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What the series Mad Men can teach us about copywriting

Good copywriting establishes trust and authority, builds relationships, and gets people talking, sharing and buying. It’s to-the-point and understated, yet effective. 

“A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.” – William Strunk.

To form a connection with your ideal customer through words, you must speak the language of your audience, and do it in a way that conveys you as a real person, with a genuine interest in offering your help or expertise. You must have a clear understanding of who your audience is, and the language and the words they use. 

Customer-driven copy is a great way to tell a persuasive story that your leads can see themselves in. To achieve this, there are four questions you can ask your customer to help direct your copy going forward:

  1. When did you realize you needed a product/ service like ours?
  2. What problem does our product/ service solve for you?
  3. Did you consider any alternatives when buying from us? 
  4. What concerns or hesitations did you have before you decided to buy from us?

In the opening scene of Made Men season 1, episode 1, Don Draper strikes up a conversation with his server about cigarettes. He asks the server for a light, then asks him, “what brand do you smoke,” “why did you start smoking,” and “is there anything I could do to get you to switch brands?”

And he gets his answers. He learns that the server started smoking when he was given free cigarettes in the military and has smoked the same brand ever since, he hasn’t ever considered switching cigarette brands, and that he’d heard that cigarettes are dangerous (from his wife) but dismisses it because…he loves smoking. He comments that if his preferred brand disappeared, he would still find something to smoke.

We later find out that Don Draper had been hired to sell cigarettes, but he had a problem: smoking kills. So how did he plan to sell a product that causes cancer? Well, he immersed himself into the customer’s psychology. He set out to learn the thoughts, words, phrases and language that his customers use to talk about cigarettes. He was doing customer research, in the field. 

Image credit: Michael Yarish/ AMC

Once you’ve gathered enough feedback from your customer, you can analyse it to identify recurring themes. Such as, which specific features were brought up most often as unique value-adds; which pain points were frequently mentioned; and how many responses mentioned any specific benefits or outcomes. Now you know exactly which pain points to unpack and which benefits to emphasize when writing your copy and, better yet, you can borrow the ways your customers explained them so your copy is immediately relatable. 

What if I don’t have the budget for surveys and interviews?

Introducing voice of customer (VOC) mining. This is a type of copywriting research that you ‘mine’ from what people say online, otherwise known as ‘ethical eavesdropping’. Reviews are a great source since your ideal customers have likely blatantly reviewed your solution or your competitors’ solutions. 

Comments on social media are another gold source of VOC data. Connecting over social media often allows for a more informal, two-way and real-time conversation between brands and customers. By monitoring how your customers talk about your brand and your products when they aren’t speaking directly to you, you can gain more honest, unfiltered feedback.

Using VOC data to shape your copy

One of the easiest ways to use VOC data is repurposing things like customer reviews into direct quotes, which can be used on your website, social captions, emails and more.

Beyond direct quotes, VOC data is also typically loaded with ‘sticky’ words, otherwise known as memorable phrases, which can be repurposed and included in headlines and descriptions. These words look like colourful, resonant and bold phrases which are driven by emotion. But they’re casual and unvarnished, making them sound more authentic because they are authentic.

Now go forth and write your copy with confidence

Start communicating with your customers and gathering your own VOC research. It might take a little work, but the potential payoff is worth it. Once you understand what your customers want, when they want it and how they want it – the copy will just about write itself. Your customers offer a boatload of ideas for copy and content – you just need to know how to find and use it.

At Yellow Door, we believe that capturing a target market has always been about standing out from the crowd and staying top of mind. VOC-led copywriting is one of the ways we create an identity for your brand that your target audience will relate to, and content which will engage imagination, intellect, and emotion. Get in touch with us – let’s chat about how we can help you sell your product or service.

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