Book Title
M: Business Communication 3rd Edition

978-0073403229 Chapter 7 Text Summary, Lecture Outline

April 5, 2019
Teaching Suggestions
The teaching techniques for this chapter are the same as for the preceding two chapters.
Text Summary, Lecture Outline
Slides 7-1, 7-2, 7-3
This chapter begins with some advice that pertains to all kinds of persuasive messages. Then it covers the three
most common types in business: persuasive requests, sales messages, and proposals.
You can use these slides to discuss the importance of persuasive writing in business. Such messages are
frequently written both internally and externally. Ask students to give examples of both types.
Point out that persuasive messages are often written in the indirect order. Ask students why—and lead them to
the answer: that you are moving the reader from one position or attitude to another. This effort usually means
starting with something the reader cares about and moving to what you care about—in other words, getting to
your point indirectly.
As the book says, you do not want your reader, at any point, to think “no.” This means writing the message so
that his/her interests and values are the focus from beginning to end.
General Advice About Persuasion
Slides 7-4, 7-5, 7-6, 7-7, 7-8
Following are some important concepts, terminology, and advice that can help you have good class discussions
about persuasion, both when analyzing it in general and when analyzing and evaluating a specific persuasive
case or message.
When you want to persuade, it is critical that you know your readers.
This is always important, but it is of paramount importance when persuading. You can formally gather
information about your readers (study marketing reports, conduct surveys and focus groups, etc.).
Or you can informally gather information about them (speak with sales, service, and marketing personnel; look
at prior messages that have succeeded; collect your memories and thoughts from previous interactions; etc.).
Once you’ve profiled your readers’ characteristics, needs, and values, you are ready to choose and develop
targeted reader benefits. These can be
tangible (e.g., saves time, money, trouble) or
intangible (e.g., will make the reader feel good, gain prestige, etc.),
intrinsic (part of the product or service being sold or action being requested) or
extrinsic (added on, as an extra incentive).
Which kinds of benefits are best depends on the situation, but caution students against relying too much on
extrinsic benefits. These do not have a lasting effect and may cheapen the readers perception of the intrinsic
Also be sure that your students understand the difference between product features and product benefits.
Saying that a certain washing machine can clean a large load of laundry in 25 minutes is describing a feature;
saying that it enables you to “do your laundry in half the time” or “gives you more time with your family” is
bringing out a reader benefit. Also, all benefits should sound realistic enough to be believable. In addition,
most benefits are followed by a reason to believe, known as RTB in the advertising industry. If you claim that a
washing machine does your laundry in half the time that would be backed up by a brief description of the
product feature that makes this possible.
This section also describes a useful strategy for developing reader benefits: scenario painting. This is writing
that depicts the reader using and enjoying the benefits. Inviting readers to imagine themselves in a specific
positive situation brought about by doing as the writer asks is a powerful persuasive technique.
As Aristotle pointed out over 2,000 years ago, writers have a range of appeals to choose from when
constructing a persuasive message. These can be categorized as follows:
Logic-based appeals (logos, in the Greek)
Emotion-based appeals (pathos)
Character-based appeals (ethos)
You can help students understand what these are by asking them to describe television commercials they’ve
seen that, in turn, rely mostly on logic (ads that rely on science and/or numbers, such as a car-insurance ad that
focuses on its low premiums and deductibles), emotion (such as tire commercials that focus on babies’ safety
or commercials for sexy jeans), and the spokesperson or character of the company (such as ads featuring a
popular sports or movie star, or ads that make the company seem funny and “cool”).
Finally, students should be careful to devote sufficient thought to planning the action part of the message. They
need to
make the desired action clear, and
make it as easy as possible for the reader to perform.
You might discuss a sample scenario in which graduating seniors are being asked to submit information about
the jobs they’ve been offered (the hiring company, salary, etc.) to their university’s career counseling office.
What are several ways one might have them submit the information? How could one make the desired action
as simple as possible to perform? Answers can range from creating an easy-to-fill-in paper form to having them
submit the information at the bottom of something else they’re turning in, to having them click on a Web link
and put the information into form fields. Clearly one would have to think about the options and choose/develop
the one that seemed best under the circumstances.
Persuasive Requests
Slides 7-9, 7-10
These are messages that seek something the reader is likely to resist. Persuasion (or “selling”) is necessary.
