How to use persuasive techniques when wording sentences for your marketing campaigns.
I want you to give me a kiss.
Could you do that for me? Please?
Ok, that was unusual. I’m not particularly used to asking my readers for a kiss.
However, the above was an example of persuasive writing. Persuasive writing that moves you to act, provided you’re willing to answer the ask. It utilises what is known as the active voice.
Simply put, any sentence that places the noun before the verb is an active sentence. Nanny Emma is looking after the kids today, right, honey?
Its close cousin, passive voice, is useful in cases when you need to avoid guilt (if you’re the UK’s next prime minister that fails to deliver Brexit) — you could say mistakes were made instead of I made a mistake. Generally, however, you’re better off using the active voice if you want to convince your readers.
Amongst the most formidable examples of active voice in marketing is Nike’s slogan.
Just do it.
Imagine if it was written in the passive voice.
Just see how it gets done.
Doesn’t catch your ear as much, does it?
Why should you use the active voice
The active voice has mainly two benefits:
- It is much more direct.
- The sentences are generally shorter.
And after all, didn’t your elementary teacher always teach you to use the active voice instead of the passive voice?
Apply this general rule the next time you’re writing sales copy or a date invite to your sweetheart if you’d like:
Locate where the doer is in the sentence. If he is before the verb, the sentence is written in the active voice. If he is after the verb, the sentence is written in the passive voice.
Supercharge your persuasiveness with imperative sentences
While there are four types of sentences, we as marketers should focus only on one specific from the bunch — the imperative. This is where the verb comes first in the sentence.
Join the club.
Enter your email.
Go on a date with me.
Buy our product.
Those are all active sentences.
This type of writing forces action. It moves your customers to act. Customers are more likely to empty their pockets and grab you by the shirt to give their money to you when faced with such writing.
Peep how the sentence below can be improved vastly by changing it to an imperative sentence:
For our latest news on tech and startups, make sure you sign up for our email newsletter.
Here it is rewritten in the imperative form:
Join our newsletter for the latest news in tech & startups.
Notice anything? The imperative form encourages the reader to take action, to make a move, to do something that you asked him to do. The first sentence, on the other hand, reads as if we are just sharing a piece of unimportant information with the reader.
Good luck with writing words that get you a soft kiss from the pretty girl you asked out yesterday, folks.
But I must say… Crafting imperative sentences that catch email sign-ups like fishing nets catch salmon on the mating season can seem daunting. You can always get in touch so we can look over your copy together. Fly me a paper plane.