Say you’ve been feeling under the weather for a few days, and you decide to go to the doctor.
The moment you open the door to your doctor’s office, she takes one quick look at you, thrusts a prescription into your hands, and slams the door in your face.
No check-up, no conversation, just a bottle of pills and her bill in the mail.
Are you confident she’s given you the solution — the correct medicine — you need to make you feel better?
How could she possibly know what the right prescription would be without carefully considering and analyzing your symptoms?
Even if you were suffering from something simple, you’d still want your 10 minutes of poking, prodding, “umming,” “ahhing,” and answering all the questions specific to your situation.
That’s what gives you the confidence that the doctor can fix your problem.
Your prospects need the same thing
Assessing and explaining the reasons behind your customer’s “symptoms” is just as essential when writing sales copy.
If you try to jump straight into selling your product before identifying the problem, you make it harder to convince your customer logically, emotionally, and with proof that you have something they desperately need.
So, here’s a simple three-step guide to using your prospects’ symptoms to make your offer more compelling and convincing.
Step 1: Outline your prospect’s symptoms
When you go to the doctor she doesn’t ask if you feel “unwell.” She asks you if your throat is sore, if you have a cough, if you have a headache in the morning, and so on.
She needs to identify your precise symptoms before she can solve the root problem.
In copywriting, your customer’s “symptoms” are specific situations he can relate to that are caused by the problem you solve.
For example, instead of saying:
Do you want to get rid of your work-related stress?
Get very specific and identify the symptoms:
- Do you wake up Monday morning and wish it was Friday afternoon?
- Does your stomach tie in knots when you hear your boss’s voice down the corridor?
- Do you snap at loved ones as you try to concentrate on the work you’re trying to finish at home?
Don’t be afraid to dig deep and describe the prospect’s pain. By illustrating distinct situations, you achieve the following:
- You make it more interesting to your ideal customer
- You show them that they are in the right place for what you have to offer
- You build trust by proving you understand and empathize with their problem.
Step 2: Pinpoint the cause of your prospect’s symptoms
Now that you have your reader agreeing that they suffer those problems, you might be tempted to jump in and show them the solution that can take those symptoms away.
And you might convince some people.
But because you’re a copywriting ninja, you want to convince as many prospects as possible that you are the expert with the solution they not only need but want.
So your next step is to explain what is causing their symptoms.
Just as a doctor can tell you how certain infections affect our cells and cause our noses to run, here you get to prove to your reader the reason they’re feeling so rotten.
So instead of saying:
Our career coaching service can help reduce the stress and frustration you’re feeling.
Sometimes things change and you become unhappy in your job. It might be new management, or a sudden restructuring process. Even positive changes such as a promotion can bring added responsibilities that you haven’t been trained to deal with. If they’re not addressed, they can snowball … and soon the job you once loved is creating unnecessary pressure at work and stress at home.
By using logic to explain the problem, you increase your credibility. You show you understand your prospect’s problems at a deeper level.
What’s more, you’re making it easy for your reader to agree with you, by again using clearly defined situations they can relate to.
Step 3: Demonstrate how your solution will cure their symptoms
Cold medicine often explains how the product works to cure your symptoms.
For example, eucalyptus acts on nasal membranes to make it easier to breath, and honey will coat your dry throat so you’re not kept awake by a tickly cough.
In the same way, you need to show how your product or service conquers the troublesome symptoms your customer suffers from.
Our online tools and resources are designed specifically for executives to help you anticipate and deliver reports to your boss’s expectations.
Our time management coaching helps you get more done in the day, so you can leave work at the office and relax with your family when you get home.
By using these three steps in your copy you build trust and credibility just as a good doctor does by:
- Showing that you are listening (and that you understand) your customer
- Educating your customer on what’s causing the problem
- Proving that your product has been designed to clear the symptoms and make the problem go away
Next time you’re writing copy, ask yourself if you’re spending time on the symptoms and not just shoving a prescription in their face.