More specifically, you will need to reason with the reader—presenting facts and logic that support your case.
Hence, planning the persuasion is a first step in writing these messages. It involves using your imagination—
developing a strategy that will move the reader to accept your proposal.
You can do this best by placing yourself in your readers shoes and determining the readers objections. Then
think about what can be said to overcome these objections.
The Opening
As with other types of indirect messages, the beginning of this type should set up the explanation. But the
beginnings of persuasive messages have an additional goal: to gain attention.
You are writing to someone who probably does not agree with your goal. He or she has little or no interest in
receiving what you have to say. Thus, you need to gain this person’s attention.
Determining how to gain attention requires both imagination and logic; it requires being able to imagine
yourself in the readers shoes and to find a logical link between the topic of the message and the readers likely
For example, for the beginning of a message seeking to persuade medical doctors to give you their opinions,
you might write, “What in your opinion as a medical doctor is the future of the private practice of medicine?”
Or to take another example, for a message requesting contributions for orphaned children, you might write,
“While you and I dined heartily last night, 31 orphans at San Pablo Mission had only dried beans to eat.”
However, avoid sounding overly sentimental or dramatic in tone. In general, keep it real.
The Body
Following the attention-gaining opening, you present the reasoning this opening has set up. To do this, you do
more than just list points—you persuade. You use words that convince. You use you-viewpoint. And make your
words travel fast, for slow-moving messages lead the reader to become impatient.
Then, when you have persuaded the reader to accept your proposal, you ask for what you seek. If you have
done the persuading adequately, this part follows naturally. Choose the words that make your request with care,
for the request is the riskiest part of your message. Avoid any wording that detracts from the request. And avoid
words that bring to mind pictures and things that might work against you—such as reminders of reasons for
For example, do not write it like this: “I am aware that businesspeople in your position have little free time to
give, but will you please consider accepting an assignment to the board of directors of the Children’s Fund?”
Instead, write something like this: “Because your organizing skills are so desperately needed, will you please
serve on the board of directors of the Children’s Fund?”
The Close
The request can end the message. But sometimes it helps to follow it with additional words of explanation.
This plan is especially effective when a long persuasion effort is needed, and it is not practical to present it all
before stating your goal.
Sometimes you may choose to follow the request with a reminder of an appeal you used in your persuasion—to
emphasize a benefit the reader will receive by complying.
Slides 7-11, 7-12, 7-13, 7-14
The slides contain good illustrations of persuasive requests that follow the previous advice.
As you move through the different parts of the messages, have students discuss what strategies are being used
and how these strategies help or hurt the persuasive request. Talk about what the writer is offering to the reader,
and the kinds of feelings the writer is trying to draw out of the reader. Also discuss how the writer makes it
easy for the reader to give a positive response.
Sales Messages
Slide 7-15
Your students may never write a professional-quality sales message. But you can tell them that practice in sales
writing can benefit them. It will help them write other types of messages, for in a sense every message sells
something—an idea, a line of reasoning, your company, yourself.
Slide 7-16
Before getting into sales techniques, it is good to help your students think critically about selling. Sales
messages can often be challenged on ethical grounds.
For example, they clog people’s mailboxes and “in” boxes (though a law now requires email sales messages to
allow people to opt out of future messages). Sometimes they use manipulative or even deceptive wording.
Sometimes they use manipulative or even deceptive visuals.
There are many ethically dubious techniques in use out there, some of them downright illegal (for example,
“phishing”—using a website masquerading as a well-known company’s website to get people to submit their
social security numbers and other private information). There are several examples in the book, and you can
invite your students to share others they know about.
Talk with your class about what makes a sales message ethical. Concepts such as truthfulness and enabling
readers to make reasoned decisions should come out, and your discussion may generate others.
Slide 7-17
You begin preparation for writing this kind of message by studying your product or service and your prospects.
You simply cannot sell something you do not know. So learn what you can about the product (or service)—
how it is made, how it works, what it will do, what it will not do.
And learn about your prospects—their needs, economic status, ages, financial status, education, and other
In large businesses, much of the information about prospects is gathered by marketing research departments.
Invite your students to discuss market-research techniques that they are familiar with.
