statistic, issuing a challenge, or posting a testimonial. For internal persuasive messages, the primary means of gaining attention is demonstrating a business need—a gap between what is and what could be.
Describing a need, giving a solution, and providing a rationale. Once you’ve stated the need, you may describe your solution, which is a recommended product, service, or idea. Many readers will remain skeptical unless you provide convincing support. So, you will need to provide a strong rationale, meaning solid reasons why your product, service, or idea really benefits them.
Show appreciation for other views. At some point in the body of the message, you should validate your readers by showing appreciation for their views and preferences. Validation implies that you recognize and appreciate others’ needs, wants, ideas, and preferences as legitimate and reasonable.
Give counterpoints. Traditionally, communicators overcame the objections of their audiences by providing counterpoints to any of the audience members’ objections. Overcoming objections with counterpoints, however, is risky in the post-trust era. This approach may unnecessarily carry a me-versus-you tone and delegitimize the readers’ concerns. Consider whether providing counterpoints provides more benefits than costs.
Provide a call to action. You conclude persuasive messages with a call to action, which asks your readers to take a specific step toward the purchase of a product or service or acceptance of an idea. However, a call to action should not be a hard sell; pressuring others is increasingly ineffective in the post-trust era.
Tone is particularly important for persuasive messages. Since your audience holds resistance to you or your message, any indication that your message is self-serving or manipulative will increase that resistance. You should aim for a positive, confident, and other-oriented tone. To do this, you can apply the following strategies: apply the personal touch, use action-oriented and lively language, write with confidence, offer choice, and be positive.
Apply the personal touch. You can apply a personal touch in several ways by personalizing the message and using you-voice. You can also do so by making statements tangible. By definition, tangible means that something can be touched; it is material or substantial. In a business communications context, making the statement tangible implies that the readers can discern something in terms that are meaningful to them. This allows the reader to sense the impact on a personal level. Often, you can achieve a tangible feel by combining you-voice with specificity.
Use action-oriented and lively language. In persuasive messages, you have somewhat more license to write creatively. Focus on using action-oriented and lively words to achieve a sense of excitement, optimism, or other positive emotions. Use strong nouns and verbs to add to the excitement of the message. Some sales messages sound dull because of overuse and reliance on words such as “provide” and “offer.” Across the entire message or thought, the action-oriented and lively language should emphasize a central theme.
Write with confidence. As you display more confidence in your idea, your product, or your service, you can more effectively influence your audience. Effective persuaders provide compelling and simple reasons for action.
Offer choice. In the post-trust era (PTE), customers and clients consider choice an indicator of credibility. They view simple language (not implying lack of sophisticated knowledge) as a display of transparency and respect. In contrast, they view overly complex language as potentially deceptive. Similarly, effective persuasive messages avoid statements that may be perceived as pressure tactics. Hard sells are increasingly ineffective in a PTE, especially in written format.
Be positive. Positivity in persuasive messages helps your audience focus on the benefits rather than the drawbacks of what you are trying to promote.
Read the letter below that was written by a coworker, who has asked for your input. Rewrite this very ineffective letter showing your coworker the proper flow of a persuasive letter. Your suggestions should follow the appropriate flow noted above. Your coworker will appreciate your organized flow and professionalism.
SUBJECT: Follow Up to Call
I want to express my appreciation for your call yesterday. It was my great pleasure to finally have a chance to have a conversation with you after so many back-and-forth emails. It sounds like your company is really amazing. I believe you would be greatly benefited by joining the Workforce Engagement Consortium (WEC), and I also think your presence in the consortium would be an enormous contribution to other member companies.
There are many things we talked about, and I just wanted to provide a brief summary of the many benefits that are received by the member companies in the Workforce Engagement Consortium (WEC). I believe that this summary will be of help as you are in the process of making a decision about becoming a member of the consortium. I think the most basic benefits that are received by members include training and workshops, networking opportunities, and business discounts.
Training and workshops are our most popular service, with over 95 percent of member companies participating on at least a monthly basis. We hold bi-weekly workshops on a variety of performance management topics. All workshops are placed online for any-time viewing. There are also over 140 online training sessions that are offered to members.
We are proud to have weekly networking events that are hosted each Tuesday evening by one of our member companies. The average number of professionals at these events is typically around 50 to 60. There are many ways to increase professional network size, especially because there are professionals from all industries. Also, there are all types of fun activities, including trivia contests, wine-tasting, and many other fun activities. These activities are perfect ways to build camaraderie and excitement with employees of member companies.
We also have negotiated deep discounts for our members with more than 60 nationwide companies. There are discounts of between five and eight percent that are available from various consumer and B2B vendors. Our average member company last year was able to save approximately $7,000 by using these discounts.
We offer three membership levels. A platinum membership allows employees of member companies to attend up to 10 workshops and 50 online training sessions per month. Platinum member companies are allowed up to 10 employee admissions at networking events. Platinum memberships come at a $5,000 annual fee. A gold membership allows employees of member companies to attend up to 5 workshops and 25 online training sessions per month. Gold member companies are allowed up to 5 employee admissions at networking events. It comes at a price of $3,000 annually. Finally, a regular membership allows employees of member companies to attend up to 3 workshops and 10 online training sessions per month. Regular member companies are allowed up to 3 employee admissions at networking events. It costs $2,000 each year.
Once again, I want to express my gratitude for your interest in the consortium. It would be our honor to have in you the consortium. I am always available to provide responses about any questions you might have.