The purpose of any persuasive writing text is to persuade the reader of a particular point of view or to take a specific course of action.
Persuasive texts come in many different forms, including, but not limited to, essays, editorials, letters, advertisements, and reviews. While persuasive texts come in many shapes and sizes, they all share standard features.
Persuasive texts employ a wide variety of different rhetorical strategies and techniques to achieve their ends. For example, they’ll use emotive language and rhetorical questions. Images are sometimes used to entice or appeal to the reader or viewer.
Advertising is one key form of persuasive writing. It makes vigorous use of all the tools in the persuasive writing toolbox as it strives to sell goods or services to the reader.
In this article, you’ll learn how to take your students from reluctant salespersons to master marketers in a lightning-fast five days.
Students will first learn how the various persuasive strategies work before incorporating them into their advertisements. We have comprehensive guides to persuasive writing and advertisements you should explore also.
So, let’s get started!
Persuasive Writing Lesson Plan 1: Identify the Key Features of Adverts
Before your students will be able to produce their own well-written advertisements, they’ll need to be well-versed in all the tricks up the skilful salesperson’s sleeves.
One of the most productive ways for students to do this is through reverse engineering.
Organize your students into small groups or pairs and distribute print advertisements gleaned from various sources such as magazines, newspapers, and posters. You could also show projections of some sample advertisements projected onto the whiteboard to facilitate this exercise.
Now, ask the students to examine the advertisements and answer the following question:
What techniques do the advertisers use to get our attention?
Challenge the students to go beyond the pretty obvious features of advertisements, e.g. branding, slogans, and testimonials, to also look at more subtle techniques such as the use and interplay of images and various other effects created by language choices and figurative devices.
When the students have finished their discussions, give them feedback as a whole class and use their responses to compile a master list of the various features they have identified.
Some features suggested by the class might include:
- Emotive language
- Appealing adjectives
- Powerful verbs
- Strong adverbs
- Contact details
- Rhetorical questions
Once you have compiled a master list of persuasive strategies and techniques used in advertising, these can handily be turned into checklists that the students can use when producing their own advertisements later.
Persuasive Writing Lesson Plan 2: Analyze an Advert
Now, the students have a solid understanding of the different features of advertisements and a checklist to work from; it’s time for them to analyze an advert in more detail.
Not only will this prove a valuable exercise to help prepare your students for producing their own advertisements later in the week, but it will also serve as an excellent task to improve your students’ media literacy skills. It may even help to innoculate them from media manipulation in the future.
To get started on their advertisement analysis, they’ll need to source a suitable advertisement to look at in detail.
Older and higher-ability students may be fit to make their own choices regarding which advertisement to analyze. If this is the case, perhaps they can choose an advert for a product they like or a product or service in a category that interests them greatly.
Allowing your students some say in the ads they analyze will help fuel their interest and enthusiasm when creating their own advertisements later.
However, it might be best to choose a sample advertisement for younger students and those of lower ability – or at least offer a pre-vetted, limited choice. They will most likely have enough to contend with already!
When students have a suitable advertisement to hand, please encourage them to use their checklist from yesterday’s lesson to explore how the ad works. The students should then write a paragraph identifying the various techniques used in the advertisement and their effect.
Challenge the students to write another paragraph or two, considering what makes the advertisement work – or not, as the case may be. Ask them to consider where the advertisement could be improved. Could the slogan be catchier? How about the logo? Does it convey the brand’s identity appropriately? Are the images used in the advertisement optimal?
When the students have finished their paragraphs, they can display their advert and their analysis and share their thoughts with the class.
Persuasive Writing Lesson Plan 3: Plan an Advertisement
At this stage, your students should have a good understanding of many of the main features of advertisements and had plenty of opportunities to see examples of these in action. Now it’s time for them to begin to plan for writing their own advertisements. Here are some areas for your students to think about when starting the planning process.
The Purpose and Audience
Like any other writing type, students will need to identify both the purpose and the audience for their advertisements bef
ore putting pen to paper.
The purpose of any advertisement is to sell goods or services. Precisely what goods or services are being sold is the first question that needs to be answered.
Students might like to focus on the goods or services advertised in the adverts they’ve been exploring over the previous two days. Or, if they prefer, they might like to choose something new entirely.
Once they’ve chosen what they’re selling, students will need to identify who they will sell it to. Scattershot advertisements that attempt to sell to everyone often end up selling to no one.
One effective way to help focus an advert is to define a ‘buyer persona’ first. This is a profile of the hypothetical buyer who the ad will target.
Students can consider the following characteristics to help them develop their buyer’s persona:
- Education level
- Marital status
- Who they trust
- What they read/watch
The Brand Name
The next stage is for the student to decide on a name for their company. This should usually be something relatively short and memorable, and appealing to the target audience.