Slide 7-18
Next, you should plan the message around the main appeal (or appeals) that you will use.
Logical or rational appeals are appeals to the reason—for example, saving money, saving time, safety,
durability. Some products naturally lend themselves to the use of rational appeals—products like mechanic’s
tools, automobile tires, industrial motors, and farm implements.
Emotional appeals involve the non-thinking mind. They are based on love, fear, taste, desire for acceptance, the
need to feel good about oneself, appreciation of beauty, and the like. Some products lend themselves well to
the use of emotional appeals—perfume, jewelry, high fashions. Aspirational luxury brands usually rely on
emotional appeal.
And character-based appeals invite compliance based on the authority and personality of the spokesperson—
such as a celebrity, professional, or projected image of the company. This appeal is not likely to be used alone,
but it is present in any persuasive message.
Slide 7-19
A part of your planning is also to determine the makeup of the mailing. So determine what the package will
consist of—what links, attachments, brochures, leaflets, and so forth you will include.
You can also think about special components of the main message. For example, if you are writing a letter, will
it be individually addressed (most sales letters are mass produced), or will it have an impersonal salutation
(Dear Homeowner)? Will you use any kind of attention device, such as color, lines, diagrams, boxes, and
cartoons? A logo? A photograph? A special font or layout for the text?
Slide 7-20
With your preliminary thinking done, you are ready to write. Various patterns may be used, but there is a
conventional order.
The Opening
The opening has one basic requirement—to gain attention. If it does not, the message has failed. If it is a letter,
it goes into a wastebasket. If an email, it is deleted.
How you gain attention is a part of your creative effort. So use your imagination.
Whatever you decide on, it must also assist in your sales plan. It should lead smoothly into the sales
presentation that follows.
One often-used plan is to begin with a statement or question that introduces a need that the product will satisfy.
“Here is a proven best-seller—and with a 12 percent greater markup!” or
“Can you use an employee who not only works free of charge but also pays you for the privilege of serving
your clientele 24 hours a day?”
An emotional appeal might well begin with words that describe an emotional reward the product or service will
provide. For example:
Your line hums as it whirs through the air. Your lure splashes and dances across the smooth surface of the clear
water as you reel. From the depth you see the silver streak of a striking bass. You feel a sharp tug. And the
battle is on. (from a letter selling a trip to a fishing resort)
Story beginnings sometimes are used:
A knock at the door, a swirl of snow over the threshold—and standing in the warm glow of the hall light was
little Joe. His thin jacket was drawn tightly around his small body. “I’m here, Father. I’m here for an
education,” he blurted out. (from a letter selling sponsor memberships to Boy’s Town)
One currently popular technique for email selling is to begin with the main benefit or result.
The sales message follows.
The structure of this part will vary with your imagination. But it will present your product or service using the
reader-based appeals you have selected.
Remember that the you-viewpoint is extremely important in sales writing and use it throughout. Compare
these examples:
“Star mixers will be advertised in People for the next three issues.” vs.
“Your customers will read about the new Star mixer in the next three issues of People.”
“We make Aristocrat hosiery in three shades.” vs.
“You may choose from three lovely shades: . . .”
“Lime-Fizz tastes fresh and exciting.” vs.
“You’ll like the fresh, exciting taste of Lime Fizz.”
Make certain you present enough information to complete the sale. This means answering all the questions the
reader might ask. And it means presenting enough information to convince the reader.
Much of this information can be supplied by other enclosures. But be careful that you do not shift too much of
the sales presentation to the enclosures. As a general rule, the letter should carry your basic sales message. The
enclosures present the supporting details.
The Close (drive for action)
After you have convinced the reader, you drive for the sale. How you do this depends on your chosen strategy.
Sometimes a strong urge to act is a part of the plan: “Order your copy today—while it’s on your mind.”
And some sales writers suggest tying the urge to act with a reason for acting fast: “. . . so that you can be ready
for the Christmas rush.”
A milder drive may fit your plan better: “Won’t you make a generous donation today?”
For good results, you may choose to take the reader through the motions: “Just check your preferences on the
enclosed stamped and addressed order form. Then drop it in the mail today.”
A good closing technique is to recall the basic appeal, associating it with the benefits the reader gains by
having the product or service. Example (from the emotional appeal letter selling a fishing vacation): “It’s your
reservation for a week of battle with the fightingest bass in the Southland.”
