Structure Your Copy Exactly The Same Way Your Prospect Processes Information
Much has been said about the importance of speaking with your prospect instead of at him.
The intention, of course, is to achieve empathy and interest. But not many marketers have ventured into the mechanism to accomplish this feat. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that speaking with someone suggests a two-way flow of information --a questions and answers interchange. While talking to him entails a monologue where one person does the talking and the other chooses to listen (or not.) For the purpose of persuasion, you --the copy writer-- face the challenge of speaking with someone who is not physically present and who can not give you an immediate feedback. Your job as a copywriter is to eliminate this bridge. To write your copy and present it in such way that you give your reader all the answers to his questions --even before they pop-up in his mind. Before going any further, we must remember that your prospect has desires, needs, wants and problems. We can call them anything we want. They might be authentic or imaginary. The important part for you, as copy writer, is to acknowledge their existence and to remember that, for your reader, they are “real.” Your end goal is to establish a definite and inexorable link between those "problems and desires" and the only and most logical solution to them...your product.
How do you accomplish this? By knowing what's going on inside your prospect's mind while he is reading your web page or e-mail. And then feeding him with thoughts, ideas, images and proof, so skillfully that you steer his mind in the directions of YOUR desires. Sound impossible? Not at all. It's actually as simple as knowing a few, very interesting facts of human psychology... and then apply them to your copy. We must keep in mind that your prospect is a human being. Most human beings are self-centered. Many times we're even selfish. So make sure you structure your copy according to the way his self-centered mind works. If you read the first article of these series titled “Benefits,” you know that your prospect is not interested in your beautiful, colorful background. How lovely your animated images are. Or how nice your frames look. And that he couldn't care less that you are the fastest growing company or the oldest provider of your product or service. Once your prospect is reading your web page, e-mail, ezine, sales letter or any other promotional or informative document, he is just concerned with discovering what you, your product or your service can do for him. If you want to refresh on this topic please click on the next link: Never sell a product...always sell a benefit Now, please don't get me wrong. Some facts about you and your company are relevant and necessary.
However, they have their proper place in your copy structure. And it is NOT before your reader has decided he's interested in the results and benefits your product will bring him. So it's not a good strategy to give your company's data at the beginning of your copy. At this point that information is meaningless to your prospect. He will perceive you as arrogant and presumptuous and worst, he might consider you as one more of the crowd. He will "click out" of your webpage and will continue "surfing" to where he came from. The sad part is that the excellent opportunity you have for him will not be read. Your copy will have failed. Let's start to design a good copy strategy from the beginning... What's Inside Your Prospect's Mind... The following statements are of so much importance that they are worth repeating. Any time your prospect receives information or scans a web page, he's filtering it subconsciously much in the same way you filter your e-mails. Inside his mind he's asking repeatedly… What's in it for me? How do I benefit? How's this guy going to help me be happier, wealthier and more successful? What's in this e-mail or web page or ezine that will help me improve my circumstances? That will help me achieve what I want? It is also important to consider the time factor and his level of stress. Your prospect is busy. He probably has a job and three children and garbage to take out. He's got 15 e-mails to read, 3 letters to write, 2 ads to post, 7 e-zines to fully digest and a web site to improve. As I said, your reader is BUSY.
He's seen hundreds --probably thousands-- of web pages before stopping to read yours. If your target market is someone in the corporate environment, your prospect is under a barrage of stress and time commitments. Your copy has just 8 seconds to grab his attention and get him interested in what you're offering. Go through the next exercise and, at each step, look for ways you can apply it to YOUR BUSINESS. For the sake of an EXAMPLE, let's say you're selling BREAD TOASTERS. Tell your reader from the very top of your webpage what's in it for him. Tell him that he's going to have a perfect, golden-brown, evenly toasted slice of the most delicious piece of bread he's ever had. Make him aware he's going taste it in less time than ever. And that he won’t have to put an extra effort to clean up the crumbs left behind. Get him to visualize, to its full extent, that he's going to enjoy his toaster for 6, 8, or 10 years. Appeal to his thrift when you tell him that he'll save money by not having to purchase another toaster for at least another 10 years. Show him how much money, time and inconveniences he's going to save. Picture him enjoying all the wonderful moments he'll have at the breakfast table when he owns this marvelous household appliance. Remember that you're are not selling a product or service, your copy is selling a result. To motivate a buyer, you must make your copy spell out your product's benefits so vividly and clear, that they can't and won’t be missed. So don't ask your prospect…
Do you want to buy a toaster? Make clear to him that he is going to have his bread ready to eat in 92 seconds, more evenly and without a mess to clean up afterwards. Don’t forget to mention that his breakfast will be very tasty. Point out that he'll start his morning full of energy and ready to tackle life's challenges. And don’t limit the appeal of this toaster just to breakfast. Expand its usefulness and make it participate in his daily routine as a snack facilitator, aperitif maker and as a helper when entertaining guests. Redefine his idea of what a toaster should be by mentioning it will match his kitchen decoration and will give his cooking facilities a more sharp look. Are you done yet? Not at all, this is just the beginning. Because now you have to deal with his second, unspoken question. The second thought that goes through your prospect mind is this... Really?...How? This is the place on your copy when you have to create believability in your product. You see, after your prospect has decided he wants to enjoy the benefits your copy claimed he'll receive, he says to himself. "Yes, I want a wonderful breakfast with my bread toasted faster and I want it without hassles. I want to have my favorite kind of bread crispy, light browned and with all its nutrients preserved". And when he is literally drenched with all these benefits; when you get him to visualize his life as being incomplete without this marvelous breakfast enhancer…then your copy should answer his next question... How? Tell me HOW? How can I have that?
