3 Copywriting Questions for Business Success

Louis Vuitton Handbag

Do you buy this Louis Vuitton handbag for its functionality (carry things around with you)? photo: Thomas Ogilvie

You don’t need to be a copywriter to run a business.

Actually, you only need to be a copywriter if you run a copywriting business.

But it can teach you three things you must know to run a successful business.

Copywriters can (and usually should) do the actual writing for you. But knowing these basics will give you a better understanding of your business and how to make it successful.

So, here are the core questions of effective copywriting.

And there’s a five-minute “exercise” at the end that puts all of this together and makes a real difference to your success, I promise πŸ™‚

1. Who are Your Potential Buyers?

I have yet to meet a business owner who’d know the full answer to this question, myself included.

Sure, you have some ideas. But there are always more answers that can make a huge difference to your business.

Can you reach new audiences who have the same problems your existing customers have?

Does your product solve a problem you haven’t used in your marketing before?

Can you frame your product in a new way to speak to new people?

Just one new answer may make a huge difference to your business because it may lead to new audiences.

2. What Makes Your Prospects Tick?

You can have the best product in the world and you may know exactly who would benefit from buying it.

But if you don’t know how your prospects think, you can’t sell it.

You need to understand how to grab their attention and get them interested in what you have to offer.

What do they admire? (people, values, skills, habits…)

What are they afraid of? (embarrassment, IRS, their child using drugs, their business losing customers…)

What do they desire? (health, money, status, success, world peace…)

And most importantly, How does your product solve these problems?

3. What is it that You Sell?

In the end you alway sell results; even if you sell the most uncomfortable and expensive high-heels that your customers will only use once.

But you don’t always knowingly buy results.

You buy results when you hire me to evaluate your landing pages; you want to increase your conversion.

You may buy results when you go to a hairdresser; you want to get rid of excess hair or you want the experience a good hairdresser can offer.

You don’t buy results when you get a dog; they can make you happy, better your health, and teach you a lot about yourself, but usually you get one because you like the idea of having a dog.

Sure, you might get a dog because you want to be more healthy (results), or you might hire me to evaluate your landing page just to get to work with me (not results) πŸ˜‰ but that’s unlikely.

What do your customers believe they buy from you?

Do they buy the results or something else?

If you don’t know what they’re buying from you, how can you advertise it?

Reach New Customers

Okay, lets put all that into use in a very simple exercise.

In case you thought you’ll just read through and imagine this exercise, don’t. Sure, you can do that if you can’t believe this could actually make any difference to your business, but if for some reason you choose to believe I might have something to offer, then just do the simple exercise as it should be done πŸ˜‰

  1. Get a large piece of paper and a pen.
  2. Write your product’s name in the middle (like in a mind map).
  3. Write the names of your three most important customers (specific customers or customer profiles like “young women”) on top of the product (leave some space around the names).
  4. Think of at least three new customers (or customer profiles), next to each previous customer, who could use your product for similar reasons why the original customers use it (that’s at least nine new potential customers). And write these names under the product (again leave space around each name).
  5. Write at least five characteristics of each new potential customer around them. At least one from each category: what they admire, fear, and desire.
  6. Finally write what each new potential customer believes to buy when they buy your product. Do they want the actual result, the experience of buying, or something else? If this feels difficult, check out my guide to creating an effective marketing framework. You’ll get your answers there πŸ˜‰

Now all you need to do, is get those new potential customers to buy your product πŸ™‚

Here are a couple of resources that may help you with that:

What new potential customers did you think of? Did you find yourself asking something? Or just have an opinion? Let me know in the comments…

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Peter Sandeen

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23 Comments

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  1. Thanks Peter.

    Another add-on bit of wisdom for your readers: It’s easier to sell the cure than the prevention.

    Meaning? If I have a bottle of pills that sell for $79.00 per month whicht helps prevent you from getting cancer, you may or may not give me the 79 bucks every month for the bottle.

    However, if you have cancer and I have a bottle of pills that cures cancer, I’m pretty sure you’d buy it and be willing to pay 10 times as much per month.

    Find the pain — sell the cure.

    Easy peasy, right? πŸ™‚

    • Peter Sandeen said:

      Hi Eric,

      You’re right, it’s always easier to sell a cure, but if you can convince your prospect they have a problem you can solve, then you can sell the cure. So, if you’re a good enough copywriter you could convince your prospects they have a problem, “I will get cancer”, and then sell the prevention as a cure. Sure it’s easier to convince someone they have a problem when they actually have cancer, but the principle works…

      But yeah, easy peasy πŸ˜€

  2. Mindmapping is an amazing tool that I have only recently gotten into.

    I seriously don’t know how I functioned with my website and business in general without it.

