“Headless Body in Topless Bar”-The Critical Importance of Persuasive Writing in Marketing Your Business

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Attention.

It’s a scarce (and valuable) commodity.

Especially for small businesses with limited budgets.

The tabloid newspapers fight for attention every single day in an ultra-competitive market.

The “Headless Body in Topless Bar” headline is one of the more lurid and attention grabbing newspaper headlines employed by a tabloid newspaper in New York, the “New York Post”.

As a small business owner you face the same challenge of getting the attention of your potential customer.

She’s busy. She has 1001 things going on and competing for her attention.

You throw away scarce resources if you don’t use the tried and tested principles of smart, persuasive writing in your marketing materials.

Are you buying ads in local newspapers, parish newsletters, magazines, national papers?

Or you may be utilizing social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn to get your message out.

Regardless of where or how you choose to spread your message, boring simply won’t cut it.

You won’t be heard and your efforts will be swallowed up in a sea of noise and competing distractions like Jonah being swallowed up by the whale.

To have any chance of growing your business, you simply must win the attention of your ideal customer.

Once you do you need to deliver value on behalf of your business.

But you do need to gain that attention first.

Letting the reader or internet surfer know what is in it for him/her is vital. And you must do it quickly-at a glance, in fact.

Because you have a very limited time within which to do it, especially on the internet.

The best way to get your reader’s attention is to offer her a benefit for reading.

Stimulating her interest and curiosity works too.

When you combine curiosity and a benefit for the reader you will be on a winner in terms of getting her attention.

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“Man’s Head Explodes in Barber’s Chair” or “Read My Latest Blog Post” or “New Content”

80% of people who land on your website will glance at the titles of your content. Only 20% will then go ahead and actually begin to read the full article or post.

And if you don’t maintain their interest too, the number of people who read all you have to say can be tiny.

The benefit of good titles is that what you have to say gets read.

Drab, uninteresting, boring titles will see your content being swamped and ignored in a sea of noise on the internet.

The internet can be a distracting cacophony of noise.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube are all competing for the attention of your reader or potential client.

Telling people on a social media site to “Read my latest blog” or “New Content” will not cut it.

Not unless you are a top celebrity.

Nobody cares. (Sorry, but that’s the reality).

Sources of Great Titles

If you are wondering where to get ideas or examples of great attention grabbing titles look no further than

  • Tabloid newspapers generally
  • The National Enquirer
  • Cosmopolitan
  • Men’s Health
  • Sunday World

The Purpose of your Title

The objective of your title is to do only one thing-to get the reader to read the first sentence.

The objective of your first sentence is to get the second sentence read.

And so on.

You won’t do this by being boring.

You really do need to gain and hold the attention of your reader, no matter what location of your message.

(If you need persuasive writing for your business, whether online or offline, or online marketing to grow your business, you may be interested in this).

What Aristotle Can Teach Small Business Owners About the Art of Persuasion

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Aristotle.

What could you, as a small business owner, learn from a dead Greek philosopher?

Lots actually.

Let me explain.

Firstly, it’s critical to know what copywriting is.

Copywriting is simply the writing of materials designed to persuade and sell. In short, it’s persuasive writing.

It could be on your website or blog; it could be for an advertisement you are going to place in your local newspaper; it could be for a radio ad you are going to run on your local radio station; it could be for a flyer or postcard you are going to hand out in local housing estates or industrial estates; it could be a “help wanted” notice for your business.

It’s self evident that the more effective and persuasive your words are, the more cost effective your advertising will be.

Aristotle’s Rhetoric-use logic and emotion

One of the earliest, and most successful, proponents of the art of persuasion was the Greek philosopher Aristotle.

Aristotle literally wrote the book on the art of persuasion-variously called “Rhetoric”, “the Art of Rhetoric”, or “Treatise on Rhetoric”. Rhetoricians regard Aristotle’s “Rhetoric” as the “most important single work on persuasion ever written.”

Much of what Aristotle had to say about persuasion is still evident and hard at work in good persuasive writing today-ethos (character, honesty, authority), logos (a plea or reason, logic, knowledge), and pathos (suffering, empathy, experience, an appeal to the emotions).

Powerfully persuasive writers understand that people buy on emotion and justify their purchase with logic.

Effective marketing material, blog posts, ads, flyers, brochures contain all of these elements, and more. This isn’t surprising because human motivations and dreams and desires haven’t changed all that much down through the centuries.

