Just step into their shoes, dammit. They tell me. But how for God’s sake? They don’t tell me that.
– a fellow writer tired of stupid advise
There’s no hack to thinking like your prospect. Either you do it or you don’t. Whatever option you pick, you’ll get results. Some of them might be useful and others might be painful. Upto you to pick. Leave now with this message and save your time and energy. In case you’re staying, let’s roll. I forgot to mention that a prospect can mean various things in various contexts. You’ll know soon.
Why the information out there is not complete? I’ll start by addressing this and for that to happen, it is important to first understand what you don’t have to do before we proceed.
Buying into the “Target Audience” mindset
It is good to identify your ideal audience and define their sex, age, profession, interests, underwear size and all. But this might not be backed up with – appropriate data and your vision.
- Appropriate data – Being a footwear brand in Delhi, if you create 5 posts on “Slippers” on IG and the majority of your traffic comes from Thailand, it doesn’t mean that you’ll start shipping a ton of slippers to that place. If you do so, time to get a brain transplant, my friend. Statistics don’t mean shit and can be delusion inducing if not handled with logic and rational thought. But what if they are my target audience? What then? Ask those Thailand people for advance payment before you send them slippers. You’ll get to know.
- Your vision – In the above case itself, if your aim is to sell footwear in Delhi to people who are from a middle class background and shop for shoes only once every year, this Thailand information won’t be of any use. It’ll only hurt your already existing area of operation and kill time and money on the side. Just because someone reads or follows you, it doesn’t mean that they’ll turn into a customer or service availer. I have 1100 friends on FB and I personally know 200 of them quite closely. But no more than 10 of them have bought me food or tea.
I didn’t give you any insight about how frequently I meet those friends or whether I ask them about buying me food. That’s a cognitive error right there on your part. I got you. Therefore, never believe what me or any other person is saying especially when there are numbers involved with their words. Anyways.
Buying into the “Be Yourself” mindset
This is nonsense. If people start becoming themselves, there will be total honesty. I have also heard that honesty is the best policy but it is not the best way to sell. For the latter, you have to speak what the prospect wants to listen while staying as true as possible. Nobody likes that salesman who forced you into buying a pair of socks when you were getting out of the showroom without buying a shirt. It is called “Buyer’s Remorse” and inflicts “Bad Karma” points you as a seller. Along those lines, nobody wants to know that you’re running out of customers and that’s the reason you’re offering a massive discount on your products. To keep the truth to yourselves, shut the hell up and put up a women’s day or children’s day sale to attract a buyer. You got the point, I think. Be true but not explicitly true. Wrap the truth with something that the other person values. Writing for yourself a thousand shitty poems is fine. But if you’re given the assignment to become a journalist, I bet you won’t get those shitty poems of yours published in the newspaper. Right.
Let’s see some case specific prospects now that you have been re-brainwashed. But before that, try to fit in your mind the following photo which is way more more inclusive than the “Target Audience” nonsense.
Prospect One : Workshop Attendee
I am working on the social media accounts of a leadership consultant along with my friend. I do the copywriting work while he does the visual and graphics part. Our purpose is to make potentially interested workshop attendees engage with the content which we share and if all goes well then eventually, lead them to the paid workshops and webinars. But the prospects who take workshops from this client don’t use social media very enthusiastically. Wow. Old attendees refer new attendees and the cycle of participants has been running like this from a long time. For this client, there’s no point in creating content in the dreams of finding new participants. So we shifted gears and thought about shaping a brand where “Eye ball grabbing” content is shared with an audience. Unlike the client who believes that my friend and my work will add any tangible value to their organisation if we follow his trail of thought. It won’t do much and it is strange how people get fooled by their own bullshit reasoning. But never mind. We created a few posts to see what gets engagement and what doesn’t.
The post on the left had more impressions on IG as compared to the second one. But none of them provoked anybody to comment or share. I am yet to know why but let’s blame the algorithm of IG for that where they want the users to pump in money on sponsored posts. What we had in control was making an impression and that’s what we did. The post on the right is plain and simple and informative. While the one on the left is “Reader Oriented” and has the use of “You”. It talks to the reader. No wonder it got more impressions. People saw it.
Living legend Chuck Palahniuk, the writer of Fight Club calls “You” the medium with which we can break the fourth wall like they do in movies when the actor looks at the screen and talks. We broke the fourth wall and became the king of digital influence and persuasion. Until we realised that this same post performed poorly on LinkedIn in comparison to the previous posts. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. But what I took away by working with this client is that rather than explicitly promoting their upcoming programs and leaderships workshops, it would be better to show the followers a tiny glimpse of what’s in store for them. Our posts belong to several categories – quotes, conversations, links to videos etc. This variety is because different mediums require a different content. But if you’re wondering where does thinking like a prospect comes into the picture, this diagram will bring clarity:-
This client’s work is still under work. Waiting to see more results. My goal is to get the old attendees engaged so that trust remains maintained with them. Old ones will then spread the word among new ones who’ll see our work and find us credible. Albert Einstein applauds from the universe of the dead.
