Mark Ford's "BDF" Copywriting Formula

Big corporations routinely spend thousands of dollars on expensive and elaborate market research studies designed to help them get inside the minds of their customers.

These can include mail and online surveys, telephone interviews, and focus groups.

Entrepreneurs running small businesses become worried that if they don't do this kind of expensive market research, they won't know how to reach their prospects and will fail miserably.

But for many small companies, the cost of even one study from one of the big market research companies would wipe out their entire marketing budget for the year.

Relax. The good news I'm here to tell you is that focus groups and other formal market research studies are completely unnecessary.

"But how will I understand my customers?" you may ask.

Simple: just use Mark Ford's "BDF" formula – which stands for Beliefs, Desires, and Feelings.

The "BDF" formula says that you can understand your prospect by asking yourself three simple questions:

"What do my prospects believe? What are their attitudes?"

"What do my prospects desire? What do they want?"

"What do my prospects feel? What are their emotions?"

There's no market research required, because you already know these things about your prospects … or else you wouldn't have chosen to start a business that caters to them.

Or to quote Dr. Benjamin Spock: "Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do."

For instance, a company that provides "soft skills" training to Information Technology (IT) professionals was promoting a new on-site seminar.

They sent out a flier where the headline was the title of the program: "Interpersonal Skills for IT Professionals."

It generated less than half a percent response. (The offer was more detailed information about the program.)

So the marketing manager and the owner brainstormed and asked themselves the BDF questions.

Here's part of what they came up with …

  • IT professionals BELIEVE that technology is all important … and that they are smarter than the non-techies they serve.
  • IT professionals DESIRE recognition … respect … continuing opportunity to update their skill set in new technologies and
    platforms … job security … more money.
  • IT professionals FEEL an adversarial relationship with end users … they are constantly arguing with them … and they resent
    having to explain their technology to us ignoramuses.

Based on this BDF analysis, the company rewrote the letter and tested it.

This time, it generated a 3% response – outperforming the old mailing by 6 to 1.

And one third of those inquiries purchased an on-site one-day training seminar for $3,000.

That means for every 100 pieces mailed, at a total cost of about $100, they got 3 leads … and one order for $3,000 … a 30-to-1
return on their marketing investment.

Oh, and the headline based on the BDF analysis? It was this:

"Important news for any IT professional who has ever felt like telling an end user, 'Go to hell.'"

Says the company owner, "The BDF formula forced us to focus on the prospect instead of the product (our seminar), and the result was a winning promotion."

Amount of money spent on market research before the mailing? Not a dime.

Learn more about Mark Ford's "BDF" Copywriting Formula in AWAI's Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting.

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Published: January 7, 2011

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