I saw this wonderful letter on Twitter the other day and just had to share it with you.
It was originally posted by @jegan__mones with the comment: ‘You howl all you want Charleston, honey’!
Here are 10 reasons why it’s such a brilliant example of persuasive writing (and 10 ideas that you can incorporate into your own writing).
1. It’s personal. It’s not been written by ‘the owner of apartment 502.’ Or even by ‘the dog from apartment 502.’ It’s from the unforgettably-named Charleston Chew which makes it feel both intimate and genuine. (Remember this if you ever send emails from ‘The Customer Services Team’. Tsk, tsk.)
2. It gets the reader on side from the start. We’re far more likely to sympathise with a little pug than its human parent. It’s a smart strategy to have the letter come from Charleston and not his owner. (How can you get your audience on side early on?)
3. It uses simple, down to earth language. No ‘I apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused you’. Instead: ‘I’m very sorry for my howling’.
4. It gives us a reason WHY. Studies show that we are much more easily influenced when we are given a reason for something. Here, Charleston goes into detail about his poor sight and how that affects him. We now feel empathy for the poor pug as he stumbles around, disoriented (and we’re therefore far less likely to get all het up about his howling).
5. It uses EMOTION. ‘I get real scared’ – what kind of heartless monster would get mad at a terrified little dog?
6. It offers a reassuring solution. We’re told that it won’t last long. Phew.
7. It acknowledges the feelings of the audience. ‘I don’t mean to be such a pain.’
8. It uses pictures. Not everyone might read a full text letter as they walk past, but they might well stop to look at the photos. A great way to engage readers and increase the empathy factor. Just look at that little face…
9. It uses short sentences and gets to the point. It’s easily read and digested in a few moments.
10. It ends on a positive note. We’re not left with the negative howling but with the idea of dear Charleston being a very good boy. Aaaah.
So what can you learn from Charleston? Could you make your language simpler? Could you boost the emotion in your writing? Could you give more reasons why to your clients?
Or should you change your dog’s name to Hemingway Houston III? Hell yes!