Here’s something I’ve noticed recently. Most people get persuasion so wrong they may as well not bother.
It baffles me.
I noticed this when I started working with people who are looking for jobs. I’m sure you remember being told in school that you must have a CV and a cover letter, and that in those things you must list all your experience and achievements and credentials.
This is totally backwards.
If you’re looking get a job with me, I want you to show me what you can do for me. Future tense. I don’t want you to send me a CV and letter filled with stuff you’ve done in the past for other people.
Now, that’s not to say that credentials and past experience aren’t important; they are. But not straight away. First, you need to get my interest. Then you can tell me what you’ve done before.
Most business owners make exactly the same mistake in their marketing.
For example, most sales presentations or websites are lists of credentials and facts. The presenter drones on about when the company was founded, what it does, all its achievements… it’s stuck in the past.
The problem is that the potential customer is looking at the future. Their future. The future they want to achieve.
Persuasion is all about three things:
- Finding the person’s desired future.
- Identifying the obstacles standing in the way of that future.
- Showing that person that you’re the best person to help them achieve their future.
But most marketing focuses not just on the company, but on the company’s past.
That’s bonkers when you think about it.
I mean, nobody is interested in a company’s past. All you’re interested in is how that company can improve your future. Right?
The first thing any potential customer (or employer) wants to know is what’s in it for me? What do I get out of starting a relationship with you?
Then you can get into your proof. (Even then, though, testimonials from happy customers and measurable results work wonders.)
Today’s homework is simple: print off a recent piece of persuasion marketing. It might be your home page, or a landing page, or an email. Anything. Now highlight everything you’ve said about your reader’s future.
Your reader’s future will appear in one of three places:
Nowhere. Don’t worry – this is very common. The good news is that as soon as you rectify this, you’ll be streets ahead of your competitors.
At the end. If you have mentioned their future – good stuff. But where have you mentioned it? Is it tucked at the end? Again, this is quite common but the priorities are all wrong.
Right at the start. This is the best place to mention your reader’s future. In the title, the headline, the first paragraph. Make it immediately obvious that your priority is the same as their priority: that you want to help them achieve their desired future.
This is a brilliant opportunity. Most people – including your competitors – aren’t highlighting their prospective customers’ futures at all. If you do, you’ll stand out for all the right reasons. You’ll give your prospective customers a great reason to choose you rather than someone else.
So here’s what I’d like you to do. (Remember – it’s no good just reading this stuff I send you, you have to act on it for it to get you results!)
I’d like you to take that piece of persuasion marketing and edit it so that it’s future-focused. Make it stand out and speak to the person you want to reach.
Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.