Welcome to episode 23 of the Write with Influence podcast. Today I’m talking about digging up your buried treasure – those little nuggets of golden information about your business that you might be hiding from your customer without even realising it.
Have you got a brand-new product out that you’ve worked really hard on and know that people are going to absolutely love it? Well, if you’re talking about your excitement and not theirs, then you could be burying the treasure you need to get their attention.
I’m going to be showing you how to see things from the perspective of your customer and make more sales by providing them with the facts that they need instead of information you love.
In this podcast you will discover:
- How to create copy that speaks to your customer
- Industry examples of how to build a strong sales message
- A simple trick you can use with clients to build a clear picture of expectations
- How to use previous customer feedback to discover the true value of your product/service
As ever, I have created some fun sketches to amuse you – you’ll be whisked away on an imaginary journey to the French Alps on my quest to avenge an ignorant CEO and his “very important and busy people”. I’ll also make a bet with you right now that by the end of this podcast you’ll be on the hunt for a man in a van selling marinated meat burgers with triple fried chips!
I hope that this podcast inspires you to look at your copy from a new perspective and helps you to make changes that turn on the lights for your customers and lead to lots of lovely sales for you.
Please feel free to get in touch with any questions and let me know if there is anything that you’d like me to cover in upcoming episodes – I’m all ears.
Links: Book – Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
Register for the Write with Influence course
CAN CUSTOMERS SEE YOUR TREASURE (OR HAVE YOU BURIED IT)
Hello there and welcome to another episode of Write with Influence. We are up to episode 23 and if you’re new to this game, let me give you a bit of a rundown. I’m going to chat about copywriting for about 10 to 15 minutes and maybe share some tips, techniques, mistakes to avoid and because Netflix has yet to commission my great country music sitcom, set in East Yorkshire (it’s hilarious), I’ll also be using my incredibly creative talents to throw in a sketch or two. If this is your first time, you are in for a rollercoaster ride of excitement. Now, if you’ve been here before, don’t tell the new people any different, okay, I’m joking. If you’ve been here before, welcome back. I really, really like you.
Okay, today I’m talking about buried treasure and what I mean by that is, when you hold something back in your marketing that your customers are really interested in – which is that sounds crazy! Why would we do that? Well, this is very common, and it often happens because we don’t see things from the perspective of our customer and sometimes the things that we’re really proud of in our business and the things that we’ve worked really hard for are the things we want to talk about and we make the assumption, or it’s very easy to make the assumption, that our customers are just as interested in those things. But sometimes this isn’t the case. So, let me illustrate with a personal example from my family, because my family has taught me so much in my life, particularly about humility. If you’re also from Yorkshire, I think you’ll know what I mean? Growing up there wasn’t so much of a “Tell us about your day darling …” as a, “Why aren’t you in bed?” and “Is there coal on the fire?” So, a few months ago I was working on some client copy and I’d been working really hard on it, I’d done a lot of research, I was feeling quite pleased with myself and even though I know it’s a deadly sin, dare I say it, I was a little bit proud about the work. Then the phone rang, and it was my dad and he asked me how work was going. He’s always interested, curious and really keen to know that I at least do have work on. I told him, “Really well, I’ve just finished working with this company and they improve the efficiency and safety of oncology.”
[Open Scene – Amy’s dad on telephone call with her]
Amy’s dad: You know, your brother has got job at the library. People can’t get to the library at the moment. He’s been delivering the books to people.
Amy: Ahh, that’s nice.
Amy’s dad: Nice? Amy, they let him drive the library van. He can stop anywhere that he wants for lunch. He’s made something of himself.
Amy: Yes, he has.
Amy’s dad: Anyway, you mentioned that you had work.
