3 persuasive writing techniques to help you win proposals
Look into my eyes… when I count to three, you will be under my spell. In three, two, one…
We all wish it were that easy to convert a client, right? While persuasion isn’t as simple as swinging pendulums and swirling vortexes, you’d be happy to know that, with a little practise, it can be learnt. And importantly, you can start applying persuasive writing techniques to your proposals today in order to win more business. Here’s how.
More than 2000 years ago, Aristotle wrote his paradigm-shifting treatise, Rhetoric. Today, his theories on the three “modes of persuasion” (or the rhetorical triangle) still have a lot to teach us. Used in combination, you could practically sell ice to a polar bear. Because what is sales if not very effective persuasion?
1. Ethos: You’re the expert.
The first mode of persuasion, ethos, is all about you. What makes you – or your company – credible and of good character? In other words, why should we trust you?
Persuasive writing techniques that help you build ethos include:
- Know your stuff: Before you even start writing, make sure to research the topic thoroughly. Careless mistakes do not an industry leader make.
- From experience: Do you have impressive credentials? Introduce your qualifications near the beginning of your proposal.
- Tone it down: While they work for some brands, especially on social media, exclamation points and emojis can come off immature.
- Final check: Your spelling and grammar MUST be perfect.
2. Pathos: It’s a gut feeling.
Convinced the reader of your credibility? It’s time to get in touch with your emotional side. Pathos is persuasion based on feelings, and it’s very powerful when used well.
Persuasive writing techniques that help you build pathos include:
- Power words: Use loaded language that appeals to wants and needs, such as urgency (“instant”, “immediate”), curiosity (“unique”, “special”) or safety (“guaranteed”, “secure”). Positive adjectives are your best friend.
- Happiness sells: Testimonials are one of the best tools to get clients over the line. Include quotes in your proposal that point to success, comfort, excitement and gratitude.
- Less is more: Readers can soon tire of emotional appeals. Make sure to balance pathos with logos… more on that below!
3. Logos: Science of deduction.
Logic-based appeals should form the foundation of your proposal – after all, your reader has to rationalise parting with their money!
Persuasive writing techniques that help you build logos include:
- By numbers: Remember how your reader has to part with their money? Convince them they’ll get it back – and more. Populate your proposal with statistics and case studies of your past successes.
- Crystal clear: Also take care not to confuse your reader with figures and jargon.
- That’s a fallacy: Don’t weaken your argument with sophistries. If your argument can be picked apart easily, it’s time to aim from another angle.
- With the flow: Structure your proposal in a way that makes sense. If in doubt, follow the inverted pyramid model – order your information from most to least important.
BONUS: Kairos… time is running out!
Kairos (timeliness) is also helpful technique for pushing conversions, particularly in this time-pressured world. Use phrases like “join now” and “don’t miss out” to make the reader feel like they must not miss this opportunity.
Make persuasive proposals – easily.
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