Most of us think of detours in our well-planned route as negative disturbances. Yet disruption is the catalyst for change. Once your tidy apple cart is upset, you either have to pick it up and carry on, or figure out a different way to haul apples.
Disturbance is a key to grabbing your customer’s attention. Often we try to give customers and prospects what they want all day long, trying to please them, to speak their language and generally smooth their way. You can spend a ton of effort describing future benefits, the ease with which you will serve them, and what their lives will look like if they purchase your products or do business with you.
Effectively, you lull them into thinking all is well — even if they take no action. By painting a picture that reveals a solution, we assume our ideal customer will gravitate toward what we offer. But if they never do, then you have not disrupted their world enough.
No pain. No Fear.
You haven’t touched a nerve yet, so why would your customer bother changing anything at all? It’s human nature to just carry on. Just like objects in rest and motion, our psyche follows those same laws of conservation. It takes energy to switch gears, try something new or seek a solution. Most of us put things off until it’s bugging us so badly we’re losing sleep, in physical pain, wasting money or time we can’t afford, or we are presented with an ethical problem we can’t rectify.
Telling someone what they don’t want to hear — using fear in copywriting — is what opens the door for a decision to be made. Opening a wound, jarring the customer into a state of shock or at least discomfort forces a reaction. That reaction, if it correlates to a strong emotion, becomes a decision.
Where does your customer’s discomfort come from? (It’s not what you think.)
It’s only uncomfortable for them if your words ring true. If the prospect of pain, loss, discomfort, confusion and general bad stuff happening doesn’t make them wince, they’re not your ideal customer anyway. Your words must make an impact. The only way you provoke a decision is through disruption, skewering the raw meaty truth that makes your customer want to turn away…but can’t.
That moment of wanting to turn away, but not quite being able to. That indecision is the marketer’s enemy and best friend — and it’s more powerful than the pain, fear and loss put together. Marketers have always been trained to believe those things are strong motivators. And sure, they are! But there’s something worse you must understand before you decide to wield those intense motivators: indecision.
Your customer’s indecision is the only thing more powerful than the cure for his problem. The effectiveness of your copy hinges on it’s ability to move your customer from indecision and procrastination. If you cannot spark a definitive yes or no right now, then you need stronger copy — or a better offer.
Sometimes the only way to get through is to focus on loss, pain, fear, scarcity, lack, weakness, or pity. If you only ever take the high road and fail to call out the bad stuff, you’re doing a disservice to your potential clients. But the real trick is pushing them past the pain to a place where they can do something about it.
Is there a way to show you feel their pain without sounding slimy and blatantly salesy? Yes!
Gaining Perspective on Fear and Pain in Copywriting
How to use it without abusing it in your marketing
First, step into your customer’s shoes. See the situation from their point of view. If you’ve been in business long enough, you probably know how the problem feels because past customers have told you. Give your customer space to feel it before you jump to solving it.
Then again, maybe you don’t really know. Ask questions. What would make them feel better about saying “yes?” Let them tell you. Let them know you heard and understand by repeating what they just told you.
Avoid rescuing. The only one who can really transform negativity is the person who’s feeling it. If you position yourself as a miracle worker, you’re in a dangerous position. Negativity follows solutions just like it sticks to problems. Let your customer own it; not you. Part of the decision-making process requires the will to cast off personal crap.
Picture a blurry image or word actually coming into focus. Like a line of text seen through different lenses during an eye appointment. The optometrist says, “Which is better? A or B?” and the patient makes a choice. That’s the simple image I want you to remember. Focusing on something negative doesn’t mean elevating it above the positive. “Focus” simply means bringing clarity to the negative state. Acknowledge it and then flip the lens.
Care. It’s not about convincing someone to do something they don’t want to do. A stong-armed “yes” ensures an unhappy, disgruntled client. Concern yourself with getting customers who are 100% on board. The only way to produce them is to genuinely care about the problems you claim to solve.
Don’t wallow. Move on. Spending too much time in that zone of loss creates more worry on the customer’s part. Address concerns and move on. Don’t carry their baggage. Instead provide contrast by shining your spotlight on the problem. Decisively put the problem in its place and put to rest any concerns that you’re “using” it to your advantage.
Photo by KellinaHandbasket on Flickr Creative Commons