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What David Ogilvy Can’t Teach You

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David Ogilvy is long renowned for his prowess as a copywriter and ad man. I still get goosebumps when I read about him or his work. He was an amazing craftsman who’s taught millions of us a thing or two about great selling. But what he can’t teach us is empathy.

Why Empathy Matters
Copywriting is writing to sell. And effective selling is selling with emotion, to emotion. It’s selling because you feel with your customers. You know and understand how frustrated they are and you want to solve that problem for them. You NEED to solve their problem. You started your business because either you wanted to make money or you wanted to make people’s lives better. Maybe a little of both. But, if your focus isn’t on the emotion of your customers and what motivates them, you’ll have a hard time selling to them. The consumer isn’t a moron; she’s your wife.

What David Ogilvy meant was she’s smart, it’s going to take some true persuading to make her see she needs your product. But I believe he also meant know the consumer like you know your wife. Write to her. Write to her motivations. Write to her emotions. When you can visualize motivations and can actually feel them, you’ll be able to sell your wares a lot more easily.

Practicing Empathy

I’m NOT a softy. So, empathy has become a mindful, daily practice for me. Luckily, with three kids in the house, there are LOADS of times I can practice. But even without kids around you can hone your empathy skills so you can better understand your customers needs and feel how they feel. Questions to ask to help you become more empathetic and aware:

  • What must it be like to be in their shoes?
  • What prompted them to say or do what they just did?
  • What motivation drives their actions and words on a regular basis?

And when you’re talking to people, always ask “why?” Always listen, I mean really listen, to their whys because when you understand people’s motivations and you can feel with them, then you can write copy that will inspire them to do your bidding. You want to be successful, you want people to land on your site and say, “WOW!”, then scramble to the bottom to click the “Buy Now” or “Subscribe” button, you have to find out what would make them say that. I like to keep these musings in my own specially created spreadsheet. Copies of it exist backed up all around the internet, because it acts as my empathy box. If I’m not feeling it, I can always look to it for inspiration.

Talk to former clients, talk to prospects, talk to colleagues, but nail what it is that has driven people to work with you or buy your products in the past and start incorporating that emotion into your site’s copy. Who do you admire when it comes to copy? Can you add more tips below? Thanks