    Thanks Peter some really great thoughts here!!

    • Peter Sandeen said:

      Mind mapping is one of the most powerful tools you have. And yet most businesses don’t use it. I don’t really know why that is. Maybe it feels too old fashioned to use paper and a pen πŸ˜€

      But I haven’t used it as much as I should. I’ll have to do something about that…

  3. Meagan said:

    Good stuff here Peter. Market research is huge in business, and this is a great way to dig into your ideal customer and get to know them more.

    Knowing their hopes, fears, and values all helps when it comes to how and why they buy. When you know that it definitely helps to position your product in a way that appeals to them. There is no considering it at that point. You’ve hit that “got to have it” area.

    I’m definitely going to have to give this a try and share it with my readers. Thanks!

    • Peter Sandeen said:

      Hi Meagan,

      “Got to have it” -area πŸ˜€ Indeed, when you find that, there’s no way you can stop people from buying your product.

      Thanks for sharing, I really appreciate it πŸ™‚

  4. Peter,

    This is perfect time! I’m about to create a sales page to target new customers.

    This post has been really helpful for me and I will keep it close as I go through creation of this page and write copy for it.

    Cheers
    Jordan

    • Peter Sandeen said:

      Hi Jordan,

      I’m happy to hear it helped πŸ™‚ Just ask if I can help more.

  5. Good Stuff Peter – With one of my clients in the UK we took this pretty far. We created characters and gave them profiles and named them for their different types of customers. Like Sally the Shopper and Pete the Plumber, etc.. This helped everyone in the organization really think about WHO they customers where and WHY they would buy a product from them. It was a really cool exercise!

    • Peter Sandeen said:

      That’s a great addition to this exercise. But you can use it as a separate exercise too; get to know your existing customers better and, as you said, help everyone understand the business better.

  6. I’ve done various customer exercises, and this is one of the better ones. Usually they’re about learning One customer, but this is all about expanding + creatively growing your audience. Very cool.

    I can help:
    -Young, game-changing entrepreneurs
    -Chicks who want to be sexier, have improved relationships
    -Artists + creatives
    -Celebs
    -Start-ups

    • Peter Sandeen said:

      Hi Jason,

      Thanks, I’m glad to know you liked it πŸ™‚

      And thanks for sharing. Don’t you help guys who want to be sexier and have better relationships? πŸ˜›

  7. These 3 Ws must be in your mind while writing any copy for your business. The more good you get at conveying these 3 Ws to your customer the more successful your copy writing will be.

    Thank you for sharing the great tips.

    • Peter Sandeen said:

      Hi Rana,

      I agree, copywriting is largely about understanding these questions. Though when you get into copywriting as a skill, it’s a LOT more than just these things…

  8. Obviously I entirely agree with all this. The product isn’t always what you think it is though. Remember the famous quote by the boss of Black & Decker. Customers don’t by products because they want a drill, they but them because the hole in the wall the drill gives them. Otherwise, it’s just a shiny piece of useless junk. Similarly Parker pens realised when they asked their customers that they weren’t in the pen market, they were in the gift market. A bit of lateral thinking never does any harm.

    • Peter Sandeen said:

      Hi Mike,

      Very good point and the topic of a future post of mine πŸ™‚

      The “deeper benefit” is what your customers really buy, but as Danny Iny said in the interview we did, “When I need a straight line, I look for a ruler. I don’t look for a straight line and my office doesn’t lack a straight line, it needs a ruler.”

  9. Peter- excellent tips. In fact, just this morning in the way to the Gym I was evaluating in my head different titles for my upcoming book that could be more attention grabbing.

    I also love your exercise for new customer identification. I use Mindmeister when I have new ideas for a products or what not but I can definitely see how using the mind map in your exercise would be beneficial in identifying new customers characteristics for my products, etc.

    • Peter Sandeen said:

      Hi Hector,

      Well, if you need headline ideas, check out my headline eBook πŸ˜‰

      I hope the exercise really helped you.

  10. Cherokee said:

    Those are the basic question that we all need to answer even before we start a business. If we can clearly answer them, chances are we can really have a good direction or plan for the business.

    • Peter Sandeen said:

      Yeah, a smart entrepreneur knows the answers before starting a business. But asking these questions should also help established businesses find new opportunities for success.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts πŸ™‚

  11. This makes sense! Of all the copywriting blogs I’ve seen, this was the most remarkable blog which will be tough for me to forget. All the contents were fascinating and essential for every copywriter to consider on.

  12. […] You don't need to be a copywriter to run a successful business, but you do need to know the answers to these three copywriting questions.  […]

  13. azhar said:

    really good article i added your site in my favorite list

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