Whether you work in sales, marketing, finance, all of us (at some point) must persuade someone to do something we need (and want) them to do. This blog outline some core tips on how to get your reader to say ‘yes.’
Use a specific subject line and state your ask within
Studies show that most of us (53%) read our emails on our mobiles and many determine which email to click on based on the subject line alone. Therefore, if you really want your reader to fulfill your request, state that ask in your subject line. A couple of examples follow:
- Kiwi senior reporter seeks to join your stable of writers – please read
- Need your sign off on editorial proposal — client meeting 5 PM today — please respond by noon
- Request to feature your VP in coverage — The Guardian
- Require additional funds for lunch and learn — please approve by end of day
Your goal: For your reader to know what’s at stake and what you want, even before reading the email.
Craft a clear and compelling launch paragraph
Like any successful business message, your persuasive message needs a beginning, a middle and an end. The beginning becomes highly essential in persuasive writing because within that you must state your specific ask and make it really clear what you want your reader to do (and why). I also recommend stating within the intro paragraph any deadline. We must assume the reader may only read the first paragraph.
Here’s an example I wrote when I needed the publicist for the John Legend team to say ‘yes’ to me featuring him in a branded content series the Guardian Labs Studio team commissioned me to write.
At Guardian Labs, the branded content studio of Guardian News & Media, we’re working on a new campaign — an interactive series showing iconic and widely loved individuals doing good deeds for lesser-known, more “regular” folk. We’d love to feature you in this coverage and we seek your permission (by next week, June 30) before we pitch the concept to our client.
For clarity, the initial paragraph did not read this way. It was only when confused readers wrote back they weren’t clear what I wanted them to do that we stated the ask more clearly (and directly). Great things resulted from this approach: The publicist said ‘yes’ and we wrote about John’s #FREEAMERICA campaign to reduce the US’ shameful incarceration rate as part of the series. We also gained approvals from famed British chef Jamie Oliver, fashion icon Tory Burch and her foundation to help women entrepreneurs and Sir Peter Jackson’s efforts to raise awareness of the causes of war through his Great War Exhibition.
Craft a robust body to your message
Within the body of your email, you want to flesh out any of the core things you asked of your reader in the launch. Consider the following tried and tested approach:
- Appeal to the reader’s logic and their emotions.
- Avoid exclamation marks and other promotional language lest you sound like a marketing brochure.
- Employ design techniques such as subheads and bulleted lists to help the reader to quickly skim what you want and need.
- Preempt what questions your reader might have. For this campaign, and because we featured notable people, I figured the reader would want to know: whether I needed a direct interview or only access to materials, do we allow fact checking opps before we publish, what’s our readership, where and when will the interactive publish.
- Offer examples to help explain what you want. As I gained approvals to feature people, I provided hyperlinks to previously published articles already within the series. (By seeing how gorgeous the interactives looked, many publicists felt more persuaded to say ‘yes.’)
End on an upbeat note
Writers often forget to sign off using strong, executive sounding energy. I like to thank my reader for considering my request. I also recommend restating the deadline for optimum clarity. Use design techniques such as italics or bolding to bring your readers attention to the date.
Don’t forget to follow-up
One way to distinguish yourself in sales, marketing and public relations is to follow up with your reader. Try different means of communication, also. I’ve had reasonable success with the following approach:
- Start with an email after you’ve called the office and determined who would offer approval
- Follow up with a Facebook posting and LinkedIn. (I reached the Sir Peter Jackson Great War Exhibition team through their Facebook page.)
- Call the office and try to get the person on the phone. Leave a brief elevator pitch voicemail if you fail to reach the person directly. Briefly state the deadline in the message.
What persuasive approaches have worked for you? Write to us and share your tips, also. Have fun pitching!