Copywriting inspiration can strike at any moment, just look at the absurdly simple technique for persuading undecided customers that came from a simple stroll past a butchers last week.
This week we look at how to write copy that connects so deeply with your customer, it spooks them. Makes them feel like you really know them.
And not just that you know them, but you know what they need.
Part 1: The little advert that lay in wait
This week, inspiration comes from a number of modest adverts that stay quiet, like a covert operation, until the perfect customer comes by. Then they’re ready to strike.
They keep themselves pretty humble and out of sight for the most part. They don’t see nearly as many people as the over-exposed billboard does (that fancy show-off).
And yet, in a few quiet, calm moments of the day it will meet someone, and speak so directly to their problem that it will seem more than just advertising, it will seem like a message from an all-knowing being.
I’ve been doing a lot of long drives for the past few months when I saw this series of adverts in many of the motorway service station toilets.
I was struck by the cleverness of the copy, and realised it’s a perfect illustration of an underused, but simple copywriting technique:
Now, part of this campaign’s success is in its placement. Nowhere are you going to find more perfect customers for this than in a toilet.
Advertising in toilets may not be a relevant strategy for your business, but there is an important tactic being used in the copy that you can replicate no matter what your business or industry.
Part 2: The clever copywriting technique you should steal
Focus your attention on this line:
If your days out are being ruined by too many visits to the toilet…
That’s the part we want to steal.
Notice how it comes first. The copy doesn’t say:
Do you have an overactive bladder?
And this is key. Too many pieces of sales copy jump straight into the describing the ‘problem’ when they should be describing the ‘symptom.’
There’s a reason why this fails.
- Your customer may not know what the problem is
- Your copy is going to sound like everyone else’s
Now, while our customer may already know they have an overactive bladder, asking the customer if their days out are being ruined by their trips to the toilet is much more evocative and compelling.
Part 3: Where we do a mini-example that isn’t about bladders
Here’s the thing, when you only focus on the problem in your copy rather than the symptom, your copy will be weak. In the above example, the problem is an overactive bladder, the symptom is that they’re running to the loo all the time instead of enjoying themselves.
Let me give you a more business-like example.
I’ve worked with a number of clients who, when asked how to describe their customer’s problem will say that:
- They’re struggling to find clarity
- They’re finding it hard to focus
- They don’t know how to unlock their potential
- They’re restless and distracted
And, I see these types of words in a lot of copy.
My question is this – who is this copy aimed at?
- Someone who needs a business coach?
- Someone who needs a personal trainer?
- Someone who needs a life coach?
- Someone who needs anti-depressants?
All solutions would fit.
The symptoms just aren’t strong enough to create copy that connects.
Part 4: The solution is you need to dig deeper
(Any Shaun T Insanity fans, that subheading was just for you)
I want you to first look at your web copy or sales copy. Are you getting down to the nitty-gritty symptoms of how your customer’s life is affected by the problem? Or are you using similar words and phrases that can be found on your competitor’s sites? Or even on sites in completely different industries?
Picture you spending a day with your customer.
How does their problem affect their life?
Does it show it’s symptoms at work? Such as making mistakes, or losing money?
Do symptoms crop up at home? Are they arguing with their spouse?
What are they thinking? Do they really say to themselves:
“I need more clarity”
Or is their mental track along the lines of:
“I wish I could just figure out how to balance my time between work and home. Everything seems so chaotic. I’m feeling guilty about work when I’m with the kids and then feel like I’m missing out on their lives when I’m at the office.”
Notice the difference?
When it comes to writing copy the first one is: blah blah yadda yadda, while the second one makes your customer think:
Holy crap, that sounds just like me!
Now go, get that pencil and paper, and dig deeper.
Want to learn more about the power of Seductive Symptoms? Then sign up to the Write With Influence email list (feel free to grab the free training that’s already there).
Next week I’ll be kicking off a free 5-part series to help you write copy that is as irresistible as Cookies and Puppies. And the first lesson is all about those Seductive Symptoms.