Amy’s Dad: Good. It’s good that you’re busy
I fell into the trap, a very common one, of thinking that something I felt was important and was proud about, would interesting to someone else. But look, this isn’t just a therapy session for me, I swear this is related to copywriting because businesses do this all the time. And for the record, I should point out that my brother does live in Australia and he is basically living his best life so I can’t compete. Here’s a business example of burying treasure in copy. A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at a conference in Florida for property management firms. Now, I know what you’re thinking, it sounds a bit stuffy, but it wasn’t – those people know how to party! In fact, that was the conference where I learned how to use Tinder. Not for me. One of the organizers was showing me how to use Tinder …this is a terrible start to a story, but I feel committed now. So, one of the organizers was showing me how to use Tinder, not because I wanted to use it, I was just curious because I didn’t understand it, it was like when Pokemon came out and I just didn’t know what it was. Anyway, she was showing me how you matched with people and how you’d swipe left if you weren’t interested and you’d swipe right if you were. To demonstrate, she swiped left a few and she swiped right a few to show me what happened. The conference was pretty remote and as I understand it, Tinder works by distance and let’s just say that one of the guys that she’d swiped right on as a demonstration to me had also swiped right on her and he was an attendee! I didn’t see her for most of the rest of the conference because she had to spend a fair bit of time hiding from her accidental much – it’s heart-breaking. Anyway, as part of the conference, I was providing copy feedback on different websites. There was one management firm’s main headline that I was looking at and it was “Number One Property Management Firm in….” and I can’t remember the exact location, but you get the gist. The headline was all about them being number one in that particular area. Now, I totally understand that they want to run with being number one that’s a bold claim that builds trust, right? Except that, at first glance, it wasn’t clear how they had achieved that rank and there’s a lot of cynicism around as to what makes number one, for example: who’s voted you to be number one? Is it just your mum telling you that you’re number one and you’re really, really special and better than all the other kids? But joking aside, this isn’t a ridiculous claim to want to run within your headline. You’re very proud that, for whatever reason, you are allowed to say that you are number one in that area. But is it necessarily the number one thing that’s going to tick the box of your customers? So, if I’m renting a property and I’m looking for a property management firm to handle it, yeah, I want to be with a credible management firm and knowing they’re the number one firm is probably going to hold some weight, but do you know what I want more than just the number one firm? I want tenants and I want rental income. So, as I looked through the site, I saw something interesting – on average they could find tenants in 15 days. Now that’s pretty fast AND that means low vacancy rates which means their clients can start earning income from their rental property faster. So, my recommendation /suggestion for something to explore was to lead with that – lead with what your audience is most interested in and the thing that they’re thinking about when they wake up in the morning. This is probably not “God, I wish I was with the number one property management firm in my area.” It’s probably, “I have this rental property and I can’t afford to keep it. It’s empty and I need some good quality tenants and I need them fast and I want them to look after the place.” Now, I would still reference the fact that the company was number one, but I probably wouldn’t lead with it. I would lead with that promise and then use the number one rank information as proof of the promise. So, I’d have a headline that said “On average our landlords get great tenants in just 15 days” then below that, as a padding, you could say that that was one of the reasons you ranked as number one management firm etc.
So, I want you to have a look at the way you talk about your business and products, particularly in that first impression headline and any time really, whether it’s a flyer, an email, when you’re trying to give that first impression about your business, are you making a bold claim about something that you are proud of or something that the customers are excited about? And you know what? Sometimes they are the same thing and that’s fine. Maybe you’ve got a brand-new product out that you’ve worked really hard on and you know that people are asking absolutely going to love it, but if you’re talking about your excitement and not theirs, then you could be burying the treasure you need to get someone’s attention and make sure customers realize just how valuable you are.
Sometimes our personal pride and excitement about our achievements can cloud our marketing judgment, but there’s also another way that we can end up burying treasure and by that, I mean failing to mention the things that customers love. One example of this is just not paying attention and not listening to our customers and maybe not asking the right questions to find out what it is that they really love. So, time for another story. A while back I had a bit of a tricky client. Now, if you listen to episode 21 about whether you should choose a niche as a copywriter, you’ll know that this is pretty rare because I have some strict filters in place and the clients that I end up working with are generally delightful, except this guy, and that’s what I thought the time. For the purposes of anonymity, let’s call him Gordon. I was hired to work with his department in an organization and while I can’t give specific details, I had a clear brief of the project, let’s call it project X – we’re getting very mysterious now! We were going to build a strong sales message for his department, something I’ve done many times and as a result, I had a pretty good idea and guidelines for what works and what doesn’t in this type of engagement. Now, within minutes of our first video conference this guy hated me. Now, it didn’t help, that I couldn’t get my camera to work so he couldn’t see just how much I was smiling. I was smiling my little face off to show that I’m a lovely person, really, I am, honestly, you’d like me. This, conversation went downhill very quickly, and the problem was that he was asking me to work in a way that didn’t follow the usual process and I knew the minute that he was telling me what he wanted, it wasn’t going to work, and it wasn’t going to be a good experience and we weren’t going to come up with a great sales message. So, I kept coming back to the process, explaining the reasoning for why we did things this way and why this was a better way than what he was suggesting but not only would he not budge, he was becoming more and more irate and it was just not a fun call.
[Open scene – Irate Gordon on sales call with Amy]
Gordon: We have various stakeholders, business unit heads, leadership teams of three, three executive committees, and we need everyone involved in writing this message.
Amy: Right, so the limit that we have is eight people.
Gordon: I know you’re limited, but these are important people.
