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Last time we looked at why your customer should feel a little uneasy when they read your copy, this time we’re looking at the other side of the coin: inspiration.
There’s a reason books like Chicken Soup for the Soul sell millions of copies: people like to feel there is hope, and that good things can be achieved with a bit of persistence and faith.
Let’s take a look at an example of an inspirational news story:
The above information tells it all really, and I do recommend watching the video if you get the chance. In week one he can just grab the rim and by the end of the 25 weeks he’s able to jump, grab the ball and dunk it into the net.
So what is it about this story that gets such attention?
1: The odds are stacked against him
The idea of a relatively short-in-stature man learning how to slam dunk seems unlikely when the average height of NBA players in 2007-8 was 6’6″…
He’s also not famous, just an obscure (as far as the wider world is concerned) passionate athlete. We’re assuming there isn’t a team of expert coaches around him helping him achieve his goal.
Most people know how it feels to have the odds stacked against them. To have struggles, to have a dream that seems impossible when you say it out loud. Whether your customer wants more sales, more clarity or just a better web service, there’s a chance they they have experienced this feeling of “is this even going to work?” when it comes to thinking about their problem.
2: His success is accessible and can be replicated
Another important factor when using an inspirational angle is to show that anyone (or rather your customer) is able to take similar specific steps to success.
While we don’t know exactly how our basketball star trained himself to slam dunk, we know that it took 25 weeks, which suggests there was no miracle ‘overnight’ success, but rather a long series of one step after another.
This deters people from dismissing his success as a fluke, or by assuming he had an advantage. More importantly, to people who want to achieve similar results, they’re left thinking:
He’s just like me – I could do that!
This is important when influencing your reader and customer. If the results you promise seem too good to be true they’re unlikely to believe that you can help them get what they want. That’s why showing the process can be very influential.
Alternatively, if people think a goal or solution is too far out of reach they become discouraged. While stories of people with special talents can be inspiring, if you’re selling a product or service to your customer you don’t want them to think it’s only going to work if they are a genius / super fit / already uber successful. (See the recent post on envy about how to use this in your copywriting.)
The Internet is awash with mockery for the over-the-top marketing style that suggests anyone can do anything but that’s not what we’re advocating with the theme of inspiration. Instead we’re focusing on a very specific message:
As my customer, with the resources available to you, you have the chance to achieve the results you want.
For example, Jeff is a consultant but he really wants to get into speaking at events. The only thing is he’s never had any experience and he doesn’t think of himself as the extroverted type. He just feels like he has valuable knowledge to share.
He decides to take some speech training and checks out a number of companies. One company hosts a roster of impressive previous clients with knock-out demo-reels. Lots of clips of speakers entertaining audiences, capturing their attention and getting rapturous applause.
Instead of feeling inspired, Jeff is intimidated. At that point in time he doesn’t see himself as the same as the others. They look great, but he can’t picture himself being that fluent and engaging.
Another company he looks at spends more time explaining some of the back stories of past clients, including people who had never spoken before, but after training had managed to book their first speaking gig and were working their way up to bigger events.
To Jeff this is much more accessible. He can imagine the process and see the different stages of progress he could expect to make over the coming weeks and months.
This is why just as it is important to make a big promise to your customers, it’s also important to explain why this is possible and achievable to someone in their situation.
3. How to use inspiration to influence
The inspiration theme isn’t just about telling your customer they can get the results they want, they have to believe it is possible. In the below sections, jot down notes in your workbook for your own inspirational story.
Explain how their personality / skills make it possible
On some level, your customer feels that they deserve the results and success they want to see in their life. With Jeff, he has a feeling he can be a great speaker if he gets the right training for him. He already believes he has valuable information to pass on.
A small business owner looking for a new website / branding advice believes they have a business worth of a great-looking image, they’re just not sure where to go to get one.
In your customer profile there is a section about your audience called “how do they see themselves’ and this is what we’re going to build on here.
In the above basketball example another young player may look at that guy and think: “I’ve been playing for a couple of years, I love basketball and I’m pretty committed to improving my performance, I think I could do something like that.” An easy way to split this out is to break it into:
- Words they would use to describe themselves
- What they feel they deserve
For example, let’s take a small business consultant who wants to build their client base and start getting international work:
|Personality traits||Deserved success|
|Hard working||More clients|
|Passionate||Big brand clients|
The 2 columns don’t have to link to each other, it’s more to give you an idea of how they see themselves today, and where they want to go. You can then use this to inspire your customer to feel like they deserve and can achieve their dream. For example:
You don’t mind working hard in your business, in fact it’s the reason why you offer such a high-quality service that customers love. You know deep down that you can help more people around the world and if you could just get in front of the right connections, your passion and ambition would convince new clients to take you on, refer you and open up working opportunities in other countries.
You’re telling them the dream that’s already going on in their head and you’re on their side by telling them they can do it. Next up, you want to prove WHY you know this and that it’s not just lip service…
Show before and after stories of people just like them
People love transformations, and your customers are coming to you for a change, you have something that will change their life. What is inspiring to see is people your customer can relate to getting the results they want.
If you’re talking fitness and diet tips to someone who looks like a swimwear model, like Jeff, you may feel that results are only available to an elite group. If said swimwear model then tells you she used to be 50 lbs heavier and shows you a photo of her ‘before’ self, you’re more likely to think her tips and advice could work for you.
To feel inspired, we like to hear about people just like us who have gone where we want to go. We love rags to riches stories that have been made by ordinary people, people who didn’t get a leg-up, didn’t have super human skills and did make mistakes along the way.
Your customer is the same.
This is why stories about previous customers who have made the transition from where your new customer is now to where they want to be are influential and inspirational.
Jot down the story of a previous customer who made a successful transition and think about:
- What made them want to change / seek a solution
- Any doubts they had about seeing results
- Challenges they had along the way
- What they did / what happened to achieve the results
If you’re a coach and you’re teaching something you went through, you might want to use your own story which is absolutely ok. If you don’t have a huge amount of previous client work to draw on, just imagine a customer going through the process and answer the above points.
For example, let’s say you’re a marketing coach for small business owners, the table for your customer might look like this:
|Desire for change||Doubts||Challenges||Success methods|
|Wanting more customers||Shy at self-promotion||Overwhelming choice of marketing options||Choosing a method that matched a shy personality and focused on what worked not what was popular|
All you then have to do is tell that story of inspiration:
Sue had a small business selling hand-crafted fashion accessories and she wanted more customers to grow her income. Being quite shy, the idea of promoting her work, or going out to ‘sell’ made her feel really uncomfortable. Not only that, but she was overwhelmed by the choices of marketing. Some friends told her she had to be on Twitter, others were raving about YouTube and she wasn’t sure which way to go. As we worked together, we looked at what kind of marketing suited her personality, and also where her ideal customers spent their time. Using a combination of Facebook and Pinterest, Sue was able to post photos of her work in a friendly, non-pushy way and saw 5 new customers within the first week.
Enjoy this article? It’s a sample lesson from my signature course Write With Influence. This is #1 in a list of 8 themes you can use to make your copywriting and storytelling more engaging. You can read about the Write With Influence here. Want some free copywriting training instead? Get access to the Cookies and Puppies Irresistible Copywriting Course here.