In the more-effective message (see Figure 9.3), Christine personalizes the letter, addressing each board member individually, and begins with a tangible business problem. Then, she tactfully discusses her ideas and concludes with calls to action. The message contains conviction and vision without sounding too pushy. It uses a variety of implicit approaches to persuade board members that online services and social networking do not undermine personalized service. This message will open avenues for more constructive conversations when Christine meets with the board members in person.
In the more-effective message, Christine chooses to send the message in two forms. She sends it as a letter first (depicted in Figure 9.3) and as a follow-up email a few days later. In letter format, the message feels more personalized and shows the importance of the message. Likewise, it allows Christine to provide a printed-out enclosure as a courtesy.
LO9.5. Compose influential external persuasive messages.
Haniz writes two external persuasive messages. The first is a flyer for community members who are participating in free financial planning and tax assistance workshops sponsored and led by Better Horizons. The second is an email encouraging Better Horizons members to join the Hope Walkathon. The first message uses more logical appeals. It deals with reasons Better Horizons is a better option than local banks. The second message uses more emotional appeals. It focuses on pride in team and community, a sense of contribution to an important cause, and an exciting and hope-filled activity. It contains many facts but relies most heavily on garnering feelings of dedication and enthusiasm.
Notice the differences between the less-effective and more-effective examples in Figures 9.4 and 9.5. In the less-effective message (Figure 9.4), most components of persuasive messages are present except for a show of appreciation and a call to action. However, it employs we-voice when the potential customer should be the entire focus of the message, and it does not provide tangible benefits.
By contrast, in the more-effective flyer (Figure 9.5), Haniz wrote a message that employs you-voice and describes tangible benefits to focus the entire message on the customer. The formatting makes each benefit stand out. The tangible statements help the customer quickly identify with the worth of the benefits; for example, saving $680 on a car loan (more-effective message) is a far clearer benefit than paying 1.5 to 1.75 percentage points less (as in the less-effective message).
The more-effective example also provides an influential appreciation statement (the less-effective example provides no appreciation statement) that anticipates the thoughts of skeptical consumers. In italics, it asks, With all these benefits, why wouldn’t everyone choose credit unions? This validates the thinking of customers who might otherwise dismiss all these benefits as too good to be true. The paragraph explains why some people prefer banks and encourages customers to make direct comparisons themselves. Finally, the message concludes with a call to action—a cash reward to new members who join before September 1. Most effective sales messages provide incentives to motivate purchase of products or services.
Now notice the differences between the less-effective and more-effective external persuasive messages in Figures 9.6 and 9.7, both of which use emotional appeals to rally people to sign up for the Hope Walkathon. In the less-effective example (Figure 9.6), Haniz includes several statements that readers could perceive as guilt trips. It uses a series of extremely negative terms within the first few sentences (i.e., deadliest, cancer deaths) without providing hopeful words, an approach that could lead readers to think participating in the walkathon would make little difference. Furthermore, the message is not personalized. Rather than focusing on the local and credit union communities, it exclusively examines the problem in a national context.
In the more-effective example (Figure 9.7), the message is far more personalized, upbeat, positive, and pressure-free. Instead of citing national statistics, it provides statistics about the local community and the credit union. It places more emphasis on Betty Williams, who is tied to the community and credit union. It describes the fun and excitement the reader will feel being part of a team. It does not avoid some of the negative terms (i.e., deadliest, diagnosed) associated with breast cancer; however, it uses far more positive and constructive words and phrases (i.e., hope, prevention, treatment, survival, you can make a difference, 95 percent) to create an overall hopeful and inspiring message. While both messages contain a call to action, the call to action in the more-effective example includes a direct link to sign up online. The more-effective example provides other links as well so readers can learn more about the walkathon and the Betty Williams Breast Center.
Advances in technology offer businesspeople many innovative options for delivering persuasive messages. The Technology Tips box on page 259 focuses on the use of video messages for internal messages, but video can also be a powerful tool for delivering external messages, persuasive and otherwise.