All writing is about discipline – as any professional writer will tell you – and writing to influence and persuade isn’t any different. But if the word ‘discipline’ makes you feel uncomfortable, then first ask yourself what it means for you.
Discipline doesn’t have to mean being self-sacrificing or enduring pain
Think about the best friends in your life. Maintaining a friendship takes discipline, but you might be enjoying yourself so much you don’t notice how much you’re putting in. You’re just having fun.
Writing for decision-makers should be the same. It’s as creative and dynamic as friendship. You could be getting on so well with your decision-makers that you don’t notice how much effort you’re putting in.
Think back to how you built your valued friendships in the first place. You did so slowly by taking small steps to build trust, and you took those steps by making the time to learn how those friends think and feel.
Create a CTA
Writing to influence and persuade is about learning how your decision-makers think and feel, and discovering how they will make the decision you want them to make. Your writing should have a Call to Action (CTA), but what you choose to put into your Call – and how you chose to present it – is up to you.
That’s where your personal style comes in. Just as you knew to share enough of yourself to build friendships that have lasted, you need to choose how you will present your Call with the same flare that will build something of value.
Why not try KFC
To get to know your decision-makers better, try a simple method called KFC. Ask yourself three questions: What do you want your decision-makers to Know? What do you want them to Feel? What do you want them to Commit to doing?
Let’s say you want your decision-makers to know people mistreat some animals because they tend to put negative human characteristics onto these animals. But animals can’t be stupid. They can only be animals, so they don’t deserve to be punished for not understanding.
Now that your decision-makers know this, you want them to feel they should do something about this mistreatment of animals, and so to ask the question: What can I do about it?
Now that your decision-makers have asked this question, you want them to commit to investing in your cause. As a minimum, they can invest time in reading what you have to say, or energy into changing their attitude and behaviour.
But they can also do small things that don’t cost much. They can teach children that the talking animals in family movies are not the same as the animals in our world, which need our protection and care rather than our impatience and scorn.
The more you invest in something, the more you can expect from it
The more you encourage your decision-makers to invest in your purpose, the stronger their relationship with you will become, and the more you can rely on their future investment. Why? Because the more you invest in something, the more you expect to get out of it – just like friendship – and that’s true for everyone.
Before they will have a good reason to act, your decision-makers need to feel moved, and so you need to know what motivates them. In the process, you can also make your CTA a small but significant step towards generating the trust you need to build a longer-term relationship.
Then you can free yourself to focus on creating a structure – and shaping a piece of writing – that will engage and motivate your decision-makers to act in the way that you want them to act: to invest something in you to enable you to achieve your wider mission.
Want to know more about building a stronger relationship with your readers? Sign up for Paul Brollo’s Writing for Impact online course here and learn the skills of professional writers.