Amy: Oh I know …
Gordon: I don’t think you do know, these people are incredibly important and they’re very busy and they need to be involved.
Amy: You can’t really have a 48 people write a message. What we could do is, we could pick eight from that.
Gordon: That’s not going to happen.
Amy: Right, OK, I’m just thinking, we’ve got eight hours together to do this virtually and to have everyone on zoom … I just don’t think that’s going to work.
Gordon: Look, I’m going to be honest with you, I do not have the warm and fuzzies right now about this project. Now you’re going to have to go away and figure this out because we are not moving on this.
Gordon: I’ve got another call. I’m very busy and very important.
I came off the call a little bit stunned, actually, no, do you know what? I’m going to be really honest with you, I came off the call annoyed and then angry and then furious and then we were getting up to white heat proportions. I’d been brought into help; I knew how to help and all I could see is that was coming up against brick wall. Then my imagination kind of got away from me. Have you ever had that experience where you’ve had a difficult conversation with someone and then you carry it on in your head and you go back and revisit it and then you find yourself coming up with all these incredibly eloquent and profound arguments and all the things that you should have said that would have enabled them to see things from your point of view? Well, I started doing that quite feverously in my mind whilst I was cooking tea that night and all I knew is that he lived near a ski resort somewhere I would never, ever, ever visit in my life – I’m never strapping myself to a pair of skis, ever. But that evening, in my mind, I found myself in the French Alps.
[Open scene – Amy in the French Alps with Gordon]
Gordon: I said, look, love, that’s not going to work. We do it this way and you’re just going to have to figure it out.
Female admirer: Oh Gordon, you’re just so damn assertive. I can’t see how you’d be anything other than successful in life.
Gordon: I know what you mean.
Female admirer: Who was that?
Gordon: They’re setting up to ski down the most dangerous terrain there is.
Female admirer: Nobody has ever tried that trail before.
Gordon: I think we are about to watch someone’s demise.
Female admirer: Oh Gordon, there’s your assertive wit again. Let’s have these hot toddies and see what unfolds.
Gordon: He actually made the dead man’s curve.
Female admirer: He’s going for the jump.
Gordon: He’s going to do it …. a back flip, corkscrew rodeo, flip and loop, double loop … not even I could do that.
Female admirer: Don’t say such a thing Gordon.
Gordon: He’s coming over. Pretty neat trick on the slopes there.
Amy: Oh, thank you. Let me just, sorry, let me just remove my mask.
Gordon: Wait, you’re a girl.
Gordon: You ski like a man. Well done, that was an amazing display of dexterity and courage and I can only imagine that you must be incredibly talented in all other areas of your life. What is it that you do?
Amy: I’m a copywriter.
Gordon: Really? We’re actually looking for a copywriter at the moment. It’s an important project and we’re working with someone now, but I don’t think she’s got the chops, but I can tell you do. How about we talk over a hot toddy about it.
Amy: Would that be project X, Gordon?
Gordon: Wait, how do you know my name?
Female admirer: I bet she has seen you on the slopes.
Amy: I wasn’t able to get my camera to work earlier for our conference call so I’m not surprised you don’t recognize me, but I definitely remember.
Gordon: Amy the copywriter?
Amy: That’s right, Gordon and before you ask, yes, I do write as well as I ski. If you thought the rodeo flick with a link and loop and a double cork was impressive, well, you haven’t seen what I can do with a headline, bullet points and a call to action.
Gordon: I didn’t realize …
Amy: No, you didn’t Gordon, and that’s why you should be kind to everyone, especially people who are trying to help you.
Gordon: I’m sorry Amy, you’re right.
Amy: I’ll think about continuing with project X but for now, savor that hot toddy Gordon because it’s the only thing that’ll be giving you the warm and fuzzies tonight.
I can’t be the only one who plays out these kinds of imaginary conversations in my head. Am I? No, I can’t be. Right? In fact, let me know – I want to know from you about the last time that you won an imaginary argument against a very real adversary. I bet that you were amazing! So, the next day I’d cooled down a bit and as luck would have it, someone recommended a really good book to me based on negotiation. It’s called Never Split the Difference and I will link to it in the show notes because it’s awesome. Now, I read this book and I was having this sort of tussle with Gordon and I thought that this was going to help me bend him to my will and get everything the way I exactly want it, but that’s not how the book works. It’s based on the experience of an FBI negotiator and one of the techniques it covers is actually how to listen to people, not just how to listen, but how to show people that you are listening to them. The book actually made me realize that while I thought initially that Gordon was just being a bit of a dickhead, he was actually giving me a lot of clues as to the treasure that he wanted. He was giving me the treasure map and he was saying, “Here’s what I want …” and I was not paying attention at all because what Gordon wanted was to feel that I was actually listening to him and that I was at least understanding why he was making the requests that he was. So, every time he was asking me for something, and I immediately explained that the process doesn’t work well that way, he felt fobbed off. So, on our next call I revisited the things that we couldn’t agree on and instead of doubling down on the rules, I asked him, “Why is that important to you to have all these people involved?” Or, if I thought I could infer what the meaning was I would make a suggestion and say, “It sounds like you want this done this way so that you can be confident that this project will be worth your time, your investment…” et cetera, et cetera.” Then I just let him talk and I tried to make notes of the things that I thought were really important to him and I found that I actually had a much better picture about what was really going on. By doing this, I was able to surface what he really wanted. I found the treasure and the key points that were really important to him and I was actually able to do the project and give him what he wanted without changing too many rules and we were happy on both sides.