Generally, the student will need to come up with at least four or five ideas first. They can then choose the best.
It can be a helpful practice for the student to look at the brand names for companies selling similar goods and services. A little internet research will be beneficial here.
Now it’s time for students to jot down ideas for their brand’s slogan. Slogans are short and punchy phrases that help make brands more memorable for customers.
Slogans often employ literary devices such as alliteration, puns, or rhyme. They don’t always have to be the most meaningful things in the world; it’s more important that they’re memorable. Think Nike’s Just to Do It or McDonald’s I’m Lovin’ It – not the most meaning-rich phrases in the world but instantly recognizable!
The Body Copy
This part of the advertisement will contain the bulk of the writing. It’s where the students will get to use the various techniques and strategies they’ve explored in the previous activities.
Despite containing most of the ad’s text, advertising copy is usually concise and to the point. Student’s should strive to get the main points across in the fewest words possible. Nothing turns readers off faster than impenetrable walls of text.
To help organize the text, students may use bullet points and subheadings. They should be sure to include any specific information or specifications that they want the reader to know about the product or service.
The language chosen should also be appropriate for speaking to the audience that they have defined earlier.
The Call to Action
The Call to Action – commonly referred to as the CTA, usually comes at the end of an advertisement.
The CTA typically comprises a few sentences that invite the reader to take a particular course of action. Normally, to buy the advertised goods or service.
However, not all CTAs focus on getting the reader to make an immediate purchase. Some, for example, aim to get the reader to provide their contact details so they can be sold to later.
Students need to first define what their Call to Action will invite readers to do. They will then need to choose a strong imperative that will call on the reader to take that specific action. Commonly used verbs that urge readers to take action include subscribe, join, buy, etc.
The CTA must be clear and specific; the reader should be in no doubt about what the advertisement is asking them to do.
Often, the CTA will create a sense of urgency by limiting special offers by time.
As part of the planning process, students should use some of their time in today’s session to think about and make some notes on options they might like to include in the final drafts of their Call to Action.
Persuasive Writing Lesson Plan 4: Create the Advertisement
Day 4, already! This is the day students will try to bring all the elements together. They’ll work to complete their advertisements by the end of today’s session.
You may like to have the students collaborating to produce their ads or working individually. Either way, reinforce the importance of attention to detail in their work.
The main focus for persuasive texts of any kind, advertisements included, shouldn’t be length but, instead, it should be on how effectively it persuades the reader to take the desired action.
Students should incorporate their planning from yesterday and refer to their checklists as they create. As precise language is so essential to effective marketing, encourage students to use thesauruses to help them find just the right word for their copy.
When students have had a chance to draft their advertisements, they can then get into small groups and compare their work. This is an opportunity for students to provide each other with constructive criticism.
They can use their checklists as a basis to provide this criticism. Students can then revise their advertisements in light of the advice they’ve received in their groups.
Persuasive Writing Lesson Plan 5: Further Practice in the Art of Persuasion
In the process of comparing their work with each other, with reference to the criteria they’ve worked on earlier in the week, students will no doubt identify areas they are strong in and other areas where they are weaker.
Day 5’s activities should offer
students an opportunity to practice those areas identified as needing further work to bring them up to par.
For example, students can practice their persuasion skills by moving their focus from printed ads to other types of marketing endeavours that utilise the arts of persuasion.
Where students struggled to employ literary devices in their advertising copy, they may benefit from creating a radio jingle or radio ad for their product or service. As this type of ad can contain no visual imagery to support, writing a radio jingle or ad will force the student to pay particular attention to verbal imagery, rhyme, alliteration, etc.
If the testimonials used in the first advertisement were unconvincing, perhaps the student will benefit from isolating this strategy to focus exclusively on effective testimonial writing. They should spend some time researching testimonials and how to write them effectively.
For example, testimonials should usually be:
- Short and to the point
- Conversational in tone
- Authentic (use a name, photo, job title, etc.)
- Specific about the benefits
- Directed at overcoming objections.
Once students have a good handle on how these work, they should put their new-found knowledge into practice and get writing as soon as possible.
This research-then-practice model can help the student improve in whatever particular area of persuasion that needs work – as identified in yesterday’s activity.
Getting good at persuasive writing demands our students to develop their knowledge and abilities with a broad range of skills and strategies.
Advertising copy is a highly concentrated form of persuasive writing and, therefore, an excellent means for our students to gain lots of practice in a short space of time.
And, as the saying goes, a good start is half the work, so set your class of creative copywriters on the road to marketing mastery today!