The Art of Influence

Anyone who writes for business, sooner or later needs to do exactly what I do for a living. I get paid to write copy to convince, persuade and induce people to take action.

You will need to get that interview, get your idea looked at by management, push the boss to close your deal or otherwise influence an outcome through the force of your words on paper.

Here are some things that will help you do that:

  1. Make it visually easy to read what you have to say (based on David Ogilvy’s comments on readability)
    • Use headlines for advertising (including web sites)


  • Provide a subhead to move your reader into the copy, the text of your message
  • Put space between your paragraphs to make it easier to read.
  • Use bold leads (mini-headlines) to move the eye down the page and to tell the story for the skim reader
  • Get your point across about a group of unrelated items by using numbers or bullets.
  • Keep your sentences short to make them easy to understand.


Here, courtesy of a Virginia newspaper via Denny Hatch is an easy way to understand this suggestion:

“Tests have shown that a sentence of eight words is very easy to read; of 14 words, fairly easy; of 17 words, standard; of 21 words, fairly difficult; of 25 words, difficult; of 29 or more words, very difficult; so this sentence with 54 words, counting numbers, is ranked impossible.”


  1. Body copy in Print should be a Serif type style and Digital should appear in Sans Serif.
  1. Numbers have connotations with regard to price and value.

The more numbers you show the more data the brain has to process which translates to the more numbers, the higher the price. Take this test: Which of these has the highest price and which has the greatest value:

Two days only $19.00 You save $20

Two days only $19 You save $20.00

The price is the same but notice how the second looks like a better deal.

  1. Only two things matter: getting read and getting response.

When you have to influence, motivate, and convert people through your writing use visual cues in your presentation. Avoid confusion by using simple language, short sentences, and presenting numbers that match up with what you want folks to believe about them.

The Takeaway:

Business communications, to convince and persuade need to pay attention to the visual appearance of the message as well the words you use.


Here’s the shameless self-promotion:

Jerry Fletcher’s blog recaps conversations with clients, prospects and the unruly mob of business development professionals he consorts with. They discuss marketing that works from solopreneur to enterprise level. Jerry Fletcher is the ringleader and “Watson” of the dialogue. Look at the blog at:  

Jerry has been researching and implementing small business marketing that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy for 25 years as President of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. Learn more at

Schedule a personal appearance. Jerry speaks internationally on Networking, Marketing and Contact Relationship Magic.