By Jason Stevens, CEO, Wildcard Digital.
But, wait, I am getting ahead of myself: Enjoy a cup of Java before going further.
If you made it this far you probably value two things: creativity & caffeine...
Which brings me back the #1 Reason you are here: You want the Perfect Client. Notice I did not say lead, customer, eyeball or traffic. I said PERFECT CLIENT. This is the man or woman, millennial or baby boomer, who instantly identifies with your brand, and, before you can utter the words SHAZAM, has his credit card out ready to be swiped.
You also get his loyalty, a favorable Facebook review and a lifetime of follow up purchases or service agreements. All of us, including myself, seek that Perfect Client.
This barter takes place in the magical intersection between client targeting and brand resonance, all elementally conjured up by the ultimate wordsmith, your copywriter.
This skill can be hard to define, difficult to express, and frustratingly elusive to bottle up and manufacture inside corporate machines or processes. Copywriters are by nature free spirits, their operating system: CREATIVITY. Contrarians by nature, they operate as wildcards inside the marketing arena, often taking the road less traveled to connect with that one person who really matters most to you: THE PERFECT CLIENT.
The fastest route between two points is a straight line, and nothing gets you closer to a customer than direct response copy. Legendary figures such as David Olgilvy, Eugene Schwartz and Robert Collier were the pioneers in this copywriting craft which today has become electrified by the modern fabric of the Internet.
The reader should however understand that these days copy is a loaded term. Its more modern moniker is creative messaging. Squeeze in a twist of lime, and the alchemy bubbles over with an additional ingredient, I call interactivity.
In this century, our intrepid copywriter must be a jack of all trades and a master of none. Whereas in the 20th Century he built his craft on writing, editing & design (WED), today he must thrust and pivot with video, animation and interactive story telling, weaving age-old themes in modern digital and offline contexts. This elixir of skills is more difficult to come by than you may think as many wordsmiths are still caught between the new and old worlds, a dangerous limbo which spins far outside the orbit of the Perfect Client.
On this chessboard, technology is both a foe and ally, leading both business leaders and marketers down blind alleys only to return gobsmacked and humbled by the sea of change that spins violently through social media, mobile technology and marketing funnels that often often hide, rather than reveal, your Perfect Client.
A large percentage of the business leaders who reach out to me express this concern. Despite their best efforts their marketing efforts seem thin and dim, casting too little light to reach The Perfect Client's eyes.
Accordingly, let me choose your first action since you emerged from those dark, dangerous streets and foreboding city spires.
Take a seat at my humble copywriting table upon which resides a blank piece of paper.
Nearby is a glass filled to the brim with the coldest Arctic water on Earth.
Please quench your thirst in ONE GULP for as a wise poet once proclaimed "a little learning is a dangerous thing, drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring".
You will find its effects as potent as caffeine yet as calming as the zen rivers that flow through Shangri-La to produce the ultimate “Aha” moment.
Return your focused gazed to that blank piece of paper. I shall delay inking the first letters on this white sheet because a previous point must be noted and acted upon.
Since I have given such gravitas to the value of creativity and its outer glow, interactivity, let me use my pen to draw two parallel vertical lines that stretch the length and breadth of my blank canvas.
Then, with short deliberate strokes I will strike regular horizontal lines that perpendicularly cut the upright planes at right angles.
The result, as you see and reflect is a ladder stretching from heaven to earth. A metaphorical symbol of hope and action that a good copywriter uses either consciously or sub-consciously in ANY copy he crafts to align your product or service with the problem your Perfect Client wishes to solve.
Now watch as I spin the paper 90 degrees to reveal a new landscape in which one’s freedom is metaphorically vaporized behind the vertical shafts that present a jail cell window. This theatre is reflected in the following animation.
