Here is part 2 of a series of posts detailing what I learnt from Write To Sell: The Ultimate Guide to Great Copywriting. If you’re interested, grab a copy on Amazon.
Part 2: It’s not about you
Without taking our reader into consideration, we’re heading for trouble. All we can do is talk about ourselves – and we know what happens to people like that at parties. – Andy Maslen
The hardest thing about copywriting (particularly online) is that your reader literally has millions of other options. Every website in the world is a click away. So why are they going to stop and read what you have to say to them?
You get and keep the reader’s attention by giving them a message aimed squarely at them – their interests, their concerns, their lives. A message delivered in such effortlessly good English that they don’t notice the writing, just the content. – Andy Maslen
When you’re writing copy, remember, your readers will always be thinking “What’s in it for me?” So if you’re trying to sell your new fitness program, you don’t spend ages telling everyone how you came up with the idea, how you researched the market first, where your suppliers are based, etc – you focus on telling them how your product or service will make them lose weight, gain muscle, look more attractive, become healthier, and so on. Your readers are always asking, “What’s in it for me?”, and you need to constantly be answering this question.
How to sell to Jared
A good place to start is by putting together a basic profile of your reader. This is the same sort of process that Proctor and Gamble go through when they’re producing and marketing new products. How old is your customer? Are they male or female? What job are they in? What do they want from their life right now? What are they struggling with, what do they need help with? What are their values? How do they see themselves?
Example: you’re writing copy for a new fitness product aimed at reducing body fat and giving people six-pack abs. What does your customer profile look like? He’s probably someone like me, actually. Let’s call him Jared.
Jared is a single 25-year-old male, a college graduate who went to work in financial services. He lives in a large city with his room-mate, and likes going to bars after work. He used to work out a bit in college, but he’s working a lot now, and it’s hard for him to find the time. He’s not hugely overweight, and goes to the gym once or twice a week, but he would love to get back to the body he had when he played football in high school. He would feel much more confident if he had lean, six-pack abs. He’d feel more attractive to the opposite sex, and he would probably get laid more (or at least he thinks he would). He has a good amount of disposable income, but can’t quite afford a personal trainer. He’s worried that if he doesn’t do something about his physique now, then the problem will get worse over the next few years, and he’ll suddenly wake up, middle-aged and overweight. He wants a solution that won’t take over his life, but will give him the results he needs, and he’s happy to spend money to do it.
Write about your product or service from your reader’s perspective. Don’t tell them what it is: tell them what it does for them. Tell them how your product will make their life easier, better or more rewarding. - Andy Maslen
Now that we have a good idea of who our customer is, we can think about what effective copy would look like. But it is IMPOSSIBLE to write good copy without this first step. We need to know about the customer so we can write copy that appeals directly to them and will capture their attention. If Jared hears me talking about removing fat in order to tone up his bum and fit into that old pair of jeans, then he’s going to get bored. That’s not what he wants to hear. But if you start talking to him about how good he’ll look on the beach, how good he’ll feel, and how much attention he’ll get with his new body, then Jared starts to get interested real quick.
Knowing your customer will make you rich
Of course, the best way to get to know your reader or customer is simple: talk to them. Do some research and find out what your customers really want, or what they’re worried about. What keeps them awake at 3am?
Ramit Sethi is a perfect example of this. On the subject, he says:
When you can truly deeply understand people, in fact better than they understand themselves, then your sales skyrocket – Ramit Sethi
Ramit spoke to hundreds of his readers on his book tour, and found that they really wanted to learn more about freelancing as a way to earn more money and give them an escape route from their day jobs. So Ramit went away, created a fantastic course to help them do just that, and then wrote amazing copy to convince people to buy it. Then he released that product, called Earn 1k, and promptly took over $100k in the first hour.
That’s the power of getting inside people’s heads.
(Quick note: on Ramit’s email signup page for Earn 1k, he has a quote from the Wall Street Journal. That’s another important marketing concept called social proof – I’ll be posting about that soon as well.)
Benefits vs. Features
ALWAYS talk benefits. Your customer wants to know what’s in it for them, so you should spell it out for them. Here’s the difference. Say you’re writing copy for a new sports car.
||You get that awesome feeling of driving fast
|Big, expensive tyres
||Car handles better so it’s more fun to drive
Benefits are what make the sale. You’re not buying a car, you’re buying the feeling you get when you’re cruising at 75 with the top down on a gorgeous summer’s day. You’re buying the feeling you get when you drive through town and a hot blonde girl checks out your sweet ride.
- Write for your reader – you need a direct, relevant message to capture and keep their attention
- Your reader is a normal person with hopes, fears, desires and vices.
- Do the research and find out what your reader is like. Put together a reader profile – what are they like?
- Appeal to your reader by talking about benefits, and how it will help them
That’s it for part 2 of my intro to copywriting series – look out for part 3 soon.