Preaching to the Almost Pitch-Perfect Choir (Copywriting Tip # 4)

copywriting tip - preach to the choir

Quick Copywriting Tip #4: Whenever possible, write to people who are already at least half-convinced.

One of the hardest things in the world to do is convince someone they’re wrong. That their opinions are wrong, the way they’ve been doing something is wrong, etc.

We’re all naturally resistant to change (inertia) —  and we usually don’t like anyone telling us to change course.

In many cases, that’s what we’re doing: telling people they’re wrong and we can “fix” them.

We may be asking someone to change

  • from inaction to action — get off the fence, like we talked about in Tip #3
  • from one course of action to another
  • brands or providers
  • his thinking
  • his habits

Change is hard. So why, when your business/profitability are on the line, are you asking people change?

Perhaps you should start “preaching to the converted” instead.

A good writer is more likely to buy writing resources than a bad one, even though he needs it much less.

A dedicated marathoner (like the guy we talked about in Tip #2) is much more likely to invest in fitness stuff than a couch potato dedicated to Game of Thrones and his Playstation.

I know you mean well. But keep in mind that changing the world (or just one person’s mind!) usually takes a lot more work than helping your “choir” make progress towards its goals.

Ideal clients are not necessarily the people who need what you offer the most. They’re the ones who KNOW they need it and/or want it badly and are willing and able to pay for it.

Share your message with those people. Become a visible expert where they congregate. And continue growing your own audience (mailing list) of people who don’t need convincing.

It’ll save you a lot of energy and headache — and probably make you a lot more money.

Check out all 13 Quick Copywriting Tips.


Henry Ford: Misunderstood Marketing Genius

Henry Ford is widely regarded as one of the greatest entrepreneurs in history. When you hear his name, you automatically think about how he innovated the use of assembly line techniques to revolutionize the automobile industry.  Listen to what Harvard Business school professor Theodore Levitt wrote about Ford:

We habitually celebrate him for the wrong reason, his production genius. His real genius was marketing. We think he was able to cut his selling price and therefore sell millions of $500 cars because his invention of the assembly line reduced the costs. Actually he invented the assembly line because he had concluded that at $500 he could sell millions of cars. Mass production was the result, not the cause, of his low prices...He was brilliant because he fashioned a production system designed to fit market needs.” (Author’s emphasis)

Ford understood an indispensable key to successful marketing: the needs and desires of your target market must dictate the products and/or services you provide. That should be obvious. Unfortunately, many businesses work hard to sell what they want to sell (their latest invention or a gadget they think is really cool) instead of what the market wants or needs to buy. Those businesses fail.

Now, let’s look at this point from another angle. What did Henry Ford himself say about his market? “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.” Doesn’t that negate what we’ve said thus far? Far from it.

Nobody wanted cars, it’s true. But they did want to travel more quickly. So Ford did manufacture and sell what people already wanted; it just came in a different package than they expected.

I think there’s an important lesson here. According to another Harvard professor, Paul R. Lawrence, all the decisions we make are based on 4 basic drives: to 1) acquire/achieve, 2) bond, 3) learn/comprehend and 4) defend. If you think about it, everything you purchase satisfies at least one of these motivations. For example, I may buy a Rolex watch to acquire the admiration of my peers. Or, maybe I’ll get the Timex to defend my bank account.

Of course, these drives are unique for everyone. That’s why you have to dig deep and really get to know your ideal clients. What drives are dominant in their decision-making process? What shape do those drives take? What stimulates those drives?

Creating your ideal customer profile is great, but make sure it’s rooted in reality, not your imagination.

Give ‘Em a Reason

Having a product people want usually isn’t enough to make you successful. We see companies with great products or services fail all the time.

Think about the multimillion dollar ad campaigns we see during major political elections. Candidates don’t settle for “getting their name out there.” They beat up the other guys and present specific “evidence” to demonstrate that they are the best choice. (Whether or not their statements were true is another conversation.)

