Hey guys–so in the last chapter, we talked about the 10 commandments of killer copy. That was focused more on the mechanics of copywriting.
In this chapter, I’m going to talk about customer personas, which will help you choose what you want to say and how you want to say it–here’s where we’re starting to get into the art of persuasion. By identifying customer personas before you begin writing, you’ll be able to craft more persuasive, higher-converting copy.
Before I go any further, let me just say that I’m going to assume you’re writing copy for your own business and will need to come up with these personas yourself. If that’s not the case and you’re a freelance copywriter, these are things you can ask for from your clients, although you’ll probably find that most of them haven’t taken the time to formally develop these.
Anyways, let’s start by talking about customer personas. A customer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal prospect.
Now, when you write copy–particularly if it’s for your own business–you might be inclined to think that your target audience is everyone in the entire world. As an entrepreneur myself, I wish that were the case but it’s not, because people are incredibly different. By trying to create a message that appeals to everyone, you run the risk of appealing to no one.
That’s where customer personas come into play. Customer personas identify the goals, hopes, fears, challenges, and objections of your ideal customer. Usually there isn’t just one persona either. Most professional marketing firms will create a primary customer persona for a brand, along with secondary personas.
Let me give you an example. I own copywriting software that automatically generates sales letters, VSLs, headlines, bullets, etc. just by having a user enter a few variables about the item they’re selling.
For this software, the primary persona I’d create is one consisting of a guy not so different from me. He owns his own business, he’s had bad experiences with overpriced copywriters before, and he’s driven to succeed so he devotes a lot of time and energy to marketing. Although high conversions are important to him, he’s not a copywriter and doesn’t have time to really develop any kind of proficiency at it.
However, let’s say that wasn’t the only type of customer I wanted to reach. Maybe I’d also want to target copywriters because there are plenty of freelancers out there, writing 10-15 page sales letters from scratch.
My software could save them a ton of time, because they could easily enter variables, make a few tweaks to the sales letter my software churns out, and ultimately, create a really great letter in a fraction of the time it would take to write 10-15 pages of copy. Imagine how much money they could make if they could create high-converting sales letters in minutes, rather than days!
So, that’s two personas I might develop for Automatic Script. With some products, particularly in a B2B environment where there are multiple stakeholders and purchases tend to be made by committee, you might have five or more personas.
Anyways, to return to my example, the two personas I created for Automatic Script are very different and the message I’m trying to convey would depend on which persona I was trying to reach.
So, with the business owner, I might write copy talking about how bad most copywriters are, how difficult copywriting is to learn, and how much they’re going to love having round-the-clock access to high-converting sales scripts that were created using proven copywriting formulas.
Now, how do you think copywriters would respond to a marketing message that primarily says they’re bad at their jobs? I would imagine not well. So, if I wanted to target that group, I might create another sales letter where I talk about how long it takes to write a good sales letter and wouldn’t it be nice to get paid $500 for a 15-page sales letter you could create in an hour?
In case you’re wondering, I didn’t create that second sales letter, by the way. While I think copywriters could be a secondary market, I felt like I wanted to max out my traffic budget targeting entrepreneurs. However, I think this example really illustrates why it’s important to develop personas before you start creating copy.
So, what kinds of things do you want to include in a persona? Let me show you a really great persona example I found on SingleGrain.com:
This is a persona that was created for a B2B company, and as you can see, it covers things like background, demographics, goals, hobbies, interests, challenges, fears, and objections. If you’re in business for yourself, you’re going to want to create something similar for each of your main types of prospects, even if that means just jotting something down on paper.
To create your customer personas, you’ll want to answer questions like:
- Is your target audience men or women?
- What country do they reside in?
- How old are they?
- How much education do they have?
- Do they have a spouse or children? If so, how old?
- What political party do they support?
- What are their interests?
- What activities do they participate in?
- What types of careers do they tend to have?
- What are their goals?
- What are their problems and frustrations?
- What benefits are important to them?
- What objections are they likely to have?
- What social media do they use?
- How do they like to consume information–by listening, reading, or watching?
While some of this information might be challenging to get, most of it shouldn’t be too hard. To answer these questions, I’d suggest you look at your site analytics and social media followers.
You can also ask other people on your team like salespeople and customer service for help fleshing these out. Finally, you can send a survey to customers asking them these questions so you can “serve them better.”
Anyways, to help you with this, I’d suggest using a customer persona template–there are plenty of free ones to use online, but one I particularly like is the Avatar Worksheet by DigitalMarketer. It’s a PDF you can edit and download, and it looks like this:
Now I’ve already talked about how a customer persona is useful when trying to decide what message you want to convey. We went over that when we talked about the 2 personas for Automatic Script and how I’d discuss different benefits of my software, depending on who I was trying to market my product to.
But another reason personas are useful is because they can help you nail the tone of your copy. Tone is very important in copywriting. For example, you wouldn’t use the same type of language or pop culture references in an ad geared toward millennials that you would in an ad geared toward senior citizens. It just wouldn’t go over as well.
Once you’ve come up with your personas, you can write copy using the language your prospects use and referencing pop culture they’re familiar with. Again, that’s going to help you write more effective copy.
There’s one final benefit from personas that I want to mention before we reach the end of this chapter. Personas allow you to imagine one specific person you’re writing to. You’re crafting a sales message based on that fictional individual’s hopes, dreams, fears, and objections.
Because you’ll have a strong idea of who they are and what they’re about, it’ll be really easy to write copy that gets to the heart of those things that are most important to them.
By contrast, when you’re writing to a large group of people, you really don’t know what product benefit’s going to sway them to buy. In cases like that, you kind of just throw everything out there in the hopes that if you do, at least one of them will “stick.”
I’ll be discussing that concept more in a future chapter, but for now, just know that a scattered approach like the one I just described isn’t very effective. It waters down the message you’re trying to convey and can really backfire on you, ultimately not converting well at all. That’s why crafting your copy with the aim of persuading the fictional person you imagined is such a successful tactic.
OK, we’ve reached the end of this chapter. I’ll see you in the next one where I’ll give you some hacks for creating copy using NLP.