Rather than tell you the answer, I’d like to show you… by sharing this incredible exchange between a member of my community who left nursing to become a freelance copywriter, and a third-generation fireman turned copywriter.
The nurse confessed in a post to feeling overwhelmed at the idea of creating a customer avatar. He’d never done it before, and was going through the motions of “customer research” but feeling stuck.
He wanted to know, “how do you make this imaginary person come to life?”
But more than that, he was feeling scared about his decision to leave the stability of nursing (which made him miserable) to pursue copywriting.
I’m at the bit where I’m panicking. I left nursing because it was so damaging but now, if I can’t manage the foundations of this, I might just be digging myself into a hole I can’t get out of.
Are there any trainings or tools you know of for customer demographics? Things like age, family life, education, political leanings, those nuances that would affect the copy.
Eight members jumped in the thread to give him encouragement and direction, which helped him get perspective and focus…
10 alerts. 8 replies.
Even one from @KevinRogers
*Backs away like computer might be dangerous*
After gathering myself in the hallway, I came back and read the replies you have all left and I was overwhelmed by the positive response.
I didn’t know what to expect, but to find a forum filled with such kind and thoughtful answers, it is beyond anything I had dared to hope.
It felt good to help him.
It takes courage to admit when you’re struggling. Especially to people you’ve just met in a forum full of experts.
Just as the thread had settled, another member – the fireman – came in and laid down this shiny gold rock of wisdom for the nurse…
[name redacted for privacy] well I don’t hold a candle to the experience in this thread so far… Except in one category that you and I both share…
I come from a long line of firefighters (third-generation here) and I’ve been at it for 17 years now. Being in that position means I get unfiltered access to the absolute worst moments of people’s lives. Very often in a way where there is no possible way for them to conceal their innermost emotions if they wanted to.
Here’s an example that isn’t even fire-related.
My company was dispatched to a residential home for an elderly man stuck in his bathroom.
We arrived on the scene, made contact through the door, and realized he was wedged against the door, keeping it closed. With some tool work, we were able to make enough space so that I could squeeze through into the room.
Once inside, I assessed the man and moved him to a place where my crew could remove the entire door and prepare to get him out.
That man was a WWII vet. A fiercely proud man. A man of great poise and dignity. And he was also naked from the waist down and covered in the things that we do in bathrooms. He was so weak he couldn’t stand up. He was helpless in the worst manner possible. He was openly crying in front of another man and there was nothing he could do about it.
So I talked to him. We connected over our military service. We bonded. And he opened up about how he felt during this situation. I confided in him about moments where I felt less than myself, how I felt when the world seemed to be coming down around me. We shared that moment.
Eventually, we got him out and back to his bed, no worse for wear.
Here’s how that applies to copywriting, and why I know you’re going to be a copywriting rockstar: in that moment, I heard everything he said, and put myself in his shoes. As fully as possible. His dignity was my dignity, his concerns were my concerns.
And at the end, when we were done, he was sobbing as he thanked me. The reality is, all we did was pick a guy up off the floor when he fell. But for that man, I changed his entire world in those moments.
Empathy is what separates truly gifted copywriters from the people that just put words on the page.
Empathy is something I know you have in spades. When you see a patient broken and crying, do you just ignore them? Or listen to their concerns, wholeheartedly believe the truth of their reality, and try to help them as if it were your own problem?
Connecting with prospects, and talking to them as living, breathing, thinking, and feeling, people is the start to any good piece of copywriting. Put yourself in their shoes. Feel their feelings. Have their fears and their doubts. Look at their concerns as real as the ones you have for yourself.
Then, once you are fully and completely immersed in that person you want to sell to, a complete and total carbon copy of them…then you sell to yourself. What do YOU want to hear? What do YOU want to know? What are YOU afraid of? What makes YOU care about something? Why do YOU get up in the morning and face the day?
That is the hardest part of a customer avatar. And you have more real-world in-you-face gritty experience in empathy than damn near 95% of the copywriting community.
Don’t ever forget that.
How’s that for empathy squared?
A first responder turned copywriter empathizes with an emergency worker learning to write copy over how they both empathize with victims/patients, and how he can apply that same empathy toward selling products with empathetic copy.
To (re)quote the fireman’s post: Empathy is what separates truly gifted copywriters from the people that just put words on the page.
If you feel that, then you’ve got the #1 instinct of a great copywriter.
Whenever you’re ready, here are a few other ways I can help…
Become a member of Copy Chief. It’s everything you need to sharpen your skills as a copywriter and build your freelance business – all with a killer support system at your back to help you do it. To learn more, check out this page here.
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