They laughed when I sat down at the piano. But when I started to play!
People don’t buy for logical reasons; they buy for emotional reasons. So, if you want to know how to construct an advert that will grab attention and make your audience share and buy, you’ll need to learn how to tap into their emotions.
This podcast is all about how to create “Butterfly Moments” in your content – moments that transform your audience by helping them see the potential of what you are offering. Compelling narratives are all about creating change and transformation and that’s what should be at the forefront of your mind when you write to engage your customer.
It might surprise you how simple and obvious some of my tactics are and how easy it can be to sell by tapping into emotional desires through storytelling.
The scriptwriter in me couldn’t resist throwing in some fun examples, characters and scenarios to help make this light hearted and entertaining – I hope you enjoy and please feel free to post any comments or questions below.
If you would like to know more about my Write With Influence course, please follow the link below and feel free to contact me with any questions you have relating to this also.
Hello and welcome to another episode of ‘Write With Influence’ where I share my persuasive writing and messaging techniques to help you make more sales in your business.
So how the heck are you?
Have you had a good week?
At the time of recording this I’m at the end of one of those weeks where challenges have just been coming thick and fast. Now, I don’t know if you ever played video games when you were younger, but I had one for the Sega Master System that I loved called Astro Bot. You’re this tiny little flying rocket ship, in the future, and there are boulders and enemy ships coming towards you and you’ve got to fire missiles at them to bat them away. You begin the game with a degree of enthusiasm and excitement because as the ships appear, you’re able to fire something at them and…poof, you tackle them, you conquer them, they disappear and you move forward.
But then they start to come thick and fast and you’re not able to smash away everything that comes at you. In fact, sometimes you’re getting hit yourself and your little life bar is depleting. Then after about (from memory) I would say about four minutes in, you start thinking sod this! You drop the controller, hit the power off button and go in search of a cheese sandwich whilst thinking what is the point of anything? That was my week last week. But I’m not ready to drop the controller just yet. There are too many things that are just going really well; lots of exciting work projects on the horizon and I also know that just as life can throw you lemons sometimes it can easily throw you chocolate cake the next day. Chocolate, I am ready and waiting for you! Today’s episode is about the powerful copywriting technique of “Butterfly Moments” and why they are so effective.
First of all, what is a Butterfly Moment?
Butterfly Moments are vivid, emotionally evocative moments in time, that crystallise in your customer’s mind that a significant change has taken place and they’re called Butterfly Moments because I always think that there must be a moment when a caterpillar has just been going about its business, then it gets a little bit sleepy, makes a big chrysalis sleeping bag and at some point wakes up and suddenly everything has changed. He’s lost a bunch of legs and he’s grown some wings and there must be some point in his mind where he just wakes up and thinks, what the heck happened last night? There has been a significant transformation; things are no longer the same as they were before.
Now change and transformation are essential for selling your products. Nobody buys something just to stay the same. We all buy things so that something in our lives is different. Even down to the small things, you know, I buy tinfoil so I can cook food in the oven without it drying out . . . even products where it can sometimes feel that there’s no obvious immediate change, something like health or travel insurance for example, something actually has changed; we now have peace of mind that in the event of something happening, we will hopefully be taken care of (unless there’s a loophole which I hear insurance companies are really, really fond of!).
Change and transformation are also essential for any compelling narrative and that’s what your copywriting should be – it should always be compelling and engaging to your customer. Back when I was studying to be a script writer for film and television, we learnt early on that good characters, strong characters, are changed by the events in a film. That’s one of the things that makes films so memorable. Think about how Scrooge learns compassion, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz learns to stop being so ungrateful and appreciate what her aunt and uncle have done for her by providing a roof over her head! Now, we would feel cheated if we paid good money to watch a film where the characters didn’t change, where after a big adventure, we got the feeling that the characters were just going to stay the same:
Male: Oh my darling, I travelled around the world to track you down and save you from those kidnappers and now that we’re home, I’ll never take you for granted again. I’m sorry for all those times you’ve spoken and I was too busy looking at the football results to listen. When you were tired and I didn’t offer to cook dinner, when you kept tripping over my socks and I’d still refuse to pick up my damn clothes from the floor. I promise you from now on, things will be different. I’m a changed man.
Female: Don’t answer it darling.
Male: Well, might be important. Hello? Oh, Oh right. Yes. Okay. Yes. Sorry, I’d forgotten. Okay. Yes. Okay. Bye.
Female: Who was it darling?
Male: It was Darren. I completely forgot but everyone’s getting together to watch the football tonight and kick off’s in 10 minutes but the good news is they’ve saved me a seat! I won’t be too late and God knows I could do with a pint . . . don’t worry about cooking, just order us a takeaway, I’ll have a biryani . . . bye!
Female: No! Wait! Come back!! URGH… pick up your sodding clothes!!!
So we value change and your product has to facilitate a change. The bigger the transformation, the more people are going to value it, and that’s one of the reasons why I get people to spend time on this exercise of creating Butterfly Moments to really focus and think about the details of what has changed. Now, I want you to put yourself in the shoes of a customer at that point where someone would think, wow, in this specific moment in time, I can tell that my life has changed for the better. A great famous headline example of this for copywriting was by John Caples. He wrote an advert for a distance learning course for playing the piano and the illustration (I’ll link to it in the show notes) shows a man at a party who is about to take his seat at the piano and the headline reads:
“They laughed when I sat down at the piano, but when I started to play!”
