The concept of persuasive writing—and persuasive argument, for that matter—was not introduced to me until my senior year of high school during AP English. I remember it vividly. I was taught that writing should not just be a string of words, but rather a compilation of words that influence how someone acts, feels and thinks. It’s about taking an active stance and communicating effectively to your audience in a simple, albeit powerful way. It’s in essence marketing. And it’s not easy.
So you can imagine my shock when I learned this Sunday that my niece and nephew (only second graders!) are being instructed on how to write persuasively in school.
“What topic could they possibly have to write on persuasively?!” I asked my sisters.
“Oh you know… why they should be granted extended recess. They learn young these days,” my oldest sister replied.
To be honest, I can’t remember much about second grade, but I do remember recess—box ball anyone? And recess certainly didn’t include learning about persuasive writing. But are we wrong to expose children to the concept of persuasive writing at such a young age? Not at all.
Learning to produce copy that is impactful, truthful and passionate is imperative. Understanding how to make cohesive arguments and encourage others to consider something from a different angle is paramount in any profession. And figuring out how to challenge the status quo and suggest cutting-edge concepts are key to gaining the edge in both your personal and professional life. So it would seem as though my niece and nephew will be better off because of this seemingly too-difficult homework assignment. (And as their aunt—and marketing professional—perhaps now is the time to offer to help coach the little darlings through their first essay? To my sisters: consider this an official offer!)
Let’s take a look at three concepts second graders are learning about persuasive writing that will behoove you in your role as a leading marketer:
- Back it Up: The art behind conversions, closings and retention is your company’s ability to demonstrate value in what it is pitching. From explaining the cost savings of your product offering to proving why the industry is fundamentally changing, marketers must be sure to make their copy rich with statistics, use cases and quantitative and qualitative results. Arguments that are left unsubstantiated will barely make a ripple in the marketing sea but those that are thoroughly conceptualized and evaluated will have lasting impact.
- Get Creative: There is no doubt that a piece from a second grader titled “Why Our Class Should Have Extended Recess” would be riddled with creativity, imagination and color. Your marketing copy should be similar. Your copy must be engaging and vivid. Remember that it should sell concepts and ideas, instead of solutions and products. Put yourself in the mindset of your readers and ask yourself what would resonate with them before putting pen to paper.
- Keep it Simple: Just as your seven-year-old’s persuasive essay will be free of excessive wording and esoteric language, your marketing copy needs to be simple. Sure this will cause your AP English teacher to cringe, but you are in the business of generating sales—not getting a 5 on your AP exam. Therefore, opt for pithy, concise copy over run on sentences and passive sentence construction. Don’t let your advanced vocabulary cloud your messaging.
Alright sisters, I am ready… let’s say “hello” to the world’s next chief marketers and business executives!