Three Powerful Persuasion Strategies And How to Use Each One To Rocket Your Response

In this issue:

  • How to structure a logical argument that will have your prospects ready, willing and even eager to buy …
  • The astonishing response-rocketing power of the “scientific demonstration” – and how I used it to sell more than $7 million-worth of products in a single DM package…
  • 8 Ways to turn ordinary testimonials into profit-pulling powerhouses…
  • And MUCH MORE!

Dear Business-Builder,

Over the years, I’ve tried to teach lots of folks to write sales copy – and (have I mentioned this before?) not all of them have gone on to be stellar successes.

One of my most spectacular failures had a Ph.D. in English Lit. Another was a crackerjack newspaper reporter. Still another had penned a best-seller and now wanted to try her hand at writing sales copy.

All three of these guys and gals were great word-jugglers. But as direct response copywriters, every one of them was hopeless. Not one of them could have written a winning sales letter if you’d held a .44 magnum to his or her highly educated head.

Looking back, though, it wasn’t their fault that they couldn’t “get” it. It was mine.

I should have been flogged for hiring these “great writers” in the first place.

See, I didn’t need great writers. I needed great salespeople – experts in the art and science of persuasion – who could also write.

They didn’t have to be Shakespeares, Longfellows or Hemmingways. They just needed to have a knack for helping others see things their way … and for persuading others to take a particular action – i.e. to look at their headlines, read their sales messages and for god’s sake, to order the doggoned product!

Put simply, I needed PERSUADERS.

So much is written today about the technical, nuts-and bolts aspects of writing great sales copy: How to structure a headline. How to use power words. How to find the right tone. How to write a fascination. How to close with conviction.

Too little, in my opinion, is written about how to be persuasive. And I mean to remedy that.

Everything You Need to Know About Being Persuasive, You Learned Before You Were 20

Persuasion is nothing more than the art (and sometimes, science) of steering someone else towards accepting and embracing an idea and/or taking a specific action through appeals to his intellect and/or emotions.

  • Like we all did when we persuaded our parents to let us stay up an extra hour to watch our favorite TV show …
  • Like you gals did when you first persuaded your dad to let you wear that dangerously short mini-skirt on a date …
  • Like us guys did when we tried to persuade that mini-skirted gal to agree to a real kiss (and please, God … AT LEAST second base!) …
  • Like we all did in college when we wrote home in a desperate attempt to persuade Mom and Dad to send pizza and beer money …
  • And like we all did when we pulled out all the stops to persuade a “significant other” to become our spouse or life-partner.

There are lots of ways to be persuasive – let’s call them ‘Suasion Strategies – and I’d like to look at six of them with you – three today, and three next week.

Ready? Let’s get started …

‘Suasion Strategy #1:
The Logical Argument

This is the left-brain, “If-this, then-that” technique you used to persuade your parents to let you get your first car:

“Gee, Dad, if I just had my own car, then you wouldn’t have to pick me up after school, or take me to the library, or to swimming practice. I could even help mom with the grocery shopping!”

“Your life would be a veritable paradise. Your time would be your own. You could come home from work, take your shoes off and just relax in front of the TV!”

For us as (supposedly) grown-up copywriters and marketers, winning logical arguments typically begin from a mutually agreed-upon fact or belief – and progress, one ruthlessly rational step after another, until only one final conclusion is reasonably possible.

The logical steps you take must be small enough to bring your prospect along with you … yet large enough so he feels the wind in his face – feel momentum towards the final conclusion and the mind-blowing benefits he will realize by following the only “rational” course of action based upon your chain of logic (ordering, of course!).

This is pure left-brain, no-nonsense, intellect-appeal … real abacus-diddling, bean counter stuff. But if the direction you’re taking implies a powerful benefit awaits your prospect at the end of the rainbow, he or she will likely have strong reactive emotions to your conclusion – strong enough, hopefully, to trigger the appropriate action on his part.

