Hello and welcome to Episode 37 of Write with Influence.
Today I want to talk to you about being strategic in your copy by starting with the end in mind. One of the things that I love about copywriting is that it has a purpose – each piece of copy is like a link in a chain of persuasion, nudging someone closer and closer to the next step so that they become aware of you and take action then and there, but have you ever considered that you might be asking your customers for too much too soon?
Listen to discover:
- The importance of having realistic expectations and identifying what you are actually trying to accomplish with your copy.
- Two key questions to ask yourself before you start writing.
- How to build confidence in your prospects to increase the chances of them taking the next step.
- Successful industry examples of how to build trust and establish lasting relationships with customers.
- The fast friendship maker as seen in Forbes –skyrocket your friendship results with a fast-track to the inner friendship circle for just £997 per month. Includes 1 monthly friendship call and 1 overnight stay. Exclusions apply. Travel expenses not included.
Whether you want your readers to comment on your article, sign up for your newsletter, download a free eBook, buy your product or service, or something else, this episode will help you to identify the ultimate end game of a visitor’s interaction with your website and pick out the most important information for your customers so that they are more likely to interact with you and take action.
WHAT’S THE BEST “MOST LIKELY” NEXT STEP A PROSPECT CAN TAKE AFTER READING YOUR COPY?
Hello and welcome to Write with Influence. I hope that life is being kind to you right now and that you’re having a good week. I am a little bit sore and a little bit achy today because I’ve been out in the garden. A week or so ago, we pulled a tree down to try and make some space and we figured, you know what? We don’t need anyone to do this for us, we can do this ourselves. And by the way, what I mean is that Malc and my dad brought it down whilst I watched and mum worried. Now, the part we haven’t thought about was what to do with the tree once it was down. So at the moment, we’re snipping it up into small pieces because where we live, everyone has a green waste collection bin from the council, so we’re sneaking as many of these pieces into our neighbors’ bins as possible. I’m kidding. We have asked permission, but I did spend six hours in the sun snipping up a tree, so I ache, my forearms ache, and I’ve burned my neck pretty badly. The Bellamy brothers should write a song about me because I’m literally a redneck girl – great song!
Today I want to talk to you about being strategic in your copy by starting with the end in mind. Now, one of the things that I love, love, love about copywriting rather than just content writing, is that the purpose of your copy is to get someone to change their thinking, change their behavior, or take action and do something there and then. It’s got a purpose, it’s not just informative, it’s persuasive and each piece of copy is like a link in a chain of persuasion, nudging someone closer and closer to the next step so that they become aware of you – perhaps they sign up for a free offer, make a purchase, or even make further purchases from you in the future. And that’s why this week’s featured art is of me in tactical gear because, you know, I like a good action movie and I like watching a good SWAT team storming a building and rescuing people. And if you’re ever watching a film like that, and they’ve got these special forces teams, they don’t just deal with the critical incident by going in there all guns blazing and with no plan because they know that if they do that, bad things are going to happen. Instead, they think, what’s the situation? What’s the best possible outcome? And what’s the best use of our resources to increase the likelihood of this outcome happening? And that’s the mindset you need, I think, when you sit down to plan a piece of copy. You’ve got to imagine that your prospect is holding your money hostage. How do you get them to hand it over? Now, I’m joking here, obviously, I hope you don’t see your customers in such combative light! I actually once worked in a cafe where my boss spoke like that, she would tell us to imagine customers having £5.00 notes in their pockets and think about what we could do or say to get them to hand over that £5.00! What tactics could you employ to make them audit even more than they were going to? I mean, this was a tiny cafe in a leisure center, it wasn’t a busy franchise, and she was a sociopath, and we were on about £3.80 per hour. So yeah, I’ll flip a burger for that, I’ll smile while I’m doing it, but that’s about it.
So, how can you approach your copy more strategically so that you’re not just going in there without a plan when you sit down to write or send out an email or create a landing page? Well, when I’m either coaching people or if I’m sitting down to write copy, there’s usually two questions that I like to think about. The first question is:
What is the best, most likely next step that my reader can take?
The second question is:
What does that reader need to see in order to increase the chances of them taking that step?
So, it’s a little bit like that SWAT team approach – what’s the best outcome and what can we do to increase the chances of the outcome? So, let’s take the first question and see how it would influence our copy.
What is the best, most likely next step your reader can take?
