- By Cathy Goodwin
- Published 06/17/2009
- Writing for the Web
Your online marketing strategy begins with copywriting, i.e., your content and promotional material. Often business owners think copywriting just means “adding a few tweaks” or “jazzing up the content a little.” But in fact, copywriting begins by researching your target market. Typically you will begin by reaching out to your clients and asking them what they what. That’s a good strategy. But you have to know just how to frame your questions if you want to get useful information to plan your marketing campaign.Prospects are human and they want you to like them. Besides, they may not know what they want. Here are some ways to get past your prospects barriers and find out what they really want. — Instead of asking, “Why,” ask, “What.” The truth is, most of us are not aware of our own motives. But we are very good at coming up with explanations of what we do, even if we invent them on the spot. Researchers find that most people are unaware of their own motives. When you ask “why,” they’ll say anything…usually what they think you want to hear.
— Ask people what they did, not what they will do or would do. Research studies show that most of us cannot predict how we will react to situations that we have never experienced. Even when we look into the future, we surprise ourselves. Most of us cannot even predict accurately
what brands of yoghurt we will choose next week. A good prompt begins, “Tell me about the last time you had this experience.” — Get away from question and answer mode. Encourage your prospects to tell stories and recall memories. As they relax, they will get closer to their real feelings. — When you need to ask questions about sensitive topics, go for the imagination. For instance, suppose you have a service where you coach clients on paying off their credit card debt. You find prospects don’t want to admit that they have mountains of unpaid bills. So you ask, “Imagine that you know someone named Bill Brown who is snowed under with financial obligations. What would he need?” — Catch your prospects off guard. What questions do they ask in forums, especially when they can be anonymous? What questions do they ask on teleseminars when they disclose just their first name and maybe their city? — Don’t cut your research off too early. Many business owners talk to two or three people and stop before writing the copy. Small numbers will give you distorted information as they may be completely different from the rest of your market.
— Talk to people who are potential clients. Often newbies will talk to a few friends who say, “Wow, that sounds great! Where do I sign up?” But in reality, your copywriting efforts are targeted to strangers who are serious buyers. Friends and family will not be good test subjects.