One of the most successful copywriters that I have been following for many years is Gary Bencivenga, from America.
For almost 40 years he has specialised in Direct Response marketing, and has become a true expert in the science and art of persuasion.
He apprenticed under John Caples at BBDO and David Ogilvy at Ogilvy & Mather, among several other legendary Masters of copywriting.
These advertising authorities shared the results of thousands of their split-run tests with him, providing a priceless education on what really works (and what doesn’t) in scientifically-measured direct response advertising.
During a seminar Gary hosted a few years ago, he revealed one of his keys to marketing success:
The Persuasion Equation.
Gary discussed persuasion methodologies and how they can apply to your own marketing efforts. Briefly, this is a summary of his points:
Urgent Problem + Unique Promise + Unquestionable Proof +
User-friendly Proposition = Persuasion
As you can tell, this concept is designed with copywriting in mind, but it can apply to any situation where you want to influence others.
Let’s break down this simple equation.
Newton’s First Law of Motion explains inertia. The law applies equally to people as well as to inanimate objects. Basically, it takes something big to get people to “move”.
We tend not to take action until it the pain of not acting is worse than the inconvenience of having to do something about the problem. Urgent problems get people into an action-taking mindset.
If you talk to people about the issues that are currently screaming for their attention, you’ve got a significant advantage, because they’re already predisposed to “getting their ass in gear” to fix the problem.
When you have a blown fuse box and no power, electricians can be very persuasive.
In most cases, prospects have a choice of options to solve any given problem.
So, what makes your solution to the problem different and better than what anyone else is offering? ‘Me-toos’ and non-descript organisations have a hard time being persuasive. Thought-leaders and mavericks are harder to ignore.
Skepticism is the natural state that we all live in when anyone approaches us with a sales message of any kind. The more unique or unsupported the promise you make, the more likely you will be questioned and doubted.
Fear, confusion and doubt only ever lead to procrastination or ‘playing it safe’, and are powerful enemies of persuasion.
But what can you do to eliminate them?
Testimonials, industry accreditations and awards, statistics from independent third-parties and case studies can do the job. Demonstrating that you know what you’re doing and can deliver on your promises is even better.
How can you demonstrate to your audience that your promises are worth believing?
Many people (unwittingly) actually stop potential customers from buying. Don’t put roadblocks in the way of people who want to follow you.
You have to make it easy for prospects to take the action you’re recommending.
No matter how urgent the problem, unique the promise and unquestionable the proof, people will only jump through so many hoops. The easier you make it for them, the more persuasive your call to action becomes. Minimise the perceived risk they feel about taking action, so more people will listen and act.
As Bencivenga mentioned in his seminar, there is over $1 billion dollars worth of quantified research and market tests to back up the strategies he recommends, and which will lead you to produce much more persuasive and profitable sales messages and campaigns.
Think about how you can apply each of these concepts to your own persuasion efforts in selling and marketing. Each methodology holds incredible power to move people to see things your way, to trust you, to take advice from you, and finally, to buy from you.