Writers – Use these 4 Easy Tips for Getting Someone to Make a Purchase (It Starts with Being Helpful!)
When it comes to shopping, people have more choices today than they’ve had at any time in history.
And the number of choices is mind-boggling.
For instance, let’s say you want to buy a bunch of bananas …
You can bike down to the corner store or to the local organic foods store. Or you can go online and order bananas from the grocers for curbside pickup.
Or you can go through a service like Instacart, where someone will go to the store, buy the bananas, and bring them to your house. Heck, you can even order bananas from Amazon (if you’re willing to pay $15 a pound for them).
But where you buy isn’t your only choice.
You can order your basic, run-of-the-mill bananas. Or you can buy plantains. You can pick up a bunch of mini bananas. Or select red bananas. That doesn’t even get into the other 13 or so more exotic options.
And that’s just bananas — a simple purchase by any measure. Imagine how those choices multiply when you’re buying something more complex, like a computer or smartphone.
With so many options, people can be choosy about which company they buy from. A factor that has a lot of influence on that buying decision is the user experience (UX).
The reason this matters is because people don’t like the feeling of being sold to. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want help with their buying decisions.
The kind of help they seek is from companies that provide the information they need, right when they need it … that anticipate their questions and concerns, answering them honestly … and show they care about their customer’s overall experience and success.
Content marketing expert Brian Clark calls this approach being a helpful guide. And when you’re creating a good, memorable user experience for your customer, taking on that role is crucial.
What Does It Look Like to Be a Helpful Guide?
When you’re writing content or sales messages, being a helpful guide doesn’t just mean showing customers the way. It’s much more than that. In fact, there are four key points you need to focus on:
Key Point #1: Be Informed About the Product or Service
I don’t just mean kind of be informed … I mean become really, really knowledgeable about the product or service you’re writing about.
The only way to do this is lots of prep work, which means rolling up your sleeves and getting to know the product or service inside and out.
When you become deeply familiar with the product or service you’re writing about and the benefits it can deliver, you start to write with more authority and conviction. Your flow and pacing are better. Your own enthusiasm for the product comes through … and enthusiasm is contagious.
Here are some things you can do to become an expert on the product you’re writing about …
Interviewing developers — Who is the person behind the product? Why this product? What are the features and why are they included? What features have been left out and why? What sets this product apart from competitors? What are some of the stories behind the product’s development? What problems did the developers encounter and how did they solve them?
Talking to customers — Talk to a happy customer or two. Ask why they chose the product, what they love about it, how they’ve benefited from it, and who they would recommend it to.
Looking at studies — Are there studies relevant to your product or service or the industry they’re in? Then read them and think about what they mean for someone using the product.
Clarifying your thinking — As you get to know a product or service, continually clarify your own thinking about it. Write about it. Think up analogies that help to explain it. Find points of confusion or where your knowledge is thin and dig deeper.
Talking about it with other people — This is another way to clarify your thinking. Find someone who is unfamiliar with the product and tell them about it. See what questions they ask … and how well you’re able to answer them.
Listing features and why they matter — Every product or service has features. List them out and then think through why they matter to a person who is considering purchasing the product.
Listing out questions and finding the answers — Make a list of all the questions you have about the product or that you can imagine a customer asking about the product. Then find the answers.
Finding fascinating stories — Whether the stories have to do with the product’s development, a customer’s success, an analogy, or a link with history, figure out what stories you can tell about the product.
Stalking the competition — What companies offer similar products? Learn about those companies and how their products are similar and different from the one you’re focused on.
A helpful guide knows what they’re talking about. And being able to give your user the information they need to come to a buying decision is a surefire way to improve their experience.
Key Point #2: Listen Carefully to Your Audience
A helpful guide is someone who listens. You can’t help someone get to where they want to go if you don’t ask questions about their destination (the problem they want to solve or the desire they want to fulfill), about their route (what they are willing to do to fix the problem or meet the desire), and about their chosen mode of transportation (how soon they want to arrive)?
