The ad was appealed to people who don’t exercise, or who may have never known what it feels like to move their bodies.
It caught my attention because I was one of those people. Right up to about age 40, I never exercised. And I mean NEVER.
I was the kid who got a stitch in her side running across the gym. I never earned the presidential fitness certificate in grade school. I couldn’t fathom how a person could do a pull up.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but aside from a brief stint with Jazzercise when I was a college student in the 80’s, I was always a couch potato. I literally can’t remember a time over a twenty year span when I ever got my heart beating hard or broke a sweat.
I wanted to lose some weight and look better, so I went back to Jazzercise because I love to dance and I knew the program was fun. (It had to be fun, or I knew I wouldn’t go!)
Now back to the Golds Gym radio ad. In it, people were talking about the benefits of exercise in a way that most non-exercisers don’t begin to understand. It was brilliant because not one of them mentioned weight or body image — the testimonials were all about how the Golds Gym members felt.
An increase in energy, feeling great about yourself throughout the day, feeling like you can do anything, and feeling confident and peaceful…these are all byproducts of exercise that, unless you do it, you have no clue. I’m 47 now, and I can personally attest to all of these things. But before age 40, I would have had to trust that what these fit folks already know – that exercise has spiritual, mental, and even social benefits, too! It’s not all about the physical bennies!
People need to know all of the reasons why they should buy something before they buy it. If you want to sell something, you need to point out as many benefits as you can. You probably already know that.
But there’s something more going on in copy that converts, and it conflicts with a very common copywriter’s mantra.
You need to be aware of this so that you don’t hit a wall that stops you from writing effective copy.
The customer owns the pain words, but the copywriter owns the transformation words.
All copywriters know they must tap into their customer’s pain.
Using the words they use to identify their problem (this is a common SEO rule, too), gets their attention and shows you understand your audience.
You read their minds and speak their language.
In the case of someone who is thinking about joining a gym, those words and ideas may be limited to words like “need to lose weight”, “Want to fit into into my clothes”, “doctor said I had to get healthy”. You might even use words like “cardiovascular health” and “muscle tone”, etc.
What un-fit people may not understand is all those juicy “fringe benefits of the benefits” of good health.
Some writers would stop there. They would gather up all the different ways an overweight, low-energy person would imagine the problem, use the appropriate words to attract their attention, and perhaps keep to this rule all throughout the copy.
That would be a huge mistake!
Once you have their attention, you must loosen that rule.
Use words and concepts that are brilliantly different from their expectations! This is how you really get their attention and convert people because it’s a promise they may not have ever considered.
In addition to using the words describing their expected results, allow your customers to imagine the full transformation your product provides. Make sure you are using every possible piece of the copywriting puzzle to convince your customer to act.
In fact, I believe you should use your customer’s words only sparingly after a certain point in your copy, or in your content development. Move them toward your solution as if you are walking right by their side, pointing out all the wonders of the new reality.
If you only use their words, then you only describe what they are expecting to happen.
Yes, you solve their problem and you show them that it’s possible to move beyond it… even to feel differently, but is that all? If you never punch through that veil of what they expect, it’s really difficult to elicit the emotional breakthrough that comes from purchasing the product. Your copy ends up being flat and one-dimensional. It’s like you tick off all the expected benefits, but you never really get to the surprise and delight, which is where conversion occurs.
I have a list of places I go online to find out what people are talking about “behind closed doors.” The internet is rich with this kind of banter and copywriters only need to search and find where their target customers are to discover how to position and sell their products. When I’m researching my clients’ customers I hang out and listen.
People are congregating and talking about what they love, what irks them, how they do the things they do…and why. Many times, when exploring a problem, they are operating from one place…and that is the place of need, pain, worry, frustration, expectation, desire, shock, wishing, fatigue, negativity or hopelessness.
They nail that part.
But the transformation, those things they desire and wish to occur, only go so far. They can only guess at what will change for them once they try something different.
That’s why they’re reading your copy — to explore something new!
You have to show people, in words they are not used to hearing, the transformation they will undergo. You must paint the picture and describe a new sensation where they can really feel what’s possible.
Your ideal customer is craving to be released from that self-talk, and the maddening circle of frustration. Maybe they have ideas about what’s worked and what hasn’t worked in the past. They know the relief they want to feel, but they don’t know that there is a whole new world on the other side of that solution. They may not even know how hungry they are until you place that plate of deliciousness — the sight and smell of which they never imagined — in front of them. You, the copywriter (purveyor of your product) are not providing a bandaid, your product is the healer!
Be very careful when researching your customers and using the words they use. They only know half of the picture.
That’s why the Golds Gym radio ad seemed so much more powerful to me than one that just talks about “weight loss” and looking good. People who don’t exercise say they want to “get in shape” to look and feel better. They use those words because they are standard cultural norms.
But do they really know how wonderful it feels to walk taller, know your skin even looks better, you are happier down deep in your soul, after those endorphins have kicked in? You are more loving to family and friends, and you might even enjoy your hobbies and activities more. Imagine that! The radio ad moves into that uncharted territory, and, as this former couch potato knows, this is the best part about exercising!
If you only listen to the customer before the transformation and use only their words and ideas, then you’ll only reveal half of the solution. You attract their attention, and you may even get rid of whatever’s ailing them, but you don’t bring them into the full sunshine of what life could really be like.