Postscripts (P.S. messages) sometimes are a planned part of the sales letter. They can be used effectively to
urge action, to reemphasize a major appeal, to invite attention to enclosures, or serve any other purpose that
will add a persuasive touch. Examples: “P.S. Don’t forget! If you decide Action is not for you, we’ll give you
every cent of your money back. We are that confident that Action will become one of your favorite magazines”;
“P.S. Hurry! Save while this special money-saving offer lasts.”
Slides 7-21, 7-22, 7-23, 7-24, 7-25, 7-26, 7-27, 7-28, 7-29
The slides present three sample sales messages that follow the advice in this chapter. Help students see how.
Discuss the effectiveness of the openings, bodies, and closings of each of the different messages. Have students
identify which methods and kinds of appeals are being used and why the writer might have chosen them.
Teaching ideas
A fun homework assignment for this section is to ask students to write a sales letter selling themselves as if
they were products, helpful brainstorming for the job search. Ask them to use all three types of appeals,
benefits, and strong calls to action. You could also ask them to write dating profiles using these techniques.
Both are lively introductions to sales writing. The final assignment could be a sales letter selling a favorite
product or service. Students often enjoy these assignments because of their familiarity with advertising and
their love of particular products and brands.
One entertaining way to introduce persuasive strategies is to use old commercials or vintage print ads. Students
are usually amused by dated advertising and quickly learn the difference between successful and unsuccessful
persuasive strategies. You can also use vintage ads to discuss the importance of staying current with the culture
in order to effectively persuade. That culture may be popular culture, current business culture, or a particular
organization's culture. Magazines such as Fast Company are excellent ways to help students catch up with
business culture. Consider assigning reading as part of the course.
Slide 7-30
Like reports, proposals are based on research and can range widely in format, length, and formality. They can
also be directly or indirectly organized. But unlike reports, proposals are overtly persuasive.
Slide 7-31
Proposals may be internal or external. Internal proposals will be a major means by which you will get what
you need in order to do or enhance your job (such as more/better equipment, more personnel, and so forth).
External proposals are written mainly to acquire business for a company or money from a grant-awarding
They may be solicited or unsolicited: A solicited proposal is invited (usually through an RFP—Request for
Proposals). An unsolicited proposal is uninvited (it therefore needs to resemble a sales message).
Slide 7-32
The following proposal elements have become common because they answer proposal readers’ likely
questions. Still, variations on and combinations of these abound, so be sure to adapt this list of possible topics
to your particular situation.
Writer’s purpose (shows understanding of reader’s need)
Background (contextualizes the problem and proposed solution)
Need (elaborates on why the proposed solution is needed)
Description of plan (presents what the writer intends to do)
Benefits of the proposed plan (convinces readers of proposal’s worth)
Particulars (covers any costs, delivery information, etc.)
Evidence of ability to deliver (establishes writers ability to carry out what is proposed)
Concluding comments (stresses taking action on the proposal)
When creating any proposal—long or short, formal or informal, internal or external, solicited or unsolicited—
consider the three main criteria that readers of business proposals bring to the evaluation process:
Desirability of the solution (Do we need this? Will it solve our problem?)
Qualifications of the proposer (Can the author or his/her company really deliver?)
Return on investment (Will the benefits of adopting the proposal outweigh the costs?)
Slides 7-33, 7-34, 7-35, 7-36
Here is a sample solicited proposal. As the slide notes say, you might point out that the writer of this proposal
chose economy (saving money) as the primary appeal. Other writers might have chosen having a more
harmonious workplace or some other goal as the primary reader benefit. It’s up to the writer to choose the
appeal that will enable him/her to create the best argument—and then to follow through with the details that
will support that argument.
Slides 7-37, 7-38
These slides show the more indirect approach taken by an unsolicited proposal. After analyzing how the writer
grabs and maintains the readers’ interest in the introduction, see if students can anticipate a logical structure for
the rest of this proposal. The next slide provides one logical plan.
Slide 7-39
This slide enables you to do an exercise that will help prepare students to do the first proposal-writing case/
Slide 7-40
This final quote points to the need for creativity in persuasive writing. That, combined with careful analysis of
topic and reader, can yield powerful results.