Ever been so scared you can’t move?
It’s a common reaction to a really scary situation.
We know we’re in trouble. We know we need to move. But we can’t seem to convince ourselves, so we do nothing.
Some people make a living helping others out of tight spots like this one.
Firefighters, for example, are trained in how to get in there and persuade the immobilized person that moving is a really good idea. The firefighter quickly establishes trust, speaks firmly with authority, and gives extremely clear and specific instructions.
These persuasion strategies are the same as those used in persuasive copy. Making a decision about whether or not to buy a product is far less scary than being trapped in a burning building, but there are surprising similarities.
Your ideal customer might do what you want him to do, but not without some waffling. He hesitates before clicking the Buy button … paralyzed by fear.
So break out the tools of persuasion to help him out.
Information is not persuasive
Imagine you’re trapped in a burning building.
Now imagine I come over and simply tell you a few logical reasons you should move.
- Fire is dangerous.
- The human body has not evolved to withstand the ambient temperatures inside a burning building.
- The fumes being produced are highly unhealthy.
- The building’s structure is likely to become unsound, which creates additional dangers.
Those are all very good reasons to move. This is valuable information.
But it doesn’t help you get out of that fear-based paralysis. Information alone isn’t enough.
Persuasion isn’t about information or the facts. Very often, we already know the facts.
Persuasion is about recognizing that the prospect’s fears are valid, and then allaying those fears. It’s about saying, Yeah, I know you’re in trouble and so damned scared you don’t know what to do, but if you listen to me, I can help.
It’s about getting rid of the fear.
Why is your reader afraid?
Figuring out what scares your prospect is the copywriter’s first job.
It’s (probably) not burning-building fear, but your readers do have fears.
- Maybe they’re afraid this product won’t solve their problem
- Maybe they’re afraid they’re going to throw money away (again)
- Maybe they’re afraid they won’t ever use your solution
So speak to those fears.
In a burning building, you’re scared of moving because being burned hurts like crazy, you can’t breathe too well, and you might die. Those are your current fears. They are big and valid, and factual data about fires won’t help you move.
But if the firefighter starts talking to you in a calm, authoritative voice that convinces you he actually has a way out of this, you’re going to listen up. You’re ready to hear him say something that makes the whole situation less scary.
He’ll probably give you some very specific instructions.
You’re going to take just two steps forward, and I’m going to take your hand. Then I’m going to guide you out of here. Don’t focus on what’s going on around you. Just take my hand.
You can tell he’s a professional, that he’s done this before, and that if you just stick with him and follow the clear instructions, you’re going to be all right.
Help prospects move beyond purchase paralysis
It should. This is the core message of almost every piece of persuasive copy you’ve ever read.
Hey, I know you’re afraid of buying this product because of (specific reasons). But you know what? It’s going to be okay. I’ve been where you are now, and I know the way out of here. So just take my hand, click on the button that says Add to Cart, and in just a moment you’ll have the solution that makes it all okay. Click the button and let’s get you out of this mess, okay?
“Let’s get you out of this mess,” is the simple and satisfying underlying message.
Here are the steps:
- Acknowledge and empathize with the prospect’s fear.
- Demonstrate that you’re trustworthy. Social proof helps; so does pre-selling with exceptional content.
- Convey your authority. Let the prospect know you can handle this kind of mess with ease.
- Let the prospect see what the way out looks like. Show the benefits of your solution.
- Give clear and specific instructions for what to do next.
Persuasion is about saying:
Stick with me, kid. We’ll get you to the solution, safe and sound.
Most people are just waiting to be persuaded that they have nothing to fear. Good copywriting is about helping them make a move.