Research - Persuasive Prose

The secret to writing great copy is research

 

Research is everything!

Once you have your research down, a large part of your work is done – you understand your product, you understand your prospect… and you can figure out how to present them an offer that’s difficult to refuse.

In fact, doing the research can be up to 80% of the work.

There are three areas of research we need to master:

 

  • The Product
  • The Prospect
  • The Market

 

Let’s look at each more closely…

The Product

Start with the product

 

Use it, subscribe to it, wear it, listen to it, eat it… go through the experience as if you own it. You want to know it inside out.

Step One: List The Features

Take a pad and pen and list every single feature you can think of.

These will transform into vital parts of your copy.

Let’s do an example:

Fed Shoes

Feature
Worn by Roger Federer
Zoom air in the heel
Adaptive Fit Technology
Ultra light
Mesh upper casing
Flex groves on the sole
Lunarlon cushioning
Extra rubber in key areas

This is a short list. If we were doing this for real, we might find another 50+ features (the more the better). Don’t stop until you have racked your brain for every last feature.

Now, a list of features isn’t very persuasive. In fact, it’s pretty much meaningless.

To make these features grab your prospect’s attention, you have to communicate how they will benefit them.

So you need to…

Turn the features into benefits.

There are three types of benefits, and you want to express the features in terms of each:

 

  • Functional benefits: what the feature does
  • Dimensionalised benefits: what the feature looks like in their life
  • Emotional benefits: how the feature will make them feel

 

Start with the functional benefits.

Describe what the feature does for the user…

 

Functional benefits:

FeatureFunctional Benefit
Worn by Roger FedererYou know it's high quality
Zoom air in the heelSupports aggressive on court movements
Adaptive Fit TechnologyFits your foot like a glove
Ultra lightKeeps you agile
Mesh upper casingBreath-ability
Flex groves on the soleTraction support
Lunarlon cushioningResponsive cushioning
Extra rubber in key areasDefence against wear and tear

Copy examples:

  • You know Roger Federer settles for nothing but number one... so when he chooses his shoes, you can trust they are the highest quality
  • They wrap around your foot like a glove with Nike's 'Adaptive Fit Technology'
  • Mesh upper casing lets your foot breathe for maximum comfort

But you can take it to the next level, by showing your prospect how it will impact their life.

Describe what the features will look like in their life…

 

Dimensionalised Benefits:

FeatureFunctional BenefitDimensionalised Benefit
Worn by Roger FedererYou know it's high qualityShow your opponents you mean business
Zoom air in the heelSupports aggressive on court movementsMake that shot with extra stability during quick turns
Adaptive Fit TechnologyFits your foot like a gloveWill feel like it was custom designed for your foot
Ultra lightKeeps you agileSo light you won't know you're wearing them
Mesh upper casingBreath-abilityWon't break a sweat as your feet stay fresh
Flex groves on the soleTraction supportFaster traction during pivots and slides will keep you in the game
Lunarlon cushioningResponsive cushioningSpringy response to get you off the mark quicker
Extra rubber in key areasDefence against wear and tearWill last you longer than ever before

Now we’re talking a language your prospects understand. Hopefully your copy is bringing the product to life:

Copy examples:

  • Trouble with quick turns during extra-long rallies? The Zoom Air In The Heel supports aggressive on court movements so you can make the shot!
  • Keep your feet fresh game-after-game with the ultra-breathable mesh upper casing
  • Your opponents won't know what hit them, as you just...keep...making...it...to...the...ball - thanks to the super-springy Lunarlon cushioning

Dimensionalised benefits paint vivid mental pictures that you reader will identify with. It shows them how the product will impact their lives.

But there’s one more level that can really pump up the purchase intention. Emotions.

Emotions are the most valuable tool a copywriter has to persuade. All decisions are made emotionally.

Decisions are made with emotions (benefits)… then are rationalized with reason (features).

Now let’s describe how the features will make them feel…

 

Emotional Benefits:

FeatureFunctional BenefitDimensionalised BenefitEmotional Benefit
Worn by Roger FedererYou know it's high qualityShow your opponents you mean businessDominance
Zoom air in the heelSupports aggressive on court movementsMake that shot with extra stability during quick turnsConfidence
Adaptive Fit TechnologyFits your foot like a gloveWill feel like it was custom designed for your footSecurity
Ultra lightKeeps you agileSo light you won't know you're wearing themDynamic agility
Mesh upper casingBreath-abilityWon't break a sweat as your feet stay freshComfort
Flex groves on the soleTraction supportFaster traction during pivots and slides will keep you in the gameCompetitiveness
Lunarlon cushioningResponsive cushioningSpringy response to get you off the mark quickerAdvantage
Extra rubber in key areasDefence against wear and tearWill last you longer than ever beforeTrust

Now we’re putting into words how the features will make them feel:

Copy examples:

  • Feel a surge of dominance run through your veins as you face your opponent armed with the weapons Roger Federer himself uses
  • You'll feel that extra advantage on court with springy Lunarlon cushioning, getting you off the mark quicker
  • You can trust your Vapors will last you longer than ever before, thanks to the extra rubber weaved into high wear zones... designed specifically to defend against wear and tear

So have you done this for every product feature? You have? Good.

