Do You Want to Persuade Your Readers? Remember The Need

Sometimes we need to write persuasive documents, such as proposals or recommendation reports. The main goal of these types of documents is to persuade your readers to take some sort of action.

Features and Benefits

Too often, these types of documents only focus on features (what a product or service does) and benefits (the outcome of choosing a product or course of action). What’s missing? The need.

If you want to persuade people to do something or make a significant change, you need to start by focusing on a problem you are trying to solve for them.

For example, let’s say you want to convince your management team to buy a new photocopier/printer for the office. You might write about the great things a new photocopier/printer can do for you, such as copying 100 sheets a minute and using trays that hold 1000 sheets of paper. These are features.

You might also talk about the benefits of these features, such as staff spending less time refilling trays since the new trays hold so much paper. 

The Need

But don’t forget to start with the need. Why do you need to spend money on a new photocopier/printer? When trying to assess the need, ask yourself: what is the problem and why is this a problem?

Going back to our photocopier/printer example, maybe your current machine jams regularly, so staff members waste too much time trying to remove paper jams, which keeps them from doing their actual work. And maybe your current photocopier/printer has trays that only hold 100 sheets of paper, so your staff also wastes time (and therefore money) with constant refills.

The best persuasive documents discuss needs, features and benefits with clear details. It’s difficult to convince people to make a change if they don’t first see a problem.