How to Get Inside Your Prospect’s Head

As you might already know, I’m currently looking for any questions you may have about how to grow your copywriting business.

Tammy responded late last night. Although she’s not currently looking for clients, she still asked an excellent question. Here it is:

What steps do you take to learn every single thing you can about your prospects? Would you explain the steps you take in a way I can understand as a fairly new writer?

I empathize with Tammy. Here’s why…

I remember when I was writing copy for the homeschooling company. For a long time, I struggled to understand how to write to a single person. I was always writing to “you-all” (a group of people) instead of “you” (just one person).

It was really difficult for me to grasp the idea that I was writing to “Amy” or “Jill” or “Judy.”

My breakthrough came when I was put in charge of the biweekly ezine. It was my responsibility to collect the best forum posts from the week and write a short introductory article to introduce that particular issue of the ezine.

When I began doing this, I started getting responses from the readers. All of a sudden, I realized, “Hey, there are real people out there! My words are causing these people to respond!”

I began to visualize an imaginary homeschool mom… a single person who represented all homeschool moms. I then began writing to her every time I wrote something for that market.

Since then, I’ve made a lot of progress. And I’ve discovered that one of the best ways to get into your prospect’s head is to…

Use Your Imagination

I personally like to imagine that I’m walking in my prospect’s shoes.

What would I be concerned about if I was a homeschool mom with four kids? How would I feel? What would I be thinking about?

Imagine what life would be like as your prospect. This is a good starting point.

But to really get inside your prospect’s head, you can’t rely solely on your own intuition and imagination. You’ve got to know for sure what’s really on your prospect’s mind. And a great way to discover this is…

Participate in Forums

Almost every market you’ll ever write copy for has a forum where people gather and talk about their problems and successes.

Another breakthrough for me was when I started actively participating in the homeschool forums. I got to see firsthand what homeschooling moms are thinking about, talking about, struggling with, etc.

Let me tell you… it was a real eye-opener!

But it gave me an improved ability to write to that market. And I needed every advantage I could get. (After all, I was a 22-year-old married man without kids at the time… writing to middle-aged moms with 2-10 kids each.)

While forums are great… and help you get a pulse on the market… sometimes you can get into your market’s mind simply by…

Asking!

You’ll notice I wrote my last post specifically to find out what freelance copywriters are thinking about. All I did was ask.

My “survey” was fairly informal. I simply asked my readers (that’s you!) to leave a comment on my blog.

You can also do something more formal by creating a real survey. (Check out Survey Monkey or the ASK Database.)

A formal survey may best if you expect a large response. You’ll be able to see trends and patterns more easily when you use software designed to slice-and-dice the data in seconds.

Another strategy for becoming “one” with your market is to…

Study Successful Ads

In almost any market you ever write for, there will be a successful advertiser.

This advertiser has already thoroughly researched the market… determined his prospects’ emotional triggers… and crafted offers and appeals that successfully sell a product or service to that market.

Why not study those ads to discover what’s already working?

By studying more than one ad, you’ll quickly notice themes and patterns. You’ll see which triggers keep “popping up” repeatedly.

If you see some idea, concept, or phrase appear in multiple ads, and you have good reason to believe those ads are profitable, then it’s probably a good idea to include those same ideas, concepts, and phrases in your ad as well.

Here is one final strategy for getting into your prospect’s head…

Become Your Target Market

This strategy is especially powerful. Because now you are your target market. You are immersed in the same issues and problems as every other person in your market.

For instance, I’m already a freelance copywriter. I have a pretty good idea what keeps freelance copywriters up at night… because I am a freelance copywriter!

So… how do you become your target market?

Let’s use “golfing” for example. If you are not a golfer… and you want to sell things to golfers… what might you consider doing?

  1. Go to the driving range. Hit a bucket of balls for $5.
  2. Go shopping for clubs and golf gear. See what the salesman says to you. Take notes.
  3. Go play 18 holes at a few local courses (or play 9 holes on a par 3 course if your golf skills are lacking).
  4. Sign up for golf lessons.

If you did these things, you would very quickly begin to understand what it’s like to be a golfer. You would begin to understand what motivates them, what problems they have, what emotional hot buttons you can push.

I realize there are some markets you can’t become a part of. For instance, you can’t voluntarily experience what it’s like to have cancer or have a rodent infestation in your home.

But in these markets, the problems are obvious and the appeals are simpler.

Nevertheless, if you plan to sell to a certain market for a long time, and you have the inclination, become a member of that target market. It will help you immensely.

To recap, here are the 5 strategies you can use to get inside your prospect’s head:

  1. Imagine walking in your prospect’s shoes.
  2. Participate in forums where your prospect hangs out.
  3. Ask your prospect what his biggest problems are.
  4. Study successful ads that your prospect has already responded to.
  5. Become a member of your target market… become a prospect yourself.

No matter where you’re at in your copywriting career, these strategies should help you get inside your prospect’s head, find out what motivates him, and (ultimately) sell him your product or service.

-Ryan M. Healy

Ryan M. Healy

Ryan Healy is a financial copywriter and the author of Speed Writing for Nonfiction Writers. Since 2002, he has worked with scores of clients, including Agora Financial, Lombardi Publishing, and Contrarian Profits. He writes a popular blog about copywriting, advertising, and business growth, has been featured in publications like Feed Front magazine, and has been published on sites like WordStream.com, SmallBizClub.com, and MarketingForSuccess.com.

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