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Persuasion Is Not Just a Jane Austen Novel
Posted on March 19th 2014
“People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” –Blaise Pascal
per·suade [per-swayed] v: to prevail on (a person) to do something, as by advising or urging.
Don't kid yourself, dear reader. We've all engaged in a bit of persuasion at one time or another. If you've ever convinced a friend to come out for drinks or a spouse to do the dishes, then you've engaged in the act of persuasion — and according to the social psychologists out there, persuasion is perfectly normal.
One of the most engaging aspects of social psych research lies within understanding how and why persuasion works on us. Social psychologists strive to understand how human beings change, our motivations for trying new things, and what leads us to say yes in certain situations. They also want to know: Why did we agree to that?
The simple answer is heuristics. Our brains like to take mental shortcuts, which save our internal skull padding a whole lot time and energy when we're faced with decision making scenarios. These shortcuts are known as heuristics and we use them because we are mostly creatures of emotion, which means we rationalize decisions AFTER we make them, not before. Therefore, we need help internally post-rationalizing what we've done.
This internal post-rationalization is ultimately what allows us to be persuaded.
Human Behavior & Marketing
"A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reaons for what they do." –Robert B. Cialdini
One of the most persuasive words you can use in your marketing campaign is BECAUSE.* It's the precursor to a reason, and our logic-craving brains love a good reason. It helps us rationalize the choices we make — it feeds our heuristics and saves our brains from working too hard. Even a weak reason spurs us to agreement, simply because it's more persuasive than no reason at all.
Persuasive writing requires a decent understanding of human behavior. As a content marketer, using this knowledge allows you to confidently predict and influence your audience, ultimately turning buyers into brand supports and life-time consumers.**
With Great Power...
“Words used carelessly, as if they did not matter in any serious way, often allowed otherwise well-guarded truths to seep through.” –Douglas Adams
Words are power. Knowledge is power. Combining the two results in phenomenal cosmic power (itty bitty living space), which you should use responsibly. In the realm of marketing and persuasion, and knowing what you now know about how our brains work when faced with decisions, you must choose your words wisely.
Understanding the persuasive nature of your words and using them in the proper context for both your audience and your business will make your final content a thing of persuasive beauty. You'll appeal to our heuristics, which in turn will make it easier for us to decide on your business. Fair warning, however; if you just start throwing persuasive words into your copy without first putting thought into why they're important to your message, then your persuasive content loses its meaning and becomes a string of simple words on a boring page.
What are your favorite persuasive words, Dear Reader? What are your favorite ways to use them?