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|Thursday September 30, 2010|
Arthur Somers Roche
Is Your Customer Too Paralyzed by Worry to Hear Your Message?
What keeps your customer up at night?
When he sits on his bed, one shoe on and staring out the window... what's he thinking about?
When he looks in the mirror, half-shaved... when she dials the doctor... when the mail comes, marked "Urgent"...
What sound buzzes between your prospect's ears, so loud that your sales pitch drowns in the din?
Could it be the un-payable bill... the unruly child... the rosy red zit on the tip of his nose...
Maybe it's a nagging ache... or last night's awkward date. Maybe it's a car that pings when it shouldn't... or a job in a cubicle that's going nowhere.
Heck, maybe it's all those unreadable road signs dotting the path to total enlightenment.
If you're not sure, maybe it's high time you find out. And today, I hope to show you why...
How to Unlock a Worried Mind
While you watch, I'd like to do a deep-think on a copywriting concept called the "problem-solution headline."
This, I'll bet you can gather, is the persuasion technique where you identify a prospect's problem...
then imply you've got a quick and painless way to solve it.
If you study advertising at all, you've seen this at work many, many times.
The ol' classic "Are you ever tongue-tied at a party?" is just one of many blockbuster examples.
It was a hit because it identified an emotionally drenched issue... the fear of knowing what to say in a social situation... and implied, just by the asking, that there's a way to escape that embarrassment.
Another great headline -- "Do you make these mistakes in English?" -- works almost the same way. "Yes," say the grammar-challenged. "I might make some mistakes and I worry about that." And what makes this headline even stronger is that it implies they're probably making more than one mistake. It ups the ante while also implying there's a solution.
Of course, not all problem-solution headlines have to be stated as questions.
"When doctors 'feel rotten' this is what they do" is a rare example where being general about the problem works -- because it's the unidentifiable aspect of simply "feeling rotten" that's at the core of the worry.
What's also brilliant about this one is that it's not only sympathetic -- just "feeling rotten" is a common worry -- but that the doctors who know what you're going through are also the source of the solution.
And all that happens in just nine words.
What are some other great problem-solution headlines that you might recognize?
For all their differences, you'll find that the best problem-solution headlines and leads track pretty much the same formula.
First, you set aside your big benefit. You make this the time to talk about your reader -- and let him or her know you're doing it... by giving a name to the elephant in the room. It could be a big problem. It could be one that's embarrassingly small. The key is that it's deeply felt and emotionally unresolved.
Feel their pain. Let them know it. And let them feel justified for feeling that way, too. Never mock or make light of their worries, unless you're laughing with them at the awkwardness of feeling a certain way -- as a means of drawing the problem out in the open.
Then imply a solution. Either by saying or showing outright that you've got the answer... or by hinting that a solution exists. Even just seeing lots of copy below a "have-this-problem" headline could suggest as much to your reader.
What Else Do You Need to Know About Problem-Solving Headlines?
One reason problem-solution headlines are so effective is that, all too often, people want to make sure their concerns are being heard and are regarded as legit. Only then do they open up to hearing about how to fix things.
Another reason? Humans are just hard-wired to fix stuff. Even problems we don't have ourselves, we want to be the smart guy in the room who knows what to do. At least, that's going to be true of some of the prospects you'll draw in.
Simple as they are, there are lots of secrets to making problem-solution copy work.
Let's start with these...
I could say much more.
For now, let's leave it at this:
If you find yourself writing to a prospect who's so focused on his problems that he can't quite hear your promises...
this could be the way out that you're looking for.
Let him know you hear what he's worried about. Give it a name. Justify it. And THEN watch doors open to your solution.
[Ed. Note: Copywriting is just one skill you can master to help your online business grow. Learn the ins and outs of copywriting, marketing, search engine optimization, and more from some of the best experts in the business at ETR's Info-Marketing Bootcamp. Find out how to reserve your spot here.
And to get more of John Forde's wisdom and insights into copywriting (and much more), sign up for his free e-letter, Copywriter's Roundtable. If you sign up today, you'll get $78 worth of free gifts -- including John's special "Power Brainstorming Toolkit" and his e-book "15 Deadly Copy Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid"... plus a third secret bonus. For details, see John's sign-up page.]
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The Language Perfectionist: An Overused Word to Avoid
An online search turned up these specimens:
Originally, iconic meant "characteristic of an icon" -- an image or representation, often of a saint or other sacred personage. The adjective, perhaps aided by marketers and publicists, evolved into an all-purpose term for making people or things seem more important or desirable.
These days, iconic is used to describe just about anything, even commonplace objects. (Prell is an "iconic shampoo," according to news reports earlier this year.) As the examples above demonstrate, the word has become a tool for exaggeration and is now a cliche. In fact, iconic is often nominated for annual lists of "words that should be banned."
If something truly merits an accolade, consider such synonyms as celebrated, distinctive, famous, inimitable, legendary, original, peerless, and singular.
Fun Footote: Matters become even worse when the speaker or writer can't get the word right. A few months ago, the mayor of Boston praised local athletes whose achievements were "ionic." (Ionic is one of the three orders of ancient Greek architecture.)
[Ed Note: For more than three decades, Don Hauptman was an award-winning independent direct-response copywriter and creative consultant. He is author of The Versatile Freelancer, an e-book that shows writers and other creative professionals how to diversify their careers into speaking, consulting, training, and critiquing.]
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