5 Writing Techniques that Stir Your Audience to Action

We all want a positive response to the content we work so hard to create. Not all positive responses, however, are created equal.
I’m reminded of this David Ogilvy quote from Ogilvy on Advertising:
“When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product. When Aeschines spoke, they said, ‘How well he speaks.’ But when Demosthenes spoke, they said, ‘Let us march against Philip.’”
In other words, if you’re looking for something more than “Great post!” comments, then you’ve got to prompt action. And that means you’ve got to stir something in the audience before they’ll do something.
Now, before we get to that, one easy way to get someone to do something is to simply ask. I’m assuming you’re already using calls to action, but if not, click that last link to read about those first.
Otherwise, let’s focus on what must happen before the ask. What we’re trying to stir is an emotional response.
It’s emotion that moves us to act. In fact, the Latin root for the word emotion means “to move,” because emotions motivate what we do. We don’t necessarily want to make them seethe with anger or burst into tears, though.
The goal is not necessarily to get someone to feel, but rather to want — and to act on that want. Here are several ways to accomplish that.
1. Vivid storytelling
Emotional responses come when we experience

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Don’t Get Flattened on the Attention Superhighway

When we talk about content marketing strategy, it’s amazing how often people think that means:
Can I Haz Moar Peoples!!!
(English translation: How can I get more traffic to my site?)
That’s not new — the quest for eyeballs is as old as online business.
And it does matter. It’s important to have a critical mass of folks who know you exist. Ask anyone trying to get a business off the ground with an email list of 34 people, 8 of whom they’re related to.
You need a big enough audience to allow for a meaningful response when you try out a new content idea, or craft an offer for your product or service.
But there’s no shortage of online publishers with big audiences and tiny businesses. If all you do is stand on the Information Superhighway trying to flag people down, you’re going to get flattened.
Instead, craft a thoughtful, well-designed path. Lead prospects from the noise and clutter of the larger web to a sustained and valuable connection that solves the problems they care about.
Smart business isn’t about gaining a massive amount of attention. It’s about gaining the right kind of attention from the right people … and continuing the journey from there.
Copywriting formulas
When you want to persuade, it’s useful to take a look at the classic “formulas” of copywriting — because copywriting is simply persuasion that takes place (partly or completely) without the help of an individual human salesperson.
Most of these formulas begin with the letter

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Making Your Content as Tasty as Pie

Hey there — welcome back to the Copyblogger Weekly!
It’s Thanksgiving week in the U.S., and we want to celebrate by stuffing ourselves until we’re unable to speak or move.
No, wait, we want to celebrate by helping you make your content delicious.
On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman showed us how to weave structure and intrigue together for irresistible results. On The Showrunner, Jerod Morris and Jonny Nastor explore how to cook up an appealing brand for your podcast.
And on Tuesday, Beth Hayden shared a crucial copywriting element that every persuasive page needs. Hint: it’s what’s in the pudding.
If you’re in the U.S., enjoy your holiday! And if you aren’t, you can catch your American friends on social media, where we’ll all be hiding out from our extended families and pretending we didn’t eat that third piece of pie.
Happy holiday to those who celebrate it, and I’ll catch you next week!
— Sonia Simone
Chief Content Officer, Rainmaker Digital

Catch up on this week’s content

2 Key Factors that Distinguish Satisfying Content from Forgettable Ideas
by Stefanie Flaxman

Prove It! 6 Persuasive Techniques for Making the Sale
by Beth Hayden

How to Stay Creative in a Distracted World
by Brian Gardner & Lauren Mancke

The Right Way to Approach Branding Your Podcast
by Jerod Morris & Jon Nastor

How Becoming a Digital Entrepreneur Helped Jarmar Dupas Get His Life Right
by Brian Clark & Jerod Morris

How #1 Hit Podcast ‘Welcome to Night Vale’ Co-Creator Jeffrey Cranor Writes: Part One
by Kelton Reid

Gary Vaynerchuk on Playing the Long Game
by Brian

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Prove It! 6 Persuasive Techniques for Making the Sale

A few months ago, I was struggling with writing a sales page for an upcoming program launch, so I showed my draft to my copywriting mentor and asked his advice.
He scanned the page for about 20 seconds, then said:
“You need more proof. This page should be full of stories and case studies about how your approach works. You need to show the real results people get from using this product.”
I argued that adding more case studies would take up a lot of room on the page. He laughed.
“When I write my own sales pages, highlighting the proof is the most important part,” he said. “If I can show people I can get results, the rest of the copy is almost superfluous.”
I know his advice was a bit of an oversimplification — other elements of copywriting still matter, of course — but now I see better conversions on my sales pages because I implement my mentor’s advice on a regular basis.
In today’s post, I’ll share six persuasive techniques for showing proof the next time you need to convince a prospect that you can get results.
1. Case studies
Case studies (also known as customer success stories) tell a brief story about a customer or client who has gotten great results from your product or service.
For example, you might write, “Alexander Manuel used my system and saw a 50 percent increase in email sign ups within one month.”

