Welcome to Episode 44 of Write with Influence.
Today I am introducing you all to WISH, a technique I developed myself to help you come up with attention-grabbing ideas for your sales copy.
Just like when a doctor diagnoses and treats a patient, I am going to show you how to identify your customer’s symptoms – the frustrations and annoyances that occur in their lives due to the problem that you solve – and offer them a solution that they can’t refuse.
Listen to discover:
- My four prompts that will help you get to know your customer and spot “symptoms” that your product/service can eliminate.
- How to use my WISH technique to position yourself as a trusted advisor and build confidence in you and your business.
- How to use “symptoms” to showcase your expertise.
- How to write vivid and evocative copy that your customer relates to and thinks, “Yes, that sounds like me!”
In this week’s sketches I’ve chosen to elaborate on why I hate icebreakers – to the supervisors, managers, and leaders of the world, please take note and engage your introverted workers in a different way, Rock, Paper, Scissors perhaps? I’ve also thrown in a phony doctor scene to elaborate on my “symptoms” analogy and “agitate pain” by prodding a patient’s knife wound – I promise it will all make sense in the end!
Remember, it’s easy to slip into writing in vague terms and phrases that make you sound like everyone else out there so take the time to try out this technique –pin down the symptoms in your customer’s lives and show that you understand the problems they are facing, remind them that they are in a place of pain and prime them to want YOUR solution.
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THE WISH TECHNIQUE FOR WRITING PAIN POINTS YOUR CUSTOMER RECOGNISES
Welcome back to another episode of Write with Influence. Today I’m going to give you some prompts to help you come up with attention-grabbing ideas, these are ideas that you can use in adverts, subject lines of emails, headlines, any marketing where you want to come up with a quick and simple pinpoint that will help cut through the noise. Now, this exercise may only take you 20 minutes of brain power, but I think it’s worthwhile, and the reason for that is that it really makes you put yourself in your customer’s shoes. So, if you remember, we looked at something called the “Customer Monologue in episode 43 which was a technique to help you imagine life as your customer. In this episode, I’m going to give you some specific prompts to help you come up with even more ideas about what it’s like to be your customer living with the problem that you, fortunately, solve. I call this the wish technique, because there are four main prompts that just happen to spell out the word WISH – wasn’t that convenient and easy to remember! One reason why I think it’s really important to do this type of brainstorming work is because copywriting is nothing new anymore. There are a ton of resources and quick tips and headline templates out there, but there’s also still a heck of a lot of bad copywriting, and I think this is because people see a phrase or a term that’s popular, such as putting the word secret or hack into a headline, or finally you can, and they think that all that they need to get people’s attention is those kinds of copywriting, salesy words. But the problem is, if you’re not talking about something specific to your audience, no amount of clever copywriting phrase is going to get their attention. Now, we looked at this in more detail in episode 33 which was about how marketers cannot live by copywriting phrases alone. So, if you haven’t heard that one, I recommend going back. Like all my other episodes, it’s about 15-20 minutes.
So, today I’m going to give you a list of things to think about, to help you come up with ideas about how the problem that you solve shows up in your customer’s life. This is all about identifying symptoms. You may have heard me talk about symptoms before, and I tend to talk about them because I think they’re really important, and I think that there are a lot of marketers that don’t use them. I’ve been in some very expensive sales message creation meetings where the client still wants to talk about their customer’s problem in very vague terms and when you’re asking them, “Hey, what’s going on in your customer’s world? What are they struggling with?” You might get responses that are quite generic, such as, “Oh, they’re not being efficient” or, “They’re not getting the results that they want.” This is fine as a starting point to have a conversation around, but these are not symptoms, and these are not something that you would want to include in your copy because they’re too generic and too vague. So, what are symptoms? Symptoms are the day to day frustrations and annoyances that occur in your customer’s life due to the overall problem that you solve. It’s pretty much the same as if you go to the doctor feeling under the weather. The first thing your doctor’s going to do is ask about the symptoms – “Have you got a runny nose? Have you got aches in the bones? Fever? Well, it sounds like you have the flu (or whatever it may be)” Then they move into the solution by saying, “Here’s what you need to solve that.” If you think about it, when you go to your doctor, they are really selling you on their idea of a solution, which is exactly what you want to do with your customer, and the way they sell you on the idea is by showing you that you have a problem, and the way they show you that you have a problem is getting you to acknowledge your symptoms. It’s exactly the same in copywriting. This can be really powerful, but not a lot of businesses use symptoms in their copy and instead might only talk about the main problem and then dive straight into the solution.