Here’s how I might use this Logical Appeal approach in a promotion for a newsletter on gold investment …


Argument #1:

  1. Mutually agreed-upon fact: Gold prices are more than double what they were just two short years ago.
  2. Commonly held belief: Gold prices always rise when Washington runs huge deficits and bullets are flying overseas.
  3. Commonly held belief: No one in his right mind could possibly believe that Washington will suddenly balance the budget, or that Mid-East violence will abruptly cease.
  4. Inescapable Conclusion: That means you can definitely expect soaring gold prices as far as the eye can see.

Bullet-proof – right? I can’t imagine any investor arguing with a single one of those points.

Especially if you include a few examples of how gold prices have surged when deficits soared and in times of geopolitical turmoil …

… And especially if you take a moment to poke fun at any loopy Lou who holds out hope that free-spending US politicians might suddenly get religion – or that militant extremists might suddenly abandon theirs.

If you’ve done your job at this point, your prospect now agrees that gold prices can only rise in the years ahead. It’s a dead-lock cinch in his mind.

What’s more, he’s beginning to feel something down deep in his gut. He knows – you don’t have to tell him – that when you spot a locked-in trend in the financial markets, it’s like having your own private tunnel into the richest bank vault in town.

Heck, at this point, he could just buy gold bullion and be nearly guaranteed of raking in returns that make every other investment he owns pale by comparison.

So the logical question is, why in the heck does he need you?

You, of course – being the consummate persuader – are ready for him with…

Argument #2:

  1. Provable Fact #1: If history teaches anything, it’s that when gold prices rise, gold stocks skyrocket. When gold prices jumped xx% in 1980 for example, xyz gold stock jumped three times faster – handing savvy investors a whopping xxx% return – x times more! (Insert three or four more proof elements like this, accompanied by a chart)
  2. Provable Fact #2: And gold stocks that meet my three proprietary criteria rise the fastest of all. In 2004, for example, when gold giant Newmont rose an impressive 35%, an obscure stock named xyz Mines skyrocketed 349%. (Insert three or four more proof elements like this, accompanied by a chart)
  3. Provable Fact #3: In fact, while the average gold stock rose 79% over the last year, my portfolio of little-known gold stocks jumped an astonishing 457%. Every $25,000 you invested in my recommended stocks would have grown to $114,250 … a $35,000 investment would have grown to $159,950 … and a $50,000 investment would now be worth a spectacular $228,500!
  4. Provable Fact #4: Meanwhile, if you had just bought $50,000-worth of gold bullion and held it for the last 12 months, your investment would now be worth only $70,000. (Bar chart showing investment in advisors stocks at $228,500 dwarfing $70,000 in bullion)
  5. Inescapable Conclusion #1: Gold bullion is on a tear – up 40% last year – and my gold stocks did 326% better!
  6. Inescapable Conclusion #2: My hand-picked gold stocks could easily make you 457% richer in 2006-2007!

See what’s happened here?

We began with a fact or belief that we knew the prospect would not – or could not – dispute.

We carefully added each new link in the chain of logic in a natural progression, taking pains to ensure that each one was proven beyond the shadow of a doubt and fully “bought into” by our prospect.

We used each of these “links” to move our prospect one step further down the road – never taking a side-trip that could blur our logic or slow our progress – towards our ultimate conclusion: Failing to pick up the phone and order right now would be idiotic, self-defeating, downright masochistic.

We added visual elements – charts – so our (somewhat statistically dense) arguments would be communicated quickly, easily and (most of all) dramatically.

Little if any emotional copy was needed to steer our prospect to the conclusion that gold will continue to rise … gold stocks will soar … our gold stocks will take off like a fuselage of bottle rockets … that if he owns them, he’ll get filthy, stinking rich … and that the only way to own the stocks we recommend is to subscribe to our newsletter.

Now … how do you think he feels about all of this? Do you think his dominant resident emotions … his fears, frustrations and desires – the “engines” that will drive him across the finish line to our order form are fully engaged even though they were never named or specifically addressed?

Sure they are – as a byproducta consequence of the compelling nature of our rational arguments.