So, how can you apply this kind of thinking and follow clues to the treasure in your copy and in your marketing? One of the easiest ways to do this is actually to talk to previous customers. I can usually guarantee that what your customers love about you is probably not your awards. I’m not saying that they’re not important, those things are incredibly important for building your credibility, but in terms of talking to the heart of something that your customer really, really loves and gets excited about, it’s probably not those things. So instead, when you speak to your customers you want to be paying attention things like, after working with you or after experiencing your product, what got easier for them and their life and what challenges do they no longer have to struggle with? What things were they doing before that was a real burden that now have disappeared and are no longer on their to do list because you came into their life and eliminated that frustration? And also, try to listen to what was enjoyable about working with you and ask them, was there anything that surprised you? It may be something simple like, “You answered my phone call within three rings” or, “There was always a prompt response” or, “You answered all my questions, no matter how simple they were.” If you can speak to previous customers, this is great information to get and feed into your future marketing so that’s what I’d like you to take away from today’s episode. Have a little copywriting inventory check and just look at the headlines that you’re using and at the big promises that you’re making. Are the things you’re leading with stuff that you’re proud of or stuff that your customers are really interested in? Make sure that you’re not burying that treasure by not talking about it and if you’re not a hundred percent certain what that treasure is, talk to previous customers – go looking for it and they will give you that treasure map. They’ll give you the clues to the stuff that they love so go dig it out, whack it in your copy and let’s all make some wonderful sales together.
That’s all for this episode. If you have a burning copy question, if you’re not quite sure your headline works, if you’re struggling to structure a sales page, or if you’ve got questions about being a copywriter, you can leave a comment on the episode page over at Write with Influence, or you can email me directly firstname.lastname@example.org I read every single email I get.
I hope your week ahead is looking bright. Maybe you’ll wake up laughing from a joke that someone told you in your dream … how does that happen? How can we tell ourselves a punchline we weren’t expecting? But most of all, remember, sometimes the things we are proud of in our business are not the things customers love.
[Open scene – friends looking for a restaurant to eat in]
Amy: Oh, I am starving.
Friend: Me too. This place looks nice.
Waiter: Oh, hello. Are you’re looking for somewhere to have lunch?
Amy: Yeah, possibly, we’re both pretty hungry.
Waiter: Oh wonderful.
Amy: Is there a menu?
Waiter: Charles and Camilla once ate here. We have their photo on the wall if you’d like to see that? So, come on through …
Amy: What kind of food do you …
Waiter: We won the artisan foodie award in 2018, we are organic, fair trade and only deal on ethical practices. Our chef makes his own refined Persian jam and he recently signed a deal with Selfridges to stock it, not ASDA, he turned ASDA down. He is a very passionate man, he’s driven, he’s ambitious, he worked his way up from nothing and now look at this restaurant where he can serve people his dreams in a dish. You are very lucky that we have any availability. So, table for two?
Amy: Possibly. I just remembered, I’ve got something to do first, but then, do you know what, we will probably leave and come back …
Friend: God, that was a bit much!
Waiter 2: Now ladies, do you like meat, steak, sausages, burgers, and chicken, all marinated in a choice of flavours, whether you like something mild or fiery? We accompany that with either healthy steamed vegetables or chunky, triple fried chips that crunch and then melt in the mouth but stay with you in the mind for hours. You can have your meats in a choice of freshly baked bread, or you can go low cal and we will make you some brown rice. Tell me, do you love food that tastes so good that you wish your companion, even your loved one, would just be quiet while you eat so you can focus all your senses on it and then feel nicely full without being uncomfortable afterwards.
Amy: I, I, I do.
Waiter 2: Then I think you’ll like what we have. What’s more, I might look like a man with a van, but behind here is a cosy, covered courtyard with heaters, comfortable couches and plenty of table space. What do you say?
Amy: Marry me?