Brent Hodgson, Copywriter

Copywriter and Internet Marketing Consultant

How to Write a Persuasive Letter

Writing an effective persuasive letter can be a very challenging and time consuming task.
Many people have sat down to put pen to paper and have ended up wanting to bang their head against the wall out of sheer frustration.

You will have a number of things you want to get out and on to paper and you’ll want to do it in a coherent and logical progression without coming across as hostile or offensive.

There are a number of things you’ll have to cover and pitfalls to avoid and so we’ve prepared some handy guidelines to help you prepare a sales letter that will make people seem crazy to disagree with you points.

Preparing to Write a Persuasive Letter

Preparation is relatively easy and yet its still the first place most people seem to go wrong when writing a persuasive letter. There are three things you must do.

Work out who you are writing to, is it a number of people or just one?

Get a good idea what it actually is that you want people to agree with. Many writers lose focus on their main goal and end up writing a letter that doesn’t go anywhere or convince anyone.

When these tho are sorted, a write out a list of every possible reason your audience should say yes to you. When you have exhausted all the reasons, review the list and pick your top five reasons, these will be your strongest arguments and keeping it short will mean that people will be more likely to read your letter all the way to the end.

Execution

I will be using an example to highlight some points, so for this example we will be a machinery manufacturer writing to a factory owner, encouraging them to upgrade to our latest machine.

The first thing you should remember when you start writing on your letter is that you are on the same side, its much easier to convince someone when you are both sitting on the same side of the table, if you treat them like your enemy from the start, you will only be making it harder on yourself and dulling the effectiveness of your arguments.

The next thing to keep in mind is the target audience for your letter. You wouldn’t talk to a CEO the same way you would talk to a plumber, so keeping your letter on their level is a must if you want to keep them on your side.

Mention the things you can both agree on (eg “profitability is key to running a business”)

Let them know why its a good idea to make this decision “buying Machine X will increase your manufacturing speed by 20%”

Tell them briefly why its a bad idea to make the alternative decision “sticking it out with your old machines will mean slower manufacturing and more dangerous working conditions for staff”.

Flickr image by _Star_DusT_

Flickr image by _Star_DusT_

Evidence is another strong point for a sales letter. Make sure that you include some in your letter “during an independent test Machine X manufactured each item 15 seconds faster than our closest competitors”

It is important to remember to address any flaws in your argument “while it may take a couple of hours to install machine X the increase in productivity means that you have caught up by the end of the week and are ahead 20% every week following.”

Always write in the present tense, writing in the past makes it seem like that whatever it was, has come and gone and is not affecting them any more, writing in future tense can cause them to delay or put off any decisions. Writing in present tense keeps it urgent and causes people to take action today rather than tomorrow.

Always remember to write as if it assumed that the person will say yes, having this mindset will naturally cause you to write your sentences to be structured more convincingly, convincing your audience more when they read your letter.

Polishing and Quality Checking

Sum up your letter, briefly go over the points you raised in the letter (no more than a paragraph, a sentence is preferable though).

Make sure there is a call to action at the end of the letter (ie what they must do and when they should do it) “pick up the phone now and give us a call and you can have machine X on the way to your factory in no time!”

Double check that you have the addresses correct, appropriate salutations and sign offs at the end. No point sending a letter if you have forgotten to address it to someone.

If you follow these guidelines, you will be sure to write a knockout persuasive letter.

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