Now, the most likely part is important, and the reason that I include this is because if you just think, “What’s the best next step a reader could take?” you might jump ahead and think, “Well, my reader will see my landing page and they’ll buy my high-ticket mastermind group for £997 per month.” Now, they might if they know you and you’ve built up trust and demand over a period of time, but if you’re presenting this offer to a new audience, it’s going to be a bit of a stretch. That’s asking a lot from your landing page to go from zero to a thousand dollars per month or a thousand pounds per month, just on the basis of one landing page. But I see people sit down to write copy thinking that this is possible, and they underestimate the work needed to convert a customer and overestimate the power of copywriting. Now don’t get me wrong, copywriting is incredibly important, and it is powerful, and it is persuasive, but to have magic words in one piece of copy that completely change someone’s mind there and then in an instant is unlikely. I’ve seen people send out a couple of emails for an offer and then wonder why no one accepts, and in the last episode, I told you that rejection doesn’t always mean that your offer is bad, it might just mean that you’re approaching the wrong people, or you’re using the wrong message or you’re using the wrong channel to reach people, but it could also mean that you’re just asking people to do too much. Now, one of my clients at the moment is a nonprofit and they’re looking to reach a new audience. It would be great if we could just send a couple of emails and generate donations straight away, but that’s unlikely if they’re not familiar with the work that we do and how we do it. And they’ve had challenges in the past with outreach campaigns and looking at the copy and previous marketing, sometimes they were just asking too much from people. So, this is why you need to be asking, what is the best (for you) but most likely next step? And then you want to make sure that you’re making it really easy for people to take that next step. So, let’s say for example, you’re reaching new people and you’re at the start of a relationship. Well, the best, most likely next step might not be getting them to buy straight away, it might be getting them to sign up for something for free so that they can get your newsletter, you can get them on your list and then you can start sharing content, showing your value and building that trust. Often a lot of software products do this. I was recently looking at the copy on Wistia and Unbounce and on their homepage they both do this – they offer and promote a free trial rather than give you the pricing and tell you to sign up straight away because these companies know that if someone tries a product enough and enjoys it, the best, most likely next step will be signing up for a basic plan and then moving on to a professional plan, etc. I mean, think about this, how would you go about building a relationship in life from scratch?
[New Scene – Friend Maker Approaching New Employee]
Friend Maker: You’ve just started working here, haven’t you?
New Employee: Yeah, that’s right.
Friend Maker: So, when would you like to become best friends?
New Employee: Sorry?
Friend Maker: You can start with a 15-minute one-to-one or a 45-minute one-to-one, but if you’re really looking to skyrocket your friendship results with me, I can fast-track you to my inner friendship circle. That includes a monthly friendship call and one overnight stay, but you have to pay for your own travel.
New Employee: Sorry, I don’t know what’s going on here.
Friend Maker: Whenever someone new starts, I check their records with HR and see if they match my target friendship profile.
New Employee: You do what?
Friend Maker: You’re a match. You’re exactly what I’m looking for in a friend. Look …
New Employee: What’s this?
Friend Maker: My target friendship profile. See – female, between 25 to 35, single …
New Employee: How do you know …
Friend Maker: I saw you shopping for Guinness and tinned curry – that’s not someone who’s about to have close company anytime soon.
New Employee: I don’t even know you.
Friend Maker: I get it, it’s a trust issue, right? Okay, look, I have been making friends since 1987. In that time I’ve had more than 371 friendships across 32 different countries and worked with some of the fastest growing friend makers. Some have even worked in fortune 500 companies. So, you know, high caliber of friends right there. I’m probably the most recognized friendship maker in this company and Forbes once called me one of their “2021 Friends to Watch Out For,” although that related to stalking charges which were later dropped.
New Employee: I …
Friend Maker: If you accept best friendship with me, I can sign you up, we can start masterminding the success of our relationship on a weekly zoom call, and it’s just £997 per month.
New Employee: I think I’d like to leave now.
Friend Maker: Not got quite the right mindset, do you? Well, good luck with your poorer quality friendships that take years to build.
