Who is your customer?
What precisely do you want them to do?
And what would make them do it?
To write any piece of copy you need to ask these three questions of your customer.
If you don’t, you’ll struggle to persuade anyone to do anything.
You probably agree.
They seem pretty obvious, pretty sensible questions.
And I dare say most copy teams, creative agencies and freelancers around the world would say they already do ask these questions.
Maybe you do too. Good stuff.
But here’s the rub:
It’s not enough to just ask them.
You need to listen honestly to the answers too.
This, I believe, is where most copy starts slipping up.
I get why.
It’s damn hard.
When we ask these questions, either to the customer directly or as a mental exercise, the answers we get are often not what we hoped they’d be.
For a start, the genuine answers are often dull.
We creative people are allergic to dull and so we have a natural reaction to ignore dull answers and seek something more fun and interesting.
This is a problem.
It’s our very job to turn the mundane into something more magical. That’s the point. Just because the answer is dull doesn’t mean we can dismiss it and go back for a different one.
The other problem is, we go into most projects with a rough idea of what we think needs writing, what we imagine the customer wants to read, what the client wants to tell them.
But when you really sit down to think about it, your presumptions start to fall apart in the face of cold, everyday reality.
So, again, we ignore reality and provide our own spin.
We over-complicate our analysis, we seek out what we want to hear and consult all the latest books on behavioral psychology to explain why people are telling us one thing but doing another.
Those pesky customers are so damn tricky, we conclude. They don’t know what they want.
So, knowing better answers to the questions, in our arrogance we begin to provide them ourselves.
And in turn, we end up writing to ourselves.
We write the copy we think should be written, not the copy that needs to be written.
By this point, any hope of persuading the customer is doomed.
The most effective copywriters know the most persuasive copy is found in the minor details no one else notices, the boring stuff so often overlooked.
Other writers wonder how they do it, what their secret is, where this untapped source of inspiration is hidden?
They’re asking just the same questions as everyone else.
Only difference is…
They’re listening to the answers.
P.S. If you enjoyed reading this, you should check out my book The Art of the Click. It’s available on Amazon on here. In it, I share a whole lot more insight into how to better understand the people you’re writing to.