If you don’t listen to your audience, you could focus in on the wrong things, leaving them with doubts about the product … even if it is truly a good fit for them.
For example, think about someone who’s seeking a tutor for their child.
The parent who wants a tutor to help their struggling child learn to read is looking for someone patient, methodic, and maybe a little creative. While the parent who wants someone to help their student prep to ace the SATs so they can get into an Ivy League college needs someone who understands test taking, who is willing to push, and who has a good handle on higher level skills. Listening to find out the traits they consider important and focusing on what they need is how you can help them.
So as a writer, how do you listen to your audience?
There are a lot of ways to hear what your audience wants, what they’re concerned about, and also the specific words and turns of phrase they use to talk about it.
You can listen to your audience online. See what customers are saying on your client’s social media pages. You can join social media groups where your audience is likely to be discussing products like yours. You can read Amazon reviews on similar products. You can join forums and get into conversations there.
You can also talk to people within the company you’re working for. Ask customer service people what the most common questions and complaints are. And also what people are most excited about. You can talk to salespeople about the questions they get, the objections people have, and the benefits that matter most to potential buyers.
And, if possible, talk to actual customers, either directly or through a survey. You can get all sorts of insights about what your audience really wants when you do that. And one of the cornerstones of being a helpful guide (and offering a good user experience) is to know what your audience wants and how you can help them achieve it.
Key Point #3: Respect and Facilitate the Journey
If the product you’re writing about has a lot of potential to transform your reader’s life, or if it’s complex or expensive, then recognize that the buying decision is going to take time and consideration.
And it’s likely to happen in a series of steps … not all at once.
When you’re acting as a helpful guide, keep in mind where your buyer is trying to get to, but also focus on where they are and what they need to take the next step. And remember, often the next step isn’t buying.
Identify all the things a customer needs to know to feel comfortable buying the specific product you’re writing about. And then think through the natural steps they might take.
For instance, if your buyer has 15 questions, plus four objections they need to overcome, you’ll provide a better user experience (UX) if you also provide some of that information in smaller, easy-to-digest steps.
If someone needs to hire a tutor for a child with a learning disability, for example, you might write a series of blog posts about different tutoring styles that work well for students who have extra challenges to overcome on their way to success.
You might also have a couple of video interviews with parents whose own children have overcome similar challenges.
And you might have several individual profiles of tutors who are trained to support students with special needs.
Imagine how much readier a parent will be to enlist the services of a tutor after perusing those kinds of materials over a parent who reads a single sales letter.
You want to respect and facilitate your reader’s journey … as any helpful guide would.
Key Point #4: You Genuinely Care About the Outcome
You don’t act as a helpful guide because you want to make the sale above all else. And you don’t build a good user experience by trying to make a sale at all costs.
Motivational speaker and best-selling author, Brian Tracy says, “Approach each customer with the idea of helping him or her solve a problem or achieve a goal, not of selling a product or service.” That gets to the heart of being a helpful guide and creating a positive user experience.
Of course, you want the customer to make a purchase, but if you approach your writing with the mindset that your reader’s satisfaction is the most important thing, that sale is going to come more naturally.
It all comes back to knowledge about the product and your audience.
An easy way to develop empathy is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Ask yourself questions such as, why do they want to fix the problem they’re faced with? Why do they want to achieve the goal they do? What will success mean for them?
If you can imagine what they’re feeling and what they are trying to accomplish — and the difference it will make in their lives — it’s easy to begin to feel a real affinity for them and their journey. And when that happens, you’ll fall naturally into the role of being a helpful guide.
Acting as a helping guide is a powerful thing. You become committed to helping your reader achieve their goal. Your knowledge, understanding, and empathy will shine through, and when it does, your reader will enjoy interacting with you, they’ll enjoy the user experience, and they’ll begin looking for reasons to buy instead of reasons not to.
How to Write High-Value UX Copy
Discover how to transform everything you write into “triple-win” UX copywriting that creates a great experience for your readers … boosts your client’s bottom line … and creates a positive impact on the world you can feel proud of. Learn More »