How to Quickly Uncover the Revealing Insights About Your Prospects for Breakthrough Sales - Copy


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The economist Paul A. Samuelson once said, “Good questions outrank easy answers. ”

It's true. I found that a set of good questions about your prospect will uncover the revealing insights that you need to craft powerful sales copy. Yet these types of questions are hard to find. Few marketers even know what they are. The best marketers know them through sensitivity, instinct and intuition — a kind of knowledge and sensing that’s hard to put in writing.

I had to search deep and wide to uncover these good questions. Since they're critical to successful sales-copy, the search was well worth it. Knowing the right questions to ask focuses your attention on what matters most in your prospects’ real-world experience. Such specific information will give your sales-copy the “feeling that impels your readers to act as you want them. ”

I've found a lot of advice about how important it is to start with good information to make sure your sales-copy compels your readers to act. And I found a general understanding of what sort of information you want about your prospect before you craft your sales-copy. These popular answers are helpful only to a point. These are the easy answers. But after searching several years for the right answers, I've finally found the questions that'll make the difference in your sales-copy.

Before I get to the questions, let me tell you why they're so important and what you should be looking for when you ask them.

Why Finding the Right Information About

Your Prospect Makes A Difference

These questions are critical because the most important part of your sales-copy is your customer. The respected copywriter Michele Fortier, in his article How to Get Your Perfect Customer tells you that, “[the] most important part of your copy is not your headline, not your offer and certainly not your benefits. The most important part is your customer. ”

And to get the important information about your customers, he advises you to talk to your customers in depth. You need good qualitative and quantitative information around these four areas:

- Geographics

- Demographics

- Psychographics

- Technographics

The idea, he tells you, is to find out why your customers are buying from you so that you know what type of prospects your sales-copy should be targeting.

Fortier tells you in general that it's important to get lots of information about the prospect, but he doesn't tell you what exactly you should be paying attention to. For instance, he suggests you should find out information like:

  • Who, exactly, is your perfect customer?

  • What’s a day in the life of your perfect customer like?

  • Why did they buy your product? If not, why not?

Even if you're able to gather this type of information about your prospects, this still doesn't get you what you need. It still leaves you asking, what in your information will help you write effective sales-copy?

For instance:

  • What lies behind your perfect customers and what drives them in their real-world experience to make them your perfect customer?

  • What is it about the life of your perfect customers that helps you write better sales-copy?

  • What is it about the reason why your customers bought or didn’t buy from you that helps you sell to others?

What to Look For About You Prospects

That Will Strengthen Your Sales-Copy

The simple answer is that you have to find the pain common to most of your prospects. You get at this pain by skillfully asking questions that help your prospects open up and reveal it to you. And yes, you have to listen well; otherwise you'll miss it.

The legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz has a better answer. In his book Breakthrough Advertising, he tells us that our advertising success depends on understanding “the forces that create the public spread of a private want, or mass desire. ” We uncover these forces from the way people are wired — their instincts, intuitions, or from a mass technological problem your prospects are facing. We also uncover these strong forces in the “winds of change”.

How do you get at these forces?

First, by studying these mass instincts. You need to know how these mass instincts get transformed into strong mass desires. And depending on your product and service, you also need “sensitivity, foresight, intuition to see and catch the rising tide [of the straws in the wind] when it's almost imperceptible. ”

How do you know the instincts that become forces creating this mass desire? Or how do you raise your level of sensitivity, foresight or intuition so that you'll perceive and interpret the rising tide when it's almost imperceptible?

This, he doesn't tell us. Few are able to tell us.

But this doesn't mean no one has told us. I was able to find answers from an English researcher, Andrew Basden PhD, who is working on, among other things, artificial intelligence systems. His answers will help you better explain how your prospects are wired. Now you can see for yourself if his answers will add power to your sales-copy.

The Questions That Will Identify

the Forces That Define Your Market

With Basden’s answers, I was able to formulate a few good specific questions that will help you quickly find the forces that create the mass desires that define your market. When you ask the right questions, your mind will know what to look for. You'll then uncover the revealing insights about your customers that you need for breakthrough sales-copy.

When you ask these questions, keep in mind that these desires are a result of how your prospects function in their everyday experience, and how they seek meaning in those functions. When you look at how they function in the various aspects of their lives, you'll find your prospects have all kinds of strong desires.

You need an accurate reading of their situation in order to discover their strongest desires at specific times. These are the desires you need to tap into.

The opportunity for you comes when your prospects feel they're severely hampered from satisfying their strong desires. The tension between what they naturally desire because of how they function, the way they distort these desires and their inability to satisfy them causes the forces that drive and define your market. If your prospects feel the tension badly enough, and you're able to satisfy their desire, they'll commit readily to knowing about what you have to offer them. And they'll ask for the sale … all on their own.

These questions will help you accurately read the situations in which your prospect functions and their specific desires. Find the tensions in these desires, and you'll find revealing insights about your prospect for breakthrough sales-copy:

  • Do your prospects desire to powerfully master, control, create, or transform a thing, process or situation?

  • Do your prospects desire to communicate meaningfully and deliberately with any type of symbols — either with others or to express themselves or clarify their thoughts?

  • Do your prospects desire better social interaction with others in specific situations, occasions or gathering? Do they want to participate effectively socially in a specific role or status?

  • Do your prospects desire to be frugal or careful with resources they deem limited? Do they want to be responsible as they manage these limited resources?

