Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Copy Is For Your Prospect, Not You

By Propulsion Media Labs Talent #54 Jim R.

I live in multiple worlds: one as a voiceover talent, another as copywriter for clients in various business sectors featured in print, web and broadcast mediums. Put another way: I can put thoughts and sales pitches into words and bark ‘em into a microphone – for a fee, of course. Bank deposits are a beautiful thing.

I see a bunch of, ahem, ‘writing examples’ during the course of a business day. Some are brilliantly written, many are sloppy and usually about the client or their sale. Granted you need an offer – but getting a starving crowd to your door or website requires copy based on the wants, needs and desires of your ideal prospect.

See, it’s easy for marketers and business owners to adopt the age old platitude that if you build it, they will come. The reality is 180-degrees the opposite.

Are you listening closely to your customers and prospects?
What keeps your prospects up at night? What situation would they like to eradicate from their life right now? How do they speak and verbalize their need? What itch do they have that only you can scratch?

For example, in my local area there is a hearing aid retailer who seemingly has a different message every few weeks. His pitch ranges from price, to the fact we change as we get older (that TV spot features footage of him playing drums in a college band) to the heart-tugging plea that hearing loss means you’ll miss what your grandkids are saying. None of this really matters to a hearing aid prospect.

The hearing aid industry has done extensive market research which reveals the actual reason why a seasoned citizen buys a hearing aid. The real reason they buy is fear – that their adult children interpret their hearing loss as Mom or Dad becoming feeble and time to be shuttled into a retirement or nursing home.

I have two older brothers who wear hearing aids – they each went through this. My wife tells me I’m on the same path, by the way. I pretend I don’t hear her!

A spot addressing the nursing home reality for the hearing aid market will cut through the clutter and squarely address a prospects concern, fear and offer a solution to what’s keeping these prospects awake at night, staring at the ceiling fan.

OK, so how do you tap into your prospects mind? The best way is to ask your current clients, customers and patients why they chose you and how they’ve benefitted by the association. This might also be a good time to ask them how you can better serve them.

It also wouldn’t hurt to ask your best customers for a testimonial. I sometimes write something up for clients and ask them to make whatever changes they want to make, sign it and return it to me on their letterhead. Easy for them and I have a client saying how great they think I am. Way more believable to a reader than my saying it about myself. You’ll be able to use these testimonials in your print, broadcast and web marketing initiatives, too.

Now that you’ve received some feedback from your best clients, write yourself a letter from your ideal, composite customer. “Dear Mr. Big, what I really need is a better way to control my __(blank)__. If only someone could solve _(blank)_, my biggest worries, pain and frustration would go away.” This is a trick copywriters in the direct-marketing field use to make sure they have an accurate demographic and psychographic profile and understanding of the prospect they're writing an ad for.

A friend of mine, who is a best-selling author, further fleshes out the details of the characters in her novels by “interviewing” them. I’ve seen her do this and it looks like a séance. The bottom line is that she obtains an acute awareness of the characteristics of the people she brings to life in her books. Her characters always seem very real when you read her books, too. The interview technique might sound a little “out there,” but I encourage you to do the same in order to accurately profile your ideal prospective customer.

The more your broadcast, print or web copy is completely aligned with how beneficial your product is to your target client, the more these people will beat a path to your business with cash and credit cards. You have what they want, they have what you want.

Maybe that old axiom should read: build it right – and market it right – and they will come. 

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