Four Words To Make Your Business Communication More Persuasive

If you are interested in creating persuasive marketing material and convincing business presentations, check out these words from a poem written more than 100 years ago.

“I keep six honest serving-men

(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What and Why and When

And How and Where and Who.”

Recent academic research has shown that Rudyard Kipling, who wrote the poem, is more than just a master of pretty words. It demonstrates that the formula for effective business communication is almost exactly the same.

After studying the learning style of different people for more than 25 years, educationalist Bernice McCarthy developed the 4MAT® teaching system to reflect the four different types of learning style that she identified.

The system works just as well for communication and marketing.

In brief, it splits people into four types:

o ‘Why’ people – need reasons and relevance before they will listen

o ‘What’ people – information junkies; want to know all the facts

o ‘How’ people – pragmatic and practical; they seek usability

o ‘What If’ people – visionary, interested in the future possibilities

Most of us have elements of all four types but usually one of the four ‘buttons’ is particularly ‘hot’.

For example, you can provide a ‘why’ person with all of the facts you like but they will not even listen unless you satisfy their ‘why’ first.

If you are giving a presentation or writing a marketing leaflet, the only safe assumption is that your audience will contain people of all four types.

And that’s where most marketing messages fail – they don’t pay enough attention to all four buttons.

Most often communication misses out the crucial first button – giving people a good reason ‘why’ they should pay attention. If you don’t hit that one, many in your audience won’t even listen to what you have to say.

Typically people rush straight in to the facts, the features – the ‘what’ part. While this is important, it is not enough on its own.

And, often, messages are stuffed full of information but don’t make clear how it can be put to practical use.

So, whether you are writing a 200 word letter or a 60 minute presentation, try taking a piece of paper, splitting it into four quadrants and answering these four questions.

o Why should my audience be interested in this message?

o What information and facts do they need to make a decision about what I am saying?

o How will they use this information – what do they need to do next?

o What will happen in the future if they do or don’t take my advice?

Then use that information to write your letter or brochure or deliver your presentation.

The time needed for each segment will vary depending on your purpose but remember to give adequate time to all four – and cover them in the above order.

Cover ‘why’ as early as possible and make it powerful. Then give them the information they need but make sure you explain ‘how’ they can make it work. And finally, give a vivid picture of what will happen if they do (or don’t) follow your advice.

And, while you use this scientifically-proven system for persuasion, don’t forget Mr Kipling’s other honest serving men – you need to think about ‘who’ your audience is and tailor the message to them; and you need to consider ‘when’ and ‘where’ to deliver it to get maximum impact.

If you choose not to hit the four hot buttons, your message will miss a large chunk of your potential audience and you will lose out on many possible customers.

Or you can choose to use it as the basis for crafting your marketing messages and see how much easier it becomes to create powerful marketing material and to deliver persuasive presentations.