WHEN you write something to convince others to agree with your point of view or idea — be it in e-mail, a proposal or even on a napkin — what is the most persuasive thing to do?

Most people believe it is to brainstorm and list down tons of good points or merits about that idea, then put it across to who they want to convince and hope something will stick.

The truth is, such a practice is a predictive approach and is based on guesswork.

To effectively persuade someone, the first step is to actually uncover their biggest “hot button”, that is, finding out — not guessing — what is truly important to them.

From there, you can build your point of view around their “hot button”.

You relate and resonate your idea in line with what is considered to be truly important to them.

When writing to influence a customer to make a purchase, it is tempting to brag about how your product is made from the finest materials, is imported from the best country and comes in 12 designs.

But your client may consider the product’s safety features his top priority rather than its design. So focusing on its looks may not impress him.

Your customers’ “hot buttons” may differ from each other, but the fact remains: It would be more effective to ask and uncover what the other person values most in the first place, and then concentrate on addressing those issues.

If you are looking for an organised way to persuasively put your points across, there are different structures you could use:

Here is what I have

You have an idea and you want to share it with who you are writing to.

Begin by being concise and getting to the point. Try to start your first phrase with “I would like to suggest an idea…” or “I would like to propose…”.

At this point, you may mention what your idea is, then move on to the next part.

Why this is for you

It is only natural that people are better persuaded when what you propose is beneficial to them.

This is where you fuse your proposal with the aforementioned biggest “hot button” of the person or persons you are writing to.

Find out what is most important to them: Is it to save money, time or effort? Is it to advance their careers, or something else?

Communicate how your proposal can specifically help them to achieve their objective.

Questions or doubts you may have

You presented your case but your addressees still have some secondary concerns. For example, they liked your idea but are concerned that it will be difficult or expensive to implement.

This will be a good time for you to address potential objections and mention the additional support from other people for your idea.

That includes dropping names and testimonials of those who used your idea successfully, as well as recommendations from other authorities.

Objections are minimised when you illustrate that your idea actually has more supporting “legs” behind it.

What action you can take

Lastly, every piece of writing that you send out is meant to motivate the addressees to read it and do something. Help them to take the desired action by being specific about the next step they need to take.

When you are signing off, take control of the wheel and write: “Let’s meet at your office to discuss this further. Next Tuesday at 2pm would be great, but do let me know which day works for you.”

Persuasion occurs when the point you have made connects with the most important value of the person you are communicating with.

The difference between a persuasive writing piece and one that is not, is that after you convince your recipients to consider what you are offering, you confidently lay out the next action step for them to take.