This tension - this infinite struggle between positives and negatives - exists right now for your Perfect Client. At this very minute he struggles with issues so personal, so real and important to him that he will see any interruption, whether direct mail or digital ad, akin to an act of war likely to trigger the reptilian side of his brain into a fit of mild or extreme irritation that propels your message into interstellar orbit from which it will not be allowed to return.
The marketer's margin for victory in the noisy world we live in is thus slim but not IMPOSSIBLE. It will require the perfect pitch or Hail Mary pass to sway the Perfect client in our direction as he lives his life second to second.
Hitting this bulls eye will demand dedicated study, hours of work, research and a single-minded approach to uncover his hidden conversations which we touched upon above and may include some of the following:
This battle for the heart and mind of your Perfect Client will also require formulating and harnessing his prime motivations before we can gently interrupt his inner conversation and spur him into action RIGHT NOW.
These motivations include, but are not limited to:
The above usually occur in combinations offering the copywriter ingenious ways to forge connections with your Perfect Client.
Consider for a moment a hard-working family that has attained middle-class status and is in the market for a new sailing boat.
While a man's PRIDE will play a role in the purchase, his LOVE will remind him that it needs to safe for his two kids and wife. Focusing on the tranquil, azure blue waters of the Caribbean and the seductive winds of the island archipelagos will appeal to his SELF-INDULGENCE.
There are also opportunities to exploit product differences which may exist in a market.
For instance, in the sailing arena there are generally two types of sail boat constructions that draw religious loyalty from their followers: A single hull called a monohull. And, its rival the catamaran which has two hulls.
Let’s suppose my client is a catamaran dealer hoping to sell more yachts in this area. His traditional strategy may be to convert clients who already have some knowledge of the catamaran sector.
However, by appealing to the life and death tenants that exist under SELF-PRESERVATION we may alternatively direct our copy at monohull enthusiasts with the promise of greater stability and safety during rougher sees. Additional forays into greater comfort and space real estate for children onboard will play back into other prime motivations.
Below is interactive copy used inside a whiteboard video that plays with these themes using a yacht charter as the entry point.
Highlight limited access
Offer will expire soon.
LOGIC & EMOTION
Use both carefully.
When man first made his appearance several millions years ago, his reptilian ancestors has already been on Earth for approximately 300 million years. Recent centuries have seen us evolve and progress through the Dark Ages, The Age of Reason, The Industrial Age and the Information Age. However, while we like to consider ourselves creatures of logic and enlightment, our subconscious mind still bears significant trace elements of the reptilian brain or what others call the "Chimpanzee mind".
This duality requires a special consideration from the Perfect Copywriter. He must appeal to both minds simultaneously, always giving deference to the higher, virtuous qualities of the Perfect Client but still entice the more primitive aspects of his nature to take action NOW.
As an example, consider a health coach who wishes to entice online opt ins for a free PDF ebook. The ebook contains a wealth of facts, figures and action items to get healthy, including four daily tips.
His initial headline may look something like this:
This appeals to the reasonable, logical side of our brain but does virtually nothing to spark our lower level brain into action.
Now, consider an alternative approach:
This headline may generate better results because it has enough specificity to satisfy the analytical areas of our mind while the also triggering the fight or flight parts of our "Chimpanzee Brain" to act now or face the consequences of a shorter life span.
Now I must be clear about something: In copywriting circles it's generally considered imprudent to use scare tactics to entice an action from the Perfect Client. However, as long you offer a solution, which the second headline does, you are on solid ground.
With further split testing and client research you may arrive at this headline variation which evolves the original PDF download concept into a 6-part email series offering health tips. Notice the friendlier tone that incorporates self-preservation (Still Getting Sick) and a solution (Natural Remedies in Email Series) to simultaneously spur your Perfect Client into action.
By now you should have a clearer idea of how The Perfect Copywriter constructs the playing field for your product and service while also building up a concise, clear and thorough understanding of your customer persona or avatar. He must mount both covert and overt copy strategies to appeal to both the higher and lower mind, while also intimately understanding his daily struggles, fears, hopes and dreams, and, in particular, his prime motivations.
