Haniz and several other employees are working on sales messages for auto loans. In recent months, Better Horizon’s senior management decided the credit union should become a “player” in the auto loans market. Few Better Horizons members take advantage of car loans, most assuming that dealer financing is cheaper and easier to get.
How will Christine and Haniz write a message to board members that warms them up to ideas about new online services and marketing geared toward gaining younger members? (See the section on internal persuasive messages.)
How will Haniz persuade credit union members to join the Hope Walkathon? (See the section on external persuasive messages.)
How will Haniz develop a general-purpose flyer that shows the broad benefits of choosing Better Horizons Credit Union over banks? (See the “Constructing External Persuasive Messages” section.)
How will Haniz develop sales messages for an auto loan campaign? (See the “Composing Mass Sales Messages” section.)
LO9.1. Describe the relationship between credibility and persuasion.
While credibility is critical to all business communications, its importance is heightened for persuasive messages. By definition, persuasion implies that you are communicating with someone who does not think or feel the same way as you do. So, your goal is to help your audience members identify with and find merit in your positions. If they question your credibility, they are unlikely to carefully consider your ideas, requests, or recommendations.
Persuasion is becoming more difficult as we live in a time of increasing mistrust. In Chapter 1, we discussed the declining levels of trust for nearly all professional groups, particularly business-related occupations. Michael Maslansky, one of the leading corporate communications experts, has labeled this the post-trust era (PTE):
Just a few years ago, salespeople, corporate leaders, marketing departments, and communicators like me had it pretty easy. We looked at communication as a relatively linear process. … But trust disappeared, things changed. … In a word, trust is out, skepticism is in.1
Over the past decade, Michael Maslansky and his colleagues have examined how language is used to persuade and motivate others. By interviewing hundreds of thousands of employees and customers in some 30 countries, they have found that the language of trust is more important than ever. Furthermore, they have noticed emerging trends in how language impacts trust. Strategies for persuasion that once worked are less effective in the PTE. Other strategies continue to work well. In this chapter, we sort through some of these basic principles of persuasive writing and identify those strategies that are most effective in the PTE.
LO9.2. Explain the AIM planning process for persuasive messages and the basic components of most persuasive messages.
Persuasion involves extensive planning: analyzing your audience to understand their needs, values, and how they are influenced; developing your ideas as you wrestle with the complicated business issues at hand; and creating a message structure that most effectively reduces resistance and gains buy-in. Many effective business communicators spend weeks and months learning about their target audiences, gathering information, and piecing together persuasive messages.