“You’ve got to stop buying into your own bullshit.”
With that line, he built a deeper connection and showed he could help me.
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. 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.
The hidden value of understanding your reader
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 they 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!
Below are 3 steps you can follow to connect with your audience in the ways described above.
Step 1 shows you how to uncover the real problems they face and prove you “get” them on a deeper level. Step 2 helps you crystallize the problem in their mind. And step 3 helps them feel hopeful about turning to you for the solution.
After walking through those steps, we’ll quickly cover two of the best places to use all this.
3 steps to deepen connection with your audience
Step #1: Find the problem behind the problem
Your prospect may think he understands his problem. But he often only has a superficial understanding of what’s causing his pain.
Kevin Rogers gave an example of this in an email. He talked about how business owners think they have a copy problem when they really have an offer problem.
I spend a lot of time talking to people who think they have a copy problem when what they really have is an offer problem
Excerpt of an email from Kevin Rogers
So how do you drill into the real problem that lays behind the superficial one? With two questions, “Why?” and “What?”.
The order of these questions matters. So let’s walk through how to use them to get a deeper cut of your reader’s problem.
Imagine you work as a dating coach for men. A guy comes up saying he hasn’t been on a date in months because he’s never sure what to say to start a conversation.
“Not knowing what to say to a girl” is the superficial level of the problem. Staying at this level is how we end up in a world where Googling “pickup lines” yields 89 million hits.
But you can dive deeper into this problem by asking “Why?”.
You may get stuck with an answer of “uhhh I don’t know”. So rather than asking why once, use the 5 Why’s Technique. This is where you ask yourself “Why?” no less than 5 times to get a deeper cut of the problem. By coming up with several variations of this question, you’re more likely to hit on something meaningful.
For example, you may ask: “Why do you need something to say? Why don’t you just walk up and see what happens? Why not just ask her out? Why not Google some pickup lines? Why is this important to you?”
Now I’m not saying you then bombard your prospect with these questions all at once. But come up with 5, ask one or two, and it’ll help you uncover a deeper layer of the problem. You’ll hear replies like:
- “I’m afraid I’d bother her”
- “I don’t want to come off as creepy”
- “I don’t want to look stupid or get rejected”
Now we have a deeper understanding of his problem. It’s not just that he doesn’t know what to say, it’s that he’s afraid of rejection.
We could stop here and be just fine. But if you want to be a mind-reading Jedi in your copy, you’d go a level deeper.
The “Why” gave you the fear of rejection. Asking “What”, as in “What does ‘getting rejected’ mean to you?” or “What does that look like to you?” will give you a clearer picture how they experience the problem.
Because “looking stupid and getting rejected” can mean different things to different people. Does it mean the girl rolling her eyes in disgust? Blowing up in anger? His friends laughing at him? Something else?
Once you have a deeper cut of the problem, and the specific flavor of what it looks like to them, you can add that to your copy to make it more compelling.
For example, instead of talking about the struggle you had “overcoming your fear of rejection” you can add how you were “afraid of bothering girls”. And how embarrassing it was that one time you worked up the courage to approach that beautiful blonde Australian woman and she immediately “rolled her eyes and turned a cold shoulder”.
The guys out there who fear rejection for that reason (not wanting to “bother” her) and fear that particular flavor of rejection (dismissive eye rolling) are going to see you as someone with a deep understanding of their experience and fears.
And by identifying that deeper layer of the problem and painting a picture of what looks like, you cut through the noise and stand out as the one who understands them.
Step #2: Use metaphors
Copywriting legend Gary Bencivenga called metaphors The Golden Key of Persuasion.
Simply put, metaphors are a claim that one thing is the same as another.
If you’re having trouble explaining the problem or simply want to give them an eye-opening perspective on it, put it in the form of a metaphor.
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 your foot on the brake”.
Imagine being that reader. You’ve been grinding and hustling but aren’t nearly as successful as you want to be. This metaphor fits your feelings exactly. 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.”
Hell yeah! 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.
Come up with metaphors using “Metaphor Scanning”
Alright, so what if you’re sold on the value of metaphors but can’t think of any?
There are a few ways you can prime your brain to uncover metaphors. Here’s one that works for me that I call Metaphor Scanning.