So, let’s go back to the doctor analogy just quickly. You walk into your doctor’s office, he takes one look at you and says, “You’ve got the flu, take this.” Now, you might trust him and you might think that just by looking at you, his powers of perception means he knows exactly what’s wrong with you, but more likely and realistically, you’re not going to be as confident in that doctor, as you would be with a doctor who takes the time to prove that they know what you’re going through, and this is what you need to do in your copy. You’re going to build that trust and showcase your expertise by using symptoms. So, just as in the doctor’s office, you’re going to describe experiences that your customer can recognize. And symptoms are usually pretty specific, so, let’s look at a marketing example. A common piece of copy that you might see for a business might say:
Is social media not working for your business? You need our social media solution software strategy.
At first glance, we might look at that and think, yes, that copy identifies a problem and offers up a solution, but we want to go a little bit deeper and a little bit more specific, and this really does sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to copywriting, because we want to write something that’s really vivid and evocative to our customer. So, I would push with this example and say, “Well, tell me, what does social media not working for the business look like for our customer?” And then describe that by pinning down some more specific scenarios, for example,
Are you spending a lot of money on Facebook, but not seeing any sales?
Are you struggling to track which sales are coming from which content or which social media platform?
Are you spending too much time updating individual accounts with the same content?
The key with symptoms is to get your customer nodding along with you and saying, “That sounds like me, yes, I can relate.” When you write copy like this, it positions you as a trusted advisor and it gets prospect’s attention because you’re talking about something very specific to them. And because you show empathy and understanding of that problem, it builds trust and confidence in you and your business. So, taking the time to pin down these various symptoms in your customer’s life can really transform your copy and it’s so simple to do but most people don’t take the time to identify, jot down and keep their customers symptoms nearby when they write. The result of this is, when someone sits down to write their marketing content, it can be very easy for them to slip into general terms that makes them sound like everyone else out there. So, I want you to grab a pen and paper, and I’m going to list a bunch of scenarios, and I want you to ask yourself:
- Does the problem show up in this area of your customer’s life?
- If it does, what does it look like?
So here we go, the WISH technique – WISH stands for:
I think it’s a really neat way to get to know your customer on more of a personal level, you know, a little bit like those icebreakers that people do in workshops that everyone loves to do. Don’t we all just love an icebreaker?!
[SKETCH – CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP]
Creative Writing Teacher: Welcome to this creative writing week. We’re going to be sharing a lot of work together and that can make you feel vulnerable, so I’d like to start with an icebreaker. Don’t worry, nothing difficult. Why don’t we start by telling the group something that surprised you today? In fact, I’ll go first. I’ll show you how easy it is. This morning I took a little walk around the garden and saw a plant that I was pretty sure I’d managed to kill, I’m not green fingered, confession, and actually it was doing really, really well! So, that was just a lovely surprise this morning. Who wants to go next, Liz?
Liz: Oh, that was a nice story. Well, I came down to breakfast this morning and fixed my coffee and some toast, sourdough, because I’m having some tummy problems. And just as I was buttering my toast, my husband’s surprised me with the news that he’s leaving me.
Creative Writing Teacher: Oh.
Liz: That was a surprise. I was not expecting that. I mean, we’ve been having problems. We haven’t been close recently. We’ve not been intimate.
Creative Writing Teacher: Um, well . . .
