Want to persuade your readers? Don’t forget the need

Sometimes we need to write persuasive documents, such as proposals or recommendation reports. The main goal of these types of documents is to persuade your readers to take some sort of action.

Too often, these types of documents only focus on features (what a product or service does) and benefits (the outcome of choosing a product or course of action). What’s missing? The need.

Image, Scrabble letters spelling 'yes'.

To persuade readers to buy your product or service, you have to show them a need for it. Image by Aktim / CC0

Explain the features and benefits…

If you want to persuade people to do something or make a significant change, you need to start by focusing on a problem you’re trying to solve for them.

For example, let’s say you want to convince your management team to buy a new photocopier/printer for the office. You might write about the great things a new photocopier/printer can do for you, such as copying 100 sheets a minute and using trays that hold 1,000 sheets of paper. These are features.

You might also talk about the benefits of these features, such as staff spending less time refilling trays since the new trays hold so much paper.

…but start with the need

Why do you need to spend money on a new copier/printer? When trying to assess the need, ask yourself: what is the problem and why is this a problem?

Going back to our copier/printer example, maybe your current machine jams regularly, so staff members waste too much time trying to remove paper jams, which keeps them from doing their actual work. And maybe your current copier/printer has trays that only hold 100 sheets of paper, so your staff also wastes time (and therefore money) with constant refills.

The best persuasive documents discuss needs, features, and benefits with clear details. It’s difficult to convince people to make a change if they don’t first see a problem.

This guest post is by Eclectic — a highly recognised training and consulting company that specialises in business communication and professional development. Like Write, Eclectic helps business professionals who want to communicate in a clear and understandable way. They provide creative and relevant online and offline courses custom-designed to meet the needs of any organisation or business.

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