Write to Persuade and Convert, with Scott Keyser
Welcome to another Brand Builders TV series, where you’ll gather loads of advice and wisdom from global thought leaders who just happen to be members of the Brand Builders Club. This is the first of three instalments in this particular series, in which Scott Keyser (The Writing Guy) is sharing tips on how to write to persuade our readers to take action.
Isn’t that what we all want, after all? To make our ideal client WANT to learn more? To do more with us? To buy more? And to tell others about our brands?
Well, all of that and more is possible with the written word…if you know how to use language effectively.
I am going to introduce Scott, and then we’ll dive straight into his first tip on writing to persuade.
As is the case with all of these Brand Builders TV series, you may wish to view the entire recorded episode at Nail the Nasty Nine Writing Issues, Part 1, or view it below. But if you’re more of a reader, just keep going for Part One of this three-part series.
Learn it, model it and get shit done!
Meet Scott Keyser
Scott Keyser, The Writing Guy, is a copywriter helping other professionals to write to persuade in bids, tenders, webpages, sales pages, social media and so much more.
Scott is a copywriter who writes pitches that make it utterly impossible for people not to act. That’s because he knows how to gather facts, tap into emotion and make every reader feel like he’s talking directly to them, addressing their pain and offering benefits that matter to them.
Not only does Scott perform this copywriting magic for himself and his clients—he’s teaching professionals to do it for themselves.
If you’d like to harness that power for your business, read on. Scott Keyser is teaching us how to write to persuade, in his own words.
Nail These Nasty Nine Writing Issues
Hello! I’m Scott Keyser, The Writing Guy. A little background about me: I’ve been in this game as a writer and copywriter for 16 years—training professionals in persuasive writing and showing them how easy it is to write with impact and to make their writing clear, concise and compelling.
In that time, I’ve trained over 5,000 professionals and business owners.
The nine writing issues I’m going to share with you are the Nasty Nine. They’re the nine issues that have repeatedly crossed my path. And so a couple of years ago it occurred to me that maybe I should do something about this. My argument is that if you nail these nine issues, then you’re well on your way to being a really effective and powerful writer.
The Nasty Nine:
- We-ing All Over Your Reader
- Poor or Non-existent Planning
- Vague Message or Objective
- Poor Structure
- Needlessly Formal Language
- Waffle Wordiness and Wind
- Long Sentences
- Passivitis (Overuse of the passive voice)
- Nounitis (Overuse of nouns, especially abstract nouns)
But for now, we’re just going to focus on the first issue: We-ing All Over Your Reader.
WE-ing All Over The Reader
When we are writer-centric and not reader-centric, we might talk more about ourselves, our teams or organisations, to the detriment and exclusion of the reader. We’re given away by our language, using we, us, our and sometimes I…much more than you, your and you’re. It’s too much about yourself and not enough about the reader.
The reason this is a problem is that it creates a mismatch between mindsets. Your reader undoubtedly wants you to talk about them—their needs, wants, desires and goals. If you don’t do that, there’s dissonance and they’re going to run for the hills. You will alienate them and may lose them. And when we, as writers, lose our readers, that’s failure. We have failed as communicators.
When we “WE” all over the reader, we’re giving them the subliminal message that we are more important than them. That’s not a winning strategy.
Next, when we talk a lot about ourselves, we often highlight the features of our products and services, rather than the benefits. You and I both know that benefits are much more persuasive than features. Features are basically a description of what we do, whereas a benefit is a description of what they get. That’s an important distinction (between do and get). Your readers are much more interested in get than in do.
I was reviewing a bid the other day. Here’s the Content List and Executive Summary. Where do you think the writer’s mindset is?
Our Team and Our Approach
Our Project Management, Expertise and Resources
Our Fee Proposal
Our Supplier Service Structure
Our Value-Added Services
Our Global Network
And the body of the bid was dripping with we, us and our. No prizes for guessing the writer’s mindset. Needless to say, this particular bid did not win the contract.
Write to Persuade with Emotional Intelligence
Copywriting is not about being clever. It’s not about intellectual intelligence. It’s about emotional intelligence. It’s about shifting your mindset from being writer-centric (obsessed with your own organisation, needs, teams, gender) and shifting your focus to the reader. When we are writer-centric, when we “WE” all over the reader, the language and structure give us away. We use words like we, us and our, we use the word do and we talk about the features of our product or service.
When we shift our mindset to them, and make it all about them, everything changes—the language, the structure…and we start using the magical words you and your. What’s so great about those two little words is that they’re personal, and this is all about personalisation. It personalises your writing.
When you use you and your, it’s a magic device. It makes the reader feel as if you’re speaking to them and them alone. That makes them feel special and valued and they’ll want to do business with you. It opens them up and makes them more receptive to your message.
Typically, when we make that shift, we’ll use the word get and talk about the benefits to them.
There’s another piece of language that’s a giveaway about mindset, and I come across this a lot. Writers say they’re writing for their audience. Well, audience is not a helpful word because it suggests you’ve lumped all your readers into the same homogenous pot.
Every one of your readers is unique, individual and separate. True communicators talk about the reader. It’s about being reader-centric. Even if you’re writing for dozens, thousands or millions of people, you must understand that your words will be read by individual readers.
What can we do about this? The obvious answer is write for your reader. It’s no coincidence that in my book, rhetorica, technique number one is write for your reader. It’s simple, but not always easy.
If you’re writing a bid, tender, pitch or proposal, this comes up an awful lot. I see a lot of bids and tenders that “WE” all over the client. What that is symptomatic of is an inability, unwillingness or lack of opportunity to really understand the buying organisation and the individual buyers within it.
Poor bidders are bad at uncovering the pain points of individual buyers. Good bidders exercise the business equivalent of being reader-centric. That’s being client-centric and making every page in your bid response either about them or adding value to them.
So the answer to issue number one is write for your reader. Make it all about them, not about you.
You Too Can Write to Persuade
Ooh, how interesting was that? Scott has shared with us something that could potentially change the way we attract clients. Simple changes like not “WE”ing all over our readers could mean the difference between growth and stall or decline in our brands.
I’ll bet you want more! I sure do!
The next instalment in this three-part series, Powerful Written Communication with Scott Keyser, is going to talk about the need for planning before we write—and how doing so can save loads of time and effort.
So join us! You won’t want to miss this!
If you have enjoyed our Brand Builders TV episodes or the resulting series of articles (like this one), then you must pop over to the Brand Builders TV YouTube channel and subscribe. The wealth of knowledge there is inconceivable. The vast range of subjects is so exciting, and we’re so happy to have built this library for you!
If you would like to participate live in future Brand Builders TV episodes, then liking and following the Brand Builders TV Facebook page will keep you informed about what’s coming up.
Let’s stay connected, informed and get shit done! It’s the Brand Builders way.