“You’ve got to stop buying into your own bullshit.”
I was on the phone with a productivity coach. We were talking about my goals for the year — stop overworking, build a side business, and have a social life again.
When he asked what was getting in the way of my social life, I told him:
“I don’t plan ahead much. Then Friday night rolls around, I’m too tired to figure something out, so I’ll just stay in.”
That’s when he dropped that line about no longer buying into my own bullshit. It struck such a deep nerve that months later, it still rings in my head.
I’m sharing this because there’s a deceptive amount of sales power in that one line. And if you’re struggling to engage readers and move them to buy, there’s a lesson here that could open your eyes to what’s missing from your sales message.
Let’s break it down.
First, in my mind, the problem I faced was feeling tired and unmotivated. But he took me a layer deeper. He helped me see that the problem wasn’t feeling tired. It was me buying into that as an excuse for not going out.
He helped me crystalize the problem. And when you do that, when you show your prospect you understand their problems better than they do, they’ll naturally come to you for the solution.
But that’s not all. By defining my own problem better than I did myself, he gave me an “Ah-ha!” moment. It was exciting and eye-opening to discover this “hidden truth” about myself that I hadn’t realized. Not only did I now see him as someone who could help, I was emotionally engaged in our conversation.
Finally, marketers talk all the time about the law of reciprocity. Give your customers value for free and they’ll feel compelled to give you something in return.
This coach gave me a valuable gift we often overlook: self-awareness. I had this new understanding of myself and my problem and had him to thank for it.
By the end of the call, I was ready to throw my credit card at him. (He wasn’t taking clients, though.)
He didn’t need to make grand promises. By showing he deeply understood my problem he had me engaged and eager to work with him.
If your copy isn’t converting, the problem may not be a lack of benefits, proof, or authority. It could be a lack of connection.
It’s like dating. You can go out with someone who seems great on paper but if there’s no connection, what happens when then invite you out again?
“No thanks, I’ve got to, uhh, clean the garage.”
Same for your readers. Without that connection, they’ll be less interested in your offer.
So how do you do this? How can you show your readers you understand them and create that deeper connection?
Glad you asked!
Here are three tips for how to connect with your audience so they naturally turn to you to solve their problems. The first tip is an expansion of what we talked about above, the other two are all new.
3 tips for deep connection with your audience
Tip #1: Find the problem behind the problem
Your prospect will often come to you with a surface-level understanding of their problem. If you can show them a new way to think of it, or give them a deeper understanding of it, you can win them over.
Let’s use a dating coach as an example since I write a lot of copy in that space.
Men will come to them saying “I just don’t know what to say. Give me that one opening line that lights her up and I’ll be good!” That’s why there are ~1 gazillion websites with pickup lines.
If you wanted to stand out as the one who can help them, get specific with the problem the face.
So what’s the problem behind the problem? Why does he feel he needs a line?
Depending on the type of guy you’re targeting, the problem could be that he:
- Doesn’t want to “bother” her
- Is afraid he’ll come off as “creepy” or “too intense”
- Is afraid of rejection (this is so common it’s worth drilling deeper. What does rejection look like, specifically? Is it a woman giving him the cold shoulder? Or blowing up in his face? Or his friends teasing him for getting shot down?)
Identifying the problem on a deeper level is a fast-track way to cut through the noise and stand out as the one who can help.
Tip #2: Use metaphors
If you’re having trouble explaining the problem, put it in the form of a metaphor. This can be a powerful tool for getting the reader to perk up and feel “Yes! That’s exactly what it’s like”.
In The Secret Code of Success, author Noah St. John does this well. He says that trying to become successful without using your subconscious mind is like “trying to drive a car with the handbrake on”.
Imagine being that reader. You’ve been grinding and hustling but aren’t nearly as successful as you want to be. This metaphor fits exactly what you’re feeling. You’ll want to read on to learn how you can release that handbrake.
Here’s another example: A coaching client of mine understood the problem his prospects faced very well. But his sales page didn’t show it! The whole page talked about his product and had little to do with the problem the reader faced and the emotions they felt.
So I asked him what it was like, years ago, when he faced the same problem his readers face now. That’s when this gem came out of his mouth.
“It was like, I was standing in front of this blank canvas and had all these great tools, but no idea how to paint.”
Yes, yes, good God yes! Now he can show he understands their feelings. And he’s articulated it in a way that can help them understand their feelings and problem even better.
Tip #3: Reassurance
The danger in talking about your customer’s problem is that you risk making them feel bad about themselves. You don’t want your reader to react to your copy by curling up in the fetal position thinking about how worthless they are and how hopeless their situation is.
Not only is that mean, it’s bad business. Without hope of a brighter future, your customer has no reason to buy from you.
So when introducing the problem, tap into your inner Robin Williams and reassure them that this problem is “not your fault”. And give them a reason why.
“It’s not your fault you’re afraid to speak in public, it’s a natural fear based in evolution.”
“It’s not your fault you can’t approach girls in bars, nobody ever showed you how.”
“It’s not your fault you’re stuck at a dead-end job. You were told if you go to college and get good grades things will work out — and that’s not how it goes.”
The productivity coach I talked to didn’t do this, but he didn’t have to. I already trusted him enough to know he had my best interest at heart.
But if the reader doesn’t know you yet, or you’d rather err on the side of caution, reassure them that the problem is normal and there’s a way out. They’ll feel uplifted and more willing to follow you and buy from you.
Next steps for creating deep connection with your audience
If you’re struggling to connect with your audience, it’s not your fault. There’s so much copy advice out there that it’s easy for simple tips like this to slip through the cracks (see what I did there? ;)).
But if you want to connect by showing you deeply understand your reader’s problem, here’s 3 things you can do right now.
- Identify the single burning problem that your product or service solves. Then, identify the problem behind the problem. (One way to do this is to use the 5 why’s technique)
- Come up with a metaphor to describe what the problem feels like.
- Come up with one reason why this problem is not their fault.
And remember, if you can show your prospect you understand them better than anyone else, they’ll feel connected to you. When they’re ready to solve that problem, it’s far more likely they’ll turn to you.