What if you could get your parents to act on every important letter and communication that you sent out? What would that mean for you and your school community, knowing that they had heard you, understood you, and most importantly, done what you have asked them to do?
Write the right copy
Something that I learned working in sales and marketing is that the right copy sells. Copywriting is an art, and the purpose of each sentence is to get you to read the next one, hooking you in, encouraging you to see the opportunity in front of you, and most importantly take action. Let’s take a look at some of the principles of copywriting that you can apply to your next parental letter.
- Be clear. What information will they get from reading the letter?
- Be specific. Use numbers, percentages, etc that communicate what you promise. E.g. X Questions answered about…
- Address an emotion. This could be fear of missing out, or a desire to support their child. E.g. X may be causing you to miss out on Y
The purpose of each sentence is to get them to read the next one. Once your headline has hooked them in, you need to keep them going and add a hook into your opening sentence or paragraph
- Ask a direct question – What if (this was true/you could do this)?
- Include a shocking statistic. Did you know that X of parents don’t do this?
- Show them the result of reading the letter. Imagine being able to do this, get this, achieve this…
- Use a cliff hanger – “These X tips will help you achieve Y, Let me explain.
The Body of the Letter
Use subheadings, they pull the reader through long letters. Have a look at them in isolation, ideally, they will each achieve one of the following elements.
They need to pique interest too, your eye will catch them and encourage you to read a long bit to get to that section.
Write with you instead of we and I
The reader is the “hero” of the “story” it is about them. I want you to take action, so I need you to pay attention to what you can do. It is your sense of Youness that I want to appeal to. Compare:
We have set up a school-parent forum so that we can communicate more easily with you.
You can now access a school-parent forum, which makes communicating with us much easier for you.
Use trigger words
Yes, there are a lot of things to consider.
Yes, it takes time.
Yes, it is essential to use them.
Yes, you’ve guessed it. “Yes” is a trigger word.
There are 17 to consider using – You, Their, Name, Because, Yes, Win, Stop, How, Instantly, Today, Everyone, Want, Easy, Discover, If, Worse, and P.S.
Place them strategically in your headlines, subheadings, and introductions.
Speak in their language
You should not communicate in an extremely verbose and convoluted manner.
In other words, use contractions and limit your vocabulary. Even when you are speaking to educated people, they still prefer to have easy words to read in a letter. Keeping it simple allows many more people to access your writing.
Have you been asking questions?
As you write, use questions to engage your reader. Asking the right questions encourages agreement. You want your parents to agree with you, don’t you?
Your thoughts are much appreciated…
Writing in passive voice distances you from people. I would appreciate your thoughts is much more personal than your thoughts are much appreciated. Yes, you should write using you. But not in the passive voice.
To avoid losing your reader, especially in a long letter, do the following.
- Remind them of the first step they can take.
- Give them the confidence to implement two or three things at a time.
- Remind them of the end result.
By taking 5 or 10 minutes to work through the steps outlined in this short article, your engagement levels will increase significantly. It may take longer, but I guarantee you will be happier with what you produce.
The Power of Three
Good writers take the time to choose each word with care, they know the rules, but they also know when to break them. Take the time to be deliberate, determined, and emphatic.
Did you see what I did there? Appeal to your parents. What are their desires? Their wishes? Their dreams? Don’t assume you know them, take the time to find out about them. You will be more able to engage them if you keep track of what they think about, do, and enjoy (related to your school).
Keep it short and sweet
Limit your conclusion to not more than 200 words (three paragraphs) and don’t include any new information.
Call to action
What is the goal of your letter? What do you want your parents to do? Ask them to do it.
This isn’t suitable for every letter, so pick and choose the ones you want to have the most impact. Now, it’s time for you to get writing.