Break this copywriting rule to get more sales
👉 and harness something we all value
Thanks to everyone for their best wishes over the last couple of days. Migraines aren’t nice, but luckily mine only seem to last a day or so - I know some people get them much worse.
I was back in full health yesterday and Kathy and I took a trip down to London to see the Christmas decorations.
Back home relaxing today I’ve been reflecting on a bunch of things, but in particular on the power of empathy.
We all want to feel like others “get” us. I certainly did when I wasn’t feeling well.
And if we’re looking to hire someone one of the most important “hidden” factors that drives our choice is empathy.
It rarely appears on a list of criteria in any selection process. And it usually doesn’t get talked about.
But you’ll know this from your own experience: you just get a kind of vibe from some people that they properly understand your problems and they’d be great to work with that you don’t get from others.
I remember the very first $1m+ project I sold as a consultant. When I sat down with the main client over dinner when we kicked off activities I asked him why they selected us over Accenture, the incumbent. “You guys just clicked more with our team” he said.
And that feeling isn’t irrational “emotion over logic”. It makes sense.
We know from experience that things will change. And that big changes will be tough. So the person who really understands us will be able to adapt to those changes better. And we’ll band together during the tough times and come out successful.
Quick aside: I hate the “buying is emotional not rational” trope. Just because something is triggered by emotions doesn’t mean it’s not rational. Emotions are your subconscious’s way of sending you signals. And your subconscious may be driven by heuristics and experience rather than calculations - but that doesn’t mean it’s not rational.
Sorry - rant over - back to the point…
Demonstrating empathy makes people more likely to like us and buy from us.
How do we do that in an email newsletter?
Often, it’s by breaking one of the “rules” of copywriting.
You’ll often hear that when you’re writing you should use the word “you” rather than the word “I”.
And while that’s true in general, it doesn’t always work.
If you’re talking about problems and challenges your clients might face, then a lot of “you, you, you” can sound accusatory. Like they’re a loser and you’re better than them.
Or if you’re talking about inspirations and motivations, “you, you, you” can sound presumptive.
But if you say “we” instead, it builds empathy.
Earlier in this email I said “We all want to feel like others “get” us”.
“You want to feel like others “get” you” doesn’t sound right, does it? It sounds like I’m making assertions about you that you might not be comfortable with. But if I say “we”, then because I’m saying I have those feelings too, it’s OK for you to have them.
And you get a sense that I may be someone like you.
Or if I was to say “your biggest problem as a consultant is winning new clients” you might feel challenged and mentally retort “oh, is it?”.
But if I said “Our biggest problem as consultants is winning new clients” you’re more likely to think “yeah, you’re right” and to get a sense that I’m like you and understand your situation.
“You” is powerful and direct and it rightly puts the emphasis on what’s in it for your reader rather than talking about yourself all the time.
But “we” is important to build empathy. “We” puts you and your reader on the same side.
Which may be why so many of you emailed me to say “get well soon” - thank you :)