Prospect Two : Service Availer
I saw a website. And suggested some modifications on their homepage content by sending them my thoughts and improvements in a drive link via email. See for yourself:-
|FreeElective(TM) is a business born of a passion for entrepreneurship, with the aim of improving how people connect with each other and the world around us.||If you’re looking to improve relationships with people and the world around you, FreeElective is there to assist you. Our entrepreneurial mission is to facilitate better interpersonal bonds using digital mediums.|
|Our flagship platform, Jodi365 helps educated, quality singles to find a suitable match—whether they are ready for marriage in the near term or want to get to know someone as friends first.||Using Jodi365 we help you find the suitable person for marriage and a long-term committed relationship by first building a bond on mutual trust.|
- Nobody cares about an entrepreneur unless you give them want they want. So why talk about your passion for business when you can talk about what you’re delivering to the customer.
- When you’re reducing someone to a match, it sounds very harsh. No need to talk about education and qualifications on digital dating. That can be informed in the subsequent “Further Info” part once the attention of a reader is grabbed by Jodi365.
|We are also introducing Peepul365, an event-planning platform and marketplace where people discover beautiful venues and find curated vendors to plan and celebrate weddings, receptions & other special events.||To bridge the gap between your dream wedding destination, perfect social gathering venue and the right vendors for your needs, we have introduced Peepul365, a digital marketplace for your specific needs.|
|We have instituted a FreeElective Fellows program for students who have recently completed college or are about to graduate from a Master’s program. |
The 24-month-long fellowship is a leadership development program offered in four tracks: Customer Success, Product Management, Business Development, and Operations. As part of this program, selected applicants will work full-time at the FreeElective Network office in Chennai (a few miles from the IIT-Madras campus) and gain valuable experience in multiple functional roles within their chosen track.
|Are you a student who has recently graduated or about to finish your Master’s? For aspiring students we have a 24-month-long experiential fellowship wherein you’ll learn how to be a leader in the following fields: |
Customer Success, Product Management, Business Development, and Operations.
Upon selection, you’ll get to work full-time at the FeeeElective Network Office in Chennai, a few miles from the IIT-Madras campus.
- Hit the right spot of giving information which a new visitor can instantly use and later on be compelled to read more about Peepul365. Don’t over-bother them.
- Be short and on point in describing the fellowship and create a good level of curiosity for a student who might join it.
They haven’t replied to my email yet. I don’t think they’re interested in working with a very smart copywriter. Never mind. Their loss. On that note of ignorant people not replying to my awesome emails, here’s another example on failed generosity:-
|Mediagraphix is a Leading PR Company in Delhi, which is conceptualized and run by Ms.Neena Gulati along with a team of professionals.|
Your public image is the most important part of your business, i.e. how people perceive you. PR is in everything you, your business, and your employees do and say – plus your stationery, your logo, your advertising, your vehicles, your product packaging, press releases, websites etc, etc. They all go towards establishing your reputation and either fostering better or worse relationships with your publics.
Mediagraphix can help you to present your business or organization to the world as your values dictate, so that a positive message is heard. Mediagraphix, the PR firm, was conceptualized and subsequently promoted by Ms.Neena Gulati.
|A prominent PR company in Delhi run by a team of creative professionals led by Ms Neena Gulati, the original conceptualizer behind Medigraphix. |
How people perceive you is the most important part of any business and comprises of your public image. To establish your reputation and building trust-based relationships with people, everything including your logo, website, advertising, services, work ethics, press releases and even stationery, all of it counts.
We help you present your business and organisation to the world as per your guiding values and accordingly send out the message which makes you stand out and stand apart.
- Repetition of Neena Gulati’s name (twice) was too much in the face.
- Use of “i.e.” is unnecessary and better is to make a bold claim rather than justify what you mean.
- Again, “etc” is not required because all that has to conveyed is a basic outline and not detailed services. Let the remaining be a mystery.
- Better or worse line gives the reader an unwanted choice which can instead be cut to showing them how they can be exceptional by taking Mediagraphix’s services.
Even these guys haven’t replied. I wish both of them luck. If you are reading this, it is not too late to follow up – firstname.lastname@example.org
Prospect Three : Reader
Last year, I wrote a post on Facebook which was a mockery of people who consider themselves a “Changemaker”. Have a look at it:-
Unlike those who write for the masses and avoid conflict, I wrote this keeping in mind only one person. A man who does no real work but posts about bringing change in the world all the time on his timeline. I wanted my insults to reach him and hence, the tone of my post is not very friendly. Read it again. A wise writer once said that I don’t write to make friends. I agree with him. What happened after I made this post public was that “Changemaker” people commented on it. Real ones, I mean. They were tagging each other and having a conversation in the comments. A friend of mine who works with change driven organisations, she commented. She rarely uses social media, just so you know. This made my day. But that motherfucker didn’t even like my post for whom I had originally written. Keeping my rants aside, this brings up an interesting thought which I prefer to adhere to while writing:-
When I talk about engaging a reader, it is “One” person who I am referring to.