Remember Paul Lawrence’s 4 Drives theory. Your sales and marketing messages should communicate the specific ways your offer will address these deep-seated drives in your audience. How does your product satisfy their desire to acquire something they badly want? How will they come to learn something they desperately need to know by working with you?

Just being the better choice won’t get a candidate elected; it certainly won’t convince people to buy from you. You have to give them a compelling reason why they should buy. Paint an accurate picture of life as they know it, then paint one showing what their experience will be like after they get their hands on your product. The more vivid the image, the more compelling it will be.

Back up your claims with proof: scientific or clinical evidence, testimonials, case studies, awards, etc. Make it real for them.

Once a prospect sees himself enjoying their new life, making the purchase is the next natural step. This usually takes work (research, writing, rewriting, testing). So does filing bankruptcy.

Oh, and One More Thing

People generally won’t buy from someone they don’t trust. It is of the utmost importance for entrepreneurs, marketers and sales people to gain the trust of their prospects and customers.

Allow me to refer you to an interview I did with a third Harvard man, best-selling author Charlie Green. During our 30-minute interview, Charlie talked about

  • why trust is critical to you success in business
  • specific ways you can build more trust in your relationships
  • mistakes you might be making which can sabotage your efforts to gain the trust of your prospects
  • common myths about trust
  • how long it really takes to start building (or rebuilding) trust
  • and more.

Check out the “30 Minutes to More Trust” interview here. I learned quite a bit and I think you will, too.




Unexpected Insights for the Christian Entrepreneur Pt. 4

“Go! For I will send you…to the Gentiles.”Acts 22:21 (NASB)

In Part 2 of this series, we talked about finding your message and standing for it boldly, no matter who doesn’t like it. We described your true audience as self-selecting. The message determines the audience inasmuch as the people you most want to work with and who will get the greatest benefit from working with you will respond to the message. Those who don’t probably aren’t your ideal clients or customers.

While I believe that’s 100% true, I’ve neglected an important factor.

Your message is made for someone. You are “sent” to reach a certain market, as it were. Paul had a very clear message, one that he couldn’t alter or water down. But he also had a target audience. The Lord had called him to preach that message to the Gentiles.

Paul is totally committed to the gospel. He was determined to concentrate solely on Christ and His completed work on the cross. This message is of the utmost importance: Paul could never tweak it to fit his hearers or to make it more appealing. But the message is precisely what those hearers need at the deepest level.

While the Apostle is dedicated to the message, he’s also passionately committed to his audience. The two can’t be separated. Both are utterly essential.

Consider the following:

1) By all means, your business should stand for something. Some people will be offended, and that’s okay. Stand firm.

2) Your message should be based on your provision for someone’s needs. If you stand for something irrelevant, you’re missing the point. Your message is only important in that it meets your market at a point of need.

3) Your message (and even your business) is not more important than your market. It’s important because of your market.

4a) Make sure you know who you’re “called” to serve. Otherwise you’ll waste a lot of time.

4b) Knowing who you’re called to serve implies that you know who you’re not called to serve. In Galatians 2:8, Paul explains that he was sent to the Gentiles and Peter was sent to Israel. There is value in knowing who not to focus your efforts on.

5) Unless your message is the gospel of Jesus Christ, you don’t have to be as stalwart as Paul on the wording or positioning of your message. But the changes you make should be for the purpose of improving your ability to reach your target audience.

Read Parts 1, 2, and 3 of the Unexpected Insight series. Or move forward to Part 5.


How to Pick Your Target Audience, Quick Thoughts

Many business owners think that everyone is an ideal customer for their product or service.

Sound familiar?

They’ve probably heard that they should focus on a certain customer type, but it can be hard to choose one.

Here’s a quick tip. If you have trouble choosing a specific audience to target your business and marketing towards, ask yourself this:

Who is the most likely person to buy this product? (Who wants it? Who can afford it and is willing to pay for it.)

