Getting Your Reader to Say “Yes”

When your reader says “yes” right up front, 90% of your job is done.

Being able to get the reader on your side right from page one keeps them reading and prevents them from falling prey to doubt and skepticism. And it prevents them from finding an excuse not to buy when you ask for the sale.

So how do you write copy that’s compelling enough to get your reader thinking, “Yes … that’s exactly what’s happening to me … this is the answer to my prayers!”

 … all in the first few paragraphs?

One way is trust.

I specialize in the health market, but earning your reader’s trust right out of the starting gate is a simple and effective approach that works for any type of copy.

To do that, you must first establish the right voice and context. Otherwise, believing and trusting in the copy is impossible.

Now imagine these two scenarios:

  • You’re sitting in your doctor’s waiting room reading a magazine when a man you’ve never seen before sits down next to you. He puts his hand on your knee, gets right in your face and starts telling you about how “free radicals” are ravaging your body. His voice is loud and you immediately feel uncomfortable. He’s invaded your space.

    But it doesn’t stop. He launches into a tirade about why you need a daily vitamin to zap these nasty free radicals that are going to give you cancer, heart disease and every other terrible sickness you can imagine.

  • You’re sitting in your doctor’s consulting room. He walks into the room and smiles. “I have good news …” You feel relieved and supported, knowing you’re in good hands.

    He goes on to tell you that while your problem may seem incurable, there’s actually a very simple answer that will bring you almost instant relief. He tells you the name of a powerful nutrient he discovered and the remarkable studies published in a prestigious journal that confirm his findings.

Gaining Trust Is a Matter of Finding the Right Voice

When you put these scenarios side by side, it’s not hard to figure out which one will get you excited enough to say “yes.”

The primary difference is who’s doing the talking. In the first, it’s an annoying stranger. In the second, it’s a doctor you know and respect.

Think about it … if you know your doctor is brilliant and he tells you he has a simple, powerful answer that’s going to help you, wouldn’t you do what he told you? Of course. You’ve already said “yes” in your mind and will follow his instructions to the letter.

Yet all too often, copywriters adopt the impersonal, pushy, salesy voice of the rude stranger in the first example. They use hype and exaggeration to try to beat the reader into submission.

Big mistake.

When the reader feels disrespected or can see a sales pitch coming from a mile away, they will instantly say “no,” regardless of how intriguing the product or offer may be.

When that happens, you’ve lost the sale.

But when you speak to the reader in the right voice, they feel calm, confident and receptive to whatever you have to say. They will eagerly turn the page of your letter or scroll down as they read your message online.

Once you win their trust, the reader will likely buy your product, even if there are other factors that raise doubt.

3 Simple Ways to Build Trust and Get Your Reader to Say “Yes”

  • Know your speaker: As a copywriter, you’ve learned that “knowing your prospect” is critical … and that’s true. You need to know what your reader’s needs are. But you MUST know who the speaker is. Good copy is a dialogue between speaker and reader, even if the speaker is doing most of the talking.

    So before you even start writing, ask yourself: Who is writing this letter? What relationship do they have to the reader? How can you strengthen this relationship? What kind of language is appropriate for this relationship?

    The last question is key: Keep the language of your copy appropriate to the relationship the speaker has to the reader. If you were talking to your spouse, friend or family member, you wouldn’t launch into a speech using words or phrases that would make you sound like a used-car salesman.

  • Avoid commercial, salesy language: This should sound obvious, but it’s a real pitfall for copywriters. Channel your enthusiasm into concrete benefits the reader can recognize and relate to … NOT clichés, hyperbole and exclamation points.

    Once you slide into sales language, you lose the intimate connection that builds trust. Keep this rule of thumb in mind: If you were really talking to your friend, you wouldn’t sound like you were trying to sell them something.

  • Speak to the reader as if they were your best friend: In other words, use friendly, intimate language that comes from the heart. Sincerity is a must. People will trust you when you’re truly being honest and sincere.

Remember: The reader is secretly hoping to find a friend who’s looking out for them. And if you connect with your reader on that level, you’ve made the sale. But if you come across as pushy and full of overbearing language, you’re not being a friend.

They will tune you out in a heartbeat.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: March 21, 2011

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