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What day are we on again? fzzzday? shshmmmday? I can’t be the only one losing all concept of individual days.
I tried relying on public services for a sense of days. Bins are collected on Fridays, but recycling is collected… haphazardly, and then the cleaning rota for our common building areas switched from Thursday to Wednesday and I nearly lost my mind (but gained a day).
It’s like the time I tried to remember where my car was parked by thinking: “It’s next to the big van…” And yes, the van had gone by the time I had returned.
Otherwise I’ve been busy writing copy for a variety of services from oncology treatment to cyber security, and even non-profit marketing. Writing for clients always sparks ideas for explaining the copy tips and tricks I use. And it reminds me that it really doesn’t matter the size or budget of the business, copywriting is a challenge at every level.
A couple of weeks ago a company asked me to help with a sales pitch. To respect their identity, I won’t say what the product is, but it makes it easier for customers and visitors to access their accounts within e-commerce sites.
Their pitch resonated at a personal level with prospects replying: “I’ve seen that [problem] happen… it is annoying.” When pushed to try the service, there was just no visible need: “It’s annoying… but it’s probably not a big problem to the business.”
The pitch focused on what the product could do, NOT the vision of what the customer could do once the problem was solved.
Have you ever experienced this sort of casual dismissal when telling people about your business? They nod politely, canapés in one hand, fizz in the other (remember? Remember when we could meet new people at events?)
They may even let you finish your pitch but there’s no “tell me more!” In fact, you get the feeling they’re actually looking over your shoulder for someone better (how rude! And believe me, it’s their loss. There is no-one better than you.)
If this is happening (or if you suspect your copy isn’t getting the response it should) it could be that your prospect is focusing on the transaction instead of the transformation.
Now, there are many, many ways to reinforce the transformation of what you offer (it’s something I go into more detail in the course if you want to check that out.)
But for now I want to give you a quick tip to help which is to:
Ask an ACTION question that creates a VISION
Creating a vision in your customer’s mind is a powerfully persuasive technique. When we have a clear picture in our mind of what’s possible, we are more emotionally connected to that outcome.
Remember the last holiday (remember those) you booked. You probably spent time looking at locations, imagining yourself on a beach, or in a cabin, with your favourite drink, food, people, and views. You don’t really need to be sold on taking a holiday, you’re selling yourself with every new option you explore.
Now, other purchases aren’t as exotic. Today an engineer came to service our boiler. I didn’t spend time imagining the scenario: wondering about his uniform and whether he was going to wear those little blue shoe covers. (I fear I may have chosen a bad example.)
However, I can imagine what a life looks like with no hot water, or high repair costs. It’s not good and it’s motivation enough for me to book the service.
So let’s get back to using action questions.
Action questions encourage people to visualise how their life will change with your product in their life. It’s called an action question because you want to ask specifically about what they will DO.
A good action question means that your customer:
- Has a strong vision about something they want (that you offer) OR
- Has a strong vision about something they DON’T want (that you can prevent)
BUT (and this is the key thing), YOU don’t provide the vision. Your customer does.
If you are a hotel that does live events or conferences, an action question would not be:
“What if you could deliver a memorable conference?”
Let me start by saying, this isn’t terrible copy, but it’s not an action question because the answer might simply be: “that would be nice.”
Instead, an action question uses the following formula:
“If [results OR negative consequences]… what / where / how would you…”?
Let’s take the hotel example:
“If you had a conference that increased yearly sales by 15%, where would you invest this new revenue?
“If you could host a safe, live event next year, what 3 things would you do to make it memorable?”
If we wanted to do a negative consequence, we might say:
“If your marketing reached half the number of people as last year, how would you replace that lost revenue”
Or, in my boiler servicing example:
“If an undetected radiator leak caused £2,500 damage, how would you pay for it?”
I’m not saying these are the only questions you should ask.
I’m not saying these questions are better than any other questions out there.
What I am saying, is that if your copy encourages your reader to visualise a situation where they want you in their life it is more engaging than if they see you as something that is nice to have.
I hope this helps, and you can find some ways to sprinkle action questions in your copy.
Till next time, keep believing,
P.S. New podcast coming out shortly where I’ll cover the ‘tease and reveal’ brain science behind making curiosity work in your copywriting.