If you’re writing copy, work backwards from the pivotal moment of change you need to create. This is similar to knowing the arc of transformation, except it’s puting the knowledge to work.
First, what will be the dominant emotion that incites change? Is it confidence? Maybe they finally believe they can do something. Is it anger? Perhaps they’re fed up of feeling a certain way.
Use this as a baseline when you write.
Now, decide what steps you’ll need to take your reader through to get them to that emotional outcome by working backwards from it.
What is the “a-ha moment” that will push them over the finish line?
What do they need to know/feel to get them to that a-ha moment?
Write this out until you get it right, step by step.
Most people never change. Many change, but only when they’re desperate. You can help a lot of people avoid having to reach that state of desperation, and you can make a lot of money doing so.
Let’s walk through an example.
When I was stuck at a 9-5 desk job I hated, I knew I wanted to make more money, I just didn’t know how. I was listening to all the podcasts: Tim Ferriss, etc. I eventually heard Ramit Sethi speak somewhere, and several months later I bought his Earn1K course to help me start making money. But the steps I needed to take to get there were many:
Ramit’s rallying cry was simple, but it resonated with me: “I don’t teach people how to be frugal, I show them how to make more so they can live a rich life and do what they want.”
Hearing him reiterate that ethos on a live webinar was my boiling point.
You will have to move back and forth through time until you find the market’s boiling point. But when you do, it’s like waving a magic wand. Brendon Burchard’s “Did I Live? Did I Love? Did I Matter?” concept has entranced millions. Brené Brown’s simple idea of “leaning in” to your vulnerability spread like wildfire throughout the world. And Tim Ferris’s 4-Hour Work Week is so delectably simple, I sometimes forget how much work Tim put into refining it as his dominant, front-facing message.
I’m sorry, Superstar, but this will not come easy. However, when your travels through time pay off, and you can incite change with just a few words, you’ll be unstoppable.
Or you could do what Gary Vee does and yell at the people who need to get started to just get started.
Let’s say you run leadership trainings for founders and CEOs.
Why would they need that? Besides the practical reasons for needing to grow.
Because they feel inadequate as leaders.
This can be abstract: Something is missing, and they need more. Or concrete: they need more communications and technology training to keep up today.
Now work back from there. What comes before the feeling of inadequacy pushes them over the edge? Restlessness? Irritability? Perhaps a lapse in communication with their team at work?
I’m just guessing here, but let’s say the timeline looked like this:
Now imagine she’s listening to her favorite podcast at the gym, and someone comes on announcing their new book: Do Leaders Quit?
They outline the exact scenario she’s just faced. She’s in disbelief. She has to know more, because they know her better than she knows herself.
Copywriting & Messaging Principle #6: Observe Dreams & Nightmares
When staring at the clock, what does your market dream about? What do they dread? A bulleted list of pain points and desires will not suffice; you must speak the unspoken language of dreams and nightmares.