First, state the problem.
Next, tap into the feeling associated with that problem.
Once you’re there, ask yourself “What else feels like this?”
Let your subconscious go to work finding the answer. Your job is to notice any thoughts, images, or sensations that come to mind as you experience that feeling.
If you’re drawing a blank, you can kickstart the process with Metaphor Targeting.
To do this, pick a subject you enjoy and know a lot about. Could be parenting, dating, politics, gardening, movies, sports — anything you like to talk about.
Once you’ve done that, let’s say you picked golf, ask yourself “How can I put this in golf terms? How is this feeling or problem similar to an experience I could have golfing?”
When picking a subject, remember that it’s best to pick an area that’ll resonate with your audience as well. For example, if you’re audience is engineers, sports metaphors may not be as easily understood as something more universal, like dating.
Once you have a metaphor, you can sprinkle it all over your copy. This is a great tool to use anytime you need to make an idea fun and easy to understand. It clarifies what you’re saying and gives the reader a new way to understand it.
Step #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.”
Here’s an example from a sales letter that used this well. It’s for a program called The Millionaires Brain that, according to the description on Clickbank, pulled $500,000 within two weeks.
Here’s an excerpt from the video sales letter where they use this technique.
“…if you aren’t where you want to be financially, you better listen carefully…
It isn’t your fault.
That’s right, it’s not your fault at all.
It’s not that you haven’t worked HARD ENOUGH
It’s not that you haven’t been using the law of attraction RIGHT
Believe it or not, the problem is not in your conscious mind…
Or even your unconscious mind…
No. There’s a force going on behind the scenes that is far, far more powerful than all of that. Something that decided how your life was going to go when you were just a baby child. Something you were never taught by every other method about how to be wealthy really works.
Notice how they first they say the problem isn’t the reader’s fault, then give the reason why. In this case, it’s because “there’s a force going on behind the scenes…you were never taught”.
Now this particular example does to more things with this technique that are brilliant.
First, they don’t give you the whole explanation for why it’s not your fault. They give you a little bit, saying there’s a force in the background, but they don’t tell you what that force is. Instead, they tease that they’ll reveal exactly what it is later (which they do.)
Second, they reassure the viewer while simultaneously twisting the knife into the reader’s pain.
That line about “if you aren’t where you want to be financially” is just the first layer of the pain. They then go deeper and twist the knife, addressing how their efforts to work hard and using the Law of Attraction haven’t helped either.
And they preface those lines with “it’s not your fault” to keep the viewer hopeful instead of defensive.
Now 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 are 3 things you can do right now.
- State the problem. First, state what your reader would say his problem is. Then use the 5 Why’s technique to get a deeper cut of the problem. Once you have that, ask “What does that mean/look like to you?” to get a clearer picture of the problem.
- Use either Metaphor Scanning or Metaphor Targeting to come up with a new way of explaining that deeper problem.
- Come up with one reason why the deeper problem is not their fault
- Beef up your sales page by adding one or all 3 of these pieces to it.
You probably have a section in your sales page where you talk about the problem the reader faces. This is a great place to add the three things we just covered. The order isn’t important (though you can go superficial problem -> deeper problem -> metaphor -> reassurance.) But putting one or all three elements in will help you get deeper inside your reader’s head and show you are the one who understands them.
You can also use these elements in your emails. You can address their problem and build a connection before ever sending them to a sales page.
Special bonus: Ignite your customer’s burning desire with “Dream Copy”
You’ve shown you understand your customer’s pain. But what about their desires?
Prove you understand both their pain and desires on a deeper level, and you’ll have a vicious 1-2 punch for connecting with your audience and moving them to buy.
That’s why I created a special guide: How to Uplevel Your Sales Page with Dream Copy. You’ll discover how to whip up a few short lines of copy in order to:
- Awaken your reader’s burning desires
- Show you “get” their hopes and dreams better than your competition
- Drive home a clear, persuasive reason why they should buy from you (while avoiding a common mistake that leaves your reader bored and confused)
Click here for a short guide on how to write “Dream Copy”. Within minutes, you’ll have a few punchy sentences that can stir up desire and breath new life into dull copy.