When I read copy (which I DO a LOT) there is one thing businesses of all sizes do that really has me pulling my hair out in frustration.

They talk all about themselves.

Telling you about all their great bells and whistles, their “new and improved” technology, how many modules come in their online course, or how much money they made last year.

The more high-minded ones will regale you with their philosophy, their methodology or their mission statement.

It’s like being stuck with some bore at a cocktail party who won’t shut up. And then they wonder why the buyers aren’t salivating overtheir offer.

Some do talk a bit about the problems their product solves. That’s a good start, but it’s not enough to make your reader experience a burning desire for what you’re offering.

You have to talk about your customer FIRST.

Now I do get it. Your product is AWESOME. You’ve been lovingly developing and tweaking every detail for months. Maybe longer.

But if you want anyone to care, where your copy has to start is with a deep understanding of your target customer’s problem. To her, it is HUGE. If it weren’t why would she be shopping for a solution?

Convincing her that you understand and feel her pain will have her nodding along with you. Standing on the same side of the sale instead of staring at each other warily across the table.

(This is even MORE important if you’re selling something at a high price point, especially if it is something intangible or experiential, like a seminar or consulting service.)

How does she know you understand? You paint her a picture.

A vivid, and maybe slightly exaggerated one. (But it’s not exaggerated to her. )

Pain sells more than pleasure.

An old ad from the 50s or 60s used to bemoan “the heartbreak of psoriasis.” Seems silly…unless you’re the one leaving flakes all over the tablecloth on a first date.
So really get into it with her, right at the start of your communication.

If you’re a dating coach, what’s it like eating alone in restaurants with all eyes on her? Having no one to share the Sunday paper with? Facing questions from Aunt Sylvia at the holiday get-together where she’s showing up solo — again?

It works for pretty much any business. A car wash might illustrate the shame of pulling up to the valet kiosk in a less-than-pristine vehicle. An accountant could evoke the flop-sweat of possibly making a mistake that could trigger an audit.
 Look for the strong emotions. Fear. Loneliness. Embarrassment. Envy. Frustration.

Describe it. Think of using all five senses. How does it really look, sound, feel? Don’t hold back.

When I was on Madison Avenue, we did a TV commercial showing women getting so mad at their ineffective dishwasher detergent that they threw their dishes against the wall and out the window, all to an opera soundtrack.

Would they really do something like that? No, but women in focus groups told us that’s how they felt.
So that’s what we shot. And the product launch was a gigantic success.

What if you don’t know what her problem is? Ask. Hang around with your ideal customer, either in person or virtually in a forum, Facebook group, blog or chat room, and get a feel for what’s really bugging her.

Then dramatize that pain in your copy, before you mention word one about your product or service. Go for it. It’s a lot easier to tone down copy that’s “over the top” than it is to inject life into flaccid prose.