Nora Roberts is an inspiration for just about any woman following a dream.
She first tried her hand at writing during a blizzard. The stay-at-home mom was snowed in with her two young boys and, as Nora describes, “a dwindling supply of chocolate.” Might as well give novel-writing a go, right?
Since that fateful February blizzard, Nora has written 124 New York Times bestselling novels, many of which debuted in the #1 spot and more that have been made into movies. She’s been called by The New Yorker as “America’s favorite novelist.”
And she happens to have a pretty fabulous attitude about taking chances.
“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”
It’s the middle part of that quote — the asking — that I want to talk about today.
Not in a soulful sense, although I fully believe in the power of asking for what you really crave.
I want to talk about it in a persuasion sense. Asking is one thing but getting a “yes” is entirely another. And when you’re building an online business, “yeses” pay the bills.
Fortunately, psychologists have given us a leg up in the “yes” department. Because they’ve studied one strategy that can help you achieve many more “yeses” — 75% more, in fact.
The incredible power of asking for what you want
There’s a famous study from the 1970s exploring how people respond to requests.
Psychologists Langer, Chanowitz, and Blank studied how people waiting in line to use a photocopy machine reacted when given a simple request from a stranger.
They tested three request types:
A. A request with no reason — “Excuse me. I have 20 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”
B. A request with a nonsense reason — “Excuse me. I have 20 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?”
C. A request with a meaningful reason — “Excuse me. I have 20 pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?”
I remember being stunned when I first heard the results, learning about this as a psychology student at Lehigh University.
24% of subjects let people cut in front of them simply because they were asked (Request A.)
A similar 24% allowed the stranger to cut with Request B.
And Request C? The one that provided a meaningful reason for the request? Saw 42% of people allowing the stranger to cut — a 75% increase over the other two request types!
Adding a meaningful reason to the request increased the likelihood of a “yes” by 75%.
The one word you need to apply this persuasion strategy to your copy
Clearly, giving reasons is compelling. So borrow this insight when it comes to writing sales copy to promote your products and services.
Providing reasons helps readers justify the emotions that your copy is causing them to feel. (Because as we know, emotions are at the root of selling.)
The simplest way to make sure you’re applying this lesson in your sales copy?
Use the word “because.”
…and then give meaningful reasons behind your offer’s features.
Unlike Exhibit A here:
Getting to the root of the reason
Instead of simply listing the features of your offer, explain WHY they benefit your reader.
We start with a getting-to-know-you call because an effective Facebook ads strategy begins with a deep dive into your goals (and knowing my clients personally is just plain fun!)
Our web project includes two rounds of revisions because we want every pixel to be perfectly in place.
We have six weekly calls because this information is so meaty, you’ll need a week in between to fully absorb and apply the lessons.
How to use this strategy to reframe negative features
This same trick can help reframe seemingly negative aspects of your offer, too. Take any potential sticking points and try to position them as beneficial to your reader.
Our team is unavailable outside 9-5 hours, M-F.
Our team is unavailable outside 9-5 hours, M-F because we use our nights and weekends to recharge so we can bring 100% of our best selves to work.
Calls will not be recorded.
Calls will not be recorded because students get maximum value when they show up live. I only want the best for you, so this is my loving push to help you get the most out of the program.
Even the stiffest boundary can benefit your reader, if you’re willing to dig for the reason.
The moral of the (New York Times bestselling) story
Nora Roberts may not have been referring to the Langer study in her quote, but man, did she hit the nail on the head. The power of asking for what you want is so powerful.
If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no. But even if you ask with a nonsense or NO reason to comply, you may still be looking at a nearly 25% conversion rate. So you’ve got nothing to lose.
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, lady! And when you do, make it easy for people to say “yes” by sharing a compelling reason.
join the convo
What other tricks do you use to compel your readers into action?
Were you as shocked as I was by the findings? Do you think you’d let someone cut in front of you just for asking if they could make a copy?
If you’re stumped on turning a “negative” feature into a positive one, drop it in the comments and I’ll brainstorm with you!