When done correctly there is a harmonious connection between brand, copy and The Perfect Client which will most likely result in a sale.
In 1956 an ambitious copy ad man worked feverishly though mountains of engineering data relating to the design specs for an iconic automobile brand. He was under immense pressure to do the impossible: "The Rolls-Royce budget was less than two percent of the Cadillac budget," reported David Ogilvy.
We were asked to perform a miracle analogous to the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes. This called for copy everyone would read and never forget."
After hundreds of hours of research, pouring through reams of data which contained phrases such as "the coachwork is given five coats of primer paint, and hand-rubbed between each coat, before nine coats of finishing paint go," he stumbled upon a line that hit him like a sledgehammer:
He then produced 26 different headlines for the ad and got half a dozen writers from his agency to go over them and pick out the best one. They all all chose the one above.
The headline and copy would became one of the most successful magazine and TV ads of all time helping Rolls Royce sales rise 50 percent in 1958 from the previous year.
When Ogilvy pitched the ad to the Rolls Royce team, one of the engineers famously said: "We need to fix that damn clock".
David Ogilvy would later state that this was the best headline he had ever produced. It helped earn him the future reputation as the Father of Modern Day Advertising.
What's important to acknowledge is the amount of effort and research Ogilvy put into understanding the brand and product. In reality, he detected rather than invented the pitch that would generate more sales for Rolls-Royce. The 18-word headline is a masterclass for any company seeking to run a memorable ad and spur our Perfect Client into action.
As Ogilvy's ad states above: "There really is no magic about it - it is merely patient attention to detail." Put another way, the science of research unlocks the magic of the brand. "It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product. Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night."
Let's synthesize the three key approaches that Ogilvy took to unlocking brand sales conversions:
To steal another famous line from Ogivly, "We Sell. Or else."
The Perfect Copywriter has a powerful responsibility to produce copy that entices an action from The Perfect Client. But in order to do so he must appeal to what the famous Philosopher Aristotle termed the Arete of man - the aggregate of qualities, valor and virtue, making up good character.
In Claude Hopkins famous copywriting book, Scientific Advertising, he further distilled the challenge for brands and copywriters to produce sales from marketing and advertising efforts:
We learn that cheapness is not a strong appeal. Americans are extravagant They want bargains but not cheapness. They want to feel that can afford to eat and have and wear the best. Treat them as they could not and they resent your attitude."
This keen observation from a copywriting mastermind in the early 20th Century, dovetails with perhaps the biggest challenge your brand faces today as it strives to connect with people who may wish to purchase your product or service: Authenticity.
It's a rising trend, representing both an opportunity and threat to your brand: Nearly 50 percent of consumers surveyed in a recent deep research project described huge expectations when it comes to a company's honesty. The unwritten finding in this statement is that The Perfect Client has deep reservations about the credibility and authenticity of the marketing messages he is receiving from you, giving rise to the Authenticity Gap.
Specifically, the survey found that a requirement across all industries was the way a company's management behaves, and its impact on society, accounts for nearly half of what shapes people's perceptions and beliefs about the company. This means that brand's stories need to be about much more than the latest and greatest products.
This trust battleground is principally taking place on the Facebook platform where users are ruthlessly ignoring or exposing brands who fall on the wrong side of the Authenticity Gap.
The powerful targeting features on the Facebook Advertising Platform allows brands to reach precise demographics and buyer profiles that most likely have an interest in your product in service. Users simultaneously express surprise, joy and discomfort when objects for sale will often feel like exactly the product you’ve always been searching for.
The most successful brands, says well-known author and psychology academic Kit Yarrow, are the ones that play into one of the biggest vulnerabilities consumers have today: The yearning to belong. By matching the targeting with these communal desires, a purchase is produced.