Suggesting that obviously there’s disbelief about his abilities and he sits down and shocks and impresses them.
Now this is a great description of a Butterfly Moment. This gentleman gets to impress his friends and triumph in the face of their doubt and that is so much more evocative and emotive than simply saying:
“Learn to play the piano in six weeks . . .”
And that’s the other important part of a Butterfly moment, you are showing the most interesting part of the transformation. You know, John Caples in his headline truncated the six weeks of learning and practicing into the final moment for performing for his friends because that is the thing that people will value most. It’s not about learning scales, it’s about being able to sit down in front of people and impress them with their ability. And again, showing off the highlights is a similar technique used in cinema for dramatic effect. You know, we want to see action, we want to see the highlights and that’s why you don’t see hours of footage of the Karate Kid training – you see a minute or so of a montage that makes you feel inspired and pumped up. Because let’s be honest, the alternative to doing this isn’t very captivating.
[New Scene – Michelangelo painting]
Michelangelo: My darling, you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. Pray, tell me, will you allow me to immortalise your beauty? I want to make a sculpture of you as a gift to show my love.
Female: Oh, Michelangelo, that is the most touching present I’ve ever been offered. Giovanni just last week gave me a whole tray of Ferrara Rochet!
Michelangelo: Then you will sit for me?
Female: Of course . . .this is so exciting!
Michelangelo: Yes . . .
Female: How long would this take?
Michelangelo: About four to six weeks.
Female: What? But I . . .
Michelangelo: Please . . . don’t move. . .
OK, so how do you start to build your Butterfly Moment? To build it, I want you to think about the following elements:
Where is your customer when this transformation takes place?
What is the backdrop at the moment?
Are they at home? Are they at work? Are they socialising? Are they in public or are they in private?
And then what is actually happening? What occurs to make your customer think, wow, my life isn’t how it used to be anymore! Is a chance encounter? A demonstration of their skills or their knowledge? Are they getting an award? Media attention? A special moment with a loved one? Achieving a goal they’ve always wanted?
What is that moment?
And also think about who. You know, having an audience to these moments can be very powerful, especially if your customer wants a change to happen in their image or in the social areas of their lives. For example, with learning to play the piano, there was an element of wanting to impress friends. We are by nature, social creatures and often look for validation outside ourselves. If we buy something new, it’s nice to know that our friends like it too. If we find success, it’s fun to be with people who are rooting for you and want to see you do well. Is there anyone that your customer would really want to show that a change has happened to them? The other element to think about is also, what emotions does this bring up? Butterfly Moments are meant to be evocative and not only make your customer visualise a possible change, but to feel emotionally connected to that change. As a result, it’s good to think about what emotions your customer might feel right in the midst of their own Butterfly Moment or what emotions do they evoke in perhaps the people who are with them? For example, pride/ admiration?
If your product was to help someone improve their image or get in shape, a Butterfly Moment might be your customer walking into a school reunion or a wedding or a family gathering or a social situation where he/she hasn’t seen people for a while and that moment where people do a double take and say, “Wow, you look great!” Perhaps there are people that don’t even recognise them anymore because they look so good. That’s the moment that you’re going to want to write about in your copy. Other quick examples might be the moment a speaker gets their first standing ovation or a consultant signs their first big client or a retainer contract or a small business gets featured in the national press. I would love to hear examples of your own Butterfly Moments in the comments and don’t forget, the comments is where you can leave questions if there is something you would like me to answer in future shows.
If you want more detailed guidance about how to build a Butterfly Moment step by step, you can find that included in one of the lessons in the ‘Write With Influence’ course. I’ll link to the course in the show notes and you can read about it there. But until next time, keep believing and don’t forget when building your Butterfly moment, you want drama, you want action, you want to captivate your reader . . .
[NEW SCENE – ACTION]
Action Man1: Quick follow that car! He’s got the stolen evidence that will prove the Prime Minister is a Russian spy. Let’s go!!!
Car chase . . .
Action Man 1: Errr, what’s happening? Hang on, hang on one sec. . . . it’s a bit of a tricky junction. You don’t want to rush it here because there’s been some nasty accidents, especially when you’re turning right.
Action Man 2: But he’s getting away!
Action Man 1: Oh no, no, don’t worry about that. Don’t worry. . . OK . . . here we go . . .
Action Man 2: Now what’s happening?
Action Man 1: See, I told you.
Action Man 2: But we’ve completely stopped moving . . .
Action Man 1: Yeah. Yeah. They’re doing roadworks on the BT2123 so, I mean, your mate won’t have got far either. Look, see, he’s only two cars ahead and it’s a three-way filter so we’ll all be here for quite a bit. Look, someone’s broken down as well. Yeh, don’t worry mate, the action will resume shortly I’m sure. There’s, uh, some sweets in the glove box, help yourself.
Action Man 2: Urgh, fine.