Similarly to novelists, copywriters and business writers need to be able to think (and write) their way into the head of their reader.

We must be able to bring to mind readers’ feelings, loves, hates, fears, dreams and foibles.


Naming and knowing all the demons and angels that endlessly circle inside their heads and are driving their feelings and actions, helps you know what to say to get their attention.

If you want to get a response to your work, to persuade or engage, using average words won’t work.

The words need to be specific to their needs and pain at the time they are reading you. They have to feel as if you are reading their mind.

You need to build rapport with them. In their head. And make their pain go away.


And how do you find out?

Simple. Ask questions. Think your way through their mind, and into their heart. Feel what gets them going, pulls them down or excites them.

Find out what those are, and you can start writing.


Have some fun

So let’s start thinking your way through some minds.

First, how would you describe yourself right now?

Just one word.

And the person nearest by?

Another word.

Now, finally someone that comes from your imagination.

A third word.

What you have just done is describe three people’s personal attributes. They may differ widely, or be similar in nature – that’s not what’s important right now.

Right now I want you to think of each of those attributes as something that the person is:

  1. Is running AWAY from, and
  2. On its flipside, is running TOWARDS

Why am I asking you to do this? It’s another copywriter’s trick [hat tip to Andy Maslen for this one] that will help you overcome your fears of not knowing what and how to write a persuasive piece of work.

Here’s an example.

Attribute Away from… Towards…
Afraid/Fearful The big, hairy scary writing project Confidence
Tired Stress Sleep
Unfocused/scattered Overwork Organisation/Vacation


Keep it real

By doing this you have just gained a greater psychological understanding of the person you identified (including yourself, if the top line was you – as it was in my case – but more on that another time).

This understanding gives you a huge advantage when writing to (and for) each of these readers.

There’s no more wondering what buttons to push – you already know what they need (to avoid) and want (to get) to solve their problem or take away their pain.


Building a reader profile or platform

Now do the same exercise, for a single person.

There will now be multiple attributes and feelings in the table, all for the same person – as we juggle many issues and feelings at once. The more you can identify, the more detailed the picture will be of them.

By applying this to your writing, you’ve now got a feel for your reader and what you need to say to them to get them to say, do, think and feel the way you want them to. This will help you handcraft persuasive writings that inform, inspire and sell ideas, products and services.


The two big ones

A shortcut to this process is by focusing on fear and greed. They are both enormous motivators in life and are often used in copywriting and advertising to great effect.

If you can isolate these, you have a straight road to into your reader’s mind.


Image: tatlin


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