Tucker Max wrote three great books by following the above evergreen principle. The following picture will explain it better:-
Prospect Four : Funder
If I have to create a list of “What not to do when you’re raising funds” the first thing I’ll add in it is being ideologically neutral. But my friend did the opposite. He had to raise funds for his NGO and I won’t say that his Facebook posts were pro-left by any measure but they were anti-right for sure. Because of this, a person who was his funder, he cut off funds from his side since he was a pro-right dude. If it were a matter of losing a few hundred bucks, nobody would have cared. But my friend lost INR 10K per month which equals INR 1.2L annually. That’s serious money especially when you’re piss broke and hopeless about feeding kids who you teach. Ideology cost him very bad. This by no way means I am anti-this or anti-that. The message here is that if you don’t know the people who you’re writing for and who is of monetary or professional benefits to you, your writing will fuck you up. He is friends with a lot of folks who have a shit load of capital in their pockets but because of overtly sharing his ideology on a platform like Facebook where the majority of crowd is there to fight on senseless stuff, it was totally inappropriate to share intimate details of what you stand for and what you stand against for. I mean, Trump or Modi don’t give a damn about your open letter to them. Talk about change where it can be implemented otherwise you’ll end up losing 1.2L rupees because of a few posts that you could have silently kept in your arsenal or even in your arse, for that matter. He might also have lost friendship with those pro-right rich people who could’ve been his potential funders. Of course, my friend and these funders wouldn’t be having same ideologies but who cares about an ideology if by keeping yours to yourself can make you progress in your field of work. Ethics and morals are one thing and being disagreeable for no reason is another thing. The difference between the two makes you gain funds. Or lose funds. So know thy funder and read Das Kapital. And avoid being enemies with those who can be of help to you because missing the forest for a tree is an unfruitful approach. Nice pun there. Remember, there’s a slight difference between “I don’t write to make friends” and “I don’t want to make enemies by writing”. Rest you can decide.
Prospect Five : Unaware Millennial
I don’t follow many pages on Facebook but Manforce India has a page where they know what to create for “Hook-ing” the viewer. As far as I have come to conclude, their posts are intended to make the unaware millennial know more about safe sex in the way that they understand. If you’re not following their page, you must follow it. That’s how you’ll realise what a good content marketing strategy looks like when you merge it with thinking like your prospect. In this case the prospect being young adults who like to “Creampie” rather than stay safe from an “STI”. Nice rhyme there.
This is my interpretation of Manforce’s content. I am not sure whether they operate on this model or not but this is a good method. I placed in the above picture only two of their ways to reach a prospect – social media and videos. There are several others also which can range from Sunny Leone eating strawberries on billboards, posters on pharmacy shops, offline event organising and blah blah blah.
The takeaway simply being that there are multiple paths to walk on to reaching your prospect. This is what I did when I had to raise funds for a documentary film for my friend. He and I tried whatever we could. Cold calling, IG posts, Google group emails, WhatsApp stories, offline gatherings, visiting temple on Tuesday and everything else under the sky. After seeing what bombed and what worked, we stuck to result-bringing things while iterating the content but not the medium. For example, getting our posts shared by people on IG got us funds. We did that with 3-4 people but every time we did, the content was different depending upon how the previous posts on that person’s timeline were phrased and photographed. Replication of Manforce’s strategy to an extent. They know what sort of visuals and words get their readers’ attention and they stick to that style but constantly bring novelty in their “Material”.
That’s from my side. I am as tired of writing as you are of reading. The reason why I wrote this really long post is because on the Internet there’s a lot of stuff on “Stepping into your reader’s shoes”. But they don’t tell you how. I wanted to tell that. Catering to a reader is in itself an incomplete thought, if you ask me. Lots of people have readers but if you broaden your perspective and categorise the visitors on your platform as prospects, you can then separate them into several sub-categories. That’s what I did in the above cases. Defining a prospect before beginning to think like one. There’s a saying that if you have chop wood in 6 hours, better spend 4 hours sharpening your axe. It is true indeed. Until you know who you are writing or creating content for, all your expectations of being an overnight viral celebrity and having lunch with Richard Branson and Lady Gaga will not become a reality. On that note, if you’re still focussing on getting massive amounts of attention or traffic or sales or views from the “Masses”, I think I have failed to explain you my process of thinking like a prospect. In more elaborative words, you suck. Go and daydream. Good copywriting and content have never belonged to a wannabe.