Be precise, be persuasive

Here’s a short but telling illustration of the power of concrete, precise detail in writing.

It’s just an everyday exchange in a neighbourhood community. Someone posted to the online forum with a question:

I’m looking for recommendations for a good conveyancing solicitor please. A fair price is important but really after somebody who is reliable, available to take your call, and gets the job done without too much delay.

Eight people replied giving the name of their contact and the  company of solicitors. Some just said they were very good or highly recommended. Some didn’t even comment, just giving the name.

One person recommended avoiding a particular firm, “as we found their communication poor”.

One solicitor replied with his phone number, saying “contact me and I’ll be happy to quote you”.

Another respondent said, “My mums friend is one and she’s really good. Let me know if you want her details.”

All of which is a little bit useful. But not much. Then came this reply:

I used Mxxxxxxx at Dxxx & Dxxx in March for our conveyancing, she was brilliant, all emails answered within half an hour, rang us as soon as she heard anything, nothing was too much trouble, she chased everything for us, and then gave back £250 as it turned out to be less expensive for the searches than they had quoted for. I would not hesitate to recommend.

Look at the detail. This sounds like a person, someone you can relate to. You can almost picture her. These aren’t vague abstractions that tell you very little—“very good” or “highly recommended”. There is specific detail that is so precise you could pass it on to someone else—about the refund, the amount and the speed of response.

Notice too how she’s addressed precisely the issues that the questioner was asking about.

As a piece of persuasive written communication this is streets ahead of all the others. The other responders may have had equally good, or better, solicitors. But as a vivid, believable, memorable recommendation, this one wins by a mile.

This is a quick post on an online forum. The same techniques are just as powerful in bid writing or sales letters.

It’s the concrete detail that makes the difference.