Points to ponder:

  • A logical argument is only as strong as its weakest link. To make a rational appeal work, each link in the chain must be presented in such a way as to be utterly irrefutable.If your prospect disputes a link in your chain – or worse, if any one link simply evaporates in the searing daylight of close examination – your entire argument and your credibility will crumple like a cheap suit.
  • Remember: Nobody buys anything but basic food or water for purely rational or logical reasons. Ultimately, every sale is an impulse sale, fueled by a dominant emotion that is already resident in your prospect.Even persuading prospects to read your copy in the first place is best done by activating his most dominant resident emotions regarding the matter at hand.

    Directly addressing and therefore activating his self-interest, fear, frustration and/or desire in your head, deck, opening copy and throughout your sales message – even while making the coldest, most logical arguments – will help ensure he’ll continue reading.

  • Arguments can backfire. In many cases, if you use an argument to try to make your case, you’ll get an argument in return. If the prospect senses even a whiff of confrontation or one-upsmanship in your tone, he may react as if you’ve challenged him to a mental chess match. Want to guess who’ll win?

‘Suasion Strategy #2:
The Scientific Demonstration

Logical arguments are often little more than thought experiments – where you can steer your prospect to the desired “ultimate conclusion” by simple reasoning. The entire “Attention-Interest-Desire-Action” process takes place in his or her head as you present your logical reasons why the purchase should be made.

This form of persuasion tends to work best when your prospect already has a adequate familiarity with the subject at hand – as investors do with how and why stock prices move, for example.

But when your prospects are unfamiliar with the mechanics of how or why a thing works or why your thing works better than your competition’s thing – and the explanation would be long, technical and boring – logic alone just won’t cut it.

Take the alternative health market, for example …

Consumers of nutritional supplements are savvy about a lot of things. Many can rattle off all the vitamins, minerals, amino acids and herbs that help lower blood pressure, shrink prostates, ease joint pain, even free you from halitosis, B.O. and the heartbreak of psoriasis. But almost none of your prospects really understand HOW these natural medicines work their magic.

Lots of times, it doesn’t really matter. If you can cite a study in which Harvard scientists or a Nobel Prize winner says a nutrient does a thing, you’ll probably be OK.

But a picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words. And if you can figure out a way to quickly and easily demonstrate how your product does its thing – or better yet, how it does it thing better than the competition’s product does its thing – the impact can be palpable and the urge to try it irresistible.

Say a certain nutrient is normally water soluble – it needs water to dissolve and to be absorbed into the body. But the cheaper manufacturing process many of your competitors use makes it impervious to water and therefore, undissolvable, unabsorbable and unusable to the body.

Time to go up into the attic and drag out the old chemistry set you played with in fourth grade! Oh – and get the camera too, so we can snap some pictures for a super-persuasive sidebar.

Yep, it’s time for a scientific experiment:

Take two laboratory flasks (so much more “official-looking” than ordinary water glasses). Add water. Open a capsule of your competitor’s product and pour it into the first flask. Pour your product into the second. [SNAP!]

Observe that your product instantly dissolves, making the water cloudy to the eye. [SNAP!]

… But the competition’s product is just kind of floating aimlessly on top of the water like so much flotsam and jetsam! [SNAP!]

Now, just to prove you’re more than fair, take a spoon and stir the heck out of the competitor’s product. Hell. Put it in a blender if you like.

Wow. That worthless crap your competitors sell is still floating unmolested at the top of the flask! [SNAP!]

NOW do you see why they call cheap supplements “bedpan bullets”?

You might as well cut out the middleman: Take the money they gouge you for that worthless garbage and flush it directly down the toilet. After all: That’s where it’s going to wind up anyway!

Suddenly your claim that your product is more absorbable and therefore more effective is persuasive beyond doubt. Seeing is believing: Your prospect has been fully persuaded!

Can’t do an actual scientific demonstration? No problem. Conduct a theoretical one!

When promoting EDTA to remove plaque from arteries, I had an illustrator prepare a series of “Gray’s Anatomy”-style drawings:

  • A baby’s artery – squeaky clean and free of plaque
  • A 20-year-old’s artery – already beginning to grow ugly yellow globs of plaque … already beginning to restrict blood flow …
  • A 60-year-old’s artery – nearly closed by plaque … only a drip or two of blood getting through to the heart muscle …
  • EDTA moving through the artery, dissolving the calcium that bonds plaque to the artery wall, flushing it away and increasing blood flow …
  • The 60-year-old’s artery looking more like the 20-year-old’s … and abundant blood coursing through the newly cleared artery.