Okay, so that’s the first part, you need to ask yourself, what is the best, most likely next step? The second question is to say, what does someone need to see to increase the chances of them taking that step? This is why whenever I sit down to write a piece, I like to think about what the relationship has been previously between the reader and whatever email or page I’m writing. So, for example, for someone who is very familiar with my client, will they need reminding of previous interactions or previous emails? If they have received emails in the past, how long ago was it? Do I need to remind them that I sent that email or am I starting a fresh and will I need to explain the background of the business, educate them on the product and explain why I’m emailing them? Now, what’s useful about asking this question is that it stops you doing two things. It stops you fire hosing people and telling them every single thing about your life story, and it also stops you from missing out some key components, and this is really common if you just sit down and start writing – you start just putting everything on the page and there’s a really good chance that you might miss something really obvious. Just think, what is the context in which I’m sending this email? And try to see it from the other person’s perspective – when did they last hear from me? How familiar are they? What do they need to see?
Now, let’s imagine a couple of different scenarios and how this might affect our copy. Let’s imagine that you have a website or a landing page, and it’s something that you’re going to be sending brand new people to you, very unfamiliar. Perhaps you’re targeting a new audience, maybe you’ve decided to do a bit of a publicity push and so have lined up some podcasts to feature on, or you’ve written articles or guest posts to be published on other sites, you would expect that if people like what they see, if they like your interview on your podcast, they’ll come over and check out your website. So, let’s go through this process for someone who is brand new to your site, maybe they just have a little flavor about who you are and what you do, what is the best, most likely next step? Well, it’s probably going to be subscribing to something you have or downloading a simple lead magnet. Okay, so what do they need to see in order to do this? This is where I would probably say that the key piece in this situation is going to be your lead magnet. If that is the best next step, then what you need to show is that what you have is short, it’s easy, it’s simple to understand, and it solves a specific problem. Let’s say you’re a cookery website, it might be some quick recipes or a week’s worth of video tutorials. It doesn’t have to be so much about you on the site and it doesn’t have to be your life story. No long biography is necessary, and you probably don’t need a huge amount of social proof because if you have done a bit of a publicity push, the people coming to your site are there because they heard or read something about you that they liked. You might want some small detail about what you do and who you do it for, and you might also want to point out something else that you offer, maybe to show that you do have services or other products, but if the best, most likely next step is to download your lead magnet, make the information all about that and make it easy for them to take that next step.
But let’s think about another example. Let’s say that instead, you are trying to attract paying customers to your site. You’re not just looking to build an audience; you want people that will want to hire you. So, you might be a designer or a copywriter or a beautician, what is the best, most likely next step from someone landing on your site? If you’re a designer or a copywriter, it’s unlikely that they’re just going to pay you for a project out the blue, they’ll probably want to talk to you first. So, the most likely, next best step could be to fill in an inquiry form or email you, or even give you a call. With that in mind, what do they need to see to increase the chances of that happening? So, as I say, I’m going to imagine that these are people who are new to you and your site or maybe they got a recommendation. What I would say is, they’re going to need to see previous work that you’ve done. If you want more detail about this, listen to Episode 31, which touches on the subject of whether you need a portfolio as a new copywriter, but this also applies to design work or hairdressing; people will want to see what your work is like. Credibility is also going to be worth having, so do you have logos of other clients or publications that you’ve been in? This shows that your clients aren’t your mum and dad, but real people have hired you before, and it shows that you’re professional, you’ve practiced working with other people and so you probably have a process for working with people – you’re not a newcomer. Testimonials can also help bolster this because it shows people that other people haven’t just worked with you but have also liked what you’ve done. And then copy around the following areas is also going to be very useful such as:
- How do you work?
- What’s the process?
Make it as simple as possible. When you outline a process, steps, and systems that you have in place, it shows that you’re not just winging it, you’ve spent time and you’ve thought about the customer experience and how to deliver the best customer experience. This can really build confidence in your prospects because they know what they’re getting into and they’ve got a flavor of how you work. Also, you’ll want copy about the key benefits and there’s a number of episodes in this series about describing benefits, but I would focus on:
- What problem do you solve?
- What’s the before after transformation?
- How will your customer know something has changed in their life for the better?
- What do you do better than the competition – what makes you different?
You will also want an ‘About’ page or an ‘About’ area with details about you, your career path and your qualifications. Remember, if someone is new or brand new to you, you want to show off your best bits. Now these aren’t the only things that you might want on your site but by asking these questions, instead of being overwhelmed by everything that you could say about you and the work you do, you can be more selective in picking out the most important information that someone needs to see.
That’s all for this episode. Remember those two questions when you’re sitting down to write your copy – what is the best, but most likely next step that someone could take? And once you’ve got an answer to that, your second question is, what do they need to see, read or hear in order to increase the chances of them taking your best, most likely next step?