Liz: That, wasn’t the only surprise . . .
Creative Writing Teacher: I did just ask for one. I mean, you’d be going above and beyond if you give another Liz.
Liz: I’ve got a fungal toenail infection that I just spotted this morning. I don’t know where that’s from because we sleep in separate rooms and I don’t go to the swimming baths or the gym. So where do you think that’s come from?
Creative Writing Teacher: I don’t know.
Liz: Those are my surprises and I’m really looking forward to this week and writing about both of those things in great detail.
So yes, let’s use these prompts to get to know your customer. First of all, the W in the WISH, I want you to dive into your customer’s work life. Now, even if your customer’s problem isn’t directly associated with the work, generally speaking, our jobs take up such a large chunk of our day that even personal issues can bleed into our professional environments. So, think about your customer going through their daily work routine – how might the problem affect them? And to break it down further, I’ll give you a couple of other sub points to think about. The first is the people that they work with. Now, unless you’re like me and a bit of a hermit who can go for days without speaking directly to another person with their work, your customer is very likely to have dealings with people as part of the work that they do. It could be suppliers, colleagues, superiors, or even their own employees; dealing with people in work can be a good place to start looking for symptoms. So, for example, if there is a problem that is causing them stress, is that affecting their relationships? Are they as relaxed or as confident as they used to be when dealing with people, or is the problem straining the relationships of the people that they work with? And maybe it doesn’t, as I mentioned, not all of these areas will manifest symptoms from the problem that you solve, but they are there for prompts. So think about, does the problem that you solve affect the relationship of the people that your customer works with? If so, write that down. The other work area that is useful to think about in terms of symptoms is performance. So, does the problem that you solve encroach on your customer’s ability to do the job at hand, for example, the time it takes to complete a task – are they working as efficiently as possible, or are they distracted by the problem? Are they held back by the problem? Are they doing their job as well as they could? Are they giving customer satisfaction or are they performing at a level that their superiors and their bosses expect? Now, the problem that you solve might not show up in your customer’s work life, or it might be smack bang in the middle of exactly what it is that you do, but the point is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes, look around, walk with them in work and see if you can spot symptoms that your product solves that you can eliminate.
The next thing that I want you to think about is the I in WISH, which is internal, how is your customer affected internally? How is the problem affecting them on the inside? Now, this might be in the form of how they feel and their emotions, but also something that I find useful is to think about the things that they’re telling themselves about their problem. Let’s look at feelings first, and sometimes I find that a nice way to approach this is to imagine your customer and think about what they’re feeling, and then try to pinpoint what exactly or what number of reasons could be causing that feeling. So, let’s say you help start-ups, and you work with individuals that want to start their own businesses and you have a lot of customers that initially are fearful or afraid of starting their own business. They want to do it, they’re passionate about it, but there’s some fear that they need to overcome. So, that fear is definitely something that you would want to explore in your copy, but also the reasons behind that fear – what is making them afraid? Is it because they’re worried that they’ll fail? Is it because they’re worried that they’re not smart enough, bright enough, their idea isn’t going to work, they’re going to let people down? All of these are great reasons to include in your copy, and again, it links back to this idea of showing that you really understand where your customer is and what they’re going through, and when you can demonstrate that you elevate your position, because you’re seen as someone who isn’t just pushing something, you are providing a solution to that specific problem, which you can demonstrate that you understand. Now, from there, it can also be helpful to imagine what your customer may be telling themselves because of the problem in their life. This is similar to the customer monologue that we looked at in the previous episode, but we’re not limited to the three prompts that we learned in that episode, which was:
- I’m sick and tired of . . .
- I wish I could . . .
- But I don’t know how . . .
Instead, we can be a bit more free and explore other things that they might be telling themselves, for example, are they telling themselves:
I’ll never do this.
Gosh, if someone could just show me the way . . .
Why do things feel so hard?
Is it my fault that I’ve got this problem? Is it something I did? Am I to blame?
