Make Sure Your Copy Looks Through Your Prospect's Eyes … Not Your Own

Until recently, I thought I had to like a product to be able to sell it. Now, I know the truth.

Sure, it helps to like the product. Maybe it even helps a lot. But the fact of the matter is, when you write copy, you're not writing for yourself. You're writing for the person who IS interested in the type of product you're selling. Your prospect.

It's one thing to know, intellectually, that the prospect is the most important person in direct mail. It's quite another to actually apply this knowledge to your copy. Particularly when you're writing about a product or service you would never use.

As copywriters, our challenge is to get our personal feelings out of the way and find ways to see the product through our prospect's eyes, not our own.

I know; I know … you've heard that before. The question is, do you ALWAYS do it?

I'll admit that I didn't. But then I read something in ETR's Monthly Marketing Genius that finally drove it home for me. It was a comment from master copywriter Peter Betuel. Maybe it will help you, too:

"When you write your copy, just try to make it very relevant – relevant to the reader. When talking about the art of writing, Truman Capote once said that writing is learning how to get out of the way of yourself. This is an interesting direct-mail concept, because I sometimes sell products that I really don't like or would never use – but I never, under any conditions, let my own personal bias get in there. You really do have to learn how to get out of the way of yourself. And that's very difficult – because you see life through your own eyes and your own experience and your own perspective. For example, the first time I turned on one of those home-shopping networks (like QVC), I said, 'What crap!' and 'What moron would buy something on TV?' I was totally wrong. That's the worst judgment I've ever made. This has turned out to be a quadrillion-dollar industry.

"Had you asked me, back then, if I would buy something on TV, I would have said,

'God, no!' But had a client assigned me a package to sell it, I'm sure I would have put my feelings aside and looked at it differently.

"You really have to wash away your prejudices and look at everything through the eyes of the people who might consume your product – and then figure out what's important to them. Slant your promotion to them because they are the most important people. What you, personally, think of the product is irrelevant."

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

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Published: January 26, 2004

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