Saturday, January 1, 2011

Persuasive Writing

The biggest challenge for artists can be the need for effective persuasive copywriting. Persuasive copywriting has the writer taking a position “for” or “against” something; the writer wants to convince the reader to believe or do something. Persuasive text is what you want in your sales and marketing materials and when writing letters to solicit gallery representation, an exhibition, a sponsor, a grant etc. Here are some guidelines to help you develop effective persuasive text.

Persuasive writing usually follows a particular format— introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction is designed to demand the reader's attention. You can do that by beginning your copy with:

  • Something striking or unusual: “Perhaps never before have cow placentas been used as an artistic medium.” (As was the case in a Vancouver “Artropolis” exhibition.)
  • A provocative statement: “Most modern art is soulless.”
  • A quotation: A line from an art critic or a curator, properly credited, is a very effective opening.
  • A statistic or impressive fact: “This year I had more exhibitions and sold more work that in any other year of my career.”
  • An anecdote that is brief, relevant and interesting (or amusing) can be a good “soft” opening: “Goldie Hawn, known for her excellent taste, recently bought some of my work.”
  • A question: “Do you know why so many people bought the art of [your name] last year?”
  • Hyperbole (be careful here): “Critics are calling [your name] someone to watch!”

Besides the opening “grab,” your introduction will make your thesis clear for the reader. Your opening paragraph should tell the reader exactly what your purpose is and how you are going to prove it; it is an extremely short forecasting of the rest of your text.

“Perhaps no other artist has so engaged Vancouver gallery-goers as [your name]. (Engaging opening statement). A review of [your] exhibition reviews, publications and a look at who is buying [his/her] art proves that [you] are an excellent investment for the discerning art buyer!” (Thesis statement.)

Next comes the body of your text, where you address your thesis. This is where you elaborate. You want clear, enticing and convincing text here. You want to create confidence in your reader by proving your thesis in an engaging, believable and interesting way. Each paragraph should concisely and convincingly elaborate on a single solid reason that supports your thesis statement. Provide background information a reader may need and provide illustrations if, and whenever, it is appropriate. Do not duplicate imagery or information used in your other marketing materials to which the reader might refer. Define any specialized terms that you use, and cue your reader when necessary (e.g: first, second; next, then etc.). Draw comparisons when appropriate to assist in supporting your thesis, showing images by artists who have influenced you, for example.

You close your text with the conclusion. A good conclusion may summarize the main points made in the body of your text that conclusively proves the thesis (repeating the thesis), or you may close with a differently worded statement similar to the one used as your opening. More than anything, however, effective persuasive marketing text ends with a call for action—that is, to buy your work, attend your show or give you a grant etc.

Again, effective persuasive copywriting:

  • Has a thesis (a point of view) for the reader to accept
  • Begins with an attention-getting opening statement
  • Provides evidence proving the thesis.
  • Ends with a summary and call for action

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