Fill in the Blanks: A Framework Where Strategy and Copy Writes Itself

A blank screen or sheet of paper is daunting when starting to conceive a strategy or write copy. There are formulas abound for getting started. But the framework I’ve found most impactful, based on experience and results, is …

copy strategyA blank screen or sheet of paper is daunting when starting to conceive a copy strategy. There are formulas abound for getting started. But the framework I’ve found most impactful, based on experience and results, is one that I have personally conceived and refined over the past years.

I use a seven-step framework to create copy strategy that aligns with how people naturally process information, think and lead themselves to a place where they give themselves permission to inquire, buy or donate. This is detailed in my new book, Crack the Customer Mind Code.

I used this framework once again last week when an organization called me in to meet about a troubled direct mail and online marketing program. I walked the team through the framework, and we were quickly able to identify the disconnect between the approach they were using and what they should be communicating instead. In an hour, a succinct “road map” was created. It became apparent why their recent marketing campaigns weren’t working, and in the second hour of our meeting, we wasted no time in talking through the implementation of a new copy strategy.

I use this framework when writing a letter, video script or content — virtually any copy that requires getting my point across with a story. With client input, we discuss and fill in the blanks in the matrix. The result is a framework that enables faster copywriting and testing.

Most importantly: The seven steps lead to short-term memory, and often the desired long-term memory that serves as the tipping point when the prospect becomes a customer (read how this framework creates new memory in The 3 Levels of Memory: Marketing’s End Game).

Here’s how it works: I create a matrix like the one below (download the PDF). I ask questions, and fill in the answers. Fill in the blanks in the right column and your strategy will reveal itself. Then use the information to start writing copy, and your message practically writes itself.

7-Step Framework for Creating Copy Strategy (opens as a PDF)

Gary Hennerberg gives you the details of his “Seven Pathways from Head to Heart to YES!” in his book, Crack the Customer Mind Code, available from the DirectMarketingIQ Bookstore. For a free download with more detail about the seven pathways, and access to Gary’s videos where he presents them, go to CustomerMindCode.com

End the FUD: Decision-Making Obstacles in This Election Cycle

Uncertainty blocks the brain from thinking. While talking with a client recently, he acknowledged that he’d been in a bit of a “mind funk” for a while. There was good reason: uncertainty due to lengthy delays of a key decision from someone outside of his company. And it’s a reminder for direct marketers that uncertainty feels more prevalent in this fear-based election year than usual, and it is sure to …

PE1013_stopUncertainty blocks the brain from thinking. While talking with a client recently, he acknowledged that he’d been in a bit of a “mind funk” for a while. There was good reason: uncertainty due to lengthy delays of a key decision from someone outside of his company. And it’s a reminder for direct marketers that uncertainty feels more prevalent in this fear-based election year than usual, and it is sure to block the brain from thinking and acting.

When presented with fear, uncertainty, or doubt (FUD), all logical thinking can shut down. “Mind funk” — or whatever you want to call it — sets in, and instead of moving forward, you shut down. And so do your prospects and customers. Consider how FUD can overtake emotions:

  • Fear frightens and paralyzes.
  • Uncertainly grips and people ruminate over and over.
  • Doubt shakes confidence and buying decisions aren’t made.

It’s human to fall into the FUD trap because this is how our brains are wired. And quite frankly, this nasty and negative election cycle is likely to exacerbate FUD even more, risking a decline in response rates this year.

At any point when approaching your prospective customers, whether you’ve sent them a postcard, letter, catalog or email, you can’t know a person’s state of mind when they receive it. But you can know the persona of the individual, and that alone enables you to consider a person’s core emotional values, and how you can clear away their FUD.

When you stimulate emotion, especially if you can imagine the FUD a person is dealing with at the moment, you get undivided attention. The brain shuts off thinking and is fixated on the problem. Your marketing opportunity?

  • First, when you have identified one’s fears, uncertainty and doubt, promise a solution.
  • Second, redirect thinking by calming the mind with your solution. This dissipates FUD, and decision-making has a chance of returning.

At the rate fear, uncertainty and doubt is being stirred up by this election, another opportunity is to use the news as part of your message. Marketing guru and author David Meerman Scott wrote a book on seizing the news to help advance your marketing message, called NewsJacking. Using news makes you more topical, and these days, you’ll probably hit many emotional core values to help you break through and release decision-making.

Looking for tips about how to attract more customers using FUD? Download my free seven-step guide to help you align your messaging with how the primitive mind thinks. It’s titled “When You Need More Customers, This Is What You Do.” Or get all the details in my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code” available at the DirectMarketingIQ bookstore.