Where The Real “Heavy Lifting” In Persuasive Writing Happens
Why You Win Or Lose Before You Ever Put Pen To Paper
You’re staring at a blank screen without the foggiest idea of what to write. If you write often, you know what I’m talking about. When you’re a copywriter or persuasive writer it’s a sign. It’s a sign that you’re cutting corners. Writing to persuade is more than just pulling a few tricks out of a hat. It’s more than just “wordsmithing” a bland message into an irresistible argument. The heavy lifting happens before you ever pick up a pen.
Researching your audience is where the real power lies. I call this the discovery phase. Learn what makes them feel angry, sad or motivated. Discover what they fear most, what they aspire to and what they think they deserve.
Master your product knowledge. Selling a physical product, info product or just an idea does not matter. Know it inside and out. Know all the strengths and weaknesses.
Zero In On Your Audience
A smaller audience allows for a more personalized message. When you write to people interested in fitness you cover a wide range of demographics, beliefs and desires. You risk creating a generic message that fails to connect with anyone.
Don’t just target people in fitness. Drill down a bit further. How about working dads looking to get fit? Better, but still too broad. Try targeting working dads with toddlers, in white collar jobs, who travel often and are under forty years old. By zeroing with that specificity you change your message from generic to targeted. That allows you to build a connection. Do it right and he feels like you’re really talking to him and only him. It makes your message much more effective.
I go through a list of about seventy questions to guide me through the discovery process. I won’t list them all here. Not all of them are relevant in all situations but here are twelve that will fit almost any situation:
The Twelve Discovery Questions:
- What are their top three pains?
- How did they get to where they are?
- What possible anxieties do your prospects face when considering whether or not they will buy your product or service?
- Why should they do business with you instead of your competition or doing nothing at all?
- Will it teach them something they didn’t know before?
- If it’s something they need, do they already know they need it or must you sell it to them on the idea first?
- What are best case scenario results and what are likely results?
- How painful will the loss be if it doesn’t work out?
- How do their desires compare to what they really need?
- What does he need to hear from me to feel good about buying?
- Are they aware of my product or products in general for this need?
- What is the social component? Are they comparing themselves to a neighbor, friends, someone else?
Once you digest all that information, you can match your product or idea to what your audience desires. From there, the writing becomes easier. It becomes more about assembling your pieces into a cohesive story. You edit out the weak parts instead of plugging gaps with fluff.
Nobody enjoys the research or discovery process. Because of that, many writers avoid it. That’s where your opportunity lies. Research is where you win or lose the game. Commit to doing the leg work before you write. You’ll enjoy an advantage over the seasoned, but lazy writer.