  • Do your prospects desire harmony, coherence or nuanced differentiation of their social or individual situations, or even between them and others or things? Do they desire more surprise, improvisation, leisure, fun or rest to harmonize their work life and so on?

  • Do your prospects desire retribution in any sense? Do they desire what they think is due to them by the government, society, family, organizations or even themselves? Do they desire to get at the essence of things, events, occasions or situations? Or do they desire to protect themselves from unjust retribution from others?

  • Do your prospects desire to give of themselves sacrificially? Do they want to be generous and benevolent? Do they have a desire to be humble, respectful, courteous and hospitable?

  • Do they desire to have a clear vision of who they are, what is around them and what or who is divine or ultimate? Do they desire to strengthen their commitment to powers that make demands on them and compel them to respond? Do they desire to strengthen their hope in life? Do they desire meaning or significance in life?

Look for answers to these types of questions and see for yourself how you'll have a better understanding of what's driving your market. Most often, it’s a combination of these desires that defines your market. Remember, I'm talking about getting a keener understanding of your prospect so you can write highly responsive and fast-converting sales-copy.

How to Make The Revealing Insights

About Your Prospect Work For You

Let me now give you a couple examples of how asking the right questions about your prospects can increase responsiveness. Here are two ads whose copy shows the writer started with deeper insight about their prospects than most other ad copy.

The first comes from a Microsoft ad for Visual Studio 2005. The ad is currently running in e-Week. The full-page ad shows two photographs. Both have the same scene. One man is busy in his cubicle, working in front of his computer. By his desk, there are two young and attractive lady co-workers.

The top photo shows the ladies looking at a report titled “Change Orders. ” There is a sign pinned on the cubicle wall behind the man that reads “Overtime Policy, ” and on his desk you see a desk plaque covered with paper clips and a set of an “average Joe’s” car keys.

The bottom photo shows one lady now looking at a magazine with the cover title, “Coders to Watch. ” The second lady has turned her attention to the guy who is now recording something. Also, the sign pinned on his cubicle wall now reads “Vacation Policy. ” The desk plaque reads “2006 MPV, ” and the car keys are for a BMW car.

At the bottom, the sales-copy reads:

“Visual Studio 2005. The difference is obvious. ”

Spot the difference? Your peers will. A faster path to Visual Basic 2005 makes it easier to leverage your existing skills while taking on the challenging projects that make reputations. You also get over 400 features that streamline coding, so you can focus on the work that matters. See all 400 differences at . . .

This sales-copy writer understands that coders are people who function in many aspects of their everyday experience amidst their daily work. They are social people who desire better relationships with others and who would like to be recognized for their hard work. Yes, coders have a job to do. And they’d better do it efficiently and cost-effectively. Also, their good work helps their company achieve their goals.

But here is the important question — What quality really drives them that you can tap into to make them turn from their “private conversation” and pay attention to your ad?

Here is the second example. Direct Marketing Magazine has a great column called The Makeover Maven. In this column, Thomas Collins takes an ad he finds wanting and crafts a makeover. A few months ago, he did a makeover using an ad he found on the Sony Vaio T-300 Series notebook computer. Sony's ad wanted to highlight their notebook's ability to connect wireless anywhere, even beyond hot spots.

The sales copywriter of the original ad thought the quality that would pull male response most was their desire to impress women. The ad has a man rescuing his lost date by finding their location using the notebook (although they appear to be far away from civilization). The headline for this ad reads:

“Wireless Beyond Hotspots, At Last. ”

Since the sales-copy seemed to imply their market was business people, this approach didn't work for Collins. He saw the mass desire differently. In his makeover, Collins writes an ad around the idea that a businessperson, at times, needs harmony in their life. They need to get away from the office. Even spend some much-needed time at a nice cabin by the lake, while still being connected to the office. His headline read:

“Now You Can Really Get Away From It All — Even From Hot Spots. ”

These two examples illustrate the importance of knowing your customer well. It helps if you have the gift of seeing past the facade people show you, or you can ask good questions that will uncover the revealing information that will make your sales-copy work for you.

In Brief:

1. Good answers outrank easy answers.

2. What's most important about your sales-copy is your customer.

3. Your most effective sales-copy starts with the right information about your customers/prospects.

4. It's critical to know what to look for when interpreting all the information you've gathered about your customers/prospects.

5. Look for the forces that create the public spread of a private want, or mass desire.

6. To know what these forces look like, find the desires that cause the most tension in your prospects.

7. Use good questions based on how your prospect functions in his real-world experience, and you'll find revealing insights that will quickly show you the forces that create the public spread of a private want.

8. With these revealing insights about your customers/prospects, you'll write breakthrough sales-copy.

I write software sales copy that brings you qualified leads. I’m especially qualified to do this because I’ve had over 20 years experience as a champion for software use. I’ve developed and marketed software as a CEO of an IT company, and have a deep understanding of what it takes to get highly-qualified leads - and lots of them!

My copy and marketing ideas will quickly gain the attention of your target market, open the minds of your audience, compel your prospects to spend time considering your product or services, and act on that knowledge. Your lead generation promotions will enjoy cost effectiveness and get stellar results.

Check out what I can do for you at

Or participate in my blog . In my blog, I discuss all aspects of software marketing.

Leo Salgado

3508 8th Ave Beaver Falls, PA 15010 Phone: 724 513 5932 Fax: 724 891 1426


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