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Effective Copywriting Begins When You Ask The Magic Question

  • By Cathy Goodwin
  • Published 01/23/2009
  • Writing for the Web
  • Rating: blueratingfull-2399222blueratingfull-2399222blueratingfull-2399222blueratingfull-2399222blueratingfull-2399222 Unrated

Clients and class participants often say, “I’m stuck on writing my giveaway product.” Or they complain, “I’m not getting the response I want from my website.” Almost always, the reason turns out to be related to the most common copywriting mistake made by independent professionals. They focus on their processes and steps – the how-tos of delivering the service. They want to be sure they’re explaining exactly what they do. This approach turns out to be a mistake because readers look for solutions to their pain — not “our process.” Luckily, this copywriting mistake is surprisingly easy to fix. Just ask the Magic Question. For example, “John” wanted to create a giveaway for new ezine subscribers. He came up with a 21-step process for managing time. He suspected readers would be overwhelmed with all those steps. “Maybe I just need 5?” He’s probably right. But John has made a classic mistake. He’s gotten caught up in his own process. The real question is, “Why do people call John or buy his time management products?” John’s first thought: “That’s a dumb question! They want to manage their time better.”

But we need to dig deeper. Nobody sets a life goal of managing time (OK, some efficiency-minded people might, but they’re not typical).) Most of John’s c

lients are hurting because of the consequences of not managing their time. They’re experiencing pain with relationships, finances, health, or some other basic need. The easiest way for John to reach his market is to ask the Magic Question: What do clients say when they call him? Usually clients call when they’ve reached some kind of Last Straw situation. For example: “I haven’t seen my kids for a month. My family is coming apart and my spouse threatens divorce if I don’t stop working so hard.” “Yesterday I spent an hour looking for an important paper. I can’t afford to do that.” “I keep starting projects and never find time to finish. So clients are screaming at me.” Of course, if the imaginary John were my client, we would spend time analyzing these responses. We would dig deeper. But now John’s got some topics he can use to stop readers dead in their tracks when they visit his website. One headline might refer to family time. This headline might, “How A Busy Executive Can Get More Family Time (And Still Stay on Track for Promotion).” Another might refer to leisure and freedom from frazzle. For example: “How to Meet All Your Client Deadlines (And Enjoy A Relaxed Lifestyle.”

Notice that as he listens to client questions, John gets more than copywriting ideas. Here’s where he learns to create new products, develop teleseminars and write articles.



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