We all come into contact with copywriting every single day of our lives, whether we actually notice it or not.

And the best persuasive writing, also called “copy”, is not really noticeable.

He should have gone to Specsavers”, “Just Do It”, and “Probably the best beer in the world” are three instantly recognisable phrases that have entered into everyday speech in many parts of the world.

All of these phrases were lovingly crafted by superb copywriters who may have spent days and weeks just crafting the headline or punch line for advertising/promotional campaigns which cost millions.

But which have reaped vastly rich rewards for the companies involved.

So at its essence, writing copy is the skill and art of writing words that move people to believe what it is the copywriter has to say, and moving them to the point of taking action.

And the copywriter will be seeking to persuade the reader that their life will be more complete or they will make more money or gain more prestige or cure a particular problem or avoid a particular fear or be loved or gain recognition/status or secure inner peace or better health or obtain more free time…or whatever.

The vast majority of purchasers make their decision based on emotion, not logic, and then rationalize or justify their decision by logic.

So the initial appeal of the copywriter will be to one or more of the reader’s basic human emotions.

The Benefit of A Good Copywriter

A good copywriter will utilize all the principles of persuasion firstly identified by Aristotle, exploited by giants of advertising like Claude Hopkins, Eugene Schwartz, David Oglivy, and elaborated upon more recently by academic Dr. Robert Cialdini in his seminal work, “Influence-The Psychology of Persuasion”.

He will also use attention grabbing headlines which will have you saying: “hey, he is talking to me”.

He will use desires, emotions, benefits, features, calls to action, guarantees, urgency, scarcity and various other tools of the persuasive trade.

If you are a small business owner, or you intend starting a small business you are in danger of making a huge mistake if you do not use the benefits of persuasive writing in your marketing/advertising materials and/or on your website.

To get started, take a look at the “About” page on your website.

Does this page make the most common mistake you will encounter with “About” pages all over the internet-a page focused not on the reader but on the writer and her achievements?

Does your “About” page answer the readers’ question: “what’s in it for me?”

Does it persuade the reader that you can help him?

Does your home page convince the reader that that she has landed in the right place in their online search?

Does it let your reader know that you are an authority in your area of expertise?

Does it give him a reason to contact you to make an enquiry or request a quotation or place an order?

Take a leaf from Aristotle’s book and employ the powerful weapons of emotion and logic.

21 Surprising Reasons Why Every Small Business Should Have a Simple Blog or Website

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Don’t have a website or blog?

An easy to navigate, informative blog is all you need to establish you or your business as a trusted authority.

If you are a small business owner and you don’t have a business blog or website you should take the 5 minutes it takes to read this page.

Because it will be well worth your while.

You may be a doctor, a hairdresser, a beauty salon owner, a car dismantler, a tyre replacement business, involved in waste disposal, a carpenter or plumber, a florist, involved in ladies fashions, a barber, in construction or a tradesman, a dog groomer, vet, accountant, architect, butcher…it really doesn’t matter what business you are involved in.

Or maybe you don’t have an existing business but you are thinking about starting one up.

One of the things that might hold you back from having a website is that you may be thinking..

…“I am not technical minded”, “I don’t know anything about that whole interweb thing”, “I haven’t a clue about social networks”, “I am afraid of being ripped off”, “I don’t know where to start”, “I don’t know what I need”, “I don’t know what a search engine is”.

These fears are entirely understandable.

I was in your shoes too once and understand your concerns all too well. And they are entirely groundless.

Let me explain: you see, there are web designers who are “tech people” who are turned on by graphic design, coding, html, css, and so on.

Small business owners like you and me are only really concerned with what a website can do  in terms of growing your business.

The good news is that you don’t need to invest a huge amount of money for a fancy, technologically advanced site.

Fancy design is not necessary

What’s far more important is what’s actually on your site-is there helpful, informative information for your visitors?

A simple site or blog crammed with useful information for your visitors, and which is easy to navigate, is all you need.

Let me explain some benefits-21 in fact-of having a website or blog for your business, no matter how small it might be today.

  1. Lifetime value of one customer

Assume for one moment that your business is in a pretty small Irish town and you discover that there are very few people in your area searching for what your business has to offer.

For example “accountants Mullingar”, according to the Google keyword tool, is only searched 12 times per month in Ireland. You may assume that there is no point therefore having a website for your accountants business located in Mullingar or, if you already have one, ranking near the top of the search engine results page for that phrase.