There’s a sense of identity that you get from buying from a small, innovative company that you just don’t get from shopping at your local Sears. It makes you feel like you are part of a small, knowledgeable crowd that are ahead the pack.
But the sheer intensity of information sharing between users on Facebook relating to actual brand experiences after purchase - both good and bad - affect the success of this magical targeting and need to belong.
Consumer trust levels have absolutely tanked in recent years, in effect “abysmal.” And because no one trusts anything anymore, we’re all constantly looking for verbal cues that tell us a product is real and valuable.
Professor Emeritus, Psychology, Golden Gate University
Since we have put such an emphasis on the value of copywriting to reach The Perfect Client, this suggestion may sound odd since it opens up an unfiltered medium which eliminates the need for copy or clever headlines.
But to the contrary, Facebook Live can be carefully baked into marketing campaigns as a supporting asset to convince skeptical consumers your brand is real, accessible and accountable.
For instance, by utilizing recorded replays, the copywriter can weld his interactive sword to cut through noise and delivered personal stories behind the brand on a powerful landing pages. Interviews with clients or product managers can open up new story lines that help us sell your product or service.
Consider for a moment that this medium was available to David Ogilvy back in 1958 when he first found that famous line buried in mounds of engineering data:
I can image a scenario where he would he would interview the lead engineer who wrote those words to give further weight to the headline - all taking place on Facebook live. Any Facebook or Google ad could target car consumers with both the headline and the upcoming live event. Alternatively, video ads could be run with the recorded replay version.
The interaction between copy, story (and back-story!) and brand becomes clearer when one considers how famous advertising campaigns could have been extended and boosted through the live medium.
By appealing to the prime motivations of The Perfect Client in real time, it surely cuts through the noise and starts a conversation that lays the seed for a conversion or sale. It also helps us hurdle the Authenticity Gap, allowing consumers to see the people behind the company.
It has other practical benefits, too.
"I just wrote a book and launched it earlier this year, and Facebook Live has been an effective tool to drum up interest and increase my potential customer base. I also created several Facebook Live posts for my author Facebook page, a strategy that has helped me steadily build a bigger followership and add subscribers to my email list," said Kit Yarrow, when describing her own personal experiences with Facebook Live.
Plainly, Facebook Live provides the verbal and visual clues that your product is real and valuable.
With trust and credibility plummeting for major brands recently on Facebook, there does seem to be two keywords or concepts that continue to overcome consumer skepticism, according to some experts: “New” and “Technology.”
"If those seem almost too obvious, think about whatever Facebook ad you found most compelling in the last two months. Heck, make it the last week. You’ve certainly seen at least a few every time you’ve logged on," said Kit Yarrow.
Essentially, this type of advertising will focus on the innovative aspects of the brand and the amount of research that went into building the product base.
1. It’s brand new, disrupting the industry standards that came before it.
2. It was exhaustively researched and designed with the best technology available.
Here is an example from a razor manufacturer:
With a background in Journalism, Technical Magazine Publishing, and over two decades writing direct response interactive copy for brands in several industries, I can build a 360-degree view of your Perfect Client and spark him into action.
Unleash a Wildcard: These days it pays to be a contrarian thinker, a wildcard, a maverick - a renegade hell bent on finding, winning and keeping your customers.
Writing: My skills are born from Journalism and forged under high-intensity marketing conditions at companies where results mattered.
Editing: The ability to write and edit quickly is an asset that can generate immediate results for brands seeking high-converting copy.
Design: Visually inclined with high-level branding skills in ad copy, landing pages and marketing materials, your customers will love my endless creativity.
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CEO, Andrea Foundation for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
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"The Consumer isn't a moron. She is your wife" ~ David Ogilvy.
P.S. | Procrastination is one of the biggest problems facing small business owners. Don't sit on the fence and let customers slip by. By working with a professional copywriter you get the comfort of knowing your marketing is geared towards instilling trust and credibility into your marketing materials. This ultimately means more sales.
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