Marketing is ultimately about selling. Although there is a significant difference between marketing and sales, the end goal of any marketing strategy is to convince and convert prospects into buyers. In this blog, we’ll take a close look at some of the persuasive techniques you can use to engage and convince consumers to choose your product or service, over someone else’s.

Find Persuasive Techniques in A FOREST 

During our 30 Days of Live challenge, we broadcast a live video presentation over on our Facebook page on the art of persuasion. The presentation used a handy mnemonic to help viewers remember the key persuasive techniques — A FOREST. 

Download the SlideShare from the video.

We’ve previously written about how to repurpose content effectively. It’s an opportunity to go into more detail on a previous piece of content or transform it into a new format for a different audience and channel. As a digital marketing agency, we not only like to practice what we preach, but we also try to demonstrate how to do things in practice too. 

With this in mind, what follows is a deep dive (trek?) into A FOREST to better understand the persuasive techniques you should be using across your content marketing.

Alliteration

Peter Piper picked a peck of persuasive techniques. The use of alliteration is commonplace across marketing communications, especially advertising. So much so, we don’t really notice it. And yet, it’s given us some of the biggest brand names and most memorable slogans.

Alliteration is all about front-loading a sequence of words with the same phonetic sound. It gives your writing a rhythmical, and therefore, more memorable quality. Used sparingly and subtly, alliteration is a powerful persuasive technique that affects recall. Remember this ad from the 80s?

Facts

There is no more compelling argument than the truth. Fact. When consumer trust is at an all-time low, the most convincing persuasive technique any brand has at its disposal is the use of provable facts. Honesty, openness, and truthfulness are highly valued brand qualities.

If you have some nice bits of truth to tell in your content, shout them out loud. Draw attention to yourself for the right reasons, and even challenge your customers to prove you wrong. After all, facts can be verified. 

That’s why brands don’t shy away from celebrating the fact that they only use fairly traded, ethically sourced goods. Or why companies highlight the fact they’ve won awards. Or why sportscar manufacturers boast about how quickly their cars get from 0 to 60mph. Facts sell.

Opinions

Not yours. Someone else’s. Endorsements and testimonials from satisfied customers can give your product or service credibility. As far as persuasive techniques go, social proof is one of the most convincing.

Think about it. How often have you shopped online and checked a product’s customer rating and reviews before completing a purchase? Do you compare similar products and reviews before committing to buy? What about hotels? Restaurants? Tradesmen?

Testimonials and reviews demonstrate not only that others have used your service or bought your product, but they have been so pleased with the results that they are willing to put their name to it and give it a personal seal of approval. Opinions matter. Which is why sites like Trustpilot exist.

Adding examples of social proof to your ads, your website, and landing pages helps inspire confidence in your prospects. They’re more likely to buy whatever it is you’re selling if they see that others have done so previously and experienced positive outcomes. For this reason, it’s always worth requesting testimonials, reviews, and feedback. If previous customers have a good opinion of your business, encourage them to share it.

Rhetorical Questions and Repetition

Why wouldn’t you use them? Seriously, why not? Rhetorical questions are used throughout marketing, do you want to be the only one missing out? A rhetorical question is one of those persuasive techniques that works on a subliminal level. In essence, rhetorical questions are used in marketing communications to inspire thought. The answer is either positioned as so obvious it’s not required, or there’s no straightforward answer, therefore requiring the audience to think and unpick what their possible response might be. 

However, rhetorical questions don’t always have to be serious and thought-provoking. Sometimes they can be used to inject a bit of humour into ad campaigns, too. Remember these Dr. Pepper adverts?

Ultimately, rhetorical questions are engaging. They require thought and consideration but ask nothing in return. Effectively, they’re a non-confrontational method of calling the reader to action. Who wouldn’t want all these benefits in a line?

This brings us onto the second ‘R’ in A FOREST — Repetition.

A person needs to experience at least seven touch points with your brand before they’re able to recognise and recall your offering. As a result, the power of repetition as a persuasive technique cannot be understated. Saying the same word or phrase over and over helps it stick. Rote learning is a case in point. Similarly, repeating your key message throughout your marketing communications will help it stick with the audience.

Certainly, it’s important to repeat your message regularly and consistently across all your channels. Better still, you should find ways of repeating your message within single pieces of marketing collateral. Charities are well known for using repetition as one of their go-to persuasive techniques.

How many examples of repetition did you spot in this ad? Did you pick up on any other persuasive techniques already mentioned above? How about emotive language?

Emotive Language

Look him in the eye and tell him you can’t afford €2.50. Feelings of guilt, sympathy, hope, pity, compassion and joy are exploited throughout marketing communications in order to persuade consumers. 

Emotive language packs a punch. It’s the hardest hitting of the A FOREST persuasive techniques. Getting an emotional reaction and creating emotional engagement is a powerful sales technique. Don’t overdo it.

Statistics

Every minute, 12 children die of starvation. Like facts, clever use of statistics to support your claims can add gravitas and credibility. 

They can be witty, bold, and engaging (with top marks for alliteration)…

Or plain old persuasive number crunching… 

However you choose to use statistics in your marketing, make sure you do your research. Then prepare some fractions, percentages, ratios, or graphics and prove your product or service is the best. 

The Rule of 3 as a Persuasive Technique

Repeating a benefit three times is an established persuasive technique. A message delivered in three different ways is memorable. Using triples can make an idea stick. This is the holy trinity of unforgettable marketing. We are drawn to things in threes. Apparently, three is a powerful number and a triangle is a powerful shape. 

Remember the power of three. It’ll add rhythm, make lines punchier, and affect better recall.

Persuasive Techniques Should Hide in Plain Sight

As can be seen from all the examples above, the A FOREST persuasive techniques abound in all marketing communications. However, they’re at their most effective when hiding in plain sight. That is to say, use persuasive techniques sparingly and subtly. Don’t feel that you have to pepper your marketing with examples of every single persuasive technique as this will look forced and have the opposite effect.

Little and often is the name of the game here. Incorporating persuasive techniques into your content marketing consistently over time or developing campaigns or marketing collateral based around one or more of the techniques will help you create content that sells.

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Gareth Alvarez
Gareth Alvarez

Gareth, Social INK’s Head of Content (sometimes playfully referred to as ‘spellcheck’), just adores words. He’s written copy for ads, websites, and blogged extensively. Content marketing is his bag. He loves getting creative with his writing.