Now Think: What kind of scientific demonstration – real or theoretical – would best persuade prospects that your product can, indeed deliver the promised benefits and/or is far superior to the competition’s?

Put it in your next promotion and watch response soar!

‘Suasion Strategy #3:
Presentation of Proof Elements

Great sales copy contains all kinds of proof elements – and not all of them have to do with your product.

You may use scientific studies, quotes from experts, even data from a credible third party (Consumer Reports, Wall Street Journal, the FDA, etc.) to prove the credibility of a forecast, or a prediction of the reasons why the prospect needs your product, for example.

You can also use testimonials, biographical sidebars, your spokesperson’s media appearances and press clippings to persuade prospects of your credibility.

Still, when it comes to persuading prospects of the effectiveness of your product, few things are more effective than testimonials.

And when I say “testimonials,” I’m not talking just about “Thank-You” letters from customers. There are all kinds of ways to present these proof elements to prospects – limited only by your own creativity …

  • A case history in your spokesman’s voice – a narrative or story about how a customer was helped …
  • A longer-form story written by a customer to the prospect: “This worked so well for me, I asked permission to tell you my story personally …”
  • An interview between your spokesman and the customer in which the spokesman plays devil’s advocate and allows the customer to overcome objections the prospect may have …
  • A mock “article” by a “reporter” who has interviewed five customers about their experiences and treats them like breaking news …
  • The story of a competitor who threatened to sue when he saw your ad – but backed down immediately when he saw your proof …
  • A real-life press clipping or media mention about the effectiveness of your product …
  • A statement by a well-known expert vowing that your product (or the ingredient in it) is amazingly effective …
  • And of course, the more typical testimonial from a customer, raving about the product … carefully selected to include specifics that make it interesting and believable … edited for brevity and easy reading (without changing the meaning) … given a headline to draw attention to it … including at least the customer’s first name, last initial, city and state … and presented with a picture of the happy customer.

Point to Ponder: If you’re taking the extra step – calling testimonial-givers and interviewing them to develop longer-copy stories about their experience with the product, try this …

Before you call, think about your prospect. Consider every objection he/she might have to making the purchase. Think about their skepticism upon reading your product claims – especially if they had tried similar products that overpromised and underdelivered … their fears, frustrations and desires relating to the problem the product solves … their hesitance to spend the money … their desire NOT to feel like a sucker – again …

Then, walk the customer through the entire experience of buying for the first time: How they felt and what they thought when they were struggling with the problem the product solves … when they first saw the ad for your product.

Ask them what made them decide to order … how friendly the customer rep was and how easy ordering was … how they felt while waiting for the product to arrive … how surprised they were when it arrived in record time … how easy/pleasant/fun it was to use … specifically – in minute detail – what it did for them and how it changed their life – both physically and emotionally.

Ask what they’ve done since experiencing the miraculous result: How many more of the same product they ordered … how many friends and family members they’ve convinced to buy it – the works.

Then, write the entire experience and have the customer sign off on it. You now have a DREAM testimonial for your next promotion!

Just how powerful are testimonials – really? Fifteen months ago, I wrote a 24-page tabloid promotion that’s about 80% testimonials. So far, the client has mailed more than ten million copies – at a substantial profit – and it’s still going strong.

Three More ‘Suasion Strategies
Next Week…

That should be plenty to chew on this week – I’ll introduce you to three more equally powerful ‘Suasion Strategies next week:

  1. How to use the art of SEDUCTION to help your prospect persuade him or herself …
  2. How to leverage the power of your prospects CORE BELIEFS and TRADITIONS to persuade them to see things your way, and when all else fails,
  3. How the skillful use of RHETORIC allows you to persuade prospects to take action by bypassing the brain altogether.

PLUS, I’ll show you how combining all SIX of these powerful persuasion principles in a single promotion can drive your response to the moon!

Yours for Bigger Winners, More Often,

Clayton Makepeace
Publisher & Editor

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