Ok – so it’s a big claim! But I promise, it’s 100% true.
You simply cannot write great – or even good – copy, if you’re not super-clear on WHO you’re writing to.
Every time you write anything, to get another person to do what you want – that’s copywriting.
And it’s impossible to craft messages that will truly resonate with your audience, and drive them to take the action you need, if you don’t understand who they are.
I mean stuff like:
- Who are they?
- What do you know about them?
- What are they up to?
- What drives them? What are their deepest motivations?
- Where are they? (Physically – but more importantly, where is their attention?)
- What keeps them awake at night?
- What are their dreams? Their hopes? Their fears?
- What challenges are they up against, that YOU are going to help them with?
Now – I know there’s an argument to be made that this is pretty basic marketing, rather than copywriting (and I’m sure this isn’t news to you!).
BUT before you even open your laptop to start writing that email, blog or sales letter – really, working out exactly WHO you’re talking to is THE most important place to start.
It’s not enough to say “my target market is women aged 25-40” or “people with children aged 6-16 in Bristol”. We need to go on a deeper fact-finding quest.
Because the more you understand about WHO you’re writing to, the more you’re going to be able to create compelling copy that connects with them.
It’s just like real life, really.
You wouldn’t talk to your Mum in the same way you talk to your friends. Or talk to your teenage son in the same way as your neighbour, or the person serving you in Tesco.
In real life, we’re face-to-face. We have body language & all these social cues to help us out. But when we’re writing copy – and trying to get someone to do what we want (click, buy, call, download, follow etc) – we’ve only got the words to rely on.
So we have make sure we truly know WHO we’re talking to, to make sure our words, our tone & our message resonates with them.
It’s SO easy to get wrong. Even if you’re just a couple of degrees out, it can really undo all the good stuff in your copy.
(Remember the last time you saw an advert that put you off, rather than motivating you to buy? For me, it was that Jaguar advert – the one in the school playground in the rain…)
And! The other key element of your ‘Who’, of course, is your relationship with the person or people you’re writing to.
Imagine a random stranger running up to you in the street, arms spread wide & a loud “Hey! How ARE you?”. You don’t know them. It’s pretty weird. You’d cross the road to avoid them (I would, anyway!).
It’s the same if you’re writing to a ‘cold’ audience. Cold simply = strangers. And strangers are sceptical. They don’t know you. They don’t trust you. And they certainly have no reason to believe what you say.
If this is your ‘Who’, it’s the job of your copy to start building a relationship. Try to sell & they’ll most probably cross the proverbial road to avoid you.
On the other hand, let’s say your ‘Who’ is a ‘warm’ audience. They’ve been on your email list for a while, hearing from you from time to time, or follow your Facebook page. You’ve been adding value for them. They’re know you in some way.
Talk to these people like strangers & it’s just as off-putting. A bit like being blanked at a party by someone you’ve met before (never feels good, right?!). You need to find the right language & tone for this ‘Who’, or risk undoing all the good work you’ve done nurturing your list & adding value so far.
So! Where to start?
Get super-clear on your ‘Who’. Keep them 100% top-of-mind with every word you choose.
- Will that word, that phrase, that call-to-action drive them to do what you want?
- Or is it too big a leap? Is it realistic? Easy? Clear?
- What problem are you actually solving for them? What are the real benefits?
- Why wouldn’t they take the action you need? What you can say to overcome these barriers?
- How can you prove it to them, in your copy?
And then how can you best get your message in front of them? Now you know WHO they are, you know WHERE they are. What’s the best way to reach them? Are they hanging out on Facebook? LinkedIn? Where are their eyeballs? Would a direct mail piece have more impact?
I’m not saying it’s easy, of course. It’s not. That’s why we’ve launched The Copywriting Project, over on Facebook – full of inspiration, tips & tools!
Like last week’s FB live, where we deeper into your ‘who’ (join us now to watch the full video!).
The simple plan is to share everything we’ve ever learned about copywriting. So do come join a bunch of friendly business-owners – and we shall see you on the other side!
Until next time
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