Writers are like peacocks. We love to strut in front of everyone with ostentatious displays of our craft. Nothing feels better than being told that we are talented or that our work is beautiful.
But, when it comes to copywriting, this is a destructive impulse. The goal of copywriting is simple. Sell.
Your entire goal is to get your reader to take an action that brings them closer to opening up their wallets.
But how do you convince a stranger to buy?
Stop Selling to Strangers
If you are thinking of your intended audience as strangers, you will never sell anything. Who wants to buy from a stranger?
Even at garage sales, we usually spend a few moments chatting with the sellers before buying the lamp or vintage troll doll collection. We all want relationships.
If you are writing sales copy your first job isn’t to understand the product, it isn’t to figure out the right headline — it’s to know your audience.
Great copy starts with a keen understanding of who is buying. Until you know who your audience is, you can’t create killer sales copy narrowly tailored to their hopes, dreams, wants, and needs. The best you can do is write copy that appeals to people generally.
Master marketer and Copyblogger founder Brian Clark has built multiple successful companies by obsessing over who his audience is.
You will sell a lot more to friends than you will ever will to strangers.
Strangers don’t trust you.
Empathy is the Pixie Dust of Successful Sales Copy
Have you ever read a book, heard a song, listened to a lecture, or received an email that felt like it was speaking directly to you?
It’s life changing.
You never forget that kind of experience.
Every time you have that experience, it’s because somewhere a writer had empathy for you. They deeply understood you. The could see into your soul.
The difference between regular sales copy and the kind of sales copy that moves thousands of people to take immediate action is empathy.
Until you understand what the pain points of your audience is, you have no business trying to solve their problems. People can smell your phoniness a million miles away.
The First Rule of Copywriting?
When I first started learning the art of copywriting, I was taught that the first lesson I needed to learn was, features over benefits. That means your job isn’t to list the specs of a product — your job is to describe how the product will change your life.
Features over benefits is important. But, it’s not the right place to start your copywriting project. You cannot describe the best features of a product until you understand who is using the product and how they are going to use it.
Every week I get emails and ads aimed at making more efficient at cold calling. I hate cold calling. I don’t care what else these courses teach me, I’m never going to buy because their feature doesn’t match my need. I don’t want to get better at cold calling. I have built a business around attracting the right clients to me, so I never have to make a cold call.
When you start your sales copywriting process with a deep dive into the heart, mind, and soul of your audience, you will naturally become more empathetic. You will learn how to write a pitch that is irresistible to the audience because individuals will feel like you are speaking directly to them.
Sales is Problem Solving
For many, sales is a dirty word. It’s sleazy. People associate sales with tricks, lies, and broken promises. Nobody wants to feel pressured into something they’re unsure about. Nobody wants to be taken advantage of.
The stereotypical used car salesman isn’t engaged in selling. They’re engaged in chicanery.
True selling is about providing a solution to someone who needs it. You aren’t tricking someone; you’re illuminating the path to a better life.
When you understand your audience, when you empathize with them, you will want to help them. That will come through in your copy. This level of sincerity will lead to more sales.
The next time you set out to sell your product or service, start by figuring out who you are selling to. Once you understand who you are trying to help, the rest of the copy falls into place easily.