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Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

Persuasive Copywriting Techniques 1: the One Question You MUST Answer

Topping our list of tactics to use when writing persuasively

Persuasive Copywriting Techniques 1:
Show how your work benefits or helps your reader.

The one question that’s foremost in his mind - and one you must answer in your content - is “What’s In It For Me?”

The ONE question you must answer for your readers: WIIFM? with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter

Be prepared to face this hard truth: your reader isn’t interested in your work.  He’s interested only in what it can do for him. 

“What’s In It For Me?” The answer to that question is a bit trickier in nonprofit pieces than in straight up commercial copywriting. Commercial pieces sell products and services a reader needs or wants. Nonprofit pieces, on the other hand, spark his passions or interests, but do it in a way that shows him how to feel good, become a partner, relieve suffering, help those less fortunate than him, or serve a group of people with whom he identifies or has empathy.

You’ll get and keep your reader’s attention if you focus on those kinds of benefits your nonprofit offers.

Know the Difference

To answer the What’s in It For Me question, first make sure you understand the difference between your work's features and its benefits.

A feature is a fact, quality, attribute or characteristic of your product or service. Benefits go a step further. They show the advantages or results a feature gives your reader. How does your cause improve or change things for him (or by proxy, those you serve)?

How to Emphasize Benefits

Once you make a list of your cause’s features and each one’s corresponding benefit, emphasize the benefits in your written pieces. Here are some ways to show your reader what’s in it for him.

1. Show how your services help
Spell out detailed specifics for your reader.

Feature: Close Up Camp is a weeklong experience for blind adolescents.

Try this instead: Blind teenagers can see life in a whole new way! You can help them develop independence, learn life skills, and experience nature – many for the first time – when you support Close Up Camp.

2. Show advantages
Compare how your cause stacks up to the competition – and why yours is different and better.

Feature: Central Learning Center’s after-school tutoring program meets daily, rather than just twice a week.

Try this instead: Our after-school tutoring program for children (ages 6-12) puts your mind at ease. You know that your kids are in a safe, loving environment every day after school. Children not only get their homework done – they do it along with an adult friend who cares and helps get results.

Your child’s tutor becomes an important member of your family team.

3. Show results
What outcome can the reader expect? Why will life be better because of your cause?

Feature: Red Tracks Running Academy has a staff of world-class runners.

Try this instead: At Red Tracks Running Academy, at-risk but talented athletes get daily personal coaching sessions with an experienced runner to help identify their strong points and weaknesses … they learn stretches and strategies from champions to make them more flexible and build strength …and they’ll be challenged by our world-class staff to reach and exceed their potential this season. The staff knows what it takes to succeed, and they’ll share their secrets with your at-risk athlete.

Persuasive Copywriting Techniques 1: Final Tip

One final tip: answer the What’s In It For Me question at the top of the fold, before your reader tosses your postcard, clicks off your site, or rips up your letter. It’s the one thing he wants to know in order to keep reading … and be hooked.

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