But of course the lifetime value of one new client per month could be quite significant over the course of that client’s lifetime and the lifetime of your accountant’s practice.

  1. Being the top dog in your local market

When someone does search for “accountants Mullingar” do you want to be top dog or are you happy to let your competitor snap up that business. So even though the market may be relatively small in search engine terms it would be the height of folly to leave your competitor have the field to him/herself.

  1. Web address on your stationery

People who might consider doing business with you expect you to have a website-having a web address on all your correspondence, business cards, direct marketing materials, advertising, and so on will give your business a much more professional corporate image.

  1. Somewhere to refer your advertising traffic

Advertising is expensive and advertising in local newspapers or magazines is charged by the word and space; with a website you can run economical small ads and refer readers to your website where space is unlimited and you can tell your potential customers what you wish.

  1. Works around the clock for your business

A website will not need to be paid like an employee even though it works around the clock for you. You will never need to worry about holiday pay, sick pay, maternity pay, hangovers on a Monday morning, or any of the other problems that arise from time to time with humans.

  1. Demonstrating and explaining products

A website gives you a great opportunity to demonstrate and explain your products and/or services. You can do this by text, video, audio, PowerPoint, or whatever you choose.

  1. Contact details

All your contact details are always available.

  1. Video

You can utilize video to market yourself or your business, carry out demonstrations, educate, entertain..try doing that with the Westmeath Examiner.

  1. Images

A picture can be worth a thousand words.

And you can use unlimited amounts of images.

A hairdresser’s business can be greatly enhanced with plenty of photos showing examples of the various cuts and hair treatments you provide. And a picture can replace a thousand words..

  1. List building for newsletter

You can build a list of subscribers and let them know of special offers, build a relationship with them and always ensure that your business is in the forefront of their mind when they do decide to purchase.

  1. Automated Appointment booking

You could set up an automated appointment making system for people seeking suitable times for whatever treatment/consultation they require.

  1. Restricted area for employees

You can create a restricted area, a forum for example, for your employees on the ground to exchange ideas and information.

  1. Customer queries

You can encourage and answer customer/potential customer queries and questions.

  1. Frequently asked questions

A comprehensive frequently asked questions section on your website can be very helpful in assisting potential and existing customers..and saving valuable staff time in answering the most common ones by phone or email.

  1. Eliminate buyer’s remorse

Many buyers suffer from “buyer’s remorse”; if your new customer is having second thoughts about their purchase or your business a good, professional website to which they can refer can be reassuring.

  1. Tell people about you, your business, and your employees

Your site can let people know more about you, your expertise, your business, and your employees. And you are in complete control of this valuable information which will be available around the clock.

  1. Special offers only available online

Your website will allow you to make certain special offers available online only. This can be a great way to also generate new subscribers for your newsletter. (Your newsletter by the way can be delivered electronically or physically or both ways).

  1. Shopping cart

Setting up a shopping cart on a website is very easy nowadays with many secure payment options allowing you to grow your market and reduce the need to carry physical stock.

  1. Damaging reviews on first page of Google

You lessen the chances of a crappy review from a dissatisfied customer ranking no. 1 in the search results when your business is searched for.

Without a website there is a strong chance of this happening when the searcher looks for your business. With a website telling allowing you to put your best foot forward the chances of your site ranking above the poor review is much, much higher.

  1. Product brochure

Your website can also serve as a comprehensive product brochure for all your business’s products and services. This can easily be added to over time by your own secretarial and/or receptionist staff in less quieter periods.

  1. Professional appearance

No matter how small you business might be right now your potential new clients or leads will fully expect you to have a website. It gives reassurance to your customer/lead and demonstrates that they are dealing with a professional.

What sort of message do you give your leads when looking to generate new customers and you have not invested in a website for your business? Would this be a turn off for your potential customers? I fear so.

Having a Facebook page is fine. But everyone knows that anyone can set up a Facebook page for free. You need to consider whether this is going through your leads mind when you are speaking to them.

Don’t misunderstand me: having a website is not a silver bullet. It won’t solve all your problems and it will not give your business all the drive and impetus it needs. That is up to you..

But it is an essential for any business that wants to be taken seriously and be seen as a business on the move, a business that is professional and serious about it’s approach to serving it’s customers.