When you use case studies in sales copy, it’s

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Persuasion Lessons from the Political Trenches

Whew. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but it’s been an intense election season in the U.S.
And if you haven’t noticed … I hope your visit to rural Mongolia has been enjoyable and productive.
Wherever you may happen to live, watching political campaigns is a fascinating — and sometimes nerve-wracking — way to see the art of persuasion in action.
Now that we’re (thankfully) just about wrapped up with the U.S. election, I thought it would be interesting to look at how political persuasion works, how it’s being used, and how it entwines itself through our daily lives.
We’ll start with the most powerful force in political persuasion … and in lots of other persuasive arguments.
Unity is the granddaddy
The phenomenon that Robert Cialdini calls Unity (you could also call it group identity) has always been one of the most important forces in politics. It’s why we have political parties.
“The kind of candidate I vote for” quickly becomes, for many, “who I am.”
Unity comes from beliefs, and beliefs shape nearly everything we perceive. What we pay attention to, the weight we give different arguments, and the lens we use to interpret what we see all come from beliefs.
By the way, that isn’t just true for political campaigns. It’s how the human mind works — and if you imagine that you’re one of the special few who’s immune to bias, you’ll be that much more vulnerable to it.
When I first got online, we thought that connecting human minds

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The Ultra Powerful 7th Principle of Persuasion

You may have seen that Robert Cialdini, author of the marketing classic Influence, has a new book out.
It’s called Pre-suasion, and you should read it. It’s all about setting the right context before you make the “ask.”
(In other words, it’s all about content marketing.)
Like his earlier book, it’s full of fascinating little insights that will be keeping marketing and copywriting dorks like me thinking for months.
I was particularly interested in what he had to say about:

The stages of “pre-suasion”
Using mystery to keep an audience engaged
The right time to use a popularity-based argument (everyone is doing it!) versus a distinctiveness-based one (you’re a special snowflake!)

But the section I was keenest to read was the one on the “new” principle of persuasion he’s uncovered, in addition to the six he identified in his earlier book. He calls that principle Unity, and — as it happens — it’s one we’ve written about many times here on Copyblogger.
What’s Unity?
In the context of persuasion, the experience of a shared identity is what Cialdini calls Unity.
The experience of Unity is not about simple similarities (although those can work too, but to a lesser degree, via the liking principle). It’s about shared identities.
If you’ve been listening to my podcasts lately, read my recent posts, or if you came to my talk and workshop in Denver last week, you know that I’m a little obsessed with values these days.
Values are those lovely abstract words that attach themselves to

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How to Master the Art of Negotiation

Chris Voss, best-selling author of Never Split the Difference and former lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI joins us for a powerful interview.
For many, the idea of negotiating can be intimidating. Just thinking about it brings to mind ideas of stressful conflict between personalities and goals.
But the truth is, in both business and life, we are constantly negotiating with others. Usually, not very well.

In this very special episode, we detail the process you can use to negotiate in any situation without the stress, anxiety, or discomfort you fear.
And even better, you will learn how to ask subtle — but powerful — questions that will bring the other side to resolve the matter in your favor.
In this 32-minute episode, Sean Jackson, Jessica Frick, and Chris Voss discuss the tactics you can use in negotiations, including:

The most important thing to do first when negotiating
Why you want the other side to say “no”
The “Jedi Mind Trick” questions that bend people’s perceptions
The subtle words that can make a huge difference

Listen to this Episode Now
The post How to Master the Art of Negotiation appeared first on Copyblogger.

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Empathy, Imitation and the Reason People Buy Blocks of Cheese Product

It’s time to sell a block of cheese!
Not just any cheese. Velveeta.
(Which is leftover swiss cheese bits and whey. Mmm.)
So, what do you do? How do you interest people?
Here’s how they did it in this 1960’s Velveeta ad:

The ad re-creates a moment many mothers are sure to have felt: a day spent rushing around, trying to get everything ticked off her list, taking care of her children and then being confronted with the task of trying to make something fast, easy and delicious for her family. Who has the time

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The Psychology of Selling Books with Sean D’Souza

Sean D’Souza is the master “Rainmaker.” Through years of experience studying human behavior, Sean has created a powerful business that teaches business owners — and authors — how to sell their wares and provide maximum value.
The bottom line is that everyone who sells anything needs to understand how the human brain works, whether it’s a book or the Brooklyn Bridge.
In this episode of Authorpreneur, host Jim Kukral and Sean D’Souza discuss:

Why people make decisions on what to buy and how much to pay
How to structure your products, services, and books so that people will buy
The “yes, yes” strategy of presenting products and creating value
The tactics for pricing to maximize sales
How to get to the root of what your customers really want, and then give it to them

Click Here to Listen toAuthorpreneur on iTunes
Click Here to Listen on Rainmaker.FM
About the authorRainmaker.FMRainmaker.FM is the premier digital commerce and content marketing podcast network. Get on-demand digital business and marketing advice from experts, whenever and wherever you want it.

The post The Psychology of Selling Books with Sean D’Souza appeared first on Copyblogger.

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What to Do When You Absolutely, Positively Must Know if Your Content Will Rock

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on June 29, 2011. We’re running it again today to honor DIY media and the endless possibilities for your business when you’ve built a loyal audience.
Ever had a great idea, and then started to doubt yourself?
Or maybe you’ve already executed on that great idea, but you’re hesitating to launch. Maybe it’s an article, or an ebook, or a new product or service.
How can you be sure it will work? Should you ask for feedback?
I’ll answer both of those questions in this article, but first I need to tell you a couple of stories from the nutty worlds of music and film.
Let’s start with a band called Wilco.
Wilco gets the shaft
In 2000 and early 2001, Wilco recorded a selection of songs for a fourth studio album.
Signed to Reprise Records (a subsidiary of Warner Music), the band was continuing to shift away from its “alt country” roots toward a more experimental alternative rock sound.
This made the folks at Reprise nervous. After a shakeup at the top executive level of the label, a guy named Mio Vukovic was assigned to monitor the progress of the new album and offer suggestions.
Let’s just say that Vukovic wasn’t much impressed with what he heard, and Wilco wasn’t much impressed with his suggestions. This resulted in the band being unceremoniously canned by the label.
Wilco negotiated its contractual divorce from Reprise. Part of the deal allowed the band to keep the master tapes and full

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