How come other people find this easier than I do?
I mean, we’ve all probably gone through these same kinds of questions when we’re struggling with our own problems. It’s very easy for us to ruminate on, why did this happen? And what’s wrong with me? And will I ever see the light at the end of the tunnel? And if you can think about what your customer might be feeling, these kinds of phrases are great sources of copy ideas, because if you can just include a very short evocative symptom phrase on something like a Facebook ad that could get their attention as they’re scrolling through, because you’re speaking to that very specific problem.
How do I do this?
Is it only me?
Is it my fault?
There really is a lot of power if you can pin down a phrase that your customer is thinking that relates to a pain that they’re feeling.
The next area in your customer’s life to consider is social. This is the S in WISH. So, how does the problem create symptoms in their leisure time? Does it affect them when they’re enjoying a pastime or a hobby, or when spending time with friends? Does it affect their weekends or their holidays? Think about when they want to relax and when they want to do the things that they enjoy – is it cropping up or is the problem showing up and interrupting and affecting or polluting that leisurely time?
Finally, I want you to think about their home life. So, we tend to split our lives pretty evenly between work life and home life so it’s no surprise that these are two key areas where symptoms tend to show up if there is a problem and they get noticed by your customer. So think about how the problem shows up in your customer’s home life. How do they feel when they arrive home? Are they worried? Are they stressed? Are they burnt out? How do they interact with their family? Are there concerns about whether they can support them? Are they able to give their spouse and their children their full attention? What’s the atmosphere like at home? Is it lively? Is it filled with fun or is there tension in the air? How does it affect the activities in the home, both chores and leisure activities?
Now, as I say, with these four prompts, the problem may not show up in all of them, it may only show up in a couple, but what it does is, it just gives you a starting point to create ideas around where you might find good symptoms that you can describe and use in your copywriting.
So, just to recap, I want you to think about WISH and WISH stands for:
- WORK – how does the problem affect them at work, particularly, how does it affect the relationships with the people that they work with and their performance?
- INTERNAL – how do they feel about the problem? But also, how do they talk to themselves about the problem?
- SOCIAL – does the symptom show up and affect or possibly spoil their leisure time?
- HOME – does the problem also invade their home or family life?
That’s all for this week. I am wishing you a stunning week ahead. I want good things to happen to you, nah, I want great things to happen to you this week! Now, if you are interested in the WISH technique, I go into it with some more examples and in much more detail in the full Write with Influence copywriting course. The full course is just a great course for pinning down the fundamental skills for writing persuasive copy. You can check it all out, read about the course, read about reviews over at www.writewithinfluence.com. And I do love the WISH technique, and I love writing and coming up with symptoms because they remind our customers that they are in a place of pain. Talking about symptoms can really help agitate that pain, which as we all know, good copywriting does. Agitating the pain to prime them to want solution.
[SKETCH- DOCTORS OFFICE]
Doctor: What seems to be the problem?
Patient: Avocado hand
Doctor: Tried to remove the stone with a knife and it slipped?
Patient: The nurse said it could do with some stitches.
Doctor: Let’s have a look. How does that feel?
Patient: AWWW! You just jabbed your finger in there.
Doctor: Did it hurt?
Patient: Of course it bloody hurt.
Doctor: All right. What if I jammed this pencil in there?
Patient: I’m in agony!
Doctor: It’s called agitating the pain. Yeah. I can fix this problem for you and make the pain go away, but I mean, I really want you to value it, so I’m just going to remind you how painful the problem is.
Patient: Awww please stop. Stop it.
Doctor: Would you pay me £20.00?
Patient: I thought this was on the NHS! AWW! Yes. Please stop. Just fix it. Just fix it. Here you go.
Doctor: Thank you.
Doctor 2: Okay. Sorry about the delay . . .
Doctor 1: Got to go.
Doctor 2: Who was that?
Patient: The doctor?
Doctor 2: Never seen him before in my life!