I don’t know about you, but I do know that without deep knowledge of persuasion, I’d be a poorer copywriter (in every sense).
Of all the gurus I’ve followed over the years, I’ve spent the most money with just one of them. We’ll call him Andy.
Andy had this idea that pushing people into buying stuff wasn’t the way to build a sustainable business.
I fully agreed with him, and that meant the start of a long term relationship involving his bank account and my wallet!
Andy had what it took.
Persuasion is the trickiest of topics, yet by its very nature, it’s the most important.
The hard part (when trying to understand what it really is) is spotting the point in a negotiation (verbal, written, or otherwise) when persuasion is taking place.
After all, if we could figure that out, we’d soon learn to say the right thing at the right time.
Robert Cialdini had a good crack at it with his seminal 1984 book: “Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion”, but he too knew something was missing, so he dug deeper and came up with a new book called: “Pre-suasion”.
Some 23 years later, he realised “Influence” was still short of a thing or two, and re-released a “New and Expanded” edition.
He also realised he’d missed a 7th factor, which he called Unity (the more we listen to others, the more we’re influenced by them – not sure how true that is – I find I’m influenced by various people for a while, then usually move on – I would guess most people are like that – but then again, that’s got a name too – it’s a cognitive bias called “false consensus effect”).
The point is, persuasion is not simple, but that’s no reason for not getting to grips with it.
You can analyse copywriting forever, but one thing that must be present if it’s to achieve its purpose is an element of persuasion, or rather, the ELEMENTS of Persuasion (one is never enough).
Which just happens to be the name of a new course I’ll be teaching in the ICA members area starting in October (free to all annual and lifetime members).
This is not a rehash of Cialdini’s work, that’s not necessary, since it can be summarised very easily (including the partly AI generated summary I published here).
Instead it’s a deep dive into the most underrated part of the writers’ toolkit: Rhetoric.
Month by month, it will build into the most comprehensive work on rhetoric that matters today.
By the end, you will have an arsenal of rhetorical tools you can use that covers every eventuality when it comes to persuasion.
You’ll also be able to read other people’s copy with ease, analysing each technique they’ve woven into their copy, and why they included it.
Which means you can talk to any prospect about their existing copy and explain gently why it sucks.
The alternative is to take a classics course at Harvard, Yale, or Oxford, but I wouldn’t want to saddle you with the debt.