We often need to write a document that sells an idea, product or service – perhaps a brochure, funding submission or proposal to work in a new way. Keep these 3 Ps in mind.
Be sure you know what you expect your document to do.
In most businesses it is highly unusual for someone to say “I’ve read your brochure, here’s my credit card.”
In most cases your document is a part of the sales or influence process. The best it can usually do is to move someone to the next step – perhaps to make an enquiry or to get further information.
The content of your document should be designed just to move them that step. Usually it should not be filled with lots of detail – leave that for later.
A clear purpose is the starting point of clear communication.
Make your reader a promise. A promise that captures their imagination or that scratches where they itch.
For example: buy my widget and I promise to triple your income; or halve your operating costs; or drop 3 dress sizes. Your reader must be clear about what your product or service or idea can do for them, and it must do something that they are interested in, and that they value.
There are many ways of making a promise; you don’t have to say the words ‘I promise’, but you can. You could say “9 out of 10 business grow when they xyz”, by implication yours will too. Or use a bold statement like “The 3 Ps of effective brochures” – a promise that if you put my ideas to work your brochures will generate more sales.
Choosing the right way to phrase your promise depends on a good knowledge of your audience.
Anybody can make a promise, but readers are interested in knowing that you can deliver on what you say. We’ve all been let down and disappointed by broken promises.
So spend some time in your document proving you can deliver on your promises. You could:
- explain your product and how it works
- quote from scientific studies
- talk about your experience and expertise
- provide testimonials from satisfied customers
- compare your idea with alternatives
But don’t overdo proof. Provide just enough to show you are credible.
When writing documents intended to influence people’s thinking or behaviour, remember and use the three Ps.
And one R – respect.
Never bully your audience or treat them as fools. Write in language they can understand, address issues that concern them and view your communication from their perspective.