Now he's ready to hear about the mechanism you are going to use. He's eager to know the tool that will provide him with all the benefits your copy claimed in your first series of statements. You incited his appetite, you made him salivate picturing his bread and the fabulous toaster you have for him. You appealed to his senses, his mind is in a whirlpool of desire, you excited his right side of the brain. Now is the time to appeal to his left, logical side... and satisfy it. It is right at this moment when your copy must prove to him that his bread is going to be toasted faster, more evenly and more efficiently. “How?” he asks. Simple. It's due to the 10 extra, ultra-resistant, steel filaments which are placed in each of the two compartments of your toaster. It's at this point that he'll actually believe those extra 10 filaments will toast his bread faster. After all, 10 filaments give more toasting power than the standard 4 filaments right? Now your claims just "acquired" more credibility. Reveal to him that your toaster has that same filament grid strategically built in such way that the middle of the slice receives more heat than the edges to compensate for the excess moisture in the center. Then your prospect will believe his bread will be toasted evenly... because of the "specially" arranged filament grid. Disclose to him that the lower lid is geometrically slanted at a 35-degree angle, so all the crumbs will fall, by gravity, right into the carefully designed lower trap. Tell your prospect that the innovative open/close latch allows him to get rid of the debris with just one hand... and in 10 seconds flat.
Right at this moment he will believe that due to all these "innovations" the "clean up" process will actually be as easy as you promised. The goal of your copy here --and this is important-- is to get your prospect to “agree” and then believe that the benefits you promised earlier on will actually be delivered by your product or service. It’s important to stress here that you’re building credibility, not by the use of testimonials and other external “proof,” but rather by the sheer irrefutable “logic” of your words and the timing of their appearance in your copy --the structure. This takes us to your reader’s next question: The third thought that crosses your prospect's mind while he is reading your script is... SHOW ME ! See, at this moment the distrustful part of him kicks in. People are positive by nature but procrastinators by habit. Remember, your prospect has made mistakes in the past. People have misled him before. Maybe a merchant before you took advantage of him. And he doesn't want to make another costly error. What he wants and desperately needs at this part of your copy is REASSURANCE. He is thinking... "Yes, I want my bread to be toasted faster, evenly and without all those messy crumbs falling all over my counter... Yes, I believe those 10 extra filaments are going to toast it faster... Yes, I believe the strategically spaced grid will toast it evenly ... Yes, the 35- degree angle lid will slide the crumbs right into the lower trap and make the clean up easier". "...But wait, before ordering your product, please show me that other people before me bought this toaster... Show me other individuals who have gotten the benefits you are promising me. Prove to me that your company will repair this toaster if something goes wrong. Please REASSURE ME. Please "SHOW ME".
This is the time when you must show him the size of your company --literally or figuratively--. And your potential customer will believe you have the "financial muscle" to produce such astonishing technological innovations. Your copy must make him aware that you've been around --1, 5, 10 years. Show him, and he'll believe your company will also be around to fix a problem --if his toaster ever breaks down. Show your customer-to-be how many people have bought your toaster in the past. Give your prospect proof of how many other people “just like him” are using this toaster and how satisfied and delighted they are. He will believe that if it works for these people, it will work for him as well. Show him your awards, the recognition you’ve gotten from your peers, your lab tests and any other external proof that verifies your claims of performance, and he’ll actually believe all your claims and will purchase your product and hire your services. There you have it. In order to increase sales this is what you must do. First of all, focus your copy strategy on the "benefits" your prospect is going to receive. Second, offer him the "mechanism" that will "logically" provide those benefits. Third "reassure" him by giving him facts about you and/or your company. And finally, "eliminate the risk" of him losing his money by giving him a money back guarantee. Now, you might not be selling toasters… It doesn't matter. Whether you're selling Vitamins, Exercise Equipment, Flowers, Sophisticated Electronic Equipment, Software, Hardware, Personal Services, Marketing Courses, Real Estate or any other conceivable product or service, this approach works very well because it deals with human behavior and it is not attached to a particular commodity, item or service.
Follow the preceding copy writing strategy and you'll participate in a more engaging “conversation” with your prospect. Or if you are not making any sales, incorporate this strategy into every web page you design so you can start selling today.