How to Win Friends and Write Better Copy

If you’ve ever had a mentor, wandered into the Sales department of your office, or watched Oprah, you’ve no doubt at least heard murmurings of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written just shy of 80 years ago, the transcendence of Carnegie’s words seems almost unfathomable.

Carnegie’s pièce de résistance easily translates into copywriting techniques, which is unsurprising given that copywriting is the art of influencing people. While almost any of the principles that Carnegie lays out can be applied to copywriting (or at the very least marketing) I’ve highlighted four of the most powerful below.

Become genuinely interested in other people. 

If you aren’t interested in your customer and you’re writing copy directed at them, stop immediately. One of the first steps to writing copy is creating a persona for who your customer is. This means having interest in that person. Look at your product, data and reviews. Then create a few customer personas and write for those people.

You have to do research first. If you push a product out into the world expecting your customers to find it, without being sure who they are exactly, you will flounder forever. Know your customer, know your potential customer, figure out what they like, dislike, etc. New product and have no idea? Go for whom you have built the product for and test, test, and test again. Test until you’re sure you’re right. Let the data speak so you can speak to the right people.

Remember that a person’s name is to that person the most important sound in any language.

The first thing people own are their names. That is an incredibly powerful advantage you have if you know how to utilize it. Address your customer in emails and on your site. Thank them by name on the checkout page. The more your customers see their names, the more they’ll feel connected to your product and brand. This means more sales. Take the latest Coke campaign, “Share a Coke.” The simplicity of this campaign is mind-blowing and the results even more so. Coke increased revenue and market share by putting names on their product. Customers were so excited to see, or potentially see, their name on a bottle of Coke that they bought more of a product they knew they’d throw away in 15 minutes, name and all; sales entirely born out of the consumer’s love for their own name.

Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.

In the digital age people have become extremely keen on spotting and becoming blind or deaf to advertising, most likely without even realizing they’re doing so. Breaking through this is actually simple: speak to their interests, not yours. Too often advertising is blatantly about the sale rather than the customer. After creating personas and testing them into the most optimal targeting options, it’s easy to forget that your customers are living, breathing humans. Carnegie lays it out – you want something? Speak to the person about their interests. What about your product speaks to what they want? Personalize emails and incentivized captures make your display ad copy engaging to the person you’re trying to reach. Even down to your about page, customers want to know what’s in it for them. Stop selling you and start talking to them.

Arouse in the other person an eager want.

After you understand what your customer’s interests are use that to increase the demand. If you’re creating landing page ads, driven from paid search clicks, use those keywords in your headline. If your keyword is digital marketing your landing page headline should have the words “Digital Marketing Help” in them. You know what their interest is, you are able to talk to it, now use it to stir demand into conversions. Keep it simple. Hand what they want to them. There is a notion that marketing is about telling people what they want and I don’t buy that. It’s about talking to people (the right people) about your product in terms that are relative and interesting to them.  That creates want.

TLDR: “Talk to people about themselves and they will listen for hours.”  All the above points are connected through this quote from Carneige. People love themselves, their interests, and their names. Stop talking about who you are, what your product is, and start talking more about why it interesting to them.

About: Hawke Media is full service outsourced CMO and digital advertising agency with clients in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Chicago and New York.

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