If you’ve ever read a web page, an email, a piece of direct mail, or watched an advert that seemed to speak directly to you – pushing buttons that make you want to buy the thing, call the toll free number or send no money now… That ability to be able to cut right through and get to the heart of what makes you, the target demographic tick, is what I’m talking about here.
Probably you have your own favourites. But I remember some years ago now when we attempted to eliminate our TV habit (spoiler alert – it didn’t work!), I discovered that the thing I missed wasn’t the TV programs themselves – but the adverts!
I wanted to know what the latest cars on the market were, and how they were going to lift my driving experience to new heights! I missed not knowing what the latest Jaguar on the market looked like and more importantly, wanted the advertisers to tell me how driving this years model was going to make me feel. Powerful… Important… Successful!
Clearly those advertisers had found ways to craft their commercials to push some very specific buttons. So much so that I actually missed the adverts when I didn’t see them anymore! But how did they do it? What’s the process you need to go through in order to craft a message that really speaks to your target audience?
Start with the features
The first thing you’re going to need to do is figure out what the features are of the product you’re trying to sell. Rather than a Jaguar (much as I’d be happy to dwell on them for a while longer) – let’s try with something a bit simpler. Like a pencil.
- It’s made out of wood
- It has a lead centre
- It’s manufactured in the UK
- It’s painted black and yellow
- It comes with an eraser
Get to the benefits
There’s probably some features we’ve missed, but those will do for starters. And now we have them we can move onto the next step which is to identify the related benefits. Moving past the objective qualities (i.e. the tangible, rational reasons for selecting a specific product) and into how the features will make the customer feel when they use the pencil.
Create a table like the one below, and next to each feature, try to identify one or more associated benefits:
|It’s made out of wood||It’s easy to sharpen – works with dedicated sharpeners, Stanley knives etc|
|It has a lead centre||Creates a distinctive line, unique to your writing or drawing style|
|It’s manufactured in the UK||Low cost shipping (if you live in the UK), quality assured|
|It’s painted black and yellow||Highly visible – stands out from other items and writing implements|
|It comes with an eraser||Mistakes can be easily corrected|
Now we have a table of features and benefits, it would be easy to stop. But this is where the special sauce kicks in. For truly powerful copy we need to dig deeper and figure out why those benefits are so important. Before trying to answer this question though, you’ll want to try and make sure you have a clear understanding of exactly who your customer is so that you can align your answers with who you understand your ideal customer to be.
Let’s say my customer in this instance is a freelance writer like myself. Why do I care about things like whether or not a pencil is easy to sharpen, or whether it draws a distinctive line?
Perhaps I’m super busy (I am you know!) and every second counts. Shaving off a few moments of time sharpening my pencil or not having to look for a rubber means that I can get ahead with some of the other stuff that I need to do – like getting on top of my emails or making that phone call that means I will get ahead in my career.
If I try to go a bit deeper into my ideal customers head, it might occur to me that falling behind with emails and phone calls is a less than ideal situation. Probably leading to feelings of frustration. If they could just get those few extra moments of time, they’d be able to catch-up on their work, which would most likely result in feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction.
Go even deeper
If you’ve made it this far – that’s some awesome work. You just need to wrap the deeper reasons for buying that pencil into some more concrete examples. Answer the questions below:
- What exactly do they want?
- Why do they want it?
And keep asking them until you get to the deepest most powerful feeling you can. Again, in the example above we’d be answering those questions possibly something like the below:
|Why do they want the pencil?||Because the quality engineering and strong lead will save them time.|
|Why do they want to save time?||Because they’re really busy and every second counts.|
|Why does every second count?||Because they’re trying to get ahead in their career. Productivity is a key part of that.|
|Why do they want to get ahead in their career?||So they can impress their friends, get the woman (or man) of their dreams, buy a big house and live the dream.|
The best thing to do at this point is to keep following the process until you have something that feels right. Possibly in the example of a pencil, you might not go down the route of “our fine lines will help you make a success of your business and build the life of your dreams!” Something like “reduce the frustration of falling behind at work with our stronger, higher visibility, easier to sharpen pencils” might work better. But you probably get the idea.
And if you apply this process end to end with your own product or service, it will take you a long way towards writing the kind of powerful copy that motivates prospects and turns them into customers, by appealing to the deeper, more powerful emotions.