3 Secrets to More Persuasive Advertising

Ever wonder how your ads really come across to users? Maybe you’re worried your messages are unclear. Or that you’re losing potential customers because of your word choice.

Well, get ready for a shock. You already have the ability to improve how you speak with customers. Before you scoff and wonder off, listen to this.

All that’s left is to unlock this hidden potential through persuasive language. So get ready to find the key.

Persuasive What?

Persuasive language uses conversation to convince someone to do or believe in something. Obviously, this is pretty powerful stuff.

Now you may be thinking, “Why does it matter?” Think of it this way. Language is an artistic expression of thoughts. So why give someone a finger painting when you could produce a Monet? Persuasion adds depth and creativity to your argument, instead of just bare bones information.

Diving deep into your argument gives your argument more credibility. Well-constructed arguments encourage people to believe you, which is exactly what you want.

But how can you use it in advertising? It’s pretty simple. In marketing, you’re trying to show people how good your products are. You provide them information to help make their decision. Persuasive strategies help by giving your messages more power and clarity.

1. Know Your Audience

Knowing all about your audience is marketing 101. But do you know how to take the info you have and apply it to your persuasion strategy?

Barbara Johnstone of the Linguistic Department at Carnegie Mellon University says there are a few ways to persuade someone. Base which option you choose on who you’re trying to convince.

Before we get started with language tactics, it’s important to know your target customer. This allows you to know what they like to customize your argument.

Audience characteristics include general descriptions like age, gender, and cultural descriptors. But it gets much more detailed, too. It’s easy to think that everyone processes information the same way. But they don’t.

According to Johnstone, everyone’s persuasive style differs. Your persuasive style is the default persuasion strategy you use, regardless of situation. For Westerners (like us Americans), this is the “quasilogical” style.

Remember that culture is only one factor in choosing the best persuasion strategy. You should still consider general descriptions and personal information you already know about them.

Quasilogical Persuasion

Quasilogical means that one uses logic to convey their message by offering proof. That presenting true ideas and facts is best because they’re undeniable. So when you use reasoning to win an argument, you’re actually persuading quasilogically.

Keep in mind that results vary depending on the cultural origin of your target. Eastern countries tend to use the “presentation” and “analogy” persuasive strategies.

Presentation- and Analogy-Based Persuasion

Presentation style is when people are persuasive through their word choice. This style makes information available to others through phrases and rhythm. The information moves people with words like “here,” “now,” “behold,” and “look.”

It draws connections between stories and information. The information has repeated patterns and phrases to compel others into belief.

Analogy-based persuasion makes connections between the past and present through a storytelling style. This places significance on common cultural reference points. This includes relevant phrases like “you know what they say.” The main point here is to use history and tradition as precedent.

Applying Persuasion Styles

We may have a quasilogical default, but we can use other strategies, too. It’s crucial to identify cultural characteristics, and then tailor your strategy to the situation.

Maybe you think playing up common culture would benefit an American ad. Go ahead! Don’t be afraid to use an analogical style, even if it’s not the default.

Now that you know the styles you can choose from, you need to apply them to your audience. Learning cultural backgrounds can help you communicate with your customer. Incorporating other personal identifiers, like age and personality, will help even more. The more you know about your customer, the more you can appeal to what they like.

Everyone knows it’s easier to talk to someone who speaks your language. In the same way, it’s easier to persuade someone who interprets information similarly.

So if your audience likes narratives, it’s best to craft a story to connect with them. Similarly, if you know your clients like statistics and facts, you should include those.

Researching your audience is the best way to figure out their communication style. Run tests to see how your audience responds. Once you know what they like, know which strategies to use in the future.

Speaking in their own style allows you to build trust. They’ll feel like you understand them. If they feel their problems are your problems, then you’re using persuasive language correctly.

2. Use Big Ticket Words

Now that you know the basic strategies, you can add powerful words into the mix. Copyblogger lays out a few “big ticket” words for stronger and clearer messages.

These include the words “you,” “free,” and “instantly.” They’re scientifically proven to appeal to your audience. For example, the word “you” increases brain activity. Why? People love seeing their own names!


While “you” isn’t exactly a person’s name, it’s close. As close as you can get without personalization. If you can add people’s names to emails or landing pages, you should.

According to HubSpot, people respond positively to their name in an email’s subject line. It forms a sense of familiarity between you and the customer. That builds trust to promote new ideas or strengthen current leads.


Another word to add to your persuasion lexicon is “free.” Everyone loves free things.

Dan Ariely conducted an experiment to see how strong the pull is for free stuff. To do this, he offered people Hershey kisses for $ 0.01 and Lindt Truffles for $ 0.15. When there was no free option, only 27% of participants chose the $ 0.01 Hershey’s Kiss over the $ 0.15 Lindt truffle. But what happens when the Hershey’s Kiss is free?

A whopping 69% of participants chose the free option over the more luxurious truffle. This word packs such a punch that people even change their taste for it.

You need to tread carefully when using it, though. Some bargain hunters will also try your free products, but may not buy at a higher cost.

The power of “free” should only be used when it makes sense. For example, offer free ebooks or webinars to draw people’s attention to your services.


The last big ticket word is “instantly.” There’s some interesting science behind the effects of this word. MRI studies show an increase in brain function when people think of instant gratification.

Your customers may expect instantaneous results. Offering customers quick, downloadable content will keep them happy and wanting more.

Now that you know the power of these words, you’ll want to use them everywhere. I know it’s hard, but try not to.The key is to use them when they’re relevant and helpful.

3. Add Extra Elements

So you know your customers and you know top notch words. Now what?

Changingminds.org created a list of 23 techniques to get your ideas across. Most notably, these include adding “hidden commands” and placing impact at the end of sentences.

Hidden commands subtly suggest things the customer doesn’t feel bossed around. The trick is to place commands in simple contexts. This includes:

  • Saying “please” to appeal to someone’s politeness.
  • Casting doubt. This would be insinuating that someone doesn’t know how to do the thing you want them to do. Doubting them makes them want to prove themselves to you.
  • Assuming they’ll do the action regardless. An example of this is saying, “after driving this car, you’ll need to find more places to go”.

Final impact can really help your persuasion staying power, too. Psychology’s “recency effect” says people remember the last few items of a list best.

Placing impact at the end of a sentence forces people to remember the idea. So if you’re trying to craft the perfect headline, put the important stuff at the end.

If you look at this post’s title, you see that the words “persuasive advertising” are at the end. This is no accident. Placing the words there makes you more likely to remember them and the article. Using final impact in headlines or excerpts will give your content weight.


When thinking about persuasion, it’s most important to go back and consider your audience. After all, these people are the customers you’re trying to educate and convince.

Knowing them inside and out will allow you to use appropriate words and techniques. Without knowing how they prefer to be persuaded, your persuasion may persuade them away.

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