That’s a good place to start.

Create a character out of that imaginary customer. Give him/her a name. How old is he? What does she do for a living? Where does she live? What are his biggest problems and fears? What goals and dreams does he have? What does she want out of life? Etc.

Asking and answering these questions seriously will help clarify in your mind who your best customers are likely to be. You may also learn something about what it is that you’re really selling.

You’re not selling suits. You’re handing out confidence and prestige.

Now that I think about it, even if you have a pretty good idea of who your target market is, this little exercise could still be informative. Give it a try!


The Ophiuchus Effect

Facebook and Twitter were abuzz this week with rumors that a mysterious 13th sign called Ophiuchus has been added to the zodiac. As the “news” went viral, emotions ran high. You’d have thought that World War III had been declared by the way some people reacted.

Now, I’m not into astrology, but all the commotion surrounding this ordeal can give us some valuable business insight.

Peter Drucker said that “The purpose of business is to create a customer.” No matter what industry you’re in, your product or service is all about people. The dynamic that generated such a strong emotional reaction with so many people can also have a profound impact on your customers and prospects.

What’s Your Sign?

The primary reason for the stir surrounding this topic is that it strikes directly at the way in which many people identify themselves.

The mind automatically moves into self-defense mode when confronted with any perceived threat to one’s view of the world and his place in it. If you’ve ever had a disagreement with someone about religion, politics, or even sports teams, you know this is true.

Many people take their zodiac signs seriously.  Their identification comprises a major part of how they think about themselves and the world around them.

Millions check their horoscopes as part of their daily ritual. Important decisions are often made based on what they read. Every newspaper has an astrology section. And there are countless places to check horoscopes online and even on cell phones.

The idea of changing this way of thinking has proven to be earth-shaking.

Every interested individual is forced to ask the question, “Am I what I have always considered myself to be?

It’s the same reaction that people have when they find out that they were adopted. Everything they think they know about themselves is challenged.

Putting the ‘Ophiuchus Effect’ to Work

What are the key lessons you can take away from this phenomenon and apply immediately to your business?

1. One’s perception of who he is forms the very foundation of every choice he makes, including purchasing decisions. No one buys from you because of who you are. They buy what they buy because of who they are.

2. The main reason people form connections to certain products, services and brands is because they tie into how they think of themselves.

Apple shines in this area. Their products and services appeal strongly to those who consider themselves to be creative, intelligent, free-spirited and cutting-edge. Apple has created a cult-like following by participating in customers’ self expression.

How do your customers think about themselves? How can you fit your business into these parts of their lives?

3. People are firmly attached to their own personal categories. You need to know how your customers and potential customers categorize themselves. If you don’t know, find out immediately. Think about the way Democrats and Republicans “brand” themselves. The concepts of “liberalism” and “conservatism” carry powerful emotional ties and fierce (often blind) loyalty. You can use the same strategy to build bonds with your audience.

4. It may be possible to create a category for your business, but it is much easier to become associated with what your customers and prospects already love. Tommy Bahama is a good example. The lifestyle of perpetual tropical vacation is one that certain individuals aspire to. Those people will naturally relate to products like the ones that Tommy Bahama offers.

Make a bold statement of who you are as a company. You will attract the kind of customers you want to do business with. Lukewarm relationships will decrease proportionally to the strength and specificity of the stand you take. Instead, you’ll form passionate, long-term relationships.

5.  Affirming the worldview of your customers and connecting with their categories they identify with will help build instant rapport and trust. You are “one of them!” As such, they will feel that they can trust you and relate with you. They believe that you understand them and their needs.

Take time to get to know how your customers view the world. Find ways to affirm their way of thinking. You’ll discover your interactions with them will be more beneficial both for your business and them.

The addition of Ophiuchus to the zodiac may be the latest tall tale, but the emotional reactions are no myth. The psychology is real and powerful. Apply the lessons this event has taught you; your business may never be the same.