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.


Personal Touch Punctuation

By Guest Blogger Jerry Fletcher, CEO, Z-Axis Marketing

Business communication, across the office, the country and the world needs a personal touch to punctuate and build the relationship.

Taylor Swift is undeniably one powerful young business woman. She literally took on Apple and faced them down. According to radio reports she told Apple that they would not be allowed to stream her latest release without paying her. Nor would they be able to introduce their new audio streaming service to consumers without paying the artists involved…all of them. Apple backed down.

It is difficult to argue with a CEO like Ms. Swift when she commands the avid attention of nearly 60 million followers on Twitter.

Personal Touch Punctuation is how she built that following. When she was starting out her manager told her if she wanted to sell a million records she’d have to build relationships with a million people.

Every radio DJ she met she sent a handwritten note. Every fan she meets with in person gets a note. No matter the reason, if she engages she sends a note. In addition she follows connections on Facebook in order to find the perfect gift for them.
Her commitment to the people who have made her a success is just one example of how important punctuating your business communications with personal touches can be.

Here are other examples:

Christmas in June: Saturday morning I got a call from Harry & David, the great food company in Southern Oregon. Jean, the young lady I spoke with, said, “I’m calling from Harry & David to say thank you for your business and to offer you a 10% discount on any item including the ones you seem to order as Christmas gifts.” I ordered all the items I regularly send to family, friends and clients in the holiday season. Yes, the discount was nice but the convenience of being able to take care of this task, unrushed, unhurried and by talking to a real person made it a no brainer for me.

Jean told me that somewhere between 30% and 50% of the people they were making the offer to said yes. That wouldn’t have happened without the phone call.

Back to the checkout: The latest data I’ve seen is that over 68% of customers buying on-line abandon the cart before they get to the checkout.

Two young entrepreneurs were monitoring their on-line store and decided to call some people they watched abandon their carts. They decided to make a telephone call to some of those customers to find out why. There were all kinds of reasons given but by expressing interest in the prospect and answering their questions without forcefully selling they managed to put between 13% and 32% of those customers back in the checkout lane.

A personal touch is the shortcut to Trust

As I watched, Millennials offer creative reasons, then unsubstantiated arguments and finally pleas not to have to answer telephone calls from prospects generated by a personal letter.

They would rather force prospects to respond via e-mail!

My speech The Short Cut to Trust (See part of it here) presents several ways to put the power of the personal touch to work for you in your business communications.

People will forgive terrible handwriting in a personal note. (You should see Taylor Swift’s!)

People will accept grammar errors (If they are not too egregious) in a conversation.

People will look at mail or e-mail or even skywriting if it is personalized.

The Takeaway:
Business communications, no matter how well researched, written and presented will get better results if punctuated with a Personal Touch.


Jerry Fletcher, our guest blogger today is a Contact Relationship Magician. He is CEO of his own marketing consulting firm now in its 25th year, a professional speaker with international credentials, author of three books as well as seven audio programs and 4 video programs.

Jerry advises companies that are changing the way business is being done around the corner and around the world. He has raised a half million dollars for a start–up client in just 17 days, added 1.2 million dollars to the first quarter income of a consulting firm with a single suggestion and ”stopped counting successful introductions of new products and services at 207.”

You will reach Jerry at 800-533-2893 Direct Toll Free; 503-694-5849 Office; or 503-957-7901 Mobile