Depending on the complexity of your product, you could have 20 to 200+ features listed out.

Give yourself a pat on the back, because you’ve completed a very important step…

Now you have the building blocks of your copy.

Take this list and put it on the wall – you should see inspiration for all parts of your copy – from your headlines… to your bullets… to your calls to action and more.

You will now need to weave each benefit into your copy, starting first with the most important one.

But which benefit is the most important?

To know that… you will need to know…

The Prospect

What are his thoughts, feelings and behaviours?

 

Your job now is to develop an intimate understanding of the person you are selling to.

Step Two: Figure out which benefit is most desirable to your prospect, so you know which points to be stressing.

Here are the important categories to focus on:

 

  • Desireswhat does your prospect want?
  • Beliefswhat does your prospect believe that could influence his decision to buy?
  • Emotionshow does your prospect feel now? How does he want to feel? How does he want to avoid feeling?

 

There’s 4 steps to help you understand your prospect:

1. Common-sense

2. Becoming an Insider

3. Meeting Prospects

4. Special Ninja Research

 

Let’s have a look at each…

 

1. Common-Sense

In this approach we rely on two skills that everyone has – imagination and intuition.

Step into your prospect’s shoes.

Imagine you were in their situation:

  • What would you experience… how would you feel… what would you do?
  • What would you be thinking… where else would you look… what would be most important to you?
  • How would you make your decision?

Spend 20 minutes in your imaginary world. Jot down everything you can think of.

This exercise works surprisingly well.

 

2. Becoming an Insider

Get inside the mind of your prospect.

Dan Kennedy shares 6 powerful steps used by successful direct marketer Jerry Jones, on how to stay in the frame of mind of the prospect:

  • Regularly read every industry publication
  • Spend time on forums and other websites that your prospect goes to discuss issues
  • Subscribe to email groups where your prospects discuss relevant issues
  • Attend industry functions, seminars, conventions and trade shows
  • Play prospect by going through other product and service provider’s sales funnels
  • Collaborate in mastermind groups with your prospects and other vendors and service providers

 

3. Meeting Prospects

Engage with prospects on many levels to get a deeper understanding of them:

  • Conduct customer surveys: low cost online tools like Survey Monkey can make it easy to get large volumes of feedback 
  • Speak with key sales people: sales people are masters at overcoming objections, and you need to know them all!
  • Interview customers: Spend time with prospects at the point of purchase, or call old customers

 

4. Special Ninja Research – Existing Advertising

Some of the best info can come from ads running in your industry.

Your prospect will be reading these ads so why aren’t you?

There’s a trick though…

Only pay attention to ads that have been running for a while – because these are making money!

Why waste time and money testing when you can take a short cut and model something successful?

Pay special attention to these element of the ad:

  • What benefits are they stressing?
  • How are they presenting their offer?
  • Is the price point competitive or premium?
  • Do they offer a guarantee? 

 

Now with these four steps you should have gotten to know your prospect.

 

See how well you did - by answering the following questions...

  • What keeps your prospects up at night, what troubles them so much that they’re staring at the ceiling at 2am?
  • What are your prospects most frequent frustrations?
  • What are your prospects fearful of?
  • What do your prospects get upset about, or who makes their blood boil?
  • What are their life goals, expressed or repressed (what do they secretly desire)?
  • What habits to they have, what trends occur in their life?
  • How do they make decisions about the things they buy? (i.e. lawyers can be analytical)
  • If they are part of a club, do they have their own lingo, slang that you can use?
  • Who else is selling them something similar, and how, what do they focus on most?
  • Who else is selling them something similar, but failing?

Your job as a business is to match up your offering, to your prospect's most valued needs.

Finally, to help you pull it all together you will need to look at…

 

The Market

Understand the market you’re in

 

Buying decisions don’t happen in a vacuum… and things that affect your overall market, will also affect your prospect.

So pay attention to what’s going on in your market.

Here are a few questions to get you started:

 

  • Are there any major news or events that you could play off?
  • Are there legislative changes you need to be aware of?
  • Do any of these impact your prospects lives in a way that strengthens your offer to them?
  • How are your prospects buying – how are they most comfortable buying (ie in store vs online)?
  • What are your competitors doing?
  • What are your competitors doing who are selling across different mediums (ie if they sell in store, while you sell online) 

 

These will give you a good grounding to what’s going on in the industry.

Again, this is all about stepping into the mind of the prospect. If you were your prospect – consider everything they are considering, look at the offers they are looking at.

Try to figure out, as your prospect would… which product/service/company/offer you would go with that would bring you the greatest satisfaction/value/benefit.

If you do this step regularly you’ll keep your finger on the pulse of your industry.

You’ll be 10 steps ahead in identifying trends in the market… so you can be well positioned to deal with them, or take advantage of them.

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