Copywriting is basically answering questions.
Different parts of your sales message answer different questions:
What’s in it for me?
Why should I trust you?
Who else is using this?
Why the heckins is it so expensive?
How come your last 5 customers all died in mysterious circumstances within 24 hours of downloading?
(Ok, let’s hope neither of us ever have to answer that one.)
So if you really want to take a ride inside your ideal customer’s brainbox (and you should), you need to be constantly asking questions…
Both of yourself, and of your product or service.
One effective way to do this is called ‘Copyboarding’
(Yup, like storyboarding in the movies, but for your sales copy, so you get to be all Scorsese-ish for a bit.)
That’s where you list out all the objection-based questions you can think of about your product…
So, you write down a bunch of questions your prospect might have about it, and insert the answers into your copy.
Use some of the answers (and a few of the questions, since they’re great for getting scrollers’ attention) as benefit-driven subheads throughout your page.
Get your team to contribute too…
Even better, do a spot of user testing and actually ask your target audience for their own objections.
(This is a wee bit like asking someone to tell you what they don’t like about you, so it may sting a little at first… but it’ll be worth it when you address those objections with future prospects and rack up ye olde conversions.)
No team? No audience to user test on?
Ah, I get it. You’re a Lone Wolf. Well, that’s ok…
Just try this:
Be smart enough to ‘know nothing’
(Insert slightly overused Game of Thrones meme here, or y’know, don’t.)
Think of your mind as an ‘empty bucket’ (like TED founder Richard Saul Wurman does)…
Fill your mind, bit by bit, by asking yourself the most basic, naïve questions about your product first, then work up to more complex ones.
Write down the answers that come too of course – in case your bucket has a hole in it (or a few holes, like my own all-too leaky bucket).
Forget preconceptions, forget your hard-earned specialist knowledge for an afternoon, and really try seeing your product with a beginner’s mind.
Be more childlike in your questioning, strip things down to the basics, and see what comes up.
Then, start asking yourself more advanced questions…
Sometimes even the best answers just raise more questions, which is exactly what will happen with your reader as they go through your sales copy.
If you can start to predict and answer the questions they’ll ask during that process in something approaching the right order, you’ll be able to counter their objections and reap the rewards of ‘beginners mind’.
So the only truly dumb question in marketing is this one:
“If I know my product better than anyone, why should I listen to anyone else?”
Now, we both know you’re a smart cookie (you’re reading my posts, for a start – zing!) so you’d NEVER ask such a genuinely fruitloop question…
But it’s amazing how much bad sales messaging suggests others do.
Dangerous assumptions, jargon, missed opportunities…
The interwebz is littered with sales copy that doesn’t address key objections the way a genuine prospect would ask them.
When I started writing copy for clients, I was afraid to ask too many questions.
(I was worried some of them would be mistaken for ‘stupid questions’).
I didn’t want to ask something where the answer would seem blindingly-obvious to my client.
But I soon realised that asking ‘stupid questions’ is a key part of helping biz-owners see things from a different perspective…
Now, seeking ‘beginner’s mind’ is an important part of how I work.
That’s why research and surveys are so effective at uncovering insights into your market…
Sometimes we can be too close to our niche to really help our prospects understand why our products & services matter…
…why they’re so different from all the other stuff out there.
That’s when it’s time to get back to basics.
Or to get help from someone who doesn’t mind asking ‘stupid questions’.
Til next time, keep asking stuff. It’s cool to know nothing.