One of the most powerful copywriting techniques used is to pour salt on your customer’s wound by painting a vivid picture of her pain.
Bizarrely, this isn’t a mean thing to do.
It’s part of the famous copywriting formula: Problem – Agitation – solution, and it shows your customer that you care.
Once you have identified your customer’s problem, you describe it passionately and then demonstrate that your product or service is the perfect solution.
The more vivid the picture, the more of a life-saver your solution will be.
Done without due care however, and you can seem insensitive and damage your credibility, so I’ve put together my Dos and Don’ts of pouring copywriting salt into your customer’s wound…
Do not scaremonger
Do not petrify your customer by threatening a whole host of things that could possibly go wrong if they do not buy your product.
“If you don’t sign up for a life coaching session today, you’ll never get to the root of the problems that are holding you back. You’ll remain without cofnidence, find it difficult to form meaningful relationships and will probably end up a lot like your uncle Peter who spends his time licking lamp posts and barking at the postman… is that what you want?”
Do Show you understand the situation
Let’s say you are having trouble finding somewhere to go on holiday with your husband and 2-year-old. You visit website number one:
“Welcome to Holidays R Us, if you’re looking for a holiday, we’ll find you one!”
Meh, not very personal or compelling right?
But if your target market is young families, and more specifically the mums of young children…you can use this to reach out and connect to her in your web copy pretty easily:
“Finding a resort that’s child friendly and still gives you the relaxing break you deserve can be tricky, especially if you’re having to squeeze in your holiday search in your lunch breaks. At Holiday Getaway Search our quick search tool lets you compare results on one page and we provide videos of the resorts and nearby areas so you can see instantly which one will be the perfect fit for you and your family.”
The second option begins to paint a picture of a business which understand its customers, and more importantly, cares about the things that matter to its customers.
Do share her passion for her pain
When your customer has a problem and you can be as passionate about that problem as she is, you establish yourself as a team member in the fight against her pain.
So instead of writing:
“If you want a better night’s sleep, try our new orthopaedic mattresses today…”
“Just one night’s bad sleep can leave you groggy and irritable the next day, so when you’re consistently being deprived of sleep because of an unsuitable mattress, it’s miserable. If you’re finding yourself exhausted in a morning or frustrated at your lack of concentration and short temper, you’re going to want to know about our latest orthopaedic mattresses which…
You want your reader to think, “That’s it, that’s exactly how I feel, and I’m sick of it and I want to do something about it NOW.”
Because when your customer feels like you know, understand and care about her, she’s going to be much more receptive to the solution you provide.
Do use vivid language
Stay away from words like “bad” and use strong, impressionable language that really describes how your customer’s problem is affecting her personally and emotionally. The following words are some of the ones I have in my copywriting phrasebook (sign up to the Harrisonamy Copywriting Newsletter if you want to find out first when this will be available), use them to spark your imagination:
- Don’t know where to start
- Sick to death
- Uphill struggle
Do not make her feel bad about herself
You know the hairdresser who asks who cut your hair last? Or the plumber who embarasses you by telling you your pipes are all squiffy and a total nightmare… don’t do that.
Painting a picture of your customer’s pain is not about making her feel bad about herself. She doesn’t want to feel like it was her fault that she’s having problems, because whereas the hairdresser kind of has you in the chair, and you’re probably going to pay the plumber no matter what he says to you, your customer is not obliged to buy from you. If you make her feel bad, she’s going to walk away and find someone who doesn’t.
It’s a fine balance, so take care when writing this. The picture of her pain should be vivd, but so should the solution you offer. You always want to leave her feeling hopeful and excited about what it is you are offering.
What do you think? What techniques do you use to paint a picture of your customers pain? What has worked, what hasn’t worked for you? Let me know in the comments below.
Hey Millie, thanks for stopping by, “getting people to understand that you feel what they feel” sums it up perfectly.
No one likes being sold to, but rather feel we’re buying something from someone who understands where we’re coming from.
Thanks for your comment and ope to see you round these here parts again! 🙂
millie connolly says
This is a great little article that articulates the careful balance we have to achieve regarding emotive language, call to action and subtlety. Great to see a copywriter taking the time to elucidate it. In the end, it’s about using copy to manifest an empathic response that will translate to motivated action for the client. It’ s not about melodramatics and catastrophising. (Although I have been known to have a bit of fun with that, when the client permits!)
It’s about getting people to understand that you feel what they feel, then offering the problem solver as an irresistable product or service.
I love the way you broke it down so clearly.
Go girl! I think I am a fan…
Thanks for the comment, fear is a powerful motivator, but too much can just cause paralysis. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂
Copywriting Dean says
This is just the post I needed, thanks! Sometimes there is a thin line between scaring/turning off your prospect and showing empathy. I know I’ve crossed the line before, and this is